Facebook Page

Train and Travel Feather River Express Return of the California Zephyr

by Chris Guenzler


This trip happened the night after I saw that great Alice Cooper Theater of Death Show at the Nokia Theater in downtown Los Angeles. Chris Parker dropped me off at 12:35 AM and after printing out the Amtrak Ticket Number I went to bed. 6:15 AM I was up and after fixing breakfast, I drove to Stater Brothers for some needed Supplies before I came home and packed. I checked the Weather Channel so I would have no surprises in Oakland or Portola. My mother once again drove me down to the Santa Ana Train Station and I picked up the needed tickets for this track. I was tired but ready to go once I heard Surfliner 565 approaching the station.

Surfliner 565 pulled into Santa Ana and I boarded the lower level of the cab car and started numbering the pictures for the Alice Cooper Concert Story. The first thirty took me almost to LAUPT where I shut down the computer. It seemed to me working really made that trip to LAUPT fly by. I detrained and went to wait for the Thruway Bus to Bakersfield via Glendale. Once we were loaded I started working again and finished labeling the pictures and then made the story pages by the time we got past Templin Highway. I relaxed the rest of the way to Bakersfield. I called Carole Walker, my excellent travel agent, who got me fantastic hotel room rates in both Oakland and Sacramento.

Once aboard the train I started writing the story which took me until Madera to finish. After a brief break and got things set up for this story and started writing it. I hopped off in Merced for the picture of the train. I worked on updating my web page on this computer as the train made its way to Stockton. From there I relaxed as the train crossed the California Delta and then ran along the Carquinez Straits in the last light of the day.

Between Martinez and Richmond along San Pablo Bay. We ran the rest of the way to Oakland under the cover of the night. It was a great trip north to the Bay Area as I got plenty of work done on my two newest stories. We arrived early into Oakland and I walked the three blocks to the Jack London Inn for the night.

Train and Travel Feather River Express Return of the California Zephyr 10/30/2009

I woke up at the Jack London Inn and had their breakfast before myself and another gentleman walked back to the Oakland Amtrak Station where we meet our tour group for this exciting trip through the Feather River Canyon to Portola.

Our train pulled into Oakland right on schedule with a consist of Amtrak Engine 184, California Zephyr Silver Lariat 800190, California Zephyr Silver Rapids 800481 and CB&Q California Zephyr Silver Solarium 800333. Our train left Oakland on time and we headed to Portola.

We left Oakland and started the trip by heading south to Newark.

Me in the Silver Lariat Dining Room.

The Oakland Coliseum home of the Oakland A's and Raiders.

Our route took us along the east side of San Francisco Bay.


The Dumbarton Line.

At Newark our train turned east but paused as we waited for an Ace Train to San Jose.

A few minutes later the Altamont Commuter Express Train headed by on its way to San Jose.

Another shot of the junction at Newark.

The Fremont Ace/Amtrak Station where a few more passengers joined our train.

Our train headed to Niles.

The hills behind Niles.

Our train went through the junction at Niles and entered the former Western Pacific tracks to take our train into Niles Canyon.

Into Niles Canyon our train went.

Tunnel 1 in Niles Canyon.

Niles Canyon.

Tunnel 2 in Niles Canyon.

Scenes in Niles Canyon.

Hearst Siding.


The old Southern Pacific line through Livermore.

Stored box cars east of Livermore.

The Altamont Hills.

We passed underneath the Interstate.

Our train crossed the Greenville Bridge.

Some of the Altamont Hills are green even into late October.

The Greenville Bridge.

Climbing the west side of Altamont Pass.

Our train has reached the top of Altamont Pass at Altamont Siding.

Our train starts down the east side of Altamont Pass.

The windmills dot the Altamont Hills.

The train crossed the Interstate Highway.

The grade of the former Southern Pacific Railroad is seen below.

A neat scene along our route.


Our train continued the descent of Altamont Pass.

Our train is approaching Midway Siding.

Midway Siding.

As our train continued to descend Altamont Pass the San Joaquin Valley came into view.

For Part 2 of this story