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The Capitols 12/28/1993

by Chris Guenzler

I had taken the San Joaquin overnight bus from Santa Ana to Bakersfield then the San Joaquin to Stockton where I boarded a Thruway Bus for Sacramento. I met my brother Bruce and spent two nights at his house with his family on the south side of Sacramento. On December 28th Bruce drove me and his son Adam to the Sacramento Amtrak Station where Adam and I would make our first train trip together aboard Amtrak's newest service, the Capitols on a Sacramento to San Jose round trip.

Train 721 rounded the curve coming in from Roseville where it had originated to a stop at Sacramento where Adam and I boarded. We found seats facing each other with a nice large window between them. The train left Sacramento on time and followed the same route as the Coast Starlight for the first half of its route. For me it was just another trip over this route to Oakland so I just sat back after making a trip to the lounge car for some goodies. The train was half full on its way to Davis and was across the Yolo Bypass by the time I had returned to my seat. This trip was giving me a chance to spend some good quality time with my nephew Adam and we had a really good time talking to each other. Before long the train was climbing to the bridge over the Carquinez Straits to our next stop at Martinez.

The Capitol made really good time along the bay on what turned out to be a really rainy morning which obscured the view across the bay to San Francisco. The train made its way to Richmond with its connection to BART then Berkeley before stopping at the nice new Emeryville Station. The Capitol made its way past the old 16th Street Station and the SP's West Oakland Yard before running down the middle of the street through Jack London Square to where the new Amtrak station is being built. The train proceeded to Elmhurst where I did not curve off to the right like I had always done before but instead kept going straight out onto new trackage for me.

We were on the SP's Hayward Line and this line as well as the Tracy Line we would be riding over had been upgraded thanks to the California voted funds which included money for new locomotives and a fleet of passenger cars for use in the state of California over the future years. The track is now rated at seventy-nine miles per hour and the train was really flying along out running a BART train. The train headed southeast through San Leandro, San Lorenzo and Hayward, a future stop. We reached Niles where we crossed the old Western Pacific (UP) before turning west onto the SP's Centerville Line. At the junction we ran along a lake before passing part of the collection of the Niles Canyon Railroad waiting to be moved to Niles Canyon. We made our next stop at Fremont still under construction before reaching Newark and the Mulford Line that I had already traveled on ending my new mileage.

Back on the route of the Coast Starlight, we passed the large salt plants before crossing the wetlands and by the ghost town of Alviso. We made a stop at Santa Clara/Great America with the amusement park seen off in the distance. We reached Santa Clara and entered the Caltrain commuter line for the rest of the trip to San Jose arriving on time minutes after a heavy rain shower had passed through. Adam and I walked over to the gift shop of the San Jose Sharks at their Arena which killed the time between trains. We returned to the San Jose Station to find that our train had been turned for its return trip to Sacramento which was uneventful except for waiting for the Carquinez Strait Drawbridge for a ship to pass and that was the first time I had ever been delayed there. We arrived back in Sacramento twenty-five minutes late finishing up Adam's and uncle Chris' first train trip together. I returned to Santa Ana the next day in plenty of time for my traditional birthday train ride on the 31st when I turned thirty six years of age.