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Silver Rails Country on the Route of the Southwest Chief, an area surrounding La Plata, Missouri

"Blue Skies and Blue Ribbon-Rails" along the route of the
Amtrak Southwest Chief
somewhere in New Mexico.

(Click Here for a copy of the photo above without text, in a separate window.)

If your computer has a trackpad, you may find that using 2 fingers to scroll through the report might be easier to align the photos on your screen.

   "Our coach was a swinging and swaying cage of the most sumptuous description--an imposing cradle on wheels."  Mark Twain said that about his stagecoach trip to Virginia City, Nevada, from Hannibal, Missouri.  I felt the same about my Amtrak coach trip in the opposite direction from California to La Plata, Missouri, near Hannibal, 150-some years later. 

    Samuel Clemens had gone to Nevada City as a newspaper reporter during its gold and silver mining days, and while he was there he changed his name to the one we are more familiar with, Mark Twain.
   Similarly, I am a reporter for a modern-day 'newspaper', an Internet Rail-Related Website called  And, I am interested in a kind of 'Silver' as well, but this time, Silver Rails Country, which includes the town of La Plata, Missouri, and reaches as far east as the Mississippi River and Hannibal, Missouri, home of Mark Twain.

    The purpose of my 2,000-mile modern-day rail journey was to present the photography half of the "Rail Travel Writing and Photography Workshop," October 21 - 23, 2012, at the Depot Inn & Suites in La Plata.
My co-presenter of the writing portion of the workshop would be
Henry Kisor, author of ZEPHYR --  Tracking a Dream Across America and several other novels. 
Our Keynote Speaker would be Steve Barry, Managing Editor of Railfan and Railroad Magazine.

Links to both personalities are in LINKS at the end of this report.

Depot Inn & Suites, Workshop Location and Hotel for Participants and Presenters. 
(Link at the end of this Report)

Table of Contents
  1. Best Way to Get There
  2. What it Cost
  3. Southwest Chief Schedule
  4. Where to Sleep
    1. Amtrak Southwest Roomette
    2. Depot Inn & Suites
  5. Where to Eat
    1. Amtrak Southwest Chief Diner
    2. Santa Fe Espresso Cafe
    3. Grandma's Home Cookin
    4. Mark Twain Restaurant
  6. What to Do
    1. Exhibition of Amtrak History
    2. Silver Rails Gallery & Memorial Library and
    3. Chris Guenzler Millionth Rail Mile Lookout Point
    4. La Plata Santa Fe Depot / Amtrak Station
    5. &
    6. Amish Country Variety Store & Amish Country Bakery
    7. Silver Rails Event Center
    8. La Plata and surrounding Silver Rails Country
  7. What's New
    1. Cave Hollow West Winery
  8. Lessons Learned
  9. Links

--Southwest Chief No. 4 arriving in Fullerton, California, final destination Chicago, Illinois

"I feel the earth move under my feet, I feel the sky tumbling down. I feel my heart start to trembling, Whenever The Chief's around"

--With apologies to Carole King.

Amtrak Southwest Chief

--Map from
Note on the map above that this trip was from Fullerton, California, the first stop after the Southwest Chief departs Los Angeles.  The final destination was La Plata, Missouri, between Kansas City and the Mississippi River at Ft. Madison, Iowa.  Note also that the Depot Inn & Suites offers a free shuttle to Ottumwa, Iowa,where you can board the California Zephyr to return to California if you like.


    Two Adults, one-way Fullerton, CA, to La Plata, MO, 37 hrs. 5 min, 1,941 miles, in Coach = $296.  The cost of a  Roomette for two, including all meals is $745 making a total of $1,041 for two adults.  Return trip is the same price.
    (These prices were 10 days before departure.  I checked on this same trip for 11 months in advance and the same room with meals for 2 adults was $526
--plan far ahead and save $219!)   Virtual View of a Roomette:      

    Additionally, work with a travel agent with rail experience.  The most common complaint that Amtrak Conductors get about sleeping car accommodations is that a travel agent, private or Amtrak, had given them incorrect information, usually about the space in a Roomette or information about the location of a bathroom. 

