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What's in Rutland?

by Chris Guenzler

Since I had completed the Amtrak system last August, in December Amtrak added a new train to Rutland, Vermont called the Ethan Allen Express. Everyone I had talked to wondered what was in Rutland as none of us had ever been there so I had a new destination. I had planned on completing the rest of the Amtrak system sober but unfortunately I could not get a train down to Miami or the Kansas City to St Louis segment I needed without a seven day layover in KC for a seat on the Southwest Chief so I planned to do those routes in the Fall and do my dream trip to the northeast for the leaf turning event. On June 12, 1997 I finished my last day of school working at McFadden and late that afternoon found me packed and ready on the station platform at Santa Ana waiting for my first train of the trip.

San Diegan 781 6/12/1997

I boarded Train 781 for the trip to Los Angeles finding a seat in an Amcafe Car. This gave me a front row seat to the heavy drinking activities that four groups of passengers were doing and I used it as a reminder of my former self. As they left the train at Anaheim for the baseball game, I cleaned up their areas back to my high standards. I detrained at Los Angeles, walked over to Metrolink Train 608 and briefly talked to Leonard, an Amtrak engineer and a key player in Operation Lifesaver, San Diego Branch. I then went into the station and sat in front of the gate for the Southwest Chief, listened to some music, did word fill in puzzles and watched a line form behind me for the train in the waiting room.

Southwest Chief 6/12/1997

I boarded a Superliner Coach to my usual right hand window seat. A nice gentleman who was going all the way to Washington, DC sat down next to me. I started reading the paperback version of John Grisham's "Runaway Jury". The train left on time and by the time the Southwest Chief had journeyed past Fullerton I had read the first four chapters of a quite interesting story. I called it a night, curled up in my coach seat with my Amtrak blanket over me and fell fast asleep.

6/13/1997 The next morning started after changing into fresh clothing, I was off to the lounge car for a breakfast of tea and chocolate chip cookies while I watched the Northern Arizona scenery west of Seligman. It was a beautiful bright morning as the train climbed towards the Arizona Divide. At Williams I saw the Grand Canyon Railroad's steam engine getting itself ready for its run to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. I want to make that trip someday but have not got around to doing it. We arrived in Flagstaff on time and I picked up a copy of USA Today which made me a very popular person in my coach car.

Once done with the paper just before the train crossed Canyon Diablo, I returned to Runaway Jury and spent most of the rest of the day reading it glancing out the window every so often. I have never read a book like this that I could not put down as this was the first book by this author that I have read. This copy was given to me by Peter Televik, an LSA on the San Diegan line. Once into New Mexico, I broke for lunch before I returned to my reading. Before I knew it, the train had crossed the Rio Grande River and was almost to Albuquerque where I mailed a post card and photographed the train.

We departed Albuquerque an hour late. I had not even noticed that we had lost any time this morning. Guess that is what a good book does for you and I returned to it as the train headed north up the Rio Grande Valley. As the train neared Lamy, I returned to the lounge car for Apache Canyon, Glorieta Pass until my dinner reservation time was called. I enjoyed a nice New York Strip Steak then returned to the lounge car watching the rainbows in the Northern New Mexico sky. We stopped in Raton for two passengers then climbed the south side of Raton Pass, plunged into the summit tunnel and upon exiting entered Colorado before the train became a silvery snake, twisting and turning down Raton's steeper north side. There are many times that you can see both ends of the train at the same time that a little kid lost count of every time he saw the end of the train. We stopped at Trinidad just as the sun had set in the west and sped eastward to La Junta a crew changing point and an extended fresh air stop. Once back onboard the Southwest Chief and heading east into the night, I turned in and received my second good night sleep of this trip.

6/14/1997 Waking up in Kansas, we were nearing Kansas City as the train was passing through Santa Fe's Argentine Yard before it crossed into Missouri making our station stop in Kansas City. I went into the station, found some Chips Ahoy Cookies before returning to the train. Upon departure I took the book, found a great seat in the lounge car to start reading the rest of the book. The train traveled through several railroad junctions before running along the Missouri River and crossing it on a high single track bridge. As the train was crossing the green hills of Missouri the story was really getting good. The train now makes fewer stops in this state due to lack of patronage. We had been moving along at top speed all morning and soon the train entered Iowa with me seeing the Mississippi River and we arrived at Fort Madison on time.

The train crossed the Mississippi River and entered Illinois. As the train neared Galesburg I was about to start the last chapter when I put the book down to start to look for the Cameron Crossing. All my other trips on the Southwest Chief had been Santa Fe All The Way but since my last trip they rerouted the train over the Burlington Northern on a quicker route into Chicago so the Cameron Crossing would be the first new piece of trackage for the day. We crossed over the BN mainline then curved onto new trackage making an "S" traveling about a mile then returned to my old friendly BN mainline for the trip towards the Windy City. I finished the book up right after Galesburg and finished my trip on the Southwest Chief with an on time arrival at Chicago Union Station.

Chicago 1 6/14/1997

Between my two Amtrak trains in Chicago I had two Gold Coast Char Dogs before I took Metra to Elgin and back to kill time before my next departure. The highlight was seeing the Danish IC 3 train in trial service between Chicago and Milwaukee. I might get a chance to ride it again on my return to Chicago later in the trip.

The Cardinal 50 6/14/1997

I decided when I booked this trip to take this route from Chicago to do it in reverse of what I did the last time I rode this route on that first cross country trip. I did this to maximize my daylight running on the route of the Cardinal and to see the New River Gorge in West Virginia this time in broad daylight. I have been looking forward to returning sober to this route and being so near to the Summer Solstice I would be getting near the maximum amount of daylight that I could hope for. This time I am aboard a Superliner Train.

We departed Chicago on time and I met a rail fan from Wisconsin who was traveling to Charlottesville, Va. We got talking and neither of us knew the route that the Cardinal takes to get to Dyer, IN. My guess was that we took the old CE&I (now Union Pacific). I went to the lounge car to buy a Sprite and a Cardinal coffee mug. Once past Comisky Park we went to the junction where the Conrail and Amtrak lines turn east and we stayed on the route used by the Orland Park commuter trains before we branched off of it. I suddenly found myself on a longer section of new track than I had expected. We passed through some major railroad crossings on the way to Dolton, IL and the Union Pacific yard there before we entered Indiana and made our first station stop of the trip at Dyer. I called it a night after the brief stop there as I was on the same route that I had ridden back in 1990 and slept the night away.

6/15/1997 I awoke at Cincinnati, Ohio while the train was doing its station stop. I changed into a new set of clothes and enjoyed the views as the train left town. We passed by downtown Cincinnati, Riverfront Stadium and since we were on an elevated viaduct, I got to see firsthand some of the damage from the floods of the Ohio River this last Spring. Thank heaven that all the towns along the Ohio River have flood walls to minimize the damage to them. We crossed up and over the Ohio River and entered Kentucky.

The railfan and I decided to go have some breakfast in the dining car. The limited menu scared me away. I was told that the dining car had just returned to the train and a more complete menu would be coming next week. That is fine for then but for now I was back to the lounge car for some tea and cookies before I took a riverside seat in the upper level of the lounge car that would be mine for the whole morning. As the train traveled the south shore of the Ohio River I began to notice that all the electrical generating stations were in Ohio across the river and that they received their fuel from river barges. On the Kentucky side there are several coal car unloading facilities from hopper to barges. The train made good time on this water level route running about a half hour late as we lost time as I slumbered last night. We made a stop at Maysville and South Portsmouth before we did a crew change and watered the train at Corbin, KY a stop not included in the schedule.

