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Chicago, IL To La Plata, MO On Amtrak's Southwest Chief
Monday, October 15th, 2012
  After having lunch, I walked back downstairs to the Metropolitan Lounge and retrieved my luggage. An announcement was made by the conductor to send one member of your party to him to have tickets scanned/lifted. I got in line for this, had my ticket scanned and lifted, and he asked me if I was going to La Plata in a sleeper because he says he didn't see anyone getting off there from the sleeper on the manifest! I told him I booked the tickets in February! Oh well, no big deal. Eventually, the boarding announcement was made for Train #3 – The Southwest Chief. I got in line by the door out the back of the lounge and walked out to the platform, taking down car numbers as I walked alongside the train. I was absolutely shocked to see which car the "0331" car was on today's train, for which I had roomette #2. It was none other than Superliner I Sleeping Car #32009 which just so happens to be named after none other than George M. Pullman, the inventor of the modern sleeping car! And yes, this car was built by Pullman-Standard so I was riding in a Pullman sleeper named after Mr. Pullman himself! After storing my bags (I kept one downstairs and one in the room), I walked the rest of the way to the head end to get a few quick pictures and take down the rest of the car numbers. The attendant in my car picked up on the fact that I was a railfan right away during all of this and I asked if he would take a picture of me standing next to the "George M. Pullman" lettering on the car, to which he did! The consist for today's train is shown below:
Heritage Baggage
Baggage Car
Superliner II Transition Sleeper
Crew/Sleeping Car - 0340
Superliner I Sleeping Car
George M. Pullman
Sleeping Car - 0331 (My Car)
Superliner I Sleeping Car
Sleeping Car - 0330
Superliner I Dining Car
Dining Car
Superliner II Sightseer Lounge
Cafe/Lounge Car
Superliner I Coach
Superliner I Coach/Baggage
Superliner I Coach
SPECIAL NOTE: Superliner I Sleeping Cars were originally set to be named after National Parks but the names were never applied. That said, 2 sleeping cars were named with #32009 being one of them.
  The train crew started making its normal safety and welcome announcements as the train pulled out of Chicago Union Station on time at 3:00pm. By now, I was getting really tired as I was running on about 1 1/2 hours of very poor quality "sleep", so I just sat back and relaxed in my sleeping car and watched America start to spread out once we got out of Chicago. We arrived at our first stop of Naperville, IL at 3:29pm. Naperville is a "Pick-Up Only" stop as there is frequent service from this station on Metra which is Chicago's commuter railroad. We departed Naperville on time at 3:35pm. A member of the dining car staff made an announcement letting us know what was available for dinner in the dining car, then came through the sleeping cars and later the coaches to take down dinner reservations. I opted for the 6:30pm time slot for dinner. I had talked with the sleeper attendant about getting a roster photo of the car I'm in being that it has Mr. Pullman's name on it because the train crew announced the first smoking break wouldn't be until Kansas City and I knew I needed to get a photo of this car. I asked about getting one at Galesburg, IL depending on how we're doing timekeeping-wise and he was OK with that. This would be why I chose such a late dinner reservation because I wanted to make sure I got this photo! We made our next stop at Mendota, IL which was quick, having been in and out at 4:26pm running 2 minutes late. I took a few photos here and there of the passing farmland but for the most part just relaxed. We made our next stop at Princeton, IL at 4:44pm and were out at 4:46pm on time. The sun was sinking lower in the sky (after all, it's mid-October) and my "photo stop" of Galesburg, IL was coming up. As luck would have it, we arrived there at 5:34pm and I would thus have 4 minutes to get the photo. We departed Galesburg on time at 5:38pm. We continued to move right along and eventually crossed over the Mississippi River for a brief ride in the state of Iowa as the next stop would be at Fort Madison. Just before our arrival there, the announcement was made for 6:30pm dinner reservations to come to the dining car now (that's me!). Just after getting to the dining car and being seated, we arrived at Fort Madison, IA at 6:32pm. I'm fairly certain a smoking break ended up being permitted here because the train was running so early but there was no announcement (that I heard anyways)! We departed Fort Madison on time at 6:42pm.
  Now onto more pressing matters…DINNER! I decided to have the Amtrak Signature Steak which was a flat-iron steak which I had with a baked potato and rice pilaf with a dinner salad and roll and a Diet Pepsi, all of which were delicious! Dessert was a delicious piece of cheesecake! The staff overall in the dining car was decent but they were a bit slow as I was now wondering by the end of dinner if I was gonna get out of the car in time to make my stop at La Plata, MO which was the next stop! After dinner, I walked back to my sleeper and started getting my stuff together and would walk downstairs and wait near the door for the next stop. At 7:46pm, running 5 minutes early, we arrived at La Plata, MO which would be my destination for this portion of the trip. The train had to make a double spot at this station because I was in a sleeper and the rest of the passengers getting on and off were in the coaches. I have now arrived for the first time in Silver Rails Country! The next 3 days would include some great railfanning and great times in this small town in Northeastern Missouri. Included below are links to photos taken on the way here from Chicago as well as a link to visit Silver Rails Country, which is one of the biggest destinations for this trip, check 'em out!!!