    A seasoned private travel agent with access to the Amtrak reservations system is Carole Walker, Buena Vista Travel (562) 594-6771 or (714)952-2719.

    A more economical solution: Sign up for an Amtrak Guest Rewards Number (AGR), and get the Amtrak Guest Rewards Chase Mastercard which gives you points for purchases with this card.  Each year Amtrak has a miles sale with 30% bonus.  In this sale you can purchase 13,000 miles for $275.  You also earn extra points for opening the charge card.   You need 20,000 miles, one way, to get from California to La Plata, Missouri, so you would have more than half the points to get there.  Have your traveling partner do the same for the return trip.


    The Southwest Chief leaves Fullerton, California, at 6:50 pm, as you can see in the schedule on the bottom line in the illustration above.

One ticketing suggestion that gives travelers makes no sense to me.  This option takes $24 and nearly 2 hours extra to do--and it gets you back to Fullerton from which you could have left 2 hrs. later and $24 cheaper!  Simply stated, they give you the option of leaving Fullerton on the Southwest Chief at 6:50 as I did or, as mentioned, the option to spend money and time to ride west into Los Angeles, board the Chief and come right back, on the same track, arriving at Fullerton at 6:50 pm.  What is the advantage to the passenger of doing this?  Since it is a reserved seat or roomette why not board in Fullerton?  Boarding there, you can be dropped off a few steps from the train.  In LA you will have to lug your bags into the Station
through the large terminal, through the long tunnel the equivalent length of 10 tracks' width, then wait in a line to board the Chief, taking your luggage with you the whole way since there is no luggage service in La Plata.

    As soon as we boarded, the Car Attendant, Freddie, told us the Dining Car had open seating this first evening.  So the first thing you experience on this Amtrak trip is to have dinner in the Diner!  We did minimal room arranging and went immediately to dinner.  We were seated with Doug at dinner.  He has homes in Palm Springs and Albuquerque and travels frequently.  One complaint Doug had concerning his only dinner on this frequent trip was that Amtrak has stopped serving steak the first night out of Los Angeles.   In turn they serve lamb shank, but not the steak they have served for years.  After dinner we had time to set up our room for the 37 hr. stay.

    Since the Southwest Chief departs Fullerton, California, after dark in the Fall and Winter, the first outside photos are possible after breakfast while traveling through eastern Arizona and western New Mexico.

Southwest Chief from Fullerton, California, to La Plata, Missouri

All meals for Sleeping Car Passengers are taken in the Diner.  Community seating is the plan here, so you will meet some interesting folks along the way.  There are sixteen 4-person booths with a service area in the center of the car with stairway to the lower level where the kitchen is located.

The Sightseer/Lounge car, with Café on the lower level, is always between the Diner and Coaches.

In the Coaches, it seemed to average about 2 seats per person,
which would be quite comfortable for overnight travel.

"Why it is called the Southwest Chief."
From the last car, you can see all the way to the horizon down the tracks westward.

Coming into Albuquerque, New Mexico, there is an abandoned turntable on the left side of the train.

Former Santa Fe Shops still stand south of Albuquerque.

There has been a plan to use this old rail yard as a "Wheels Museum".

I presume you would call a fan in a rail shop a "Rail Fan"!

Albuquerque Amtrak and Greyhound Station

Yours Truly in Albuquerque

Old Route 66 went through Albuquerque passing under the Santa Fe track at the north end of the ABQ platform.

High Desert four train-hours northeast of Albuquerque.

Raton, New Mexico, where you can detrain and catch a bus to Denver, Colorado.

Dick Wootton owned this section of the Santa Fe Trail.  He collected a toll from everyone except Native American Indians and the Cavalry.  He sold the land for a tunnel to the Santa Fe Railroad with the stipulation that all of his family would have a lifetime job on the railroad.