The train passed through the CSX yards and several steel mills which preceded our next station stop of Cattlesburg. We did our station work then had to back up two miles to a crossover due to a westbound CSX freight train on the same track that we were. We continued east into West Virginia and left the water level route of the Ohio River. At Huntington we picked up our travel guides who would be providing a scenic commentary to White Sulpher Springs, WV. The first thing that they pointed out was a recent wreck scene that the CSX had just two days ago. One CSX freight train had rear ended another. I always wonder how that can happen in modern day of railroading?

The train made the way to our next station stop of Charleston, the state capitol of West Virginia with its golden dome on top of the building itself. Now is when this route starts to get interesting as the train first travels along the south bank of the Kanawha River stopping first at Montgomery until the junction with the New River. The canyon walls start to get higher and the vegetation increases. I was enjoying a hot dog as the train passed through several small towns. The guide pointed out Lover's Leap and we crossed the New River to run through the gorge on the north side. We lose the highway right before Hawk's Nest State Park and plunged into the New River Gorge. I really like the Superliner lounge car with their floor to ceiling windows when passing through good scenery like this. With an against the gorge wall seat it gave me a wonderful view of the rocks and layers that made up the gorge and I wished Maureen Angle was here with me to be seeing all this. She would be in heaven. The river is quiet of activities at this point so we had just the train, the gorge walls and the descending waters of the New River. The next scenic highlight is the US Highway 19 Bridge. The New River Gorge Bridge is the world's longest single span steel arch bridge with a center span of 1,700 feet and a total length of 3,030 feet. It was this bridge where I saw my first bungee jumpers of my life off the bridge on that last trip. I learned that on the third Saturday in October the bridge is opened to pedestrians who watch people bungee jumping and parachuting off of it. I guess I was lucky to see it happening back in 1990. With everyone crowding the riverside windows for a view of the bridge, I decided to get a unique picture of the bridge. I stood up on my seat and looked up through the top window until we passed under the bridge where I turned around and looked back as the train curved. I was the only person on the train to get the extended view of the bridge. What a unique traveling experience. Thank you Amtrak!

I noticed river access just beyond the bridge and once passed, the river came alive with rafters, canoes and kayakers much to the amazement and happiness of our passengers. I just sat back and looked across the car at all the river activities. The train passed a set of rapids with the car's passengers oohing and awing as the watercraft made their way through them. Normally the rider's wave at the train but through the rapids they do not as they are holding on for dear life. The train passed through the flag stop at Thurmond, WV as I moved back to my coach riverside seat. I have a seatmate for the first time on this trip, an older woman who was knitting and was very good at it going from Charleston to Washington, DC. She said that she has been over this route twenty times and knows it like the back of her hand so she works on her knitting hoping to have it done by DC as a gift for a close friend. The train followed the river's bend passing more rapids to our next station stop at Prince. Once passed Prince we met several westbound CSX freights as the New River turned east before it made a huge bend to the south. We crossed under Interstate 64 before passing Sandstone and Brook Falls prior to our next stop at Hinton. Once we departed Hinton we left the New River and followed the Greenbrier River as it follows the river east, gaining elevation with the train passing near the John Henry Monument.

With a sober passage through the New River behind me, I decided to take a nap as all of the excitement of the day had caught up with me, I slept for about an hour through the flag stop of Alderson and awoke as the train pulled into White Sulpher Springs, WV with me totally refreshed. The train which had been climbing all day, passed through the summit tunnel of the Appalachian Mountains, entered Virginia before it started the descent to Clifton Forge, VA and a crew change point. We arrived a moment before our sister train so we sat for a few minutes as I watched CSX freights in the yard.

We departed Clifton Forge one and a half hours late so I consulted my timetable to see how much padding there is in the schedule since 1.5 hours would put me into DC twenty minutes after my next train would leave. I came up with thirty six minutes of padding so I figured I would be fine unless something else would happen. I went back to the lounge car and after about twenty minutes we hit a section of track that we crept over making us two hours late by our next station stop of Stuanton which is home to the Virginia Central Railroad with its pair of steam locomotives. The funny thing about that delay was that a truck on a side road could not go any faster than the train did due to the road conditions. The train departed Stuanton then climbed a ridge passed through a tunnel and exited to a great view of the valley below through the trees. We slowly wound our way off the ridge onto the gentle rolling foothills. My mind turned to the Civil War and all of the battles that were fought between the North and South in Virginia. We entered Charlottesville past the University of Virginia before crossing the ex Southern mainline {NS} and arrived at the station that serves both lines. We stayed on CSX rails crossing the Riyanna River before reaching Orange, VA and the ex Southern mainline which we will take all the way to Washington, DC.

The train made a brief stop at Culpepper before continuing up the mainline at the highest speeds of the whole day passing the Virginia Rail Express trains in overnight storage before we arrived at Manassas having made up some time. The sun slowly set in the west as the train travelled at a rapid pace to Alexandria which we arrived at just after dark. Potomac yard is now a thing of the past with urban development taking place where once rails stood. We passed the Crystal City area, crossed the Potomac River then entered Washington, DC, a beautiful sight all lit up against the night time sky. This was my best arrival in DC ever. We plunged into the Capitol Tunnel and arrived at Washington Union Station one hour and twenty minutes late with this route reclaimed for my sobriety.

Night Owl 66 6/15/1997

I detrained from the Cardinal, went upstairs into the station to call home and to mail a post card before I boarded a 78 seat Amfleet car on the Night Owl to Boston. Once in my seat I wished that I had paid for a sleeper and if I ever do this again I will. The coach filled up and once under way I curled up and went to sleep, that was until Philadelphia. There they change crews and the new conductor woke everyone up in single seats telling us that he was expecting a big load that of course never showed up. He also used the PA all the way to New York City which was disturbing to all of the train's passengers. He also turned on all the lights apparently so he could see better.

6/16/1997 Once we arrived in New York they changed crews again. This time a female conductor apologized to each passenger for the trip from Philadelphia, tells everyone to stretch out in the empty seats and to have a pleasant night's sleep. We, the passengers had a good laugh and a quick discussion about our trip from Philadelphia. I stayed awake through the East River Tunnel, passed Sunnyside Yard and over Hell's Gate Bridge. What an outstanding night time view of the entire New York City skyline before I fell fast asleep. I slept through New Haven, another crew change and woke up in Providence, Rhode Island. I changed into a new set of clothes before the train left that station. A "T" commuter train departed in front of us so they announced that we would arrive in Boston at 8:30 A.M. So much for going back to New York via Springfield as I needed to reclaim the Boston to Springfield segment for my sobriety as I am doing on this trip from New York to Boston. Amtrak 95 the Old Dominion flew by going southbound. The dispatcher then ran us around that commuter train and we returned to high speed running. They were busy putting in the overhead poles for the future electrification project between New Haven and Boston which will allow for higher speeds than between New York and Washington. We made our station stop at Route 128 where there was a platform full of commuters waiting for their train and by the time we got to Boston's Back Bay Station we were back on time. It's a very short trip to South Station and we arrived in Boston dead on time. The Night Owl did exactly what it was supposed to do and I walked off very impressed.

Bay State 145 6/16/1997

I could not get a ticket on Train 145 because of the six minute connection but I was told that it would be ok if I rode it back to New York. This would save me having to come back here again to do the Boston to Palmer segment to reclaim it for my sobriety. I walked all the way down the length of the platform on Track 12 and around to Track 3 to find the conductor to make sure it would be cool with him to ride his train. He said that it would be fine and I boarded the Bay State taking a left hand seat for the viewing on this trip. The Bay State left Boston right on the money so it was a brief visit to the hometown of the Red Sox, Celtics and Bruins. The only thing that I noticed differently from my last trip here was that they had built a building over the platforms at South Station. We emerged into daylight went around a turn to the west with the Boston skyline standing to the north and ran the mile to Back Bay Station.

