To say that 2007 was just another year in my life would be the greatest understatement in history. Sobriety just continued to roll along and everyone in my family is doing well. For me it was a year of reaching goals and then setting new goals to reach in the future. The big goal of riding one million miles was met on April 27th, 2007 at 8:26 AM CDT at MP 425.5 of the BNSF Marceline Sub crossing the Missouri River Bridge just east of Sibley, Missouri. More on that later but let's look back at a very interesting year in the life of Christopher Dean Guenzler.
The year started with me waking up in Texas and after a visit out to the Southfork Ranch of Dallas fame, I took the Texas Eagle and Sunset Limited home. January was the start of planning of the Million Mile trip which I thought I would be passing the first week in May. I took our Train Riders Group down to San Diego and we did the entire San Diego Trolley again which is always fun. In February I made a nice and quiet trip back to the Depot Inn and Suites in La Plata, Missouri and got to really enjoy this unique hotel. I highly recommend it to all of you. I next made a trip on the Coast Starlight to Portland to enjoy the return of the Pacific Parlor Car. The next a trip on the Southwest Chief to Lamy with an extended stay there due to a very late westbound Southwest Chief. March was the 29th Winterail Show in Stockton and I showed my BNSF Needles Sub slide show at the Friday night program. Speaking of slide shows I continue to do programs for the Orange County Railroad Historical Society that meets the first Monday night of the month at the Santa Ana Train Station. 4th Mondays is the Train Riders Meetup Group that meets in Fullerton. I made a trip over to Albuquerque to write about the New Mexico Railrunner and rode it down to Belen finally getting those miles. An E-mail from a fan of mine caused me to write "Scenes along the Surfline in my quest for a Million Miles. I live along and ride one of the most beautiful lines in the United States and if you haven't taken a trip on it this story will show why I enjoy the views along it.
April started with a Spring Break Trip that took me to many new and exciting places. I took the Southwest Chief and Capitol Limited to Pittsburgh and rode the Monongahela Incline during a short layover there. Back on the Pennsylvanian to Harrisburg where I rented a car and spent the night in Intercourse, PA. The next day I visited the Pennsylvanian Railroad Museum then rode the Strasburg Railroad, took the shop tour then chased the trains the rest of the afternoon. That night I stayed at the Red Caboose Motel and enjoyed the Amish Buggies Rush Hour passing my caboose for that night. The new faster Keystone Service was tried to Philadelphia where I finished SEPTA riding Streetcars all day. The next day I took the Cardinal and had meals in the Simplified Amfleet Diner on its first trip. I detrained at Indianapolis finding Chris Parker waiting for me. We drove into Illinois to visit the Monticello Railroad Museum on a very cold windy day. After that we drove to French Lick to take a trip over the French Lick, West Baden & Southern Railway. The next day was fantastic as we took a tour of Amtrak's Beech Grove Shops. What an incredible place this truly is! We drove over to Connersville to start two days of Photo Freights sponsored by the Southern Appalachia Railway Museum. The first trip on a very rainy day was a Photo Freight on the Whitewater Valley Railroad which was plenty of fun. Later that day we drove over to Knightstown for trip over the Carthage, Knightstown & Shirley Railroad as the rain then turned to sleet. The next day was sunny and windy as we did most of the Photo freight over the Indiana Transportation Museum. Due to the delays, we didn't do this entire trip as we had flights to catch for home. This would create a problem of me getting the right miles needed to leave on the Million Mile Trip to hit it right where I wanted to on the Missouri River Bridge. The Depot Inn and Suites were sold out the first week in May so Trainweb moved the celebration up a week. To say I was in a panic would be absolutely true and now all my planning would be tested. Add to that Amtrak wasn't running that weekend prior didn't help out due to track construction between Santa Ana and Orange. I came up with plenty of options with one being .9 of a mile. I did that on the Irvine Park Railroad and then Metrolink got me the rest with a trip to San Juan and an Orange to Fullerton roundtrip. That Monday a roundtrip to Solana Beach took care of the rest so I was now had the mileage needed to start the trip leaving Santa Ana with the right mileage needed to hit it at the Missouri River Bridge if nothing happened during the trip there.
