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Completing the Amtrak System once again 7/1/2015

by Chris Guenzler

I first completed the entire Amtrak system at Tampa, Florida on the Silver Star Tampa Section when it came to a stop at the station at 12:17 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time on August 17, 1996. On the Ethan Allen Express 291 on June 16, 1997, I completed the entire Amtrak system when I arrived in Rutland, Vermont. On October 14, 1997, I completed riding the entire Amtrak System sober when I arrived on the Silver Palm in Miami, Florida. I completed it again on Amtrak 822 The Heartland Flyer on August 30, 1999 when I arrived in Oklahoma City then once again, on The Lake Country Limited 343 on June 20, 2000 when it arrived in Janesville, Wisconsin. Next, I completed the Amtrak system on the Kentucky Cardinal 850 on September 2, 2000 at Jeffersonville, Indiana. The Downeaster 681 on December 31, 2000, when it arrived in Portland Maine, was the next time I completed riding every mile of Amtrak. I achieved this yet again on the Kentucky Cardinal 850 on December 27, 2002 at 8:40 EST we arrived 50 minutes late} in Louisville. Over the years I waited for new routes but my wait would take a while. The first addition was Brunswick to Portland, then later Norfolk to Petersburg but with nothing planned in the East, I never had a chance to ride these. Finally the 2015 NRHS Convention in Rutland gave me a reason to complete the system again. On December 29, 2014, Springfield to Brattleboro came back and now I planned the trip to give me all the missing pieces I needed. I rode Brunswick to Portland on June 26, 2015 and Springfield to Brattleboro on June 28, 2015. Now this morning when we get to the junction with the CSX in Petersburg, I will have once again completed riding the Amtrak system until a new route is added. We will take Northeast Regional 174 from Norfolk to Washington, DC, then the Cardinal to Chicago in a Viewliner Sleeper, then coach from Chicago to La Plata for a two night's restful stay. Coach back to Galesburg on the Southwest Chief, then sleeper on the California Zephyr to Sacramento, one night stay there and then the San Joaquin 702, Thruway Bus and Pacific Surfliner home to Santa Ana.

We woke up at the Tazewell Hotel in Norfolk with three different methods. First the alarm clock, then Robin's cell phone and finally the wake up call. With that we were up and ready to go. We checked out and the front desk called us a taxi. We went out the side door to wait and a few minutes later, a taxi pulled up and whisked off to the Norfolk Amtrak station. Out on the platform was a large TSA members presence. I started taking my pictures.

Northeast Regional 174 7/1/2015

The Norfolk station message board says it all this morning.

The TSA menbers and the red signal that protects the lift bridge over the bay.

I saw a headlight coming and I knew it was our train to Washington, DC.

The lift bridge came down and then we had a green signal.

The train pulled into the station and we boarded. I sat on the left hand side of the train and Robin sat two seats behind me on this final trip together. The train left on time and I told my conductor what I would be doing at Petersburg. The train headed out into the darkness of this early morning passing through the low elevation Virginia forests. I went to the cafe car to get a cinnamon roll and orange juice for my breakfast. I was tired but happy as we headed up the rails to complete my next goal. I was on the Norfolk Southern Railroad heading to Petersburg and the connection to CSX. Robin kept me updated on just how far we were from Petersburg since this is my first trip on this piece of Norfolk Southern Railroad track. I was busy writing stories even on this trip still trying to get caught up. I think I would be completely caught up by the time I was on the California Zephyr. This just shows how many different things Robin and I did on this trip and it would end up being 43 stories by the time I got home. Not bad for a 27 day trip

Views of Virginia on this very early July 1st morning. Robin gave me the 15 minute warning and I started to really look at this railroad. We then came to a switch and we came off the Norfolk Southern mainline.

We were now on the connection to the CSX. We rode the connection towards the CSX mainline.

There was a CSX freight waiting on the mainline to follow us north.

When we reached the switch with the CSX mainline. I had recompleted the Amtrak system. I was very happy at doing this once again. I would like to thank Amtrak for all of my rides over the years and all they have done for me. We stopped at Petersburg and then we headed to Richmond.

The train crossed the James River. The train made its way to Richmond where many more passengers boarded the train.

North of Richmond we crossed many different rivers.

This one had a large marina.

This one had no marina.

At Lorton we passed the cars of the Amtrak Auto Train.

The motive power for the Amtrak Auto Train. We continued north with me still writing stories. We stopped at Alexandria then crossed the Potomac River before we arrived into Washington Union Station ending this trip.

Amtrak new electric engine 625.

A brand new Viewliner baggage car 61007. Robin and I then went up the elevator into Washington Union Station He went to pick up his tickets for home and I went into Club Acela to wait for the Cardinal. I got on-line and enjoyed an orange drink while I waited. Robin came by to say goodbye and he thanked me for the great trip we had together. I waited for a Red Cap to help take my luggage to my room on the Cardinal when it arrived into Washington Union Station. A few minutes later I was taken to the side door to meet my Red Cap who walked me out to the Cardinal putting my bags in Room 1 of the 5100 Car. I then got off to get the consist and take a few pictures.