Our assistant conductor is making her first trip ever. Michelle D. takes her first two tickets ever before I hand her my booklet of tickets. I introduced myself and explained that these tickets are a series of See America Fare Tickets before I told her a little about me. I did not know who was more impressed, Michelle or our head conductor as he had to inspect and read off every ticket's destination so all the other passenger could hear where I had been and where I was going to on my trip. Later on in the trip Michelle was amazed by the chances that the third ticket she would ever take would be mine. At least she now knew what a See America set of tickets looked like. I wondered if they taught that in conductor school. I hope Michelle has a wonderful future with Amtrak.

The Bay State passed a block behind Fenway Park and the Green Monster in a baseball park that I have always dreamed of going to. The train is heading out the double track mainline against the flow of morning "T" commuter rush hour trains. We made our first stop of the trip at Framingham. I went to the cafe car to get breakfast and received a Northeast Direct Lounge Car Playing Game Card and won 10% off my next NE Direct trip. I wondered if I would be back here by September 30th. Not! Once west of the station we saw our last "T" train and we were out into the open rolling New England countryside. We passed a couple of lakes and small towns before we arrived at Worcester where I saw some diesel engines of the Providence and Worcester Railroad. We crossed the Blackstone River and then climbed out of its valley. On the way to Springfield the Bay State crossed two more river valleys. I was waiting for Palmer and the end of the reclaimed trackage for today. The train made a couple of board turns before I saw the tracks of the New England Central converging in from the southeast. We were now at Palmer, MA and another section of sober trackage complete. The train handled the rest of the miles to Springfield quickly, a big difference from my last trip at Palmer.

We left Springfield on time and followed the Connecticut River southward towards New Haven. After about ten minutes we crossed the Connecticut River and stayed on the west side of it all the way to New Haven. We paused at Windsor Locks as we had just entered Connecticut with no passengers boarding and proceeded to Windsor, CT where I got a seatmate. He is traveling to DC to visit friends before returning to New York tonight in order to fly to Italy to work for three months. He is very excited to be going and can't wait to get to Italy. He asked me all sorts of questions about Amtrak before we both listened to our own brands of music. The Bay State next stopped at Hartford with the very English looking Capitol Building before it made its scheduled station stops at Berlin, Meridian and Wallingford. We arrived on time to New Haven and performed the engine change from diesel to electric for our trip to New York City. This gave me a chance to stretch my legs on the platform and allowed me to take a good look at the AEM-7 electric engine that would take our train on.

I had never been on a train between New Haven and New York in daylight so I was looking forward to this. My left hand seat should give me a view of Long Island Sound plus hopefully the offshore islands on this rather clear day. We first saw a Connecticut Transit commuter train in a wonderful ex New Haven paint scheme. Next a Metro North commuter train from Grand Central Station in New York City. Next we got plagued by track work all the way down the corridor to New York. You have two times in the day that you can do track work here either in the middle of the day between rush hours or in the middle of the night. We stopped at Bridgeport. Is that where Lucy and Ricky moved to in I Love Lucy? We crossed several inlets and curved to our next station stop at Stamford. I was getting a glimpse of the Sound as we continued west before I received one long and hard view of the Sound and Long Island. We continued to switch tracks to avoid track work taking place and pulled into New Rochelle, the hometown of Dick and Laura Petri of the Dick Van Dyke Show. Isn't it interesting that both shows used these two towns and that commuting by train was mentioned in both shows. The line to Grand Central cuts off from our route and after passing through miles of high density housing projects the train climbed the grade to the Hell's Gate Bridge. I switched seats to the other side of the train and got a great view of the entire Island of Manhattan. It is quite a sight seeing all the high rise buildings of New York City all in one view. The view from Hell's Gate Bridge is truly impressive, one that everyone should get a chance to see. Once back onto Long Island for a few minutes, we curved down to the junction with the Long Island Railroad with its tracks all over Long Island before passing Amtrak's Sunnyside Yard. The yard is a rather cramped servicing base with a large assortment of cars and engines. We then plunged into the East River Tunnel and under a part of Manhattan before we arrived at Penn Station New York, in the basement of Madison Square Gardens forty minutes late due to all the track work.

New York City 6/16/1997

I walked straight upstairs into Penn Station and found the New Jersey Transit timetable rack for myself and my brethren of the Orange County Railroad Historical Society. My plan for my next morning layover here is to ride one of their lines after I do some careful studying. I bought a few post cards before I went to the Boers Head Deli for a roast beef sandwich. I wrote the post cards then headed across the street to the New York Central Post Office to mail them. Everyone on the street is in such a rush to get to where ever they are going. It amazing just to stand back and watch them go on their way.

Upon my return to Penn Station, I stopped at the big timetable board which is really fun to watch as it clicks with changes. As I stand there, behind me there is a large commotion with the Amtrak Police arresting someone and upon the opening of his luggage, it appeared that he was trafficking a large amount of illegal drugs. I must say my visits to New York City are never boring. They quickly removed the suspect as I changed my location to by the stairs that are under construction and waited for the track number of the Ethan Allen Express to Rutland to be posted.

Ethan Allen Express 291 6/16/1997

It came up on the board. I was off to Track 6 and I was the first person to board the Ethan Allen Express to Rutland. I took a large window seat in an ex Santa Fe coach like the one I rode in on the Adirondack. I took a left hand window seat so I would have the Hudson River right outside my window all the way to Albany-Rensselaer and was looking forward to this run. The Ethan Allen Express left New York City on time and the train headed onto the Empire Connection passing through the tunnels and under buildings with daylight running in between. There is an expressway and just beyond the Hudson River before the road crosses over us and we ran along a park. The train passed under the George Washington Bridge before crossing the Harlem Ship Canal and reached the junction with the Metro North line from Grand Central Station at Spuyten Duyvil. I have been seeing billboard ads with the Lost in Space Robot on them but we are always moving too fast to read them. The train stopped at Yonkers, passed under the Tappen Zee Bridge, by Sing Sing State Prison before the train pulled into Croton-Harmon.

The Hudson River is absolutely beautiful in the mid afternoon sunlight and the river is alive with river traffic. The train glided under the Bear Mountain Bridge and across the river on the bluff sits the West Point Military Academy. The train next passed through the Breakneck Ridge Tunnel before passing Bannerman's Castle out on the island in the middle of the Hudson River before it stopped at Poughkeepsie. North of town is the old abandoned high bridge that was the main link in the old Alphabet Route as the smaller railroads fought to keep the traffic out of the hands of the Penn Central. When Conrail was formed it swallowed up all of the partners of the Alphabet Route. A fire took care of the bridge.

The Ethan Allen Express picked up speed once more and escaped the confines of the Metro North commuter district. There is a stylish lighthouse on a rock in the Hudson River and on the west bank back lit by the sun was a castle like structure in an impressive location. The train stopped at Rhinecliff then crossed the Roeliff River before it arrived at Hudson. The train quickly resumed speed and twenty minutes later passed the Conrail Boston to Buffalo mainline on a high bridge. Albany the capital city of New York came into view across the Hudson River and then the train pulled into Albany-Rensselaer. The train spent fifteen minutes here mainly to take the GE dual powered diesel engine off and to add an F40PH to the point of our train. A word about our train, it consisted of four former ex Santa Fe coaches that had been used in Clocker Service between New York and Philadelphia and an Amdinnette with the rear section used for Custom Class. I had enough time to photograph the train, change film and finish a twenty ounce ginger ale that I had bought back on the Empire Connection at the beginning of this trip. That twenty ounces went one hundred forty one miles.

