Overland Trail and Pacific Trail Trip - Los Angeles to Chicago - Departing October 18, 2019 on the Amtrak Southwest Chief
Sunrise over the Trail Sisters in Kansas City, October 20, 2019
Trail and Pacific Trail Trip
- Los Angeles to Chicago - Departing October 18, 2019
The private rail cars of Bill Hatrick traveled within Amtrak's
Southwest Chief leaving Los Angeles at 6:00 p.m. on October 18, 2019.
The vintage railroad passenger cars, Overland Trail
and Pacific Trail,
traveled to Chicago to participate in the new "Autumn Colors
Express" (the old "New River Train") later in October in West Virginia.
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Trail and Pacific
Trail from Fullerton, California, to La Plata, Missouri
Knowing the private cars were attached on the back of the Southwest Chief,
we awaited its arrival on the west end of the Fullerton platform.
Reading in the right column from the bottom of the schedule above, I
boarded in Fullerton at approximately 6:35 pm on a Friday, and got off
in La Plata, Missouri, approximately 9:33 a.m. Sunday. The full trip
for the two cars and staff was Los Angeles to Chicago.
I had been watching the Amtrak app's "Train Status" to see if No. 4 was on time.
Chief made the normal stop in Fullerton for Amtrak
then, after this photo, made a second stop with the two private cars on
the platform for guest boarding.
I took my luggage into the Pacific Trail where
each passenger had two seats for their one or two overnights on the
The ladies room was in the Pacific Trail and
the mens' in the
Overland Trail off the Barber Shop.
I noticed some guests were in period dress such as the REA Agent, above
Chris Guenzler, above, was a guest to Albuquerque.
Several had boarded the Overland Trail at
the start of the journey in Los Angeles.
Others in period dress were Kat Andrusco and Spencer Howard,
above left, and Tim and Lisa, above right.
Dana Anderson and Becky Reid, South Coast Railroad Museum, Trails and
Rails lecturers, out of Santa Barbara.
Nick, Travis, Jameson
Brothers, Jonathan and Kristopher Camacho, rode to Barstow.
The author took a selfie to send home to show his wife that he had
made it onto the
Dinner was soon served under the watchful eye of Conductor Bill, also
in timely attire.
First of several meals served on the Overland Trail.
Several either boarded or disembarked at California cities along the
route such as Riverside, San Bernardina, and Barstow.
Bill was always on hand during stops to assure all guests boarded
safely before he gave the "High Ball" with his lantern.
Jonathan Camacho alerted me to Google Maps so we could watch our
position on a satellite map.
On into the night, eastbound at 9 p.m. with the drum head in the
foreground. Drumhead on right, taken from outside.
Saturday morning, looking out the back window of the Overland Trail toward
The back window of the last car on any passenger train is very popular
On the Overland
Trail about 6 a.m. it is time for a Debbie-created waffle!
Plenty more than waffles!
In the covered pans above was frittatas and sliced sausages (below).
Since Chris Guenzler was getting off in Albuquerque, we had some
time to chat before Gallup.
On my travels, another electronic
reminder I like to make is a screen shot of my iWatch. As you can
see, it reminds me of the day, the date, the time, the location, the
temperature and weather, the high and low temps for the day, the time
of sunset, and the current temperature outside the Overland Trail.
This data comes to my iWatch from my iPhone and if I am currently out of cellphone
coverage, these, except the time and date, would be blank.
An original Santa Fe building along the tracks in Gallup.
Gallup is a "stretch your legs" stop, and crew change.
At my home station, Fullerton, California, we see mostly
ocean-going containers and semi-truck trailers on trains, so a mixed
freight caught my eye in Gallup.
Graffiti on rail cars
semi-fascinates me. I wonder if anyone is doing a study of the
"artists". Think I could get a grant to study train graffiti by
traveling around the country on Amtrak?
