Facebook Page
Southwest Chief to La Plata, Missouri, Dec. 6-8, 2006

The 10th Anniversary of, December 9, 2006.

Southwest Chief to La Plata, Missouri

Taking the "Polar Express" [a.k.a. Southwest Chief]  to La Plata, MO, from Fullerton, in Southern California 12/6-8/06.

By Carl Morrison,

(Click any photo for a double-sized copy, click BACK in your browser to return to this page.)

320/DSC00644.jpgFullerton, California.  This city was once the center of North Orange County's citrus industry.  The station, built in 1930, was used in the 1964 Doris Day/Rock Hudson move, "Send Me No Flowers."

Those who boarded Train 3, Eastbound from Fullerton to La Plata this Wednesday evening were:

Carl Morrison, Sleeper Car 431
Richard Hamilton and Tessie, Sleeper Car 431
Jonathon Ortiz and his father Henry, Coach
Konrad and Bonnie Kerr, Coach

Andrew Smith, who had boarded in LA came from his 430 car to greet us and introduce himself upon our boarding.

Thursday night's Train 3 will take the following to La Plata:

Chris guenzler, Rick Von Ivkovich, Ken Ruben, Thomas Anderson, Dan Dalke, Pat Moran, Ross Moore.

Friday, the following attendees will arrive by flight:

Steve Grande, Barbara Cepinko, Jonathan Cardoza, Irving and Shirley Cepinko and Chris Parker.

Others arriving at unknown times:

Chris Haynes, Anton Lazzaro, Charles Nilon, Ron Delong, Ron Manning and Jeff Kocar, Amtrak, and Ingrid Dickson.

Lori Scott (above, right) was the 1430 Attendant.  Lupe was the sleeper 1431 Attendant,  Ifran the LSA.  This was crew #4

The Consist for this edition of Train 3, December 6, 2006 was;

Engines 123 and 152, Baggage 1242, (No transition sleeper), Sleepers:  1431 - 32050, 1430 - 32034.  Diner 38058, Signtseeing Lounge 33005, and Coaches:  34093, 34094, 31030.

Picture%201.pngWe proceeded eastbound, through east Fullerton, Placentia, Yorba Linda and Anaheim Hills.  Our stops were Riverside and San Bernardino.  Starting here, our track parallels U.S. Route 66 all the way to Albuquerque.

San Bernardino was a stretch stop so I stepped off my car to the platform.  A young man, Anton  Lazzaro, headed for La Plata as well, who was to board in L.A., missed the train there, but caught up with it here, and boarded Sleeping Car 431.  I saw that he had hooked up with Andrew and the two of them were having great fun talking trains at meals in the diner.

Andrew came down from 431 later in the evening and Richard Hamilton (Of Let's Talk Trains) and I had a pleasant time talking trains as we traveled east.  Upon returning to my room and starting to set up my technology, I discovered my one and only electrical plug in room 13 did not work.  I asked Attendant Lori (above, right) if there was another room, preferably on the upper level (where the windows are cleaner) that I could move to, and she found me one next to the diner!  I set up my office using the upper bunk for storage, and plugged in my power bar and proceeded to fill 5 of the 6 outlets to charge the various pieces of technology I had brought!

I skipped dinner in the diner, since I had just had such a scroumptious meal at the Rail Restaurant, and I just had Lori get me a decaf for the room.  I did walk the train and found the other La Plata passengers that had boarded the coaches. 

After San Bernardino we ascended the Cajon Pass.  We twisted and turned through this popular railfan stretch, to an elevation of 3,811 feet.  I worked through Cajon Pass and out to Victorville and Barstow stops, both on time!  East of Barstow, I noticed on my GPS that we were going 90 mph.  I beleive this is one of the few places, like Kansas and Camp Pendleton, CA, that the limit is 90.  (If readers know the other locations, please let me know).

Sleep was intermittent during the night through Needles, Kingman, AZ, Williams Jct., and Flagstaff.  I awoke about 6ish, because I purposely left my curtains open so the sun would be my alarm clock.  I showered and was ready for the 6:30 opening of the diner.  Unlike lunch and dinner when the car attendants ask you when you want to eat and give you a  seating time, breakfast is first come first served and this train is light and there is no problem walking at any time for breakfast. 

On Amtrak long distance trains, dining is always community will be seated with someone else unless you are a party of four.  I like this because you'll meet interesting folks at every meal! 

I left my GPS plugged in during the night so it would not 'sleep' but stay lighted with the map and current speed.  It's kind of a night light and I can see the details when I wake up and roll over.  Through the night my little GPS kept tracking of our progress and during the night when I was sleeping, we'd covered 585 miles at an average speed of 63 mph!  (Now you can't do that when you are driving a car.)  Actually I had 2 meals and worked in my room, slept for 8 hours, took a shower, while I traveled 603 miles to McCatys.

