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Capitol Limited 2016

America by Amtrak, Coast-to-Coast and Border-to-Border

Capitol Limited Chicago to Washington, DC  780 miles

July 11 - 12, 2016

Photography and by Carl Morrison

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This is the third leg of my son, Matthew Morrison, and my "America By Amtrak" Tour.  The daylight portion of this Capitol Limited segment, which left Chicago at 6:40 pm, includes photos from the train of Cumberland, Maryland; Martinsburg, West Virginia; Harpers Ferry, West Virginia; Rockville, Maryland; and Washington, DC; and forest, farms, and rivers in between.  If you missed the earlier sections of this report, click here:  "America by Amtrak".


If the entire map does not show Chicago to Washington, DC, click it to see a full sized map.


No matter what time of day or night your train leaves from Chicago, it will look like this when you walk to your train because the station is above the tracks. 

Since the trains are backed in ready for departure, if you have room accommodations, you will walk past the coaches, observation car, dining car to get to the sleeping cars at the front of the train.


On the way to your train, you might see other Amtrak rolling stock from one of the many other Amtrak Routes that enter and leave from Chicago Union Station.


Even as you pull out into the daylight, you might see other Amtrak cars such as this Sightseer/Lounge car.


Keep an eye out for another shot of the Chicago skyline as you leave Chicago on the Capitol Limited.



This full dome Amtrak car is moved to different routes throughout the Amtrak system during the year.


Street traffic, freeway bridge, and a railroad bridge tilted up, from our upper level room.


There are many cultures in Chicago.


Railroad river bridges give a nice perspective of the Chicago skyline in late afternoon light.


White Sox baseball stadium


Chicago Embassy Church, 5848 S Princeton Ave, Chicago, IL 60621


CTA's Elevated south of town.


I-90 and I-94 south of Chicago from the Capitol Limited with the "L" on the left.


In Elkhart, Indiana before about 9:30 pm, still some light in the sky in July.


Downtown Elkhart, Indiana


The following morning - a Pennsylvania hayfield and rolling hills covered with broad leafed trees.


Breakfast in the diner.  This new diner is half diner and half cafe car, therefore, the seating is 1/2 what older Amtrak diners have...a problem on this popular route.


The cafe half of the diner/cafe car.


Observation car was half tables and half seats facing the windows.


It seems there is always a small church with a grass parking lot anywhere you go in the Midwest and East.


There are many stories played out on passenger train platforms every day that one can observe from their train car. 

This man sat dejected awaiting another man from on the train.  When they met, this man did not move while the other man knelt and consoled him.  They they walked off arms around shoulders.  Hopefully this man had better days to look forward to because of the man from the train.


Cumberland, Maryland as we slowly pulled out heading south.


A Maryland river with a steel railroad bridge down stream.


CSX power in this part of Maryland.


A traditional train station along the route


Coming into Martinsburg, West Virginia.


Martinsburg Roundhouse | 100 Liberty Street | Martinsburg | West Virginia


The Center includes 13 acres with three B&O Railroad shop buildings. The main attraction is the completely enclosed 1866 cast iron frame roundhouse. It is situated along 1,000 feet of the Tuscarora Creek. The B & O Railroad shops operated until 1988. This site was active early in the Civil War and was the site of the first National Labor Strike of 1877. 

Historic photographs:

History of the Roundhouse:

Highlights of the Roundhouse:




This image of Martinsburg, West Virginia reminds me of photos of this area by O.Winston Link.


You can only get this type of photo from the second level of an Amtrak train.



I am glad the current station was added onto the vintage station and didn't replace it.


More about the railroad strike at:


What the roundhouse would look like without loving care of preservationists.


A typical midwestern farm between Martinsburg and Harpers Ferry, West Virginia.

Starting with the American flag on the right, in front of the house, you see the mud room on the back of the house, a two-car garage, a chicken house, the big barn for storage of cattle and hay or drying tobacco and a machine shed with a corn field behind the buildings.


Typical "two-lane blacktop" flanked by a wheat field and soybean field and a lone tree which probably has scars from being hit by vehicles on icy roads.


Four-top tables are ideal for traveling families.  Tables have electrical outlets, but no Internet. 


You can find these posters in many Amtrak cars and the same image if often on the menu in the Diner.