Recently, I saw several videos on YouTube made by hobos. Warning,
some of the makers of those videos have since died in rail
accidents. If you are interested, on YouTube just search "riding
freight trains across the country". I watched several videos by
"StobetheHobo" until I saw that another hobo videographer did an
obituary on him.
New Mexico scenery is beautiful, red bluffs, on and on. So
it was time for some shots out the "railfan window" of the Overland Trail.
Views from the Railfan Window on the Overland Trail.
I-40 runs adjacent to the tracks in this part of California, Arizona, and New Mexico, as does Route 66.
YRC Worldwide Inc. is an American
holding company of freight shipping brands YRC Freight, New Penn,
Holland and Reddaway. YRC Worldwide has a comprehensive network in
North America, and offers shipping of industrial, commercial and retail
goods. The company is headquartered in Overland Park, Kansas. Wikipedia (I noticed that many of their piggyback trailers were about half-length.)
The rear engines on a train are called distributed power
and they are pushing while the engines on the head end of the train are
pulling. They also assist in braking. I thought this DPU unit
looked like a raccoon.
Albuquerque, New Mexico, a stop for passengers, crew change,
windows washed on the Amtrak cars, and time to shop from vendors on the
At several stops, local railfans
had heard about Bill Hatrick's moving his two private cars east, so
they came out for final photos of his cars in the west. In this
case, however, these are riders who had boarded in LA and detrained the
Albuquerque for a final, daylight, photograph with the Overland Trail.
Jane and Richard boarded in Albuquerque.
The rest of those boarding in Albuquerque included Sue Mikulec, Bob
McMahon, and Phil Klingner.
Gary R. Clark tried out the Coach/Sleeper Pacific Trail and together we
managed the radio chatter from fellow travelers.
Sandia Mountains northeast of Albuquerque and east of the Rio Grande.
On the west side of the tracks is the Rio Grande and cottonwood trees
wherever their roots can reach water.
On this October 19th, the tops of the cottonwood trees had started
This area is all irrigated with water from the Rio Grande. The
water ditches can be located by looking for Cottonwood trees.
As we got closer to Lamy, and it was dryer from no irrigation, I used
the back window to frame some shots of the railway.
There were several semaphores along this route.
This church outside Lamy has been here for all the trips I've taken
through here, and long before that I'm sure..
Santa Fe Southern Railway locomotive 07 at Lamy.
Lamy station had some local vendors on the platform.
We met sister train, No. 3 Southwest Chief, east of Lamy, New Mexico
Glorieta Post Office
Pronghorn were plentiful on the high plateau west of Raton sharing dry
pasture with Black Angus.
These Black Angus bulls are finding enough to eat to fatten up for
Former multi-wire highline with only posts, crossbars and insulators
remaining, provides an elevated location for hawk nests in this
Raton, NM, a crew change and fresh air stop.
Although it was dusk at the station, the setting sun still illuminated
the US flag atop the nearby hill.
The new Amtrak Conductor who boarded at this crew change, wanted his photo with Bill and grandson beside
the Overland Trail.
Large signs still remain, going up to the tunnel at the summit,
announcing the highest point on the Santa Fe.
On the northeast end of the tunnel is a monument along the tracks
marking the New Mexico/Colorado state line.
Bill watches the Santa Fe Trail and Wootton Ranch pass by, perhaps for
the last time from the Overland Trail.
An original building in the background and a newer one in the
foreground at Wootton Ranch.
From an open vestibule window, some new photo opportunities are
available as we go downhill to Trinidad, Colorado.
This is a good area to catch a photo of the front of the train around a
Next would be supper in the Overland Trail,
then another night's sleep in the Pacific Trail
chair car. Bill mentioned that of the 36 years he had owned the Pacific Trail,
this was the first trip where riders spent an overnight in it.
The tracks were rough during the night in Kansas, but I still got
enough sleep to allow me to get up in Kansas City, Missouri to meet
friends, Amy and Bob Cox who were to board there. They also
delivered some vintage chairs with hat rack below the seat to Bill
Hatrick. A new Siemens No. 4619 was ready for another Missouri
River Runner trip to St. Louis.