The Ethan Allen Express departed Albany-Rensselaer on time, passed by the Amtrak maintenance shops with all the FL-9 engines basically all in storage except for one which was idling. We crossed the Hudson River with an excellent view of downtown Albany. The train passes Rensselaer Lake which is no place near the station with the same name before we stopped in Schenectady which allowed for another platform walk since we had arrived early. We curved onto the ex Delaware and Hudson tracks before leaving town. We crossed the Mohawk River before we arrived at Saratogo Springs. Known for its horse racing, students of history will remember that near this place is where the Battle of Saratogo took place turning into a victory which caused the French to our aide in the Revolutionary War in 1777.

The Weather Channel back at home had shown clear weather for New England in their weekend forecast before I had left home. With my inspection of the clouds moving in, I am on Stormwatch because this sky is signaling advancing rain on its way to this region. That Geography Degree from Cal State Fullerton does come in handy when I travel. The Canadian Pacific was doing track work that slowed the train before our next station stop of Fort Edward. The train then made the miles go quick up to Whitehall but we diverted onto the ex D&H branch before the station there and I started up new trackage towards Rutland. We left Whitehall in the last light of day over the tracks of the Claredon and Pittsford and ran east in twilight so I could at least make out details along the route to Rutland however I will save those for my trip back tomorrow. The effects of the train speed and the newly upgraded track had the train rocking, rolling and vibrating. At one point if you sat up straight with your back against the seat the train gave you a really good massage. I have never had a train do that to me before and I must admit it felt really good. We arrived at Rutland on time after what I must call a most interesting ride.

Rutland 6/16/1997

I caught a cab who showed me the train yard in town before he drove me out to the Day's Inn. I checked in, called home and to my brother Bruce in Sacramento before I took a nice long hot well deserved shower. I watched the Weather Channel and yes, rain was on the way, then Nick at Night. I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow and slept undisturbed my first night off the train in four nights.

6/17/1997 I woke up totally refreshed. I had a breakfast of French toast and real maple syrup. With the rain washing out my plans of a good morning walk back to the train so after watching the Guiding Light, I checked out, mailed some post cards and taxied back to a parking structure across from the spot where the train would stop out in the rain. I waited for an hour doing word fill in puzzles until a guy from a ski resort opened up the station trailer to take down their display. He was surprised by the caretaker who wondered who was inside the trailer. He then let me wait out of the rain inside the station trailer.

The Claredon and Western local passed by with me managing a picture of it in spite of the rain. The Ethan Allen Express arrived with me getting pictures of it in the rain before they let me board.

Ethan Allen Express 294 6/17/1997

I boarded the empty Ethan Allen Express and took the seat across from the one I had yesterday so I could have the Hudson River view one more time. Until departure time I listened to Jeff Beck with the Jan Hammer Group Live and the train left right on time for New York City. I enjoyed the car all to myself as I started my daylight journey back to Whitehall. The train crossed Otter Creek as we left town. Rocking and rolling started as the train picked up speed but then slowed to a stop by the Rutland Paper Company to throw a switch so we could head for Whitehall. The train crossed the Claredon River in a very nice setting with a waterfall next to an industry on the northeast bank of the river. A marble works came into view next. I thought that it was a dump in the low light of last night. All the slabs are divided by size and laid in piles ready to be used and cut. The train then entered the forest and started its descent. After we crossed the highway I found where some of that marble must go to. Arctics Memorials, i.e. grave stones, head shop with products on display are out front. Tie plates along with former ties are spotted several places along the train's 7 route as this line is seeing an upgrade thanks to the state of Vermont. Where the forest is cleared there is agriculture and dairy farming takes place. At Castleton the train passed a really nice wooden depot, then the car really rocks and rolls. We passed the old brick depot at Fairhaven before crossing high over the Poultney River which is the state line for New York and Vermont. We rode up and over a ridge then crossed a much smaller Hudson River before we curved onto the CP Rail mainline at Whitehall. I like to thank the train crew for all the river names on this segment. They helped make this trip more enjoyable.

Once back on the old D&H I walked the train finding fourteen passengers abroad. The crew said that it was a really slow day with the rain keeping people away because there is no real station in Rutland. They are planning to have one open by the Fall. At Fort Edwards two more passengers joined our train, at Saratogo Springs I got some company in my quiet but cool car and at Schenectady I was joined by a few more. At Albany-Rensselaer the train filled up as I bought a D&H Historical Society Magazine and a new word fill in book. I took a few pictures during the engine change before reboarding for New York City.

It was a late afternoon trip south along the Hudson River as the train left on time. If you look at a map it appears that the Hudson River runs straight north to south. On this trip what struck me was just how much it curves which was a lot more than I had thought with some rather large sweeping curves. At New Hamburg, our train set off a rack side detector which scans the train for problems and while the train is inspected everyone takes the time to enjoy the view of the Hudson River. It is only my third time ever to be on a train stopped by a detector. We had a Conrail freight running along the West Bank of the Hudson River in a perfect location to be seen across the river. With our track speed we over took him before Peekskill where the river makes a huge bend. With the freight train on an inside bend and with us on a longer outside bend of the Hudson River we came out of the bend neck to neck with that freight train. We stopped at Croton-Harmon where six Metro North workers inspected our train during our brief stop. All in all we lost forty minutes before we arrived in New York City late on a wonderful day long adventure.

New York City 6/17/1997

I picked the South Gate Towers to stay at for my night in the Big Apple because of its location across the street from Penn Station. I walked out of Penn Station into the hustle and bustle of New York City and had no problems in finding the hotel. After a fifteen minute wait to check in, I went to my room which was supposed to be a nonsmoking room and turned out to be a smoking room on the 22nd floor. So far I was only impressed with this hotel's location. I took a five block walk for a two dollar and forty five cent Popeye Chicken Dinner. A stop by a store next to the hotel provided a Coca-Cola and I returned to my room for the rest of the night where I made my train riding plans for tomorrow.

6/18/1997 I had only two questions when I woke up. "Does this city ever quiet down and is there any place on the Island of Manhattan where one can get some peace and quiet?" It was a very different world from Rutland. The morning started with a trip to the Post Office for more twenty cent postal stamps then to Penn Station and the New Jersey Transit ticket window for a round trip ticket to Dover, NJ. They gave me three tickets for each way and I went out into the waiting room to watch the departure board for my train number.

New Jersey Transit 6607/6628 6/18/1997

I was seated in Coach 5564, a Bombardier car with 3-2 seating. The train pulled out of Penn Station on time behind a New Jersey Transit AEM-7. The conductor took all three tickets which were Penn Station to Newark, Newark to Summit and Summit to Dover, placing an orange marker on the back of the seat in front of me. I had chosen a right hand side seat for my ride out to Dover and would ride on the opposite side on my return trip to the city. The train went through the Hudson River Tunnel, crossed the New Jersey Meadowlands before diverging onto New Jersey Transit owned ex Lackawanna trackage to Newark's other train station, Broad Street Station. We headed up the line stopping at Brick Church and yes, two short blocks from the station is a big red brick church surrounded by typical New York style buildings. By Orange, NJ the home of Seton College which I would have never know the true location had I not taken this trip. The countryside loses its New York influences becoming forested with nice homes and a much cleaner environment. The next stop was Maplewood, a very nice looking small town followed by Millburn and Short Hills. We made our next stop at Summit which is at the top of the hill from the Hudson River. Trains for the Gladstone branch depart from here. At Convent Station is the College of Saint Elizabeth so the names along this line at least tell the truth about what is there. The countryside became more rolling and we passed a nice lake before the train arrived in Dover, New Jersey.

The layover gave me a chance for a few pictures, to get a good morning walk in and to get some cookies for a light breakfast. I was glad that I decided to do this as I am seeing a completely different side of New Jersey. I had a Morristown and Erie engine pass through the station as I waited to head back to the Big Apple.