The day of the trip started with me out getting copies of the Orange County Register Article with me on the front page. At lunch at McFadden Intermediate Beth Andrini brought in a cake which we later shared with her 6th Period Math Class I worked with her in. I finished packing then my mother drove me down to the Santa Ana Train Station and I took the Metrolink train to Fullerton to the Trip Kick Off Party at Knolwoods. Here I got my trip T-shirts and meet the video crew who would be documenting the Million Mile Trip. Tom Anderson designed the T-shirts and a Hockey Jersey that would come into play in 2 days. It was a very nice party and a chance to see and talk with the people who couldn't be on this trip with me. Out on the Fullerton platform Maureen Angle made it in time so we could visit a few minutes. She said that she always knew that I would get my Millionth Rail Mile. Thanks to that Science Lab she did that resulted in me getting Sober I was so happy she made it. The Southwest Chief came in on time and 13 of us boarded the train for the trip to La Plata. As it turned out Ken Levinson our Dining Car Steward was making his finally trip before retiring. I was honored to have him working our train for my Million Rail Mile Trip. The next day I was visited by Randy Jackson in Albuquerque as we made our servicing stop there. I did interviews that afternoon before just enjoying that trip. Later it dawned on me that this was the first long distance train that Steve Grande and I had been on at the at the same time. At La Junta I visited the Safeway to get supplies for tomorrow's big day. The train bounced across Kansas but as always I slept like a baby. I woke up early on April 27th and visited the dining car prior to Kansas City. Once we were heading east, we all met in the Crew Lounge in the Transition Sleeper and I waited for the big moment. I helped find the bridge on the map on Anton's computer. Having taken pictures at the rear door three weeks before really helped me knowing exactly where all the important landmarks were. With video recording everything and cameras at the ready, everyone was ready for my big moment. Tom Anderson handed me the Million Mile Hockey Jersey and we were nearing the spot. I knew I should have tried it on before because as we neared the spot I was having all sorts of trouble getting my arms into the thing. I managed to just as the train headed out onto the bridge. With me counting it up and when I said now, cameras went off and whistles were blown as I had just passed my One Millionth Mile of Train Riding. With the Jersey on I held up one finger to symbolize the One Million Rail Miles I just passed. I then took a sip of Coca-Cola and that was that. Coming off the bridge a freight train was waiting so we couldn't stop. A phone call came from Carol Walker who I wished could have been here with all of us this morning. I walked the train passing out cards that have my web site on them being filmed the who way and a girl's soccer team asked me the best questions of the day so far. I returned to my room to relax before we reached La Plata. Steve had me take my luggage ahead to his sleeper and I was told to get off the last car of the train when we arrived into La Plata. As we pulled in Tom asked me to see how many people were at the station and I looked out to see a mob. The train did a double stop letting everyone out of the sleepers before it pulled up to let the three of us off. Jonathan and Tom stepped off before I stepped off into the bright April morning sunshine. A Drum Band from the La Plata High School then started playing and I knew the song but couldn't remember the title. I did my best Ozzy Osbourne outstretched arms showing both sides of the hockey jersey before repeating it for the cameras. I was greeted by several local citizen before the train left with the band continuing to play. I went behind one of the musicians and the song was "Fire" by the Crazy World of Arthur Brown that Carl Palmer of ELP Fame had played. This blew me away as I was kept in the dark about everything that was planned in La Plata. Kelly Marshall then escorted me to the brand new Depot Inn Bus. On that way there I saw Shivam and Ray of Trainweb.com We then headed to the lookout point that I knew would be dedicated today. We arrived there and I was told to be that last one off of the bus. I stepped off to clamping then walked into the lookout point for my first look at it. There I saw Marc Magliara of Amtrak who had arranged the Beech Grove Shop Tour and thanked me for writing such a great story about it. Now the dedication of the lookout point would take place. I was told to go stand out in front of it. Tom Marshall MC'ed the ceremony and at the right time the cover of the sign came off and it read "The Chris