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La Plata and the Trip Home!

by Chris Guenzler


I arose and after breakfast, learned the Depot Inn and Suites needed the van for drop-offs later this morning so drove out to Cardy and waited for an eastbound.

BNSF 7683 East at Helium Road, after which I went to the Amtrak station and visited with Bob Cox. His wife Amy was doing the drop-offs so she would come here to pick up the van and Bob would let me use his van to catch the Southwest Chief at a specific bridge.

Amtrak's Southwest Chief Train 4 running right on time at the Missouri Highway 3 bridge.

An Amish buggy came by my location. I returned to the Amtrak station, gave Bob his van key back and switched to the Depot Inn & Suite van and drove west to Elmer.

BNSF 5149 East at the Route J grade crossing in Elmer. From here I headed to Ethel and as I parked, the crossing gates went down and I set up for my pictures.

BNSF 4240 East at the Missouri Highway 147 grade crossing. I then moved east to the next grade crossing and waited.

BNSF 4489 East at the Emerald Road grade crossing. With very low petrol in the van, I drove back towards La Plata but paused at the Missouri Highway 3 bridge.

BNSF 7799 West.

Union Pacific 4734 West. From here I drove back into town to fill the van with 19.9 gallons of petrol then visited Trainparty and saw Bob and Ray Burns. I heard a whistle off to the west and went trackside.

BNSF 5249 East. I returned to my room at the Depot Inn & Suites and relaxed then went to the Subway in Kirksville and bought back my dinner and wrote about today then enjoyed a quiet evening in the Sportsman's Suite.


After having breakfast in the lobby, I walked out to the Brown Street bridge over the BNSF mainline.

A light set of BNSF power made its way west.

BNSF 7596 East came through La Plata.

BNSF 7683 West. From here I walked through the flower garden and made my way to the Chris Guenzler Million Mile Lookout Point. I do not recommend you getting there this way.

Union Pacific 7789 West with Union Pacific 7867 as the DPU. I walked back to the hotel and waited for the van to return. Amy pulled up and we switched places and I was off to railfan, driving to Ethel but on the way, had to stop to take the next picture.

This BNSF train was at the Estate Road crossing.

I stopped at the Dolphin Road grade crossing for BNSF 6610 West.

I went to the Missouri Highway 149 grade crossing in Ethel for BNSF 7291 West then drove east to the Estate Place grade crossing.

Union Pacific 7741 West, after which I returned to Elmer.

Union Pacific 4364 West at the Route J grade crossing. I then drove back to the Missouri Highway 3 bridge.

Union Pacific 8232 West. After waiting over an hour for a train, a BNSF truck came down Track 1 and I had had enough. West of the La Plata crossovers, the BNSF was replacing a defective rail and had that track out of service. I saw Bob's van at the Gallery so stopped by but it was only Amy and their daughter Kerri. I drove to Trainparty and visited with Bob before he left for Sedalia later this afternoon then returned to the Sportsman's Suite and relaxed the rest of the afternoon before going to the Red Rooster for dinner then returned to the Sportsman's Suite for the night.


I arose, picked up my breakfast and retrieved the van keys before driving out to the Chris Guenzler Million Mile Lookout Point on a snowy morning.

The deck covered with snow.

BNSF 8272 West was the first train of the morning.

BNSF 7586 West was the next train to pass my photo location.

Next came Union Pacific 7807 West.

Conrail Norfolk Southern 8330 was in the front power consist.

Union Pacific 7807 had DPU's Union Pacific 7390 and 4795.

An Amish buggy crossed the Brown Street bridge.

After the snow stopped, Amtrak's eastbound Southwest Chief stopped in La Plata, running about an hour late. I returned to the Depot Inn & Suites where after a nice hot shower, I moved into Room A for the rest of the day then listened to Let's Talk Trains live, participated in the chat room on Nathan's web bite and called the show segment 5. I then relaxed in Room A until I walked over to the Red Rooster for dinner, after which I relaxed until it was time for Maria to drive me down to catch my train home.

