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Back to La Plata Again!

by Chris Guenzler


Valentine's Day 2010 continued after I posted the "Last Metrolink Train Runs" story then I relaxed, working on my home computer before packing the bags once again. At 4:25 PM, my mother drove me to the Santa Ana station and I took the elevators over to Track 1. Pacific Surfliner 583 had departed San Diego thirteen minutes late and never made any of that up.

As I waited, Pacific Surfliner 582 came and went then about ten minutes later, I heard a horn and knew that my train was about to arrive.

Pacific Surfliner 583 2/14/2010

Pacific Surfliner 583 arrived with the former Chicago, Burlington and Quincy dome car "Silver Splendor" on the rear and I boarded Pacific Business Class for the trip to Los Angeles. Lindsay was my wonderful train attendant for the trip this late afternoon. We made the stops at Anaheim and Fullerton, where I briefly saw Steve Grande and his wife Barbara, who had been aboard the Silver Splendor's "Lunch by the Sea" trip. The train then made its final sprint to Los Angeles Union Passenger Station, where we arrived about fifteen minutes late.

Southwest Chief 4 2/14/2010

I walked down, under and up to Track 11 and found the Southwest Chief with Henry Ford, an excellent Sleeping Car Attendant, standing at the door of Car 430. I stored my luggage in Room 4 before going back outside to get the consist of this train, which was Engines P42DC 117 and 159, baggage 1753, transition 39043, sleepers 32071 "Arizona" and 32091 "Minnesota", diner 38004, lounge 33020 and coaches 34073 and 31033. I returned to Room 4 in the "Minnesota" and put on my Ozzy Osbourne CD "Ozmosis" as we waited for the on-time departure from LAUPT. Ozzy took me to Fullerton and then it was time for dinner and I was seated with a family going to Truth or Consequences, New Mexico for a visit. I enjoyed a steak and chocolate and peanut butter cake for dessert, after which, I watched my Queensryche DVD "Video Mindcrime" which took me up and over Cajon Pass. After that I made up my room and called it a night.


I was up at 7:10 AM and walked to the dining car, being seated with a lady heading to Memphis and then New Orleans. I enjoyed French Toast and sausage patties. We made two stops in Winslow, one to drop off about fifteen deadheading BNSF train crews, before we made our passenger stop there. It was always good to see the "Pony Express" private car being kept at the present time in Winslow. I returned to my room and changed clothes before reading USA Today as the train sped east towards New Mexico.

Two views in Arizona as we headed east for New Mexico. I put on my DVD of "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull".

Welcome to New Mexico on our way to our new stop of Gallup.

Views of rocks formations and the Red Mesas of New Mexico.

An eastbound BNSF with the PEG power plant smoke stack in the view.

Mount Laguna.

Later snow added to the scene.

Another mesa as we continue the drop towards the Rio Grande.

I always have liked these two mesas.

Looking down at the Rio Puerco River. The movie and extras lasted until past Dalies and I would relax until Albuquerque.

At Isleta, the BNSF train from Belen was waiting to follow us into town.

Two views of the Rio Grande River as we slowly followed a New Mexico Railrunner train into Albuquerque.

Isleta Lake Park before we ducked under Interstate 25. The train was fuelled just west of the end of the station platform, which is a new policy of having no fuel trucks on the station platforms.

So close but yet so far before we arrived at the Albuquerque station at 11:45 AM {12:12 PM}.

The Southwest Chief at rest at Albuquerque. I had a 12:15 PM lunch reservation, was seated with a gentleman going to Syracuse, and had an Angus steak burger and vanilla ice cream. The train departed on time as I worked on this year's National Railway Historical Society convention travel plans, having reserved a room in Bethel, Pennsylvania for two nights.

On the way to Lamy, I listened to my CD of Yes "Union". Our train crew was tested by the Federal Railroad Administration.

The FRA Inspectors after they left the locomotive, with the Devil's Spine ahead of our train.

The FRA Inspectors on the ground as we passed them.

They drove in a long way to perform that test. Once we reached a green signal, we would return to track speed and head to our next station stop of Lamy.

The Lamy station. We departed and made our way to Apache Canyon as I put on my Alice Cooper DVD "Live at Montreux 2005". We met Train 3, the westbound Southwest Chief, as we were leaving Lamy.

Climbing Glorieta Pass.

Our train has reached the Summit Switch at Glorieta topping the pass.

We will follow this ridge line down to the Pecos River.

Two more views of that ridge.

About to cross the Pecos River.

The Pecos River.

The Southwest Chief taking the "S" Curves at Chapple. We arrived into Las Vegas thirty minutes late.

The Las Vegas Santa Fe station.

The former La Castaneda Harvey House in Las Vegas. The train then started ts sprint to Raton as the Alice DVD ended. I would now turn off the computer and relax awhile.

Shoemaker Canyon.

High plains drifting.

An interesting sky as the train made its way to our next stop of Raton, New Mexico. I was called into the dining car as we arrived and was seated with a nice couple from Chino Hills who were going to Florida via Chicago and Washington, DC. I had another steak and vanilla ice cream, but the baked potato needed more cooking. After dinner, I returned to my room and put on my DVD of "John Cleese Personal Best" as the train neared Trinidad. That DVD took me almost to La Junta, which we arrived at late and I tried to access the Internet but had no luck and after a very quick station stop, we departed on time and I called it a night.


I awoke at the fuelling racks in BNSF's Argentine Yard in Kansas and went straight to the dining car for French Toast and sausage patties. We arrived in Kansas City early and I went outside to test the temperature then back in the room, I prepared for my day.

Downtown Kansas City. Here I went online with limited success and put on my Aerosmith CD of "Nine Lives" as today I feel as though I have used up a few of mine over the years. We left Kansas City and now it should be straight to La Plata.

Power Plant leaving Kansas City.

Missouri River east of Congo.

A power plant at Sibley.

The Missouri River from the BNSF bridge at Sibley.

Another view of the power plant at Sibley. Next it was my Prince CD "The Hits 1".

The coaling tower at Marceline.

The Santa Fe Marceline Station, now the Walt Disney Museum. I listened to music most of the way to La Plata before I packed and was downstairs ready to detrain when the train arrived at 9:51 AM.

La Plata 2/16/2010

Station caretaker Bob Cox meets all passengers who detrain at La Plata.

Bob Cox and the conductor pass the time until departure. A lady wanted some snow for a woman from Florida who had never seen any, so I made a snowball and also gave her an icicle.

The Depot Inn & Suites Van which picks you up and takes you to the Inn. I always call from Kansas City to let them know how the train is doing.

The first view of the rear of the Depot Inn & Suites when you get driven there.

The front of the Depot Inn & Suites.

The front counter at the Depot Inn & Suites is known as the Ticket Counter.

Click here for Part 2 of this story