The Western Auto sign has been a
landmark in KC forever. A station worker saw me taking photos of
the sign and pointed out a spot for a good shot. Note how
the white arrow turns on and off starting from the left end to the
point. The light painting of the BNSF locomotive was provided by the headlight on our Amtrak Southwest Chief.
From the platform, I spotted a light rail train cross as I was
photographing the Western Auto sign at sunrise.
The best shot of the Western Auto sign is at the front of the
Modern KC building near the Union Station.
With the sun rising in KC, it was time for more portraits of the Overland Trail.
Trail at sunrise in KC with current Missouri River Runner at
Time for another excellent meal on the Overland Trail
- buffet breakfast with waffles!
Bill is always obliging for a photo with passengers. Here with
Amy and Bob Cox of La Plata where they are Amtrak Station Caretakers
TrainParty.com and American Passenger Rail Heritage Foundation (APRHF).
Katy Allen and Kris Allen joined the excursion in Kansas City.
It was foggy leaving Kansas City and many miles eastward. Amy Cox
pointed out this fog-shrouded graveyard.
Marceline's station is closed, but holds a Walt Disney Museum since
this is the boyhood home of Walt Disney. Even Disneyland's Main
Street is designed after Marceline's Main Street.
I felt the "Railfan Window" in the Overland Trail made
for a spooky photo in the fog, like Halloween.
Kind of melancholy seeing the Overland Trail leave
after I stepped off in La Plata, Missouri
Later, Bob Cox sent me this photo of me waving Goodbye to the Overland Trail from
his west-facing rail cam at the La Plata, MO, Station.
Virtual Railfan camera at the La Plata Station can be watched at:
This will open in a new tab and you will need to come back to this tab
to continue reading this report.
La Plata, Missouri, Amtrak Station - open for every arriving and
departing Southwest Chief. Wonderful, fall weather every day I
Depot Inn and Suites 1245 N Brown St., La Plata, MO
Phone: (Direct number, do not use the number on webstie.) (660)
in La Plata:
When arriving at the Amtrak Station in La Plata with Depot Inn
reservations, you can call the Depot Inn to be picked up or make prior
reservations with them to be picked up. They will also take you
to your departing train.
Rental Car: If you need
more than a shuttle between the Amtrak
Station and the Depot Inn, there is a convenient way to rent a car from
Enterprise in Kirksville. They will leave a car for you either at
the Inn or Station with the following considerations:
need a National Car Rental Membership Number. To get one, go to
http://NationalCar.com and apply for Emerald Club Number - a 9-digit
2. Call the Enterprise number in
Kirksville - 660 665-3396 and add an * to bypass the national 800
number and give them the member number, the arrival date and departing
date and mention that you want the car to be left and returned to
either the Amtrak Station or Depot Inn. I happened to be arriving
on a Sunday, so they gave me the "weekend rate" and left the car
at the Station on Friday and picked it up the day after I
leave at about 8 p.m. on the westbound Amtrak SouthWest Chief.
They will leave the paperwork to be signed and the key in the glove
3. For an economy car, they quoted a rate of
$54.46 plus a $200 deposit which will be returned after the return of
the car. I am to return the car with the same amount
of gas as when I picked it up, with the key and signed paperwork in the
The owners at The Depot Inn &
Suites have added a very large billboard with the Inn's name that is
quite visible to Hwy. 63 passing traffic (top of this section).
The photo immediately above shows the original sign and the
railroad ties on a steel-wheeled wagon. However, some
demonstration grape vines have been added from Silver
Rails Vineyard which owns the property immediately behind the Depot
Ask the Front Desk for the keys to the Exhibition of Amtrak History
housed in the two Express Rail Cars behind the Inn.