On the return trip the train filled up quickly and remained busy all the way to New York. At Convent Station I spotted the ad with the Lost in Space Robot on it. It read "Danger Will Robinson!" with the robot holding a box and the slogan of Altoids Mints "The Curiously Strong Mint." I must say seeing my old friend the "Robot" used in the media warmed my Sci-Fi heart. We had a short delay outside of Newark but arrived back in Penn Station on time. I enjoyed my first taste of riding New Jersey Transit.

New York City once more 6/18/1997

I walked back to my hotel room, watched the Guiding Light, took a long hot shower before I checked out. About that nonsmoking room. This hotel does not guarantee you a nonsmoking room, they give you whatever room is left. I found it hard to believe that if I made my reservation ten weeks ago and was told that I would have a non smoking room that I would not have one. This hotel has lost my business. If I stay in New York City again, I will find another hotel within walking distance that will give me a non smoking room. I returned to Penn Station to have another roast beef sandwich before I went to the Amtrak waiting area. About twenty minutes before my departure time, I walked out into the hall and stood where I had stood before watching the departure board change waiting for my train to be posted.

The Three Rivers 41 6/18/1997

I went down to Track 8 and boarded a seven car train, three Amfleet coaches and a dinette plus three mail and express cars. I took a left hand side large window seat so I would have the view around the Horseshoe Curve this evening. The train left New York City on time and started the trip out running the consist backwards to Philadelphia. This is so that the train can use the 30th Street Station in Philadelphia. My trip this morning had been perfectly timed as more rain had moved into the Northeast as I sped through it on time to Philadelphia. During our forty five minute stop that allowed the electric engine to be cut off and three diesel engines added to the point of our train and four more material handling cars to our rear. I used this break to run upstairs to the SEPTA area of the station and got a complete set of rail timetables plus extra for my mates at the OCHRS. Anytime that I can pick things up for them there is at least one member who is happy that I did.

On the move again, once we had escaped the influence of Philadelphia, we crossed the rolling hills of Southeastern Pennsylvania. West of Poali I saw an Amish farmer in his traditional dress spraying chemicals from a horse drawn sprayer. That is really two world's mixing, his traditional life style with the wonderful world of modern chemicals. We have an Amtrak Police officer riding our train and I was told that they ride most of the Keystone Service trains between Philadelphia and Harrisburg. The cooling towers of the ill fated Three Mile Island came into view along with the Susquehanna River. The train passed the Harrisburg International Airport and since the Three Rivers lacks a dining car, I enjoyed a feast of a hot dog, chips and ginger ale before we arrived on time for our ten minute stop at Harrisburg.

I used the stop for pictures of our train and the Pennsylvania Railroad GG-1 4859 with Caboose 980016 Eastern Region on display under the station sheds at the station.

The Three Rivers left Harrisburg on time continuing its trip to Chicago. The train crossed the Susquehanna River on the Rockville Bridge what used to be the longest rock stone structure in the world when built in 1902 in a very foggy environment of extreme low clouds. We followed the Junitia River for the next hundred and twelve miles. We are running slow because of the very heavy freight traffic they announced and moments later we met the eastbound Three Rivers running almost five hours late. With all the low clouds I had to switch from my sunglasses to my clear glasses. The countryside has turned into forested hills as we met a Conrail Business Train with two of their E-9s pulling their looking great train. The rain returned this time in a hard downpour. At Lewistown passengers boarding the train made a run for it through the extremely hard pouring rain. Lightning then got into this act making for an excellent stormy trip through Central Pennsylvania. Conrail adds to the act with a parade of eastbound freight trains on the next track over.

The rain had stopped by Huntington and the area has turned into dairy farming. A crossover tunnel alerted me to the upcoming double track bore. We started crisscrossing the river, crossing it at least ten times as the mountains got larger and the rock cuts got deeper as we headed west. We arrived at Altoona, twenty one minutes late with the old shops now the Pennsylvania Railroader Museum located south of the station. Now this is the moment that I had been waiting for, my first westbound trip around the Horseshoe Curve and sober no less. From Philadelphia to Pittsburgh I am reclaiming this route for my sobriety. I had bought a Trains on Location Video of the curve so that I would be more familiar with it than I was back in 1990. We passed another eastbound freight train as we climbed the hillside. There are some photographers waiting for us in the last light of the day. When we approached the curve I see an eastbound freight rounding the top end of the curve. We met the power and round the Horseshoe Curve making viewing our train impossible and the GP-9 on display in the middle of the curve only seen between the passing gaps of this long double stack freight train. It was still incredible to go around the Horseshoe Curve this time stone cold sober.

Two miles up we passed another eastbound freight and you can see the advantage of a three track {formerly four} mainline. Conrail had put on quite a show for me as that was the 14th eastbound freight train that we had passed since Harrisburg. Darkness is taking over the sky and I am sure glad I made this trip in the third week in June when I could see the curve in the last light of the day. The Three Rivers went through the Summit Tunnel and the rain let up allowing for a few more minutes of viewing the Pennsylvania countryside as the train crept slowly downgrade with me calling it a night after an exciting day of train riding.

6/19/1997 I woke up the next morning as the train pulled into a siding and sat for twenty minutes to let a CSX freight train by. I have no idea where I am at as I am on new trackage for my last eastbound trip was on the Broadway Limited back in 1990. We rode the old Pennsylvania Railroad all the way from Chicago to Philadelphia. They rerouted the train over the rails of CSX the last few years before it was discontinued. When the Three Rivers was created it took over the Broadway's CSX routing from Pittsburgh to Hammond-Whiting, IN. At this point I do not know if I am in Ohio or Indiana. We backed out onto the mainline and passed two more eastbound CSX freights waiting for us to get out of their way.

The water tower in the next town read Hicksville, Ohio so at least now I know where I am at. The train is running across the flat farming country of Ohio. Not knowing where Hicksville, Ohio is does not allow me to figure out how late we are running or what our next station stop is. I had a breakfast of cookies and orange juice for my vitamin "C." I returned to my coach with everyone wondering where we are? We traveled for about forty five minutes before we stopped at Garrett, Indiana a non timetable stop for a crew change and to refuel the engines before we backed off the grade crossings to let traffic by. It was then announced that we would arrive in Chicago at ten thirty. CSX had one of the two mainlines out of service between Garret and Nappanee due to track maintenance so we are waiting on an eastbound CSX freight train that should be here in fifteen minutes.

Well those fifteen minutes were extended. For my enjoyment I could see a B&O Alco switcher on display in a local railroad museum. During the delay one passenger called this the "Train from Hell." I do not think so as being two hours late does not even come close as I told another passenger the ten hour late Empire Builder story and both had a good laugh about it as we stood in the vestibule with both doors open as the smokers continued to puff away in the lounge car. All the smokers let out a cheer when that eastbound CSX train passed by. At least it was not a junk train I joked with our conductor. We finally headed west after only an hour forty five minute delay.

We left Garrett with another cheer as the train began to move and passed a westbound freight in the yard before we headed into the single track construction zone of total track replacement. When we finally reached the westward end of the slow orders we found three more eastbound CSX freight trains waiting for us to pass by. I guess we were not the only one waiting to move. I wondered if the CSX crews were bad mouthing our Amtrak train for their delay like the passengers in the lounge car were bad mouthing CSX for our trains delay. I wished the CSX dispatcher a lot of luck with this dispatching nightmare. My luck is still running great while I would not be riding the IC-3 between Chicago and Milwaukee, I am seeing all of this route from Hicksville to Chicago in daylight. Maybe I should make a map of my Amtrak daylight running as that would be very interesting.

