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On to Texas

by Chris Guenzler Texas Eagle 21 4/22/2003

They boarded the Texas Eagle about 3:00 PM and I took my large window seat in the middle of the car. We left on time and the Southwest Chief was picking up its express cars when we pulled up to a stop to pick up a passenger who got on the wrong train by mistake. I am still reading "King of Torts", listening to music and doing the odd word fill in puzzles as the train sped to Joliet. The scenic high point leaving Joliet was the deep gravel pits on the east side of the tracks. Further on south of O'Dell we crept along a little when car riders bonding took place when a gentleman was playing Chess on his seat a couple back from mine and the train rocked throwing his pieces everywhere. The cars passengers all got down on their hands and knees and I found the last missing piece, the white queen.

We got back up to speed and reached Pontiac, leaving town 22 minutes late. I went to the lounge car to wait for dinner. There I met a man from Michigan traveling on his ninth North American Rail Pass. We went into the siding north of Lincoln waiting for the Anne Rutledge for Chicago to pass by. I was joined at dinner with my pass rider plus a gentleman from Arkansas. I had the Delmonico Steak and a Bundt Chocolate Cake off Menu 3. As we departed Springfield 40 minutes late, I took pictures of the Illinois State Capitol Building in the last light of day as the sun set slowly in the west.

I did more reading before just listening to music the rest of the way to St Louis. I enjoyed the view of St Louis which brought back memories of the NRHS 2001 Convention. We left St Louis right after the arrival of the St Louis Mule leaving an hour and a half late with me calling it a night.

4/23/2003 I woke up in the forests of Southern Arkansas and went straight for the dining car for a breakfast of French Toast and Sausage. We left Malvern an hour ten minutes late, then as I was eating met a UP northbound freight. This would be the norm for the morning as the Eagle is running the wrong way on a directional mainline out of the time slot. I guess we will see just how padded the schedule of the Eagle is before Fort Worth. We arrived at Texarkana our last stop in Arkansas and departed 9:11 AM {7:35 AM} and headed into Texas with its rolling hills and forests. After we passed the large Union Pacific Tie Plant, we crossed the Arkansas River. We ran down to Jefferson, TX where the ex Mopac Line crosses the Kansas City Southern which was going to be the route of the Crescent Star under a former Amtrak's president's plan. Too bad it did not happen since I would have ridden that new route as well.

We reached Marshall with the beautiful depot at 10:36 AM {9:35 AM}, a rainy Longview at 11:26 AM {10:20 AM} and continued our run around freight trains like we did at Greggston. It was a very cloudy day as the Eagle sped west. We crossed the ex Cotton Belt diamond at Big Sandy at 11:45, that was the point where we rejoined the regular Eagle route on that Janesville Jaunt trip. I saw the lowest gas pieces of the entire trip at Hawkins, TX, a $1.35 for unleaded regular. The Texas Eagle arrived at Minneola under brighter skies and departed at 12:06 PM {11:10 AM} and headed to Dallas. The pool power on there UP freights today have been the usual CSX and NS assortment plus Canadian National units. The countryside opened up to cattle land but nearer the train got to Dallas, the more urban the landscape became. We arrived at Dallas five minutes early.

While I was in Dallas, I managed to run into the station to get both Trinity Rail Express {TRE} and DART Light Rail Line schedules plus extras for my Orange County Railway Historical Society Brethren. I shot pictures of two TRE trains getting roster shots of 5 RDC's, plus two DART trains as well as the Texas Eagle with the Reunion Tower in the background. I plan to ride the TRE and DART on this trip. We left Dallas right on schedule and headed out towards Fort Worth crossing the Trinity River then came to a stop at CP Powder while a freight train cleared to cross over. As we went through Arlington I saw the Ball Park in Arlington where I would be seeing the game tonight. We arrived at what was once Tower 55 taking the wye on the southeast corner onto the BNSF. As soon as the dispatcher could throw the switch, we backed across the UP mainline past the boarded up Santa Fe former Amtrak station and arrived at the new Fort Worth Transportation Center, 25 minutes early.