Grape vines stretch to the road west of the Inn, and down south to the
A few varieties of grapes still had their colorful leaves on this late
The lobby of The Depot Inn & Suites. Note the TV screen in
the lower left of the white cabinet.
The view from the nearby BNSF mainline is from a linked camera at the
Amtrak Station. The same view is on the in-room TV channel 2 or 3.
Breakfast area in the lobby. Large model train in the case and
inside swimming pool beyond.
Hotel Manager, Ceema Deepak, right, and Nicole, left.
Indoor heated pool with authentic steam engine water fill spout and railroad
Ask the front desk to turn on the water spout.
Rooms all have closet, dresser, desk with chair, leather
rocker/recliner, with one or two beds. The facility is
non-smoking, but will accept pets.
The Suites are much bigger with jacuzzi tub, fireplace, and two TVs -
one for the railfan to watch the trains and another for the lady to
watch regular TV or DVDs from the front office.
Ray and Debbie Koch from Louisiana were celebrating their 40th wedding
anniversary at the Inn, enjoying all the railroad-related
amenities. They had taken Amtrak all the way and returned home by
Amtrak. As it turned out, Debbie's maiden name is the same as
mine and my wife and we live on Koch Avenue.
There are quite a few parts to
APRHF, and quite a history, which you can read at
http://www.aprhf.com/aboutus.html. Most of the physical parts of
APRHF are in La Plata. So let me show you the APRHF La Plata
If you want to meet the persons who run APRHF, go to their store
in La Plata.
The APRHF store is in the red-roofed building that you see from the
(on right above) and from Amtrak trains traveling through La Plata, and
from the La Plata Station.
Inside the building, the APRHF Store is in the corner of the
My favorite part of APRHF is their Lookout Point. As you see
above, it is a heated cabin and deck that is built above the Santa Fe
Mainline, across the tracks from the TrainParty building, on the former
Wabash RR overpass.
Video of Amtrak No. 4 leaving the La Plata, Missouri, Amtrak Station
taken at the Overlook Point on a beautiful Fall day, October,
2019. If the video does not load, go to: https://youtu.be/x28o8jhUwrY
This is the entrance road to Lookout Point. From the Depot Inn it
is a short walk, or borrow their golf cart, or even drive your car.
View from the beginning of the road to the Lookout back to the Depot
The entrance road is south of the Depot Inn, just walk across the
grass, or take the drive left of the Mexican Restaurant.
(Any blue bordered photo, as above, can be enlarged by clicking the
mouse on it.)
As you start down the former right-of-way, it curves a bit, but the
second half you will see the lookout cabin and a larger place to turn
The cabin and deck are handicapped accessible.
As you can see, the tracks below are visible from the deck as well at
TrainParty's building and further to the right...
A telephoto view of the La Plata Amtrak Station from the deck of the
Lookout. This is also one of the three views you will see on the Virtual Railfan camera.
You won't find a better place to
watch the Southwest Chief come by each
morning eastbound to Chicago or evenings/nights to Los Angeles
westbound than from the Lookout deck. Of course, while waiting for the Chief, or any time
during the day, you will see many BNSF freights of all kinds pass by.
Eastward view of the Virtual Railfan camera and Brown St. Bridge.
Comfortable surroundings in the Lookout Point cabin. ATSC
monitor will tell you the next train's location.
Click the images above for a larger copy, as with any
blue-bordered images in this report.
You can leave a donation to show your appreciation for the great
observation point by APRHF. Above right is a collage of photos of
the original interior wall signatures.
Immediately to the east of the lookout, the Lookout Point Park is
Brown St. Entrance
I made a panorama photo of Lookout Point Park as it now appears, from
the Lookout Point on the left to the entry gate on Brown St. on the
(Click the image above for a much larger copy.)
This rendering of the future
Lookout Point Park, by J. Craig Thorpe, is from the same corner as my
panorama above. Note on the left of the rendering is the Lookout
Point cabin and farther down the track, the Amtrak Station. Go to
https://lookoutpointpark.wordpress.com/ to learn of all the amenities that will be in the park.