We arrived in Nappanee our only official Amtrak stop on this route in Indiana and quickly departed four hours twenty six minutes late. I sat back and watched the slightly more rolling Indiana scenery turn more flat as the train rolled off the miles to the west. It was pleasant vistas. I was enjoying my morning passage through this state as I have been listening to Emerson, Lake and Palmer since Philadelphia and their song "For an Officer and a Gentleman" really fits the feel of this Indiana countryside. We started crossing railroad crossings at a fairly steady rate and I knew we were getting close to Chicago when the trash and graffiti started to appear. What appeared to be a swarm of bugs turned out to be cottonwood seeds as the train neared the South Shore over crossing. I wondered what the engineer's windshield looked like after going through that? We pulled up to the Conrail mainline and had to wait for one of their freights to clear before we could enter their mainline ending my new mileage to our next stop of Hammond-Whiting after we stopped for two more red signals. What is another delay anyway by this point. We passed the Buffington Harbor Casino, I viewed Lake Michigan across the train as we entered Illinois. We pulled straight into Chicago Union Station arriving four hours fifty two minutes late.

Chicago 2 Metra 102/112 6/19/1997

I detrained in Chicago to take care of some personal business before I headed to the Metra ticket window to finally get me to Antioch. Even a very tardy Three Rivers was not going to stop me this time. I stopped by Gold Coast for a couple of Char Dogs before I headed to the north platform and found my train. I boarded one of Metra's new cab cars and found the seats to be more comfortable. There is less seating upstairs due to the control area and down stairs mainly due to the wheelchair accessible bathroom. I wondered how a wheel chair could board this car. Curiosity got the better part of me so I detrained and studied the door area. I found that a ramp comes out of the stairs. You would have to look hard to notice it. I am always amazed at the ways that they help my handicapped friends. Trains are really user friendly.

We departed Chicago on time, heading out of downtown Chicago, the same way we went to Elgin last Saturday. The station doors at Western Avenue had graffiti all over them since my last visit. After the River Gorge stop we turned north onto the Metra North Central Line owned by the Wisconsin Central Railroad. We headed through a rail yard before passing Chicago O'Hare Airport on the left and stopped at O'Hare Transfer whose station is still being built. This line service is less than a year old so everything still has a fresh look to it. The scenery on this part of the line changes from light manufacturing to suburbs. We crossed the triple track Metra Union Pacific Northwest Line to Harvard before our next stop at Prospect Heights. Our next stop was at Wheeling, our final stop in Cook County before we entered Lake County. A dad and his two children Matt and Jamie are on their first train ride ever from Wheeling to Vernon. Made me think back to my first ride on a Santa Fe San Diegan many, many years ago. Just think what one little train ride started me on!

The suburbs returned in full force as we made our stops at Buffalo Grove, Prairie View and Vernon Hills all with very nice new stations. We passed a large sand and gravel plant before our next stop of Mundelein. We have passed two Wisconsin Central freight trains so it appears that this regional railroad is as busy as I was told. The train passed a large Motorola Plant on the right before the country opened up again to a nice rural environment as we neared our next station stop of Prairie Crossing/Libertyville. We crossed the Metra Milwaukee North Line to Fox Lake. We traveled through Gray's Lake before we stopped at Round Lake Beach with no signs of the beach. Next stop was Lake Villa and we traveled between Cedar Lake to the west and Deep Lake on the east before we made our final stop at Antioch, just a mile from Wisconsin. I detrained out into a nice afternoon with large raindrops occasionally falling before I returned to Chicago riding on the west side of the train. I had a couple more Char Dogs since my next Amtrak train to Grand Rapids has no food service. I went to the south waiting area to do just that before I boarded my next train.

Pere Marquette 370 6/19/1997

The last time I tried to do this route eastbound, I was in a van on the highway instead of the rails with that body piercing show on the radio due to the lateness of the Texas Eagle so tonight will be my first eastbound run on the Pere Marquette. The train consists of two GE locomotives a 500 series 1059W and a GP-38-2 90 facing backwards, an ex Capitoliner which I am riding in and a Horizon coach. The conductor led every passenger to their seat saying that we would be having a full train and I took a right hand side window seat. The conductor uses the PA which had a whining sound to it so he came in and closed the door every time he used it. We left Chicago on time. We lost head end power when we got out of the station and right when we slowed down to get it fixed at the coach yards it came back on and stayed on for the reminder of the trip. I am reclaiming this route as well for my sobriety.

Not much has changed since this morning other than my direction and the sky as we headed eastbound down the Conrail mainline. We stopped at Hammond-Whiting and minutes later sped by the old abandoned station at Gary, IN with the steel mill across from it. The last time I was on these tracks I was having dinner on the Capitol Limited on the finishing the Amtrak system trip. Tonight I am on a train with no food service but passengers were encouraged to bring a picnic with them on their future trips. We caught up with an eastbound Conrail train and passed it before we curved onto the CSX mainline to Grand Rapids at Porter. The scenery quickly turned to forests with fields cut out if it. More cottonwood seeds were in the air as we passed a CSX freight then entered Michigan. Before we arrived at the Amshack at New Buffalo we had passed an old coaling tower and roundhouse. The train ran by some rather large industries before we curved to the northwest through a slow order due to rail and tie replacement. Lake Michigan came into view to the west and then the train ran along the bluff into St Joseph-Benton Harbor.

We made our stop with the cottonwood seeds falling like snow. We crossed the St. Joseph River on a drawbridge and passed by the marina before the train returned to the forest heading northeast following the meandering course of the St. Joseph River. We stopped in Bangor and once more I was glad I took this trip in the long days of June. I have been listening to Aerosmith and doing word fill in puzzles having an enjoyable evening although I wished that I was sharing it with someone special. Looking across the train at a beautiful orange sunset did bring me back to reality from the daydreaming of the several women in my life. Near Holland the trees gave way to fields as the last of the light faded into darkness. We made the rest of the trip to Grand Rapids under the cover of the night. I taxied to the downtown Day's Inn and spent a wonderful night in an excellent room complete with a large sofa in front of the TV.

Pere Marquette 371 6/20/1997

The next morning I was back at the Grand Rapids Amtrak Station with the same crew for the 7:30 A.M. departure of Train 371. I have a seatmate who is traveling from Grand Rapids to Rochester, MN. She has a daughter who is in and out of trouble in Michigan so she makes the round trip from Minnesota at least once a month to visit her daughter. After she had composed a personal letter we laughed and talked all the way back to Chicago. Time really flew by talking with her and made for an enjoyable morning on the Pere Marquette. We arrived back in Chicago Union Station right on time.

Chicago 3 6/20/1997

That morning in Grand Rapids I had noticed my suitcase had a rip in the bottom of it so I fore go the Metra riding and went in search of a new bag. I went to the drugstore across the street from Union Station and they said go to State Street where you will find the shop with what you need. I returned to Union Station and stored my bags in a locker and set out on foot down the streets of Chicago. I found State Street which had a street fair going on and asked a policeman for the store that I needed. I walked seven blocks to the very expensive store which had the bag I was looking for at four times the price of Target back home. Forget it. I walked out of the building onto the street and looked at the buildings on State Street. On the northwest corner I saw a Woolworth where I bought the same bag at a Target price. I walked back to Union Station a different way so I did a little walking tour of Chicago stopping at a record store before I walked along the banks of the Chicago River with the noontime music filling the air. I received a new interpretation of the City of Chicago and enjoyed myself immensely. Back at Union Station I retrieved my bags before I went through the process of emptying the old bags contents into a new bag. I managed to find a luggage cart so this made the whole process easier. I returned to the south waiting area where the air conditioning was out. I met a guy with a whole stack of Relic magazines {a Grateful Dead fan magazine} and he let me read a couple of them while I waited. One has article about Jethro Tull twenty five years ago on tour and another had a picture article that my friend Ralph Huelett did on the Grateful Dead show at Irvine Meadows, CA. Small world is it not. I sold my luggage cart for fifty cents to a woman who needed it a lot more than me. I then waited in the heat for my train back to California.