Fort Worth 4/23/2003

I ventures into the new station crowded with the Arlington High School Band going to a competition in St Louis plus all the normal passengers. I called Enterprise and while I waited I learned we were under a Tornado Warning. About ten minutes later, Tony from Enterprise picked me up and drove me to their offices on West 7th Street. I received a Nova which I drove to the Ramada Inn. I parked in the lowest level of the parking garage and checked in. My room was on the 10th floor overlooking the former Santa Fe Station, Amtrak yard, TRE, BNSF and UP mainlines. I went down and shot my Texas Eagle leaving for San Antonio. Having a great idea, I walked past the Transportation Center to the grade crossing where the TRE goes through the Tinsdell Storage Company.

I took a picture of the northbound Texas Eagle and Heartland Flyer before the TRE train came out of the building. I returned to the hotel nabbing another shot of the TRE train heading back to Dallas.

I picked up some post cards before going back to my room, watching the weather channel and the local weather tracking a storm cell with a Tornado straight for us. I made a decision about not going to the game then called home to my mother. Due to the weather situation, I decided not to risk the rental safe in the basement and forgo the baseball game. Why risk the car and even my life when I could see a game another time. I value my life so much more now that I am sober here on day 3017. I enjoyed a great Texas size steak dinner in the hotel's cafe. About 7:40 PM as I sat in my room, the lightning started so that squall line was beginning to pass through. It was an exciting storm but I saw on the news that they got the game in with the Rangers beating the Red Sox and I went to bed for a good night's rest.

Tarantula Train Not! 4/24/2003

I drove out to Grapevine through the stop and go rush hour traffic stopping for gas and feed my face. I found the train station with no problem and then inspected the passenger cars of our train. I met Bill, our fireman on the trip today. The ex Southern Pacific 4-6-0 2248 resides between runs in a metal engine shop. Once she is steamed and ready, she pulled out onto the Grapevine turntable which was built for the Santa Fe in 1927. It has had three Texas homes starting in Slaton, then in 1974 it moved to Saginaw before being sold on 8/25/1992 with the condition to be off the Santa Fe property in 48 hours. It arrived in Grapevine on 8/27/1992. The engine pulled out onto the turntable with a quarter turn to be facing west, then backed down a stub track as I took more pictures and switched onto a line to get it out on the mainline built in 1888 for the Cotton Belt. The 2248 then backed onto its consist of 208 PW McCallum, 1808 Bob Roberton, 206 Sue McCafferty, 209 Mayor WM D Tale, 1818 and 207 Doug Hanman. The cars have been named for friends of the railroad and the civic leaders of both Fort Worth and Grapevine who supported the train in its early days. Rob Robertson is the CEO of the Tarantula Steam Trains. They hooked onto the cars but then pulled away and returned to the shop with a steam valve leak and today's run was canceled.

More bad Texas luck. I was now going to change all of that. I went into the station, got my refund for my two trip tickets and directions to the Ball Park in Arlington.

Texas Rangers vs Boston Red Sox 4/24/2003

I found the stadium and the place I would park with no problem. I went to buy my ticket and they let me exchange my ticket from last night to today's game. Everything works out if you let it. I went to the top level once they opened up the stadium and purchased two hot dogs and a coke. I was sitting in the 335 no alcohol section on the first base side with a great view all to myself. Pre game music was Aerosmith's "Just Push Play" and U2's "Beautiful Day" plus the Eagles "Already Gone". After a beautiful Star Spangled Banner played on bells. In the top of the first Manny Rameriz got to second on a two base error to produce the first run of the game for the Red Sox. In the bottom of the inning, Juan Gonzalez hit a three run home run. In the second, the Red Sox's singled in two runs. At the end of that inning, out above center field they had two kids do a word search spelling out Eimar Diaz. The Red Sox scored another run but blew the chance to blow open the game. A whiffle ball home run set off fireworks out behind center field between innings. I left when the Rangers took a 7-4 lead and since I had other things to do. The final score was Rangers 16 Red Sox 5. I drove back to Enterprise, returned the car which I was driven back to the hotel in and immediately walked over to the Texas and Pacific Station to catch a train to Dallas.