Guenzler Million Mile Lookout Point". I stood looking at it thinking "Who in their right mind would name anything after me". Tom then said he had another surprise as they played over the PA system "The Ballad of Chris Guenzler, Million Mile Man" written by Tom's Brother Kenny from Kansas City. I was blown away again and was thinking now there's a song written about me "Who in their right mind would name a song after me!" Ray Ivy the City Manager read a Proclamation to me from the City of La Plata. In the middle of it a westbound BNSF train came blurring by us and I walked over to take a picture of it before it stopped for no good reason. Ray then finished before he handed it to me. Next Marc read a letter from Amtrak's President Alex Kummant to me which Marc then handed to me. Maria Snodgrass then presented me an etching of my lookout point. Next a Missouri Representative followed by a Missouri State Senator both spoke. Andy Smith then gave me a nice plaque and the ceremony was over. I did two TV interviews at once followed by a radio interview before I finally sat down at the lookout point to catch my breath. It had been a busy day so far and I had blown away. Later we went to the Depot Inn and Suites for a Barbecue before I finally got into the Pullman Suite to relax. That evening I showed my Million Mile Slide Show which finished up just before it was time to watch me on the local news. It had been one of the greatest days in my life and did I sleep well that night. We went to Marceline the next morning before I did Lets Talk Trains in the lobby of the Depot Inn. That was followed by more interviews by the video guys. The next day on the train we went east to Galesburg and were taken to the Train House for some railfanning fun. We took the California Zephyr to Sacramento then the San Joaquin home ending a fantastic trip. That whole story is on my web page on the front story under that one fingered picture of me.
For getting my million rail mile I was given a trip to the Cass 2007 Railfan Weekend as I had never been to Cass before in West Virginia. I flew to Baltimore finished their light rail then the next day did the B&O Railroad Museum finally and later stopped by the Hagerstown Roundhouse heading to Elkins, West Virginia. With an extra day on a trip for once, I went to Seneca Caves. The next day in the rain we did a trip on the New Taggert Flyer which was fantastic. The weather cleared for two great days of mountain railroading at Cass. I flew home but not for long as I was off to the Twin Cities to finish up the Hiawatha Light Rail and one last trip on the Minnesota Zephyr Dinner Train. The next day I did the Milwaukee Road 261 to Duluth and the dinner train there. In mid June I flew to Portland for a Chelatchie Prairie Steam Photo Freight. I saw the Young Dubliners and Poxy Boggers in July. At end of July I flew to Seatac to visit the Pacific Northwest Railroad Museum then a trip on the Remlinger's Farm's Tolt River Railroad. That night I was on first run of the Spirit of Washington Dinner Train new route out of Tacoma. The next day I stayed with Bob and Elizabeth and the three of us did the Lake Whatcom Railroad. That was a very nice trip and I flew home for just over a week before I left on the third major trip of the year.
It was now time for the NRHS 2007 Convention in Chattanooga. To get there I took the Southwest Chief to La Plata and two nights at the Depot Inn and Suites. While there I rented a car to get me to Boone, Iowa so I could finally ride the Boone & Scenic Valley, a railroad I had always wanted to ride. After being aboard the worst Southwest Chief to Chicago, I took the Cardinal to Charlottesville and the Crescent to Charlotte where Chris Parker met me. Our first stop was North Carolina Transportation Museum at the old Southern Railroad Spencer Shops. We toured the museum and rode their train on an extremely hot and humid day which would be the norm for this stay in the deep south. We took pictures of the Alexander Railroad, Old Fort Station and Andrew Geysers on the way to Asheville and dinner with David Pressley in the old Southern Railway Station. The next day we did both of the trains on the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad. The following morning we crossed the beautiful Great Smoky Mountain National Park on the way to Oak Ridge, TN where we rode the Southern Appalachia Railway Museum Train at the Secret City. We headed north to the Rat Hole catching a triple freight train meet on the way to Stearns, KY for a two night stay. We toured the Rat Hole the next day before visiting "The Arch" and that afternoon rode the Big Fork Scenic Railroad with thunderstorms the norm for the rest of that day. We next headed next to Chattanooga and checked into the Chattanooga Choo Choo Holiday