You know your are nearing La Plata, Missouri, when you pass the former Santa Fe Station at Marceline, Walt Disney's boyhood home.  The station contains a museum about Walt which is easy to drive to from La Plata.

The Color of Missouri in October.

Two Videos of Amtrak No. 4 Southwest Chief Arriving at the La Plata, Missouri,  Amtrak Station:

Southwest Chief from La Plata, Missouri, to Fullerton, California

    "Is that you, Santa Claus?" was the first statement I heard when I boarded my sleeper in La Plata.  A female voice from the same downstairs roomette replied, "What are you talking about?"  "Well, I just saw a guy with a white beard and a red coat board the train, so I thought it might be Santa Claus!"  I saw "The Voice from Car 330" later, wearing a cowboy hat and boots, and a group tag labeled America by Rail.  Must have been a fun group.

The Westbound Southwest Chief arrives in La Plata after dark.  However, after boarding you are welcomed in the Diner for supper as you speed westward.  The next stop is Kansas City where the Chief pulls in next to the Amtrak Missouri River Runner that runs to St. Louis.

The temperature in La Plata had dropped 30 degrees on my day of departure, so views outside my Superliner window were dramatically different from the trip from California 10 days earlier.

Southwest Chief, right, and the Missouri River Runner in Kansas City, Missouri.

Western Auto sign visible to the east of the Kansas City Station.

After a good, warm night's sleep in my Roomette, I awoke to a dusting of snow in Colorado.  Breakfast in the Diner afforded snow-covered high desert vegetation.

Pretty quiet outside the Sightseer/Lounge windows on the Southwest Chief.

Sleeping Car Attendant of Car 330, John, found La Junta, CO, quite cold.

I had only seen snow flurries outside, but quite a bit of snow and ice had accumulated under the Chief.

Across the street (Hwy. 50) from the La Junta Station is a nice Santa Fe Caboose.

This sign confirmed that we were almost at the midpoint between coasts.  I drove our 1956 Chevy coast-to-coast on Highway 50 in 2004, all 3,073 miles, and passed this point.

La Junta Station and crew change location.

La Junta Station

Between La Junta and Trinidad, Colorado, the weather kept changing.

Mountains north of Trinidad, Colorado, from the Southwest Chief.

Snow clouds and Red Barn with antique farm machinery north of Trinidad, Colorado.

This Trinidad, Colorado, church is so small, its Choir Loft is on the outside of the church.

As with most historic towns, the Church outlasted the Tavern.  It looks like Ed has served his last sasparilla!

I include this cross-over sign only to remind me that this is where our Southwest Chief went into emergency stop mode.
I pulled out my radio and listened as the engineer and conductors inspected the train for the cause of the loss of air pressure.   In about 40 minutes we were up and running after a reboot and test of the air.  No one had pulled an emergency lever in any car.  Individual car brakes were set while the inspection and rebook took place.

Waiting for the reason for the emergency stop to be solved was about as exciting as watching snow melt on the adjacent track.

We were soon on our way up the Santa Fe Trail to Raton Pass.

Dick Wootton's Ranch today has one remaining building, the bunkhouse on the far left.

From my many trips over Raton Pass, I've learned that just before entering the north portal to the Raton Tunnel, right beside the tracks is a state line monument showing "New Mexico" on one side and "Colorado" on the other.

In New Mexico, on a steep downgrade into Raton, there are more rural, mountain scenes.

Across a ravine from our slow-moving Southwest Chief, I spied a herd of elk that were not bothered by our passing.

The other half of the herd were on the far edge of the high elevation meadow.

An authentic-looking dry goods store facing the tracks in Raton, NM.

All Amtrak Stations appear to have the new signs, foreground, and Raton has the classic one above the arch.

Someone pointed out the name on this establishment when I passed eastward, but I did not have camera ready, this time I did.

Pronghorns between Raton and Lamy, New Mexico.

This house, near Lamy, always catches my attention.  Before the white triangle was added in the middle, this house looked just like a desert lizard.