The California Zephyr 5 6/20/1997

After passing through another round of boarding instructions inside of Chicago Union Station, I walked out down the platform to board my nice and cool Superliner coach to California. I shared my seat with a most intelligent fourteen year old traveling to Martinez, CA like I was doing with his mother and sister in the seat behind us. We left Chicago on time and soon were cruising down the triple track mainline to Aurora as I sat back in the lounge car and watch the suburban towns pass outside the train's window. West of Aurora, I returned to my seat to get a five thirty dinner reservation then watched the open Illinois countryside as the train sped west.

I had a nice New York Strip dinner with two ladies each going to Ottumwa and Denver along with a very cute young woman traveling around the United States by train. She has a degree in design and told stories about her experiences in the Alps hiking as well as other places in Europe. She was stopping over in Denver and she made this evening dining experience most memorable. I will always be able to picture her in the Alps from the way that she described the scenes from her stories. Following dinner I returned to my seat as the train stopped short of the Mississippi River Bridge. A barge with a tug had the right away so we sat waiting its passage. We crossed the river, entered Iowa and arrived in Burlington thirty minutes late. The fourteen year old and I talked for the next three hours as we traveled to Osceola before the day ended with another beautiful sunset. It was one of the most interesting conversations that I have ever had with anyone on a train. He surely is the most intelligent fourteen year old that I have ever met.

When I decided to call it a night, the overhead lights were already out and I asked very politely for some quiet which two gentlemen across from me observed my request and they became silent. When one of the guy's wife and friend returned from the movie after a night of heavy drinking they sat down in the seats in front of me which were not even their right seats and started to have a picnic with very loud talking. After twisting and turning to no avail, I finally used the idea that had always worked in over 272,000 rail miles and said "Sh!"

Little did I know by going "Sh!" that I would start an incident that I would have never even imagined could happen. "We can talk all night long because it is our right as an American citizen!" they responded and are joined by the two gentlemen who had agreed to be quiet with one saying "We can talk as loud as we want because of the First Amendment." He then went on telling a story of being on a train with a guy playing music through his headphones and the conductor on that train telling him that he could not do anything about it. Our conductor walked by not knowing what he was getting into and the guy tells him the headphone story then said "I have the right to keep on talking all night if I want to because of my First Amendment right to free speech, right?" Now how do you answer a question like that? I kept my mouth shut and tried to think of a solution to this problem. My mind started to work. Ok, now how can I fall asleep in a situation like this? I could go to the lounge car and have a bunch of drinks so I would pass out. No! That's not an option. Would I give up my sobriety over these idiots and besides I would feel horrible in the morning. A quick prayer to God for an answer to this dilemma. It quickly hit me and I said "I am sorry!" Those three simple words of my own free speech returned the car to a state of silence. The fore fathers may not have given us the right to peace and quiet but by using my first amendment rights I attained that goal plus I did not return to the demon liquor as a solution to a problem. I had turned to a much higher power for a true answer.

6/21/1997 I was sleeping quite soundly when I was awoken by the fourteen year old boy's knee in my back. I shifted position noticing a good night time thunderstorm happening so I got up, used the bathroom then grabbed my pillow and blanket and went to the lounge car falling asleep on one of the couches as lightning lit up the blacken pre dawn sky. I slept soundly until I awoke to the gentle rolling hills of Nebraska. I had a stomach ache that morning with almost a churning action taking place. I went down stairs to the LSA who gave me a bottle of ginger ale. I drank up a quarter of it, let out a few burps and felt like my old self. Imagine how I would have felt this morning if I would have solved that problem with drinking and it was not a pleasant thought as I remembered back to the last of my drinking days. Each day that I live sober I am grateful to God for the fact that I am sober! The rolling hills of Nebraska turned into the rolling green hills of Colorado. Off to the north a thunderstorm is providing a nice morning shower. It was a great looking sky. I have always loved looking at clouds with the storm clouds having a unique character to them. They are so alive with so much of nature's energy making them up inside. Nature is so powerful and mighty. It will always impress me. We pulled into Fort Morgan and a taxi story with Australians came to mind with us leaving one hour thirty eight minutes late. Closing in on Denver, the skies cleared exposing the front range of the Rockies still with their peaks snow capped that we will be crossing later this morning. As we entered the BNSF yard it was announced the Hillary Clinton is on a train about to leave Denver and we are to be held out of Denver Union Station until her train leaves. The whole story was that they were holding the G7 Summit Meeting in Denver and that the leader's wives all boarded the Rio Grande Ski Train to Winter Park for a luncheon. The secret service shut down Denver Union Station, limiting all street access to the station until the special train left. We wyed our train on the one that leads to the Union Pacific yard where I see an old friend the Union Pacific steam locomotive 844 with its excursion train waiting to get into Denver Union Station as well.

The Union Pacific 844 entered the station first with us backing in on Track 1. I detrained and rushed to the front of the 844 to get some pictures. I talked to Steve Lee engineer and director of the Union Pacific steam program. He offered to take me along but I was not prepared for such a trip on the spot. I wished that I could have gone on that three day trip but the tickets were sold out instantly. They were going to Salt Lake City via the Royal Gorge and Tennessee Pass. It was quite a trip for them. I went inside the station, bought and mailed some post cards before I walked to the front of our train for a picture. I returned to my car and upon hearing the whistle of the Union Pacific 4-8-4 844, I asked my car attendant if I could open the vestibule window to get some pictures with an answer of "Yes!" I positioned myself and as the train backed by everyone in their open vestibules said "Wish you could come along with us!" The train backed slowly and then the 844 steamed by giving me an excellent view of the engine as I clicked off half a roll of film.

Thanks Hillary and all the G7 ladies for delaying us. Thanks Steve Lee and his whole crew for having the Union Pacific 844 in Denver and thanks Amtrak for all the nice memories and for getting me here to enjoy this whole event.

We departed Denver one hour thirty minutes late and I did not care because we were about to climb the front range of the Rockies in a different light condition due to the hour of the day. I sat back and enjoyed the climb from my coach seat passing all the know locations and taking it all in. By Rollins I made my way to the lounge car to get lunch and to enjoy the train's passage through the Moffat Tunnel. Upon exiting the tunnel there was no snow at the Winter Park Ski Resort before the train stopped at Winter Park-Fraser. Since this train had a smoking lounge in the bottom of one of the coaches it was a brief stop. At Tabernash we found the empty Ski Train waiting for a late afternoon departure to take the G7 wives back to Denver.

Near the old siding of Troublesome we encounter a dark signal that made the train crawl through Kremmling, Gore Canyon, Gore siding and Azure before we finally getting a green signal. Gore Canyon is good at any speed but I liked this passage the best because of the restricted speed I got a longer look at all the details in the canyon. The Colorado River is running wild at flood stage with it leaving the banks as it crosses flatter terrain. When in its canyons it's wild and free. With the river running like it was it was no surprise that the rafters were out in full force. There was a father and son sitting next to me who wants the rafters to drop their pants so he can get a picture. He waits patiently. A raft of all males upon seeing the train all moon {BA} the train to the amusement of all the passengers in the lounge car. About fifty yards down river an all female raft must have seen what the males had done and out did them not only with BA's but full frontal views as well with the father clicking away pictures at a most rapid rate. Now should we the passengers on the train return the favor? You never know what you will see from a train!