Since I had two days and a night in
La Plata on this trip, I wanted to see some of the features of this
area that I had visited before. West of town is Amish Country and a
ghost town, Cardy. The best day to see Amish buggies is Saturday
when they traditionally do shopping and banking in town, I was there on
The Gilbreath-McLorn House at 225 North Owenby had a beautiful, fall-colored tree in the yard.
Another beautiful house at 301 North Owenby.
Owenby St. also runs north by the Amtrak Station. Luckily a freight passed, so I paused for a photo.
View of the station after the train passed.
Silver Rails Vineyard occupies the property between the Depot Inn and the
Amtrak Station. These new vines are near Tom Anderson's new barn.
As you can see from this photo, the tracks and station are only a few steps away from this section of the vineyard.
Another train passed while I was in the vineyard.
West of La Plata, on Hwy. 56, you will see this warning about Amish
buggies. In other states, the highway department has provided an
auxiliary lane on the right just for buggies in their Amish region, but
not in Missouri.
The BNSF tracks run through Missouri diagonally while the highways and
side roads run true north-south and east-west, so there are several
rural crossings in the countryside. This mixed freight had
several Amazon Prime piggy-back trailers.
There are only two buildings left standing in Cardy.
Cardy was an unincorporated community in Macon County, Missouri, United
States. An early variant name was "La Crosse". A post office called La
Crosse was established in 1888, and remained in operation until 1957.
La Crosse is a name derived from the French language, meaning "the
I thought this ivy (left) looked like a crafter's creation,
but it was just natural. The fall colored vines above seem to match
the color of the old sign.
Authentic "road apples" reminds one of what passed this way earlier.
Just behind the Cardy buildings are some cars from the same era. "The engine is gone; but the body lingers on."
Remember the song, "Smoke gets in your eyes"? Those swirls remind
me of a tornado, which often frequent this area in the spring.
I found a 60s Chevy rusting in the weeds.
Domesticated and wildlife along the same road.
Quiz: What do you think this building is used for? It is at
an intersection of two country roads in Amish Country. Only horse
and buggy tracks lead to it. Maybe an Amish Rest Stop?
Upon closer examination, I surmise that this is a community
phone booth that the parish has voted that they need for ordering farm
supplies and possibly train tickets. A few years ago Bob Williams
and I checked out this building and they had a princess phone at the
Some Amish graffiti on the inside walls in addition to phone numbers.
Some other signs that you are in Amish Country.
Unpaved roads with buggy tracks. BNSF has put flashing lights and cross bars on these country road crossings.
Nice, smooth ribbon rail double-track for the long, heavy, high-speed BNSF freights that pass through Missouri.
The Amish have some very fine looking horses, light-weight for pulling
buggies and carts and heavier horses for heavier, slower wagons.
This one didn't mind posing.
Back in La Plata, I enjoyed a nice supper at the Mexican restaurant adjacent to the Depot Inn and Suites.
I will have to say the tilapia was plentiful and delicious.
By checking "Track a Train"
on Amtrak, I learned that the No. 3 Southwest Chief was 23 minutes late
east of La Plata, and traveling at 88 mph. I was allowed into
the inner sanctum of the La Plata Station, since I knew Larry from
previous visits, and took a seat awaiting No. 3. During the wait
there were several BNSF fast freights which passed just outside the
I like to take a screen-shot of my iWatch (upper left) to remind me of
the location, weather and date. Even though this was not at the
time I was awaiting my train in the La Plata Station (above left) it
did remind me of the weather that morning.
My last view of La Plata Station from my upper level roomette on the, "Night Train to LA."
Low and behold, who did I see in the diner, but Amy and Bob Cox, La
Plata residents. When I had departed the Overland Trail in La
Plata the previous day, they continued to Chicago and stayed overnight
and caught the Southwest Chief this same day back to Kansas City.