"Trucks Stopped"
I always look for this collection of mostly old Chevy trucks south of Lamy, west side of track.

The '55 Chevy Division of the same junk yard.

Cottonwood trees appear in their Fall Golden color going from Santa Fe's 7,260 ft. elevation to Albuquerque's 5,000 ft., along the Rio Grande River.

These folks were using the last 10 minutes of our stop in Albuquerque to buy some 'authentic' items from vendors whose wares are strategically placed on the platform for both arriving Amtrak Southwest Chiefs each midday.

It was soon time for "Dinner in the Diner" as we rode the mainline westward, west of Belen.  In this flat area you can see mile-long BNSF container freights all in one shot, if you have a camera with a wide angle lens.

Amtrak Southwest Chief Roomette
This Fullerton, California, to La Plata, Missouri, Amtrak Southwest Chief trip takes 37 hrs. and includes two nights sleep in one's Roomette (or whatever accommodations you select), and includes five meals of anything on the menu in the Diner.
All accommodations and attractions descriptions below were taken from the Silver Rails Country Map.  Ask for a copy to be mailed prior to your trip, or pick up one in the Depot Inn &Suites.  The Online Copy is at:

Depot Inn & Suites

    1245 N. Brown St., La Plata, MO 63549, 888-814-3669, 660-332-4669, Affordable luxury accommodations located on the historic Wabash line in the heart of Silver Rails Country, the hotel is themed after an 1800's railroad depot and landscaped with many railroad-related antiques.  
    30 Beautifully Appointed Rooms, 4 Luxurious Themed Suites, Free In-Room WiFi and Wired Internet Access, Free Continental Breakfast, 24/7 FREE Coffee Bar, Microwave / Refrigerator in every room, Heated Indoor Pool, Guest Laundry, Business Center with Computers/Printer/Fax, Exercise Equipment, Meeting Room with Kitchenette, Convenient In-house Movie Rentals, Gift Shop and General Store, Free shuttle from Amtrak Stations in: La Plata, Quincy & Ottumwa, Free shuttle from Kirksville Airport, Rental Car pick-up / drop-off on premises
    Room Rate:  Available in the Links at the end of this report.

Depot Inn & Suites, "Where the Railroad Workers Sleep"

Thirty Rooms plus Four Individually Themed Suites

Amtrak Southwest Chief Diner
All five meals on this trip were included in the price of the roomette.  You may select anything on the menu.  Breakfasts are first-come first-served starting at 6:30 a.m.  Lunch and Dinner reservations are made when a Diner Attendant comes to the Sleepers first, followed by the Coaches then the Sightseer/Lounge to ask for your preferred dining time.

Amtrak Southwest Chief's Diner between meals.

Santa Fe Espresso Cafe
121 Gex St., La Plata, MO 63549, Coffee, Soup, Salad, Sandwiches, Pastries, Dessert.

At one of our meals at the Santa Fe Espresso Cafe, we noticed two men in black suits and black hats.  Henry leaned over and whispered that if you are visited by such sinister looking characters you are likely to be Buried, Assassinated, or Foreclosed Upon.  As it turned out, they were in town to deliver a body for a funeral.

Santa Fe Espresso Cafe, newest eating establishment in town, open for breakfast at 8 a.m. through lunch.

Susan has a Menu board outside so that you can decide if you want the daily breakfast or lunch special before you enter the Cafe.  Other items are served regularly in addition to the daily special.  Walk in and order at the counter, then have a seat and enjoy the free Wi-Fi or conversation with the many locals who dine here.

I selected the "Turkey Dinner for $6.75" Delicious and large enough for a family.

Breakfast Specials each morning, and very reasonable.
With each meal I had a Carmel Latte and rate it, "The Best Latte East of Starbucks."

Grandma's Home Cookin
129 E. Moore St., La Plata, MO 63549, 660-332-7939, Especially great for breakfast in Downtown La Plata.  From the Depot Inn & Suites, turn right onto Brown Street, go over the bridge over the railroad to the first stop sign, turn right and in a couple of blocks, on the northeast corner of the town square you will find the white-fronted Grandma's.
(Grandma's was closed during our short stay, but should be open when you visit.  Another great breakfast and lunch spot in La Plata.)