Trinity Rail Express 2936 4/24/2003

I walked through the old waiting room with a little T&P on the door handles then through their tunnel to stairs leading me to the platform. I walked to the east end to watch the rail action at Tower 55 before getting a picture of my train arriving. It came in just as the Texas Eagle was leaving for San Antonio. Each station has message boards that announces when the train will depart and other information. The train's consists was 569, 1054, 1052 coaches and 1002 cab car. The train is typical Bombardier commuter cars but have more padded seats and overhead luggage racks in the cab car. We departed right on time crossing the curved bridge, by the former Santa Fe depot and freight house now shops to our first stop at the Fort Worth ITC. We headed out of town through the Tinsdell Storage Company building to 6th Street Junction and on to ex Rock Island Junction trackage. We ducked under Interstate 35 through Dalwor Jct before crossing the Trinity River. We ran through the siding at Sylvania where we met the three RDCs Train 2929 on the fly. We crossed Little Fossil Creek before minutes later the train crossed Big Fossil Creek on our way to our first stop at Richland Hills. Our trip is through the suburbs and industries between Fort Worth and Dallas as well as any open areas still left. We crossed Rock, Walkers and Mesquite Creek. The train is filling up with Dallas Star fans who are playing the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in game one of the western conference semi finals tonight at the American Airlines Area. The countryside became more forested as we crossed Walker and Hurricane Creeks. I could see the Dallas skyline off in the distance. We went into Tarrant siding to met Train 2931, a four car Bombardier set before we arrived at the Centreport/DFW Airport stop. We went by the TRE shops at the Irving Yard before we arrived at the West Irving stop where two RDC train 2733 was waiting on his run to Centreport. We ran across Irving to the South Irving Transportation Center located on the southern leg of a wye at EC Junction. They use the old style handicap lift machines for wheel chairs since platform height varies. We crossed the Trinity River again at slower speed as a new bridge is being built here on the south side. We entered the siding at Mockingbird meeting Train 2935, a four car Bombardier train. There was a UP freight yard there on the south side of the tracks. We crossed the busy 35E before arriving at Medical/Market Center. At Dallas Jct, we passed the 2737, a 3 RDC train before arriving at Victory Station where the hockey game at the American Airlines Center right across the parking lot with at least 75 hockey fans detraining. With downtown Dallas off to the left, the train proceeded to North Junction and on into Dallas Union Station completing another all new mileage trip. Once we pulled in I was off for a picture as a flood of commuters boarded and I jumped on the first coach of TRE Train 2939 for the trip back to the T&P Station in Fort Worth. Time for the headphones and relaxation. We arrived back in Fort Worth and following the worst meal, one I sent back and it never returned, I watched the Ducks win in overtime 4-3, made a few phone cars and planned tomorrows DART light rail riding.

4/25/2003 The rail action at Tower 55 woke me up early enough to take the first TRE Train 2902 to Dallas. It ran late west to get us and left 20 minutes late with an apology as our regular train had mechanical problems. We stopped at the first red signal right out of the station and waited for the future Train 2906 to arrive before we headed east through the darkness of a Texas morning. We picked up the early birds of Train 2906 and from Hurst onward 2804 waiting passengers. You were either late or early boarding the train this morning. Twilight was taking hold with a crescent moon to the south. We met Train 2101 at Tarrant and later Train 2903 at the South Irving Station. We arrived at Union Station at 7:01 AM {6:46 AM}. The engineer ran to the front end, did the air test and they were off for Fort Worth.