Inn for the NRHS 2007 Convention. That afternoon we did the three Lookout Mountain Attractions: The Lookout Mountain Incline Railroad, Rock City and Fairyland Caverns and Ruby Falls. The first convention trip was the Hiwassee Loop Trip which was unique and fantastic. The next trip was over the Blue Ridge Scenic which was lots of fun. I love these conventions because I only get to see these friends of mine each year at them. The next morning it was a long and interesting trip on the TAG Line while in the afternoon we went to the Tennessee Railroad Museum on the hottest day of our stay when the temperature reached 107 degrees. On the NRHS meeting day we were off to Georgia for a visit to the Southeastern Railroad Museum in Duluth, a ride on the Stone Mountain Railroad and a visit to the Southern Museum of the Civil War and Locomotives in Kennesaw where The General is on display. That evening Chris and I did the Dinner in the Diner at the Chattanooga Choo Choo. It was a fantastic meal. The last NRHS Trip was the Summerville Steam Trip which was the best way to end this NRHS 2007 Convention. The trip ran late and Chris was driving me back to Charlotte to catch the train after 2 AM. That was the night the Amtrak computers went down so we had no idea of how the train was running. The weather turned bad and slower road conditions meant we were losing time that if the train was on time we would miss it at Charlotte. After some quick thinking I decided to catch the train in Salisbury which would buy us 46 minutes by leaving there at 2:49 AM. We pulled into the Salisbury Station at 2:48 AM and unloaded my luggage only to learn from the station keeper that the train wouldn't arrive until 4:15 AM. I said my goodbyes to Chris and waited outside on a warm Southern night for the train to arrive. The conductor called to see if I was there and had the sleeper door open for me. I wrote stories all the way home on the Crescent, in Club Acela. on the Capitol Limited, Metropolitan Lounge in Chicago and on the Southwest Chief on my laptop I started using for this trip. All in all it had been an excellent trip but it was good to be home. Every trip is an adventure!
Next Metrolink opened their Buena Park Station and I rode the first train in and out of that station before I headed to work at McFadden Intermediate. Next it was back to the Twin Cities for two weekends of steam trips with the Canadian Pacific 2816. The first trip was a trip from Shoreham to Glenwood and the next one was Shoreham to Dresser, Wisconsin. My disc camera died on that trip. I bought a new Canon 35 MM Camera and broke it the next weekend flying back with Chris and Anton for the CP 2816/Milwaukee Road 261 double headed trip to La Crosse. The next day solo I took the CP 2816 to Thief River Falls and then the next day onto Winnipeg and stayed at the Fort Gary Hotel there. I flew home the next day. The next trip was a Train Riders Group Trip to Santa Barbara. I took Metrolink out to Lancaster to see Jethro Tull. The next trip happened unexpectly as I had gone up to see Chris Parker and Larry leave on the Tioga Pass private Car and then got asked if I wanted to go which I did to Santa Barbara. In November it was north with Chris to Oakdale where I took him on the Sierra Railroad Golden Sunset Dinner Train. The next morning we did a double headed steam train using the McCloud Railroad 18 and the Sierra Railroad 28. That trip was really great. The next trip was on the private car Burrard on its first trip to San Diego. The next weekend I rode the Pacific Sands private car to San Diego then spent the night on the car there. After Thanksgiving it was a trip with Chris out to the BNSF Needles Sub to take pictures and I forgot just how much I enjoy doing this. December started with the Metrolink Holiday Toy Express Train at Orange and the next day I rode to Santa Barbara to celebrate my Day 4700 which happened the day before where I wrote all this aboard the train coming and going. All these trips can be read on my web site at http://www.trainweb.org/chris
What do I have planned for the rest of the year? I'm going back to the Depot Inn and Suites for three nights before Christmas with one more night at the Kingsley Inn in Fort Madison, Iowa. After Christmas it will be the Coast Starlight to Portland, Talgo to Seattle, Empire Builder to Chicago and the City of New Orleans to Memphis to celebrate my 50th Birthday riding streetcars around that town. That night I start home via Chicago and Portland. Next year sometime late Spring or early Summer I will pass one million miles on just Amtrak alone and we will have a celebration for that.
Let me take this time to wish each and all of you a very happy holiday season and may all your dreams come true just like so many of mine have.Chris Day 4701