Chew Choo Cafe

located in the La Plata Pharmacy at 20036 July Road, La Plata, MO 63549, 660-332-4456

I took our Workshop Attendees to the Chew Choo Cafe one day for lunch.

Very cute soda shop decor under Blue Bunny Ice Cream umbrellas.

Steve Barry noticed a gourmet delight on the menu, "Hymie on a Stick" which I just had to try, with a side of potato salad.  I asked who the Sloppy Joe in a tortilla with Fritos was named after and was told, "The Pharmacist."

I had to meet Hymie (Jamie) after eating a lunch named after him.  I asked how he got the name and he said in a Spanish Class in high school since his name was Jamie.  Mystery solved.  We're still wondering where the stick comes into play.

Mark Twain Restaurant

The Mark Twain Restaurant serves Homemade Root Beer.

WHAT TO DO (From the Map issued around Silver Rails Country and the Depot Inn and Suites)

Exhibition of Amtrak History
Operated By The American Passenger Rail Heritage Foundation (APRHF) in 2 railroad cars at 1245 N. Brown St., La Plata 63549, 660-332-4669, Collection of the Amtrak Historical Society, a professional model railroad exhibit.

The Exhibition of Amtrak History lies just steps behind the Depot Inn & Suites. 

Just ask for the key at the Front Desk and take a free self-guided tour.

Just beyond the Exhibition of Amtrak History's two rail cars,
down the original Wabash RR right of way, is the Overlook.

Silver Rails Gallery & Memorial Library,
operated by the American Passenger Rail Heritage Foundation (APRHF)

109 S. Gex St., La Plata, MO 63549, 660-956-4157, Works of Railroad Art & Photograph, a railroad gift shop, plus a collection of railroad books & journals  E-mail:

Amy Cox, Curator with husband Bob, gives a thorough, educational tour of the Silver Rails Gallery and Memorial Library. 
660-956-4157 when you want a tour.

Chris Guenzler Millionth Rail Mile Lookout Point
at the end of the road behind The Red Rooster Restaurant, Cabin and Deck overlooking the BNSF mainline.  (Referred to in this report as Overlook or Lookout.)

From the Depot Inn & Suites you can walk or take the Inn's golf cart,
down the original Wabash RR right-of-way to the Overlook of the Santa Fe Mainline.

The Overlook, right, above the Santa Fe double-track mainline.  La Plata Amtrak Station in the distance.  Remaining Wabash RR bridge abutment on left.  Photo from Brown St. Bridge.

BNSF engineers always give a hello whistle to the many railfans enjoying the Overlook.

While waiting for trains, railfans swap stories, check the monitor for the next train, and listen to the dispatcher on the speaker in the cabin.  At one time on this Sunday morning I counted 11 visitors including a local convalescent hospital with an attendant feeding a disabled patient while they both watched trains.
  Dennis, far left, Henry Kisor, center with tan jacket, Richard Nations, far right, and son Philip, red sweatshirt.

Henry Kisor, author of ZEPHYR - Tracking A Dream Across America, enjoys photographing the morning eastbound Amtrak Southwest Chief.  
The westbound
Amtrak Southwest Chief passes through about 8 pm.  

Amtrak Southwest Chief No. 4 stops at the La Plata, Missouri, Station making one stop for Sleeping Car Passengers and another for Coach Passengers each morning.  This photo taken from the Lookout.
Live rail cam from the Lookout looking east.  Live rail cam from the Lookout looking west.

La Plata Santa Fe Depot / Amtrak Station
535 N. Owensby St., La Plata, MO 63549, 660-956-0460, Restored Historic Santa Fe Depot Click here for station info and history.

A typical morning arrival of the Amtrak Southwest Chief at the La Plata, Missouri, Amtrak Station.

Awaiting the evening, westbound Amtrak Southwest Chief at the La Plata, Missouri, Amtrak Station.