DART Light Rail 4/25/2003

I boarded a train of Kinkisharvo made cars headed to Ledbetter. This is of course my first sampling of DART services. We left Union Station and went under the Convention Center our first stop. It was a beautiful sunny but windy morning as the train headed to its stop at Cedars. We came through a junction and turned south before crossing the UP mainline the Texas Eagle runs on and the Trinity River with a great view of the Dallas skyline. We stopped at 8th/Cornith and waited for a train to clear the junction from Westmoreland. We went through the junction with an old railroad viaduct crossing the line to Westmoreland. We climbed a hill to our next stop at Morrell then the line has an up and down profile as we headed out into the southern suburb. We arrived at Illinois then climbed a flyover across Illinois and Lancaster before we arrived at Kiest. The car's have massage boards that give the weather, ads and sport scores. The VA Medical Center on the east was our next stop. I got to see a wheelchair unloaded from the car onto a high level ramp. We descended to our final stop at Ledbetter where I detrained for a couple of pictures before hopping the next train back to Dallas to the City Place Station. At intersections they have really neat "Train Coming" electric signs that flash. Out in front of the train the Dallas skyline is visible. We made our return to Dallas Union Station where I hopped off for a quick TRE picture before I boarded a Parker Road bound train for City Place. The TRE 3 RDC train passed us at North Junction where we turned east in downtown Dallas and traffic signals. We ran down Pacific Street stopping at West End at Akard in the shadows of the tall downtown buildings. We turned northeast onto Bryon to St Paul and Pearl stops. We turned to align ourselves into a tunnel that has a few curves in it to the City Place station inside the tunnel. It took two long escalator rides and stairs to return me to the surface from 10 stories below. Back out in the sunlight I found the McKinney Ave Streetcar Line and waited.

McKinney Avenue Streetcar Line 4/25/2003

Around a corner came a 1926 Melbourne Streetcar W-2 class, one of 14 shipped to Dallas, New Orleans, Memphis and Portland. After a few pictures, I met Doug Goldsmith, the operator and a very friendly person. On the trip we talked baseball, hockey light rail and of course this line. The City Place station is on a stub end of the track. We headed west to McKinney and at the junction took a right. We ran north and made a left onto Backburn passing the Magnolia Theater when we made a left onto Magnolia Street. The car rides smooth and provides an enjoyable ride. We went down Magnolia before turning right to gain access back to McKinney. We passed the Uptown Galleries, Hard Rock Cafe and the Crescent Hotel with its shops. We turned onto single track at St Paul taking that street to the end of the line at Ross Street. After taking a few pictures and switching ends, we returned via McKinney and had a met at St Paul and McKinney.

On the way back Doug pointed out the car shops and all too soon we had returned to the City Place station. I said my goodbyes to Doug before heading the ten stories underground by stairs since the escalators were not working today back to DART. I caught a Ledbetter train back to Union Station writing this section of the story along the way. I detrained at Union Station and walked across the street for a picture of this grand old building.

Trinity Rail Express 2713/2115

I went out to TRE Train 2713 finding that great train crew that had saved the day this morning in a much more relaxed state. I will take this train as faras Centreport where I would then switch to a Fort worth bound train after a few minutes wait. I sat in the same seat I had this morning but on the other side on this bi-level train. On the way to Centreport I finally saw Texas Stadium where those Dallas Cowboys play off to the north. It was a relaxing trip out to Centreport where I detrained to wait for the 2115 Train to Fort Worth. On the way there at South Irving we met the 3 RDC Train 2720 and went by the Rock Island Center, named after the former owners of this line. In fact, this is the third segment of the former Rock Island Railroad that I have ridden Metra, Chicago to Joliet, the UP 3985 trip last June down the old Spine Line and now this line between Dallas and Fort Worth. We arrived at Centreport early and I detrained to wait for my next TRE train.

After our train had left heading west, a dead head bi-level train passed through the station and ten minutes later our two car RDC Train 