The display in the La Plata station.

Southwest Chief 3 3/20/2010

It was snowing when I arrived at the station and I went inside to talk with Darrell and other passengers boarding our twenty-minute late train tonight. The warmth of the station was a welcome event. At 8:25 PM, the Southwest Chief arrived and the conductor had my sleeping car door open for me tonight. I had Room 9 in the "New Jersey" with Hak To Hung as my Sleeping Car Attendant. The train had a consist of engines P42DC 112 and 50, baggage 1132, transition 39037, sleepers 32006 and 32098 "New Jersey", diner 38004 and lounge 33041, with coaches 34063, 34088 and 31007. After about twenty minutes, I made my room for the night.


I awoke east of Dodge City and went to the lounge car to wait until the diner opened at 6:30 AM. I was seated with a lady going from Plymouth, Wisconsin to San Bernardino. I had French Toast and sausage patties but was not very hungry so went back to bed until we were west of Lamar then shaved and put on fresh clothes. We arrived late into La Junta and I detrained for pictures.

Now for something completely different, the outside of the Southwest Chief at La Junta. I managed to get online for a few minutes to clean out my e-mail before the Southwest Chief departed for the fast-running to Trinidad. I read the Sunday Chieftain and Star Journal before watching my DVD of "Public Enemies".

Views of the Spanish Peaks.

The peaks south of Trinidad before we arrived there. After climbing Raton Pass, I paused the DVD and took a break fresh air at Raton. That movie lasted almost to Wagon Mound and I next put on the Marx Brothers DVD "Go West".

North of Las Vegas. At the "S" curves, the DVD ended and I then watched "Guns N' Roses Use your Illusion World Tour 1992 in Tokyo" for the drop to the Pecos River and climb over Glorieta Pass.

The mountains to the north of Glorieta Pass. The train crossed the Pass and dropped down to Canyoncito, where we took the siding for the eastbound Southwest Chief, which held the mainline. The train dropped through Apache Canyon to our next stop at Lamy.

Mountains west of Lamy as we made our way to Albuquerque, our next fresh air break of the trip. I played Solitaire the rest of the way into town as we arrived at Albuquerque about forty minutes early so picked up my eastbound tickets from the Amtrak ticket machine for the Connect the Dots Rare Mileage Trip in May. I accessed the Internet, cleared out my e-mail but could not upload any pictures. We left Albuquerque on time as I worked on the May Orange County Railway Historical Society show and just as I finished, the train went into emergency. The reason was a separated air hose and once it was reconnected and air test done, we were slowly on our way to the next green signal. At 5:30 PM, I had a dinner reservation and went to the diner for dinner, beings seated with a couple from Norfolk going to Los Angeles, and later a women who boarded in La Junta going home to Burbank. I had the New York Strip steak and vanilla ice cream. After dinner it was my DVD of Motley Crue "Lewed, Crued & Tattooed Live".

I had never taken a picture of this mesa before west of Grants.

Smoke stack from the PEG power plant.

Red mesas in the late afternoon light.

Beautiful! I watched the rest of the Crue DVD then did Sudoku puzzles before calling it a night.


I was up after Colton Crossing and had my room made up then was enjoying a Big Texas Cinnamon Roll as we made our Riverside stop. I was well-rested this morning as the train made its way to Fullerton and on into Los Angeles Union Station, arriving there at 8:04 AM, ending another fantastic trip aboard the Southwest Chief.

Surfliner 566 3/22/2010

The train crew arrived late due to an extra long crew briefing this morning so I while I was not pleased, I was still happy because Safety First! The train departed Los Angeles on time and sprinted its way to Fullerton before stopping in Anaheim and Orange, before ending another fantastic trip to the Depot Inn & Suites, Silver Rails Gallery and railfanning around La Plata. My mother picked me up and I headed home for most of the day before going to our Train Travel Group Meetup Group this evening in Fullerton.