BNSF trains pass the La Plata Station all hours of the day and night.
West-facing web cam at the DepotEast-facing web cam at the Depot.

Inside the La Plata Station, looking eastward.

Authentic baggage cart with extensive information including Amtrak Schedules and information on joining the American Rail Passenger Heritage Foundation (APRHF) which raises money to maintain this station.

Bob Cox, part-time caretaker of the Amtrak La Plata Station, meets every train to assist passengers. &
100 E. Benton St., La Plata, MO 63549, 800-761-4294, Home office of & - Take a tour of the warehouse of over 1000 different railroad themed party supplies

The TrainParty building is easy to spot from the Lookout.  It is the red, white, and blue building across the tracks.  The high-roofed closest portion of the building is an expansion just completed.

Henry checks out the shipping room of this Internet business.

The Thomas piñatas make a nice pattern photo.

Amy moving inventory past the day's outdoing orders.

Inside the new Amish-built warehouse addition.

Silver Rails Event Center  Operated By The American Passenger Rail Heritage Foundation (APRHF)
204 E. Moore St., La Plata, MO 63549, 660-956-4157, A rail themed function hall for meetings, shows, weddings, etc.

Bob Cox, organizer of the event, calls out a winning raffle ticket at the Train Show held October 20, 2012.

The Event Center is very large, allowing for many vendors and guests.

With vendors and attendees in town for the Train Show,
the Depot Inn & Suites was completely booked!

Tony Cook, Editor of Model Railroad News with White River Productions had a table.

All the vendors had a group photo taken, with the Event Center stretching beyond.

After the Rail Show, I enjoyed talking with an Amish couple, Sam and Mary Mast.  They had been working in the show's snack bar in the Event Center.  Sam offered me a ride in his buggy, which I was delighted to accept.

This is "Alan" who provided the horsepower for my buggy ride.

"The View Never Changes When You Travel by Horse and Buggy"
I can remember this view from when I was a kid.  My dad owned a team of horses which he inherited from his dad.

I thanked Sam, and Alan, for the ride and relinquished my seat to Mary. 
They headed into the sunset, on their buckboard, to their place west of town on Hwy. 156.

This Amish young man, seeing the camera over my shoulder, asked if I knew anyone who could enlarge a photograph so he could use it on a tabletop he was building.  I directed him to Bob Cox in the Event Center.  I asked this young Amish man about his horse and buggy .  He told me that he had gotten it up to 24 mph, according to his installed bicycle speedometer.  He said his brother had been up to 31 mph in a buggy.
109 S. Gex St., La Plata, MO 63549, 660-287-1714, Magnets, Posters, DVDs, and other unique railroad related gifts.

Bob and Amy Cox own 
They can also be found at the APRHF Gallery, APRHF Event Center, Amtrak Station, and at the building, all located in La Plata, Missouri.

Amish Country Variety Store & Amish Country Bakery
25531 State Highway 156, La Plata, MO 63549, less than 4 miles out of town. A General Store for the Amish, but also open and welcome to the public.

My only free day to visit the Amish Bakery and Country Store was Thursday.  Thursday and Sundays are the only days that these establishments are not open.  But I did get a nice buggy shot at the Bakery.

With the stores being closed, I drove around the Amish area west of La Plata.

Telltale indications that a home might be Amish:  A buggy in the driveway, plain clothes hung on a line to dry, and no electric lines running to the house.

Plain Folk's clothes drying in the breeze on the clothesline.

La Plata and surrounding Silver Rails Country

    When I first visited La Plata, Missouri, Tom Marshall, builder of the Depot Inn & Suites, took a number of us out-of-towners for a tour around town and into the countryside.  He took us to a 'ghost town' along the BNSF railroad, west of town, just off Hwy. 3.  The town was Cardy.  It had been a railroad stop, but today is only a couple of 'ghostly' stores...with a surprise behind the town.
La Plata In-Town

The Gilbreath-McLorn House was added to the
about 1978.