We had dinner and pleasant conversation to KC.
Since I boarded about 8 pm, I made last call before service ended.
At the table across the aisle were Dennis and Jeanne Knotts, and Howard from Mass. (If I read their writing correctly.)
It was back to my room and to bed for a good night's sleep on ribbon
rail. The next morning I arose for breakfast and didn't take any
photos from my window until the high-desert of Colorado east of
Trinidad. Abandoned farms makes one wonder why they were abandoned. Looks like no
crops being grown by a corporate farm that might have bought them
out. Not even pasture land.
I always found it interesting that both Trinidad and Raton have a high
bluff above the town each with their town's name and the flag. But on
opposite sides of the Colorado/New Mexico State line.
Perhaps the smallest church I've seen, located west of Trinidad.
Wootton Ranch, an original and a new building.
view of the Wootton Ranch. The original Santa Fe Trail herded
their cattle and wagon trains right up this valley.
Some Wootton Ranch History:
Above left: Dick Wootton in trapper's costume
Above right: Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe train leaving Raton
Tunnel circa 1908
Above Left: Wootton Ranch on the Santa Fe
Trail Above Right: Ox team in Raton
Mountains between Trinidad and Raton
Dick Wootton moved to Trinidad, Colorado. He built a toll road
over Raton Pass. It was April of 1865 when he opened the twenty-seven
mile road from Trinidad to Willow Springs, New Mexico. The Atchison,
Topeka, & Santa Fe Railway offered him $50,000 to buy the road in
1878. He turned them down. Instead, Wootton asked that the railroad
give his wife groceries and a pass to ride the train for life. They
agreed and signed the deal with a handshake.
Wotton died at the age of seventy-seven in 1893. True to their word,
the Santa Fe Railroad officials took good care of his wife. They made
sure she had groceries and a free ride on the train whenever she wanted
until her death forty-two years later.
More information at https://www.legendsofamerica.com/we-richenswootton/
Further up the Santa Fe Trail toward the summit.
The Raton Tunnel is the Colorado/New Mexico border, so following photos are in New Mexico.
A favorite photo subject of mine is barns. This one is in good shape considering how old it must be.
Very, very unusual to see two water-pumping windmills this close together. Also, this is the only area where I
have seen so many insulators on a utility pole. Later down the
slope, the wires were all cut, so it is not in use any more.
Raton's street has that old west look to me.
The building on the left is "Luxury Apartments". Maybe luxury in Raton means, "with window air conditioner".
I'll bet this place has plenty of stories. A lone pole light
could have been seen for miles. Tin roof means a noisy place when
it rained. I've used this title for photos like this in the past:
"One more payment and it is mine, all mine."
"Indian Pickup" junkyard.
Las Vegas, New Mexico Amtrak Station. Conductors in the past
related stories about passengers getting off here thinking it was THE
Many arrive and depart from the Southwest Chief here in Lamy because Santa Fe, New Mexico, is nearby.
"Hangin' Tree" at Lamy Station
Santa Fe Southern Railway meets the Santa Fe mainline here and runs to Santa Fe, and beyond.
I never pass the chance to photograph this Lamy church from the train,
I probably have a photo of it when I went east through here.
Cottonwood trees seemed to be more golden than on my trip east a few days ago.
The train crosses Route 66 which ran right through the middle of downtown Albuquerque.
Greyhound Bus Station is in the same building as Amtrak.
This time through ABQ I was in a sleeper rather than a 1949 chair car.
Vendors of colorful Indian blankets were in place as always.
Albuquerque is a crew change station, so time to walk the platform.
The Amish from the train took time to check out the station.
ABQ is a good time to take a photo of your car attendant since they
stay by the entrance to help guests on and off during the stay.
I like the graphic on the side of the Rail Runner commuter line in Albuquerque.
With supper, photo post-processing, and a night's sleep ahead, I stopped taking photos on this trip at sunset.