Acela power car 2020.

The rear of our train.

An Acela Express train waiting to depart.

Amtrak switcher 737.

Amtrak new electric 614.

Amtrak new electric 625. I returned to Room 1 in Car 5100 for my trip to Chicago.

The Cardinal Train 51 7/1/2015

This train had a consist of P42 60, Viewliner Baggage 61016, Viewliner Sleepers 62004 and 62043 Sunset View, Amfleet Dinnette 62043, Amfleet coaches 25062, 25071 and 25059 with baggage car 1705. Mr Tyree aka Mr T is my fantastic Sleeping Car Attendant for this trip. I have had him before and he is always excellent. I was settled into my rooom and started writing as the train left Washington, DC on time heading to Chicago. Now sit back, relax and enjoy the views aboard the Cardinal, Amtrak train 51,

The old tower at the old Potomac Yard. I went to the Dinette for lunch having a hamburger and ice cream for dessert. Now the trip through the New River Gorge.

The Cardinal at Charlottesville

The Charlottesville station.

Views along the way to Clifton Forge.

Buckingham Railroad GP-40 13 at Staunton.

Buckingham Railroad GP-40 12 at Staunton.

An old passenger car at Staunton.

Views on the way to Clifton Forge.

A view of the Clifton Forge station.

The Cardinal at Clifton Forge.

Coal is the big business here for the CSX railroad we are travelling on.

An old C&O coaling tower in Clifton Forge.

Views on the way to the New River Gorge. I went to the Dinette and had the braised beef, which was excellent, with ice cream for dessert.

The trip through the New River Gorge. I was tired so I made up my room and called it a night.

7/2/2015 I slept for 12 hours and felt really good. I went to the cafe side of the Dinette car for a cinnamon roll and orange juice.

Three views of scenic Indiana on the way to Chicago. It had been a fantastic trip on the Cardinal which arrived into Chicago Union Station 14 minutes early. I detrained and headed into the Metropolitan Lounge and checked in two of my bags. I took my usual seat with the electrical plug behind me and a table in front of me. I finished the story I had been working on and uploaded most of the stories and pictures before their Internet crashed. I went up to Gold Coast for a pair of Char Dogs and a bottle of Coca-Cola which I bought back to the lounge with me. I put away the computer and then retrieved my luggage. They finally called the Southwest Chief passengers to line up at the rear door and then we were walked out to the train set.

Southwest Chief 3 7/2/2015.

I was given the first seat in the Superliner Coach so I did not have a table. A nice back lady Shirley joined and we had a great time together The train left Chicago on time and I was labeling the pictures for the Shoreline Trolley Museum story. I met the two Rail & Trails people who were also going to La Plata with me.

An Illinois view on my way to La Plata. I was done so I started writing the Shoreline Trolley Museum story and I pulled out my list of trolleys only to realize it was by date so I would have to scan the list each time I needed to find a trolley. Shirley decided to help me since four eyes are always better than two. We did all the trolleys in the story and had a fantastic time doing it with us laughing and joking our way through it. I showed her how I did things on the computer and she was amazed. I finished up just after Fort Madison then relaxed until the old bridge west of Gibbs. I thanked Shirley and wished her a safe trip to Lawerence. I went downstairs to detrain in La Plata and I stepped off finding Bob Cox was working the station that night

La Plata 7/2/2015

I had to call the Depot Inn & Suites Hotel to pick up me and the Rails and Trails guides. Once at the hotel, I was given the Pullman Suite where I uploaded the rest of the missing pictures then called Elizabeth to tell her she could proof the stories. I then called it a night.

7/3/2015 in La Plata, a Rest Day?

I was up early then had breakfast in the lobby. I got the golf cart keys then made my way with the computer out to the golf cart and drove out to the Chris Guenzler Million Mile Lookout Point.

My favorite path in the whole wide world to the Chris Guenzler Million Mile Lookout Point. Between trains I would put the corrections into the stories then upload all of them I had done.

BNSF 7418 East was my first tain of the morning.

He was followed by BNSF 7001 East.

Next came BNSF 4088 East.

Then came BNSF 7450 East.

BNSF 7201 West came through next. Westbound photography from the lookout point is getting harder and harder due to the vegetational growth. What was once a clear view is almost a hidden view now!

BNSF 5368 East came through La Plata next.

Two more BNSF westbound trains came through La Plata.

BNSF 4363 West went by the lookout point.

BNSF 8164 West was next by my location.

BNSF 7228 West was next.

Union Pacific 8415 West came through La Pata next.

BNSF 7459 East came by my location.

Union Pacific 8219 West came through town.

BNSF 6697 west was the final freight train of my visit.

The four hour late Southwest Chief Train 4 heading to Chicago.

I took the path back to the Depot Inn & Suites where I wrote two more stories this morning. Back in the Pullman Suite I wrote one more. Tom Anderson picked me up at 6:00 PM and we went to Colton's Steakhouse in Kirksville and I had a 12 ounce sirloin steak for my dinner. Back at the hotel, I put in corrections then took a sauna bath before calling it a night.