During the day, I found myself watching out my window...I was on the shade side of the car so no light was on my window.  I wished I'd brought my thermometer so I could have checked the temperature.   After crossing the Continental Divide, the creeks were frozen and there was snow in the shadows.

Scenery from the Train:  Arizona, and New Mexico

High desert Red Rock Mesas

320/DSC00654.jpg 320/DSC00658.jpg

A long coal train headed for a power plant caught my eye because of the length and identical cars.

We paralleled I-40 heading east.

Indian reservation and road from our elevated railbed (right).

Albuquerque, where we actually arrived early allowing us 55 minutes to either go to the Cold Stone Creamery a half block away, as Andy Smith did.

Albuquerque Transportation Center from the Amtrak Platform.

Some of her work, above.

It was 42 degrees and only two Indian vendors (above right) were on the platform where there usually many vendors in the summer when I'd been here before.

I also walked to the front of the train and looked down on old Route 66!


Jonathan and I took pictures of the new Rail Runner commuter trains and signage and our Southwest Chief.




Southwest Chief in Albuquerque.
Sleeping Cars (2).  Great Attendant Lori, below.


Sightseeing/Lounge Car

Last Coach (right), a good place for trailing track pictures.

Lunch was right after the Albuquerque stop and crew change.   Yolanda was our waitress.  I lunched with an authentic Rail Fan who has watched trains from high passes and tunnels all over the USA.  He had worked in LA as a radio announcer for KRTH 101, an Oldies station.   He was returning to Pennsylvania.  We were seated together again for supper.  I enjoyed our conversations.

Returning to my room I worked a while, then dozed off.  I had a 7:15 seating time.  Beautiful red mountain pass that we acended after Lamy, where some passengers destined for Santa Fe got off.  Leaving Lamy, the train winds through Apache Canyon and ascends Glorieta Pass at an elevation of 7,421 feet.

In Las Vegas, NM, I saw, but did not get a photograph, The Castaneda.  It is one of the few remaining Harvey Houses still standing on the Santa Fe route.  The Castaneda was the site of the annual reunion for Teddy Roosevelt and his Rought riders from the Spanish-American War.  homage was paid to the Fred Harvey System in the 1946 MGM Muscial, "The Harvey Girls," starring Angela Landsbury and Judy Garland.  Other Harvey Houses on our route still stand at Barstow, Needles, Winslow, and Dodge City.

I worked the afternoon in the room, what was left of it after my nap, then had a baked cod dinner.  I went to Andrew's room after dinner and we had a great conversation about trains, classic cars, and NASCAR.  Lori made up my bed as the last one, about 10, and said we'd be going 90 mph again as we crossed Kansas.

Photos after Lamy, the Santa Fe, New Mexico, stop.

Does this building look like a lizard to you?
On the "S" curve above Lamy, on top of the ridge, over 7,100 ft.
We passed through Raton, NM, after dark, about 6 pm. This light is on the high hill north of the station.

Raton, NM, from the train station.  We'd see Raton in the daytime when we returned.

The next morning we continued toward La Plata.

Missouri River

Power Plant on Missouri River
Missouri River Railroad Bridge about 30 minutes past Kansas City.  The steel bridge is 135 ft. high.  The shadow of our train shows nicely on the sand bar west of the bridge in the photo above.  Can you see the shadow of me waving!?

Looking back from the north end of the bridge, you can see the power plant.

Just past the river, past the line of trees at the edge of the field, you can see how they fix a broken dike.
On the west side of Marceline, MO, a BNSF container freight was stopped,
with 4436 at the point.


We were soon in Marceline, Walt Disney's childhood home.  The Route Guide says "downtown Marceline was the pattern used for Main Street, USA, at Disneyland, in Anaheim, California!
Maybe his interest in trains began here as well.  A steam engine rests in the park today.
The park pond was frozen over!

It was now time to arrive in La Plata, for the celebration!  I packed my technology and moved to the lower level in anticipation.  It was about 10:30 a.m. December 8, 2006, my first time to set foot in La Plata!

Footnote:  Arrrival in La Plata, Missouri.  I hadn't had my GPS on all the way from Fullerton, California, but the statistics for the part in which I did have it on were:

1280 miles.  Overall time:  22:57.  Traveling average mph:  59.3.  Stopped 1:23, making Overall average mph for the 1,280 miles:  55.7.  Maximum speed:  93.4.

I had gotten on the Southwest Chief knowing I'd get off before Chicago at La Plata, Missouri, but this map, I found on the Internet, may give you the relative location of La Plata:

This Map (above) and  other official data about La Plata, Missouri can be found on the Links page.

For the next Chapter of this report, Click #3 "Arriving in LaPlata...." below.

1. Sendoff Party | 2. Going to La Plata |  3. Arriving in LaPlata and the Depot Inn & Suites  |  4.   La Plata, Missouri | 5. Anniversary Party and Ribbon Cutting | 6. Returning to sunny Southern California  7. Links