The train continued to follow the Colorado River through Red Rock Canyon before we reach Dotsero and went into the siding for our eastbound counterpart. The Zephyr entered Glenwood Canyon with the river running wild and fast covering up the bike trail that runs through the canyon in many spots. We all sat looking out at the canyon in amazement as two passengers have me talking about my mileage and trip. They have a friend who collects mileage but they admit he is nowhere near where I am at as they had me figure my exact mileage when we arrived in Glenwood Springs. At the dam the flood gates were open and where there is normally a trickle, today it was a wild uncontrolled rush of water. It was impressive to see the Colorado River running like this.

At Glenwood Springs we had time for a lengthy walk on the platform in the ninety degree heat as most of the train unloaded. The lounge is quiet in the late afternoon as we continued to watch where the Colorado had left its channel. I enjoyed a Prime Rib dinner in the dining car while the train passed through De Beque Canyon before I detrained at the servicing stop at Grand Junction. We left Grand Junction with only one thought on my mind, Ruby Canyon. We would make a daylight passage through Ruby Canyon unless we encountered another delay. We passed through Fruita and passed through the tunnel that led to Ruby Canyon with me pointing out the sites to a few passengers. A gentleman wants to know where the state line with Utah is and I said I could show him. So when the train arrived at Utahline siding we looked up on the cliff right above the train and there is the Colorado/Utah state line spray painted on the rock wall. We made it to Westwater and left the Colorado River after an exciting day of running along its course as I said my goodbye to Ruby Canyon in the last light of day.

Tonight the train traveled across the Utah desert and the Wasatch Mountains. I decided to watch the movies. The first one was the true story of "Steve Prefontaine", a runner who got a college scholarship and ran in the 1972 Olympics before his tragic ending. All in all it was an excellent movie. Movie 2 was "Dantes Peak" which I had seen in a theater and was a good choice to kill a Saturday Night on the train. When the movie was over, I straighten up the lounge car then retrieved my blanket and pillow from my seat to fall asleep across the lounge seats which allowed me to rest soundly. The passengers in my coach were not as lucky as I was. It seems that there was a woman who first awoke everyone to follow her off of the train. The problem was that the train was still moving. She then got really loud and boisterous. The car attendant had to sit by her to keep her calm. Next she wanted off the train and a taxi to drive her to San Francisco. They called the paramedics and she was removed at Salt Lake City much to the relief of the car's passengers.

6/22/1997 I woke up just inside of Nevada in daylight and enjoyed the Zephyr rounding the former Western Pacific's Arnold Loop. That told me where we were and allowed me to figure out just how late we were running. I took care of my morning business as the train crested Silver Pass Zone before crossing the Steptoe Valley passing through Shafter and the Nevada Northern interchange. We climbed the Pequop Range then went through the Spruce Mountain Tunnel before we descended to Wells, NV. We turned west to Alazon where we joined the former paired trackage following the Humboldt River to Elko arriving there nearly three hours late. All the bathrooms in my car were bad ordered and we made an extended stop at Carlin to have the car looked at. They told us to pack up and get ready to be moved to another car on the train but that order never came. I returned to the lounge car to enjoy the daylight passage through Palisade Canyon in all of its splendor. From the beauty back to the sage which is the state flower of Nevada as the train sped through the basins and range topography with me listening to music and doing fill in puzzles. It was a good combination that keeps me going all the way across the Silver State. We made a brief stop at Winnemuca before we continued our tardy journey west.

The Zephyr is making a vain attempt to live up to its name as it tried to make up time. Rye Patch Reservoir looks very inviting for a swim as the Humboldt River leaves most of the water there before it heads to its own demise in the Humboldt River Sink. We blew through Lovelock no longer a stop and crossed the sink to where we head northwest to Fernley where we will follow the Truckee River upstream to California. I had a hot dog for lunch as we made our final miles to Sparks. This is a crew change point and servicing stop where the passengers made a mad dash to the lone telephone by the Southern Pacific yard office. I had a chance to look at the rotary snowplow patiently waiting through the Summer and Fall until the major snows of Winter attack Donner Pass when it would be needed again.

We made the quick sprint to Reno where the train filled up. I had a window seat in the lounge car for my crossing of Donner Pass. It is amazing how things changed over just a few months from my last visit. They had terrible flooding along the Truckee River here in Reno last winter and it destroyed the wooden aqueduct across the river. It was really a mess here but today there is little trace of it. They are working on the highway today which is really delaying traffic on Interstate 80 as we cruised snaking by to our next stop the very nice mountain community of Truckee. The Zephyr headed up Cold Stream Canyon before looping back to overlook Donner Lake before it plunged into the Summit Tunnel under Donner Summit. Emerging back into daylight, we passed the quiet ski areas at Norden. The train dropped down the western grade of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and I just sat back taking it all in. It was an uneventful descent as far as Colfax where kids took over the up stair's level of the lounge car and I watched in amazement the games and tricks that they pulled on each other. It is never boring on a train if you ride with your eyes and ears wide open. I shot a picture of the Steam engine on display at Colfax as we did our station work.

The train wound its way down the foothills with a good view of downtown Sacramento off in the distance before we reached the Sacramento Valley floor to our next station stop at Roseville. I got informed that due to our late running that I would not make my San Joaquin connection in Martinez so I will get off in Sacramento and take the bus from there to my last train, thanks Hillary! I knew this an hour before as I had figured out the times at Colfax and realized that Martinez was a no go. I so did want to travel across the Delta region of California in the last rays of the afternoon sun. I returned to my seat, gathered up my personal belongings and I was ready to detrain at Sacramento two hours and twenty five minutes late.

The San Joaquin 718 Bus/Train/Bus 6/23/1997

Though all the excitement of the day I just remembered that it was my brother Jon's birthday today. As I waited in Sacramento for the bus to board I called Jon leaving a message as well as my brother Bruce before I took the bus down to Stockton. The southbound train was late so the crowd waited patiently until a headlight appeared from the west and an all Amfleet San Joaquin pulled into the station. Where's the California Cars that are normally here? I boarded a coach and after two minutes I went to another car because that first car reeked of a stale sick smell. I only lasted three minutes in the seat of that next coach as the smell became worst in it before I escaped it for a seat in the Amcafe amidst the open food boxes. There is trash everywhere throughout this car and if the FDA would have seen this car they would have closed it. At least I have a seat in a car that does not smell! I got my dinner and returned to my seat enjoying my meal and stretching out all while the train was still in Stockton.

The train finally left Stockton after a thirty two minute station delay. The conductor apologizes for the sad shape of the equipment saying that this is a set of LA based Amfleet equipment which was used on the Dunsmuir Daylight trip. It made it through right before a bridge was shut down closing the Coast Starlight's route north of Redding. The normal set of California Cars where sent down the coast as an on time Coast Starlight so we got stuck with this junk. Well I have never been on a San Diegan in this bad of shape. I have been on mixed trains in Mexico that smelled better than those coaches that I had tried to ride in. Good news is that this is the last train of this trip as I am heading home. I got up to use the bathroom to find that in two in each of the three cars that I tried had no water so my first rule of surviving bad train rides came into play. "It is never the condition of the train that matters the most important thing is always the ride" By the time train 718 had passed Merced, I had curled up and fell asleep for the rest of the trip down the valley. I woke up twenty minutes before Bakersfield and then packed up so I could enjoy the last few miles of this train trip.

At Bakersfield I was off the train and onto the bus. Following a rather long delay, I slept on the bus all the way to Los Angeles. I woke up to watch the circus called find the missing bag under the bus. How can someone put a bag under a bus and when the bus made no stops end up losing their bags? All through passengers south of Los Angeles had to participate in their game which cost us an hour twenty minute bus delay in Los Angeles. Once back on Interstate Five we made a quick trip to Santa Ana where I debussed to a taxi cab that took me home. I walked up to the front door right when my brother Duane was walking out to go to work welcoming me home.