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Cardinal, Chicago to Charleston, WV

Cardinal (Train 50), Chicago to Charleston, WV.

June 26, 2003

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The Metropolitan Lounge in Chicago was a comfortable place to wait for Train 50 to depart for Washington, D.C.  We stored our luggage and took a seat in the large wood-paneled waiting area.  There was a TV in one corner, leather couches or padded chair seating in the rest.  A fireplace on each wall.  A receptionist issued us a lounge pass with our train number, 50, on it.  There were complimentary soft drinks available.


Two big fans of Amtrak!

Remembering that the Route Guide had said, CHICAGO is the crossroad of American manufacturing and distribution, and is an important hub of the nation's rail roads.  The Sears Tower dominates the massive skyline along with the "Gold Coast" high rises along Lake Michigan.  As the train backs into Chicago's Union Station, it parallels the Chicago River on the left, its flow reversed in an engineering triumph.  And another engineering triumph is the modern Amtrak yards and maintenance facility, which is the home of the California Zephyr.  The train ends its 2,422-mile run in historic Union Station.  Built in 1926, the station serves over 40 Amtrak trains and 160 commuter trains each weekday.   We ventured outside the station for some early evening shots of the Sears Tower, Chicago River, and the side of the station.


Chicago Union Station


My friend, Bob, took me outside Union
Station to point out the local sites.

The Sears Tower.


The Chicago River, looking south.

The Chicago River, looking north.
See the Elevated train?


Lights outside Union Station,
Along the Chicago River.

Draw Bridge control Tower.

Looking toward Lake Michigan
from Union Station.

Again on this train, as on our train in California,  there was a private car at the end of the consist.   The manager asked if I wanted to step onboard for a picture, but recalling my experience in Denver, I chose to move on to the other end of the train to  our sleeper car.

As I walked our train to our car, on an adjacent track was a car with Adirondack insignia.  We eventually reached our sleeper.  At first I thought it might be double-level, as is the case west of Chicago, but once inside the car, I could see that what appeared from the outside to be a second level was just small windows for the upper bunk.


Leaving Chicago, on the lake side of the train,
we saw White Sox Stadium.

We found our room the same size as the Standard Room on western Superliners, except that it had a commode and fold down sink squeezed in before the narrow window seat (below left).  The upper bunk stores flat, rather than tipped up in Superliner Sleepers, and pulls down between the lower and upper window (below right).

This train does not run daily and at that only has one sleeper car.  It was dark when Evans, our car attendant, called, "Last call for dinner in the diner."  We went to the diner.  Since both the kitchen and seating are on one level, the dining room is about half the size of a Superliner dining car.  We enjoyed dinner with Alice and Ray  from Minnesota.  Ray was a Field Manager for Butter Kernel canning company.  He manages the harvesting of peas, green beans, sweet corn, and other vegetables for the dinner table.  He and Alice had 10 kids and lived on a farm for 25 years.  They had a small room with bunk beds and restroom facilities right across the aisle from us in the sleeper car.

After dinner it didn't take long for us to get to bed and sleep.  I was awakened only after the stop in Cincinnati about 6 a.m.  I realized I'd missed the station when I looked out my bedroom window to see the Cincinnati Reds Statium (RiverFront Stadium) from across the Ohio River which put us in Kentucky.  

We followed the river east for some time and knowing we needed to be ready to get off the train in Carleston, WV, we went to breakfast.

Bill and Clara Owen (below) were our breakfast partners and Bill quickly announced that this was his 94th birthday.  They had been married 70 years and were from Cincinnati, Ohio.  He has owned a small print shop, Surface Printing, in Cincinnati.


The consist of the Cardinal, which I quickly jotted down as the train left the Charleston, WV, Station when we detrained, was:
Engine 200, Dorm/Lounge (with the lounge made into a checked baggace area) 2515, Sleeping Car 62021, Diner 8512, Cafe 28011, Coaches 25099, 25050, 25119, and 8521 with the private car "Survivor" at the end.

We followed the Kanawha River into downtown Charleston, West Virginia, and detrained there for the continuation of our summer vacation.  Charleston is the state capitol of West Virginia and as we were taking a cab to the Chuck Yeager Airport, I snapped a quick picture.


Interesting cabless CSX engine.


Bridge over the Kanawha River in Charleston
photographed from the Amtrak Station.


Charleston, WV, Amtrak Station

Tracks on east to Washington, DC.

This concludes our train trip of the summer of 2003.  If you have not read the other travelogues I've written, please click one below, or return to my TrainWeb Table of Contents by clicking the last link below... Carl's Home Page at .  

One Photo Essay I've added from this trip is the Illinois Railway Museum , at Union, Illinois which you might enjoy.  Click the last link below and select the IRM page link there.

You might enjoy my commentary after this summer trip titled, Trains, Planes, and Automobiles...I Choose Trains, which you can reach by clicking the last link below Carl's Home Page at

[ Top of this page | Coast Starlight | California Zephyr Sacramento, CA, to Denver, CO | California Zephyr Denver to Chicago |   The Cardinal | :   Carl's Home Page at ]