Observation cars may have seats like these throughout, or half seats like these and half 4-top tables.  The central staircase goes down to a former cafe, but this train had the cafe as half of the Diner.


Because of limestone bottoms, rivers are shallow which means trouble when heavy rains spill over their banks.


I am always curious about abandoned buildings along railroads.  This one seems to have a horizontal hoist frame on this side.  Note the vintage round railroad sign in the foreground indicating a railroad crossing.


Coming into Harpers Ferry, West Virginia.  Hillside buildings remind me of towns on the hills of the Mediterranean Sea in Italy.





Rather than take down this old railroad bridge for scrap, they have converted it to a bike/walking trail across the river.


Coal from West Virginia or Maryland


Rockville, Maryland with a vintage caboose on display trackside.


CSX country


MARC Train Service is a commuter rail system whose service areas include Harford County, Maryland; Baltimore City; Washington D.C.; Brunswick, Maryland; Frederick, Maryland and Martinsburg, West Virginia. MARC Train Service operates Monday through Friday only.


Adjacent tunnel to our route.


Point of Rocks tunnel


Photos of signs might give you location information.  This is along Highway 15 and tells me the tunnel above is "Point of Rocks"


Another small church in Maryland with the everpresent electric wires.


Another large barn on an operating farm judging from the newer pole barn on the left.


Slow moving water in a river below.  Brown water indicating that it is from recent rains.  It takes 10 miles in a river, flowing over rock bottom, to clear a muddy river.


Another very large red barn.  With the openings on the barn on the left and the board fences, this might be a horse farm.


Within 40 minutes of Washington Union Station, you will see evidence of local commuter rail.




Virginia Railway Express (VRE)

Virginia Railway Express provides commuter rail service from the Northern Virginia suburbs to Alexandria, Crystal City and downtown Washington, D.C., along the I-66 and I-95 corridors. The service operates 29 trains from 18 stations and carries an average of 16,000 passengers daily.



Once we tied up in Washington, DC Union Station, I was happy to see an Acela nearby.


Acela, N.E. Regional, MARC, Silver Star, and VRE trains all to depart soon after our arrival.




We wanted to get to our hotel quickly, so I took a quick lap through the Club Acela Lounge, since I had the necessary credentials in case they asked.


ClubAcela provides comfortable, lounge seating in a quiet, refined setting for Acela First Class or sleeping car passengers, Single-Day Pass holders, Amtrak Guest Rewards Select Plus and Select Executive members. Enjoy complimentary non-alcoholic beverages and snacks, Internet access, fax and photocopy services, conference room access, newspapers, periodicals and television. Attendants are available to assist with reservations, ticketing and local information.

ClubAcela Customer Rules & Privileges

    ClubAcela customers traveling in First Class or sleeping car accommodations, Single-Day Pass holders, Select Plus and Select Executive members may bring immediate family members traveling together, or one, non-family guest. Unaccompanied guests are not permitted.
    Other than those listed above, access is limited to the person whose name is printed on the Amtrak ticket. A ticket must be displayed each time a customer enters the Club.
    Amtrak reserves the right to restrict family and business associate access during peak periods.
    Individuals must be at least 18 years of age. No one under 18 will be admitted without accompaniment by an adult ClubAcela customer.
    Attire and conduct of ClubAcela customers and their guests must be in keeping with good taste and a dignified atmosphere.
    Food and beverages may not be brought into ClubAcela for consumption. Advise the Club attendant if special needs require consumption of personal food and beverages while in the Club
    All ClubAcela locations are non-smoking.




Union Station is a major train station, transportation hub, and leisure destination in Washington, D.C. Opened in 1907, it is Amtrak's headquarters and the railroad's second-busiest station, with annual ridership of over 5 million.



Directly out the front door of Union Station is the Capitol Dome.


The interior of Union Station in DC is a bustling shopping center with food court and restaurants.  Clientele for this area would be the many visitors to the Nation's Capitol as well as employees in the many nearby government offices as well as train commuters.


We walked out the front door of the Washington, DC Union Station, into the July heat and humidity, and met our Uber ride to our hotel.

More about Union Station in the Next Page:  Washington, DC


We used Uber in all 5 cities. Here's a free Uber ride (worth up to $20) on the Uber app
 To accept, use code 'carlm3106ue' to sign up. Enjoy!
Details: (The code will already be entered)

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