The Gilbreath-McLorn Residence, 225 North Owenby, La Plata, Missouri is a two-story
house with full attic and basement which is constructed in a restrained Queen Anne style with Eastlake detailing. The plan of the house rambles visually, but the room arrangement is actually compact arid well organized. Built in 1896.

Doneghy Victorian House, 301 N. Owensby St., La Plata, MO 63549,

This Queen Anne Victorian was built by John T. Doneghy, a local banker, in 1895. The entire house is trimmed in solid oak woodwork and the sliding doors that section off the downstairs are also solid oak. The wall of a pantry was removed to make the kitchen larger, and there have been some other minor architectural changes. The butler's pantry was split into a downstairs bathroom and utility room, and a small back porch has been added. The house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1989. Ed Green purchased the home in 1975.  The house has recently been purchased by Susan Walker of La Plata and repainted.

This "Pink House" was recently purchased by the Walkers, and Mr. Walker is seen here repainting it.

The United Methodist Church in La Plata, one of many churches in town.

The Ghost Town of Cardy, Missouri
    Closely identified with the story of the great expansive movement of the Santa Fe Railroad in the 1880's and 1890's is the history of Marceline, located in the southeast corner of Linn County, Missouri. The Santa Fe was the first railroad to establish a road linking Chicago and Kansas City, and Kansas City, Kansas linking Chicago to the west coast along a one-company line. To plan the new line, the railroad engineers, for the most part, drew on a map a straight line between Chicago and Kansas City. Corporate decisions, based on technological needs, created towns along the new lines at regular intervals so the locomotives could take on water, fuel, and a crew change.
    Towns sprung up: Rutledge, Standish, Gibbs, Wyaconda, Cardy, Bosworth and Marceline, headquarters for the Santa Fe's Missouri Division.

"Downtown" Cardy, Missouri.

My friend, Ben Myers in Pennsylvania, titled this photo:


"Lathe and Plaster and Stamper Feeds keeps this town together."

The Biggest Find
for me at Cardy was the Rusting Cars in the field behind the buildings.
"May They Rust In Peace"

1939 Chevrolet Master Deluxe Opera Coupe

1939 Chevrolet Master Deluxe Opera Coupe

1939 Chevrolet Master Deluxe Opera Coupe

Six-Cylinder with a "Straight Stick"

1950 Dodge 1-Ton five-window Pickup

1955 Oldsmobile Rocket 88

1953 Chevy Bel Aire

    Mark Twain's birthplace is Hannibal, Missouri.  West Winery, near La Plata in Macon, Missouri, has opened a winery at Cave Hollow, on the south side of Hannibal at Mark Twain Caves.  I discovered that one of the wines they produce only at Cave Hollow is, An Innocent Broad, my kind of wine...Sweet and white.

    If you have an afternoon, as we did after lunch the last day of the Workshop, take the 1 hr. 20 min. drive across Hwy. 36 to Hannibal, Missouri on the Mississippi River.  You will find hours of entertainment, not the least of which is the Cave Hollow West Winery mentioned above.  Drive to the last exit before the River, marked Downtown, and turn right.  Keep an eye out on the right for the Hannibal Visitors Bureau (below).

Hannibal Visitors Bureau, on "Old 36" at the base of the former Mississippi R. Bridge.

We did actually 'Write Our Own Story' and you are reading it.

View from the Visitor's Center up Old 36 to where the Mark Twain Memorial Bridge used to cross the Mississippi River.  Now a nice Riverview park.

The Red Maples along the way were at their season's best.

Reminds me of the song,
"The falling leaves drift by my window
the falling leaves of red and gold...."

"Becky's Butterfly Garden"
is beside the walk up to the viewpoint over the river.

Traveling companion, James Ruth, found the 6th point very interesting.

A statue of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer overlooks Hannibal's Main St.

Down by the can watch trains Roll down the River.


Beyond the I-72 Bridge is the Vertical-lift through truss bridge over the Mississippi River on the Norfolk Southern Railroad at Hannibal.

The Riverboat Mark Twain.

Towboat Sir Randall stationed at Hannibal helps large riverboarts tie up.

Mark Twain at Riverside.

Mark's Story.

BNSF coal train heads south between the river and the flood wall,
past the River Lighthouse on the hill above Hannibal.

How to tell time with a sun dial on a cloudy day along the Mississipi River.
    Next stop in Hannibal, just 3 miles south of town, was the Cave Hollow West Winery where I was looking forward to tasting the wine that is only available there...Innocent Broad (mentioned above).

Cave Hollow West Winery on an October afternoon welcomed us for tasting of their wines.

Sue welcomed us and poured the wines each of us selected.

The tasting room was spacious and relaxing.

A grand piano, a soft sofa and a church pew...that's eclectic!

A window to the winery allows visitors to view the winemaking process.

A wagon load of Innocent Broads (the wine that is).   Sounds like a stage coach of women from Hannibal, Missouri, to Virginia City, Nevada, in the 1800s.

Cave Hollow and the entrance to Mark Twain Cave on an October afternoon. 
Next Stop, dinner at the Mark Twain Restaurant downtown.

From Henry Kisor and Steve Barry, the other two presenters besides me at the "Rail Travel Writing and Photography Workshop" some new thoughts:

800/IMG_1354x.jpgHenry Kisor:
 Rail reports should start with an interesting or humorous happening on the trip.  Do not lay out your report in chronological order, you must hook the reader into continuing to read your report.  Include a few good, 640 x 480 photos in your report.  Use good, descriptive captions that will show up in an internet search that matches the subject of your photographs.  Use a digital recorder when interviewing someone on the train, then use that recording to insure quotes are verbatim.  Never fabricate a story by not actually going on the trip.  Read good authors who appeal to the entire traveling population, not just railfans.  A good book for that is Writing the Rails.  Put milepost references in your rail travelogues so that readers know exactly where you took the photos.

800/IMG_1705%20-%20Version%202.jpgSteve Barry:

Read a publication before you submit an article for publication.  When putting a link in your article or Internet report, have it open in a New Window or New Tab so the reader can easily get back to your report when he is done using that link.  Keep your links at the end of your report so that if the reader does get involved with the link, they do not miss the rest of your report.  Since the words you write on a photo do not show up in an Internet search, embed the text of the photo into the Alt Tag.  Photos used in print publications should only be edited by cropping and adjusting exposure.  This is photo journalism and telephone wires, poles, etc. should not be removed since readers may count on those landmarks to find the exact location of your photo.  Auto noise reduction is acceptable.  Steve uses Lightroom to edit and catalog his photos.  Lightroom never touches the original digital image.  Do not crop photos when sent in with an article for print media, they will be cropped and arranged to fit the piece by the Editor.  Include vertical shots in your submission.  Many Feature Articles also get a photo on the cover and it must be a vertical.  (A link to the Writer's Guidelines for Railfan & Railroad Magazine is under Links below.)


Carole Walker, Buena Vista Travel (562) 594-6771 or (714)952-2719

Henry Kisor's Books, including ZEPHYR - Tracking A Dream Across America

Steve Barry, Editor of Railfan & Railroads magazine and his Personal Railroad Photographs Site (Wonderful Slideshow!)

Railfan & Railroad magazine's Writer's Guidelines.

Depot Inn & Suites, La Plata, Missouri, on the Route of the Southwest Chief:  Rates

American Passenger Rail Heritage Foundation (APRHF)  a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose mission is to establish, expand, and maintain an educational exhibition featuring the history of passenger rail in America.  Operators of:  Exhibition of Amtrak History, Silver Rails Gallery,  Event Center, all in La Plata, Missouri.

109 South Gex Street
LaPlata, MO 63549
660 956-4157

Seven Live Rail Cameras at various locations in Silver Rails Country including the Amtrak Station, in La Plata, and the Lookout at the Depot Inn.

Click Here for a Slideshow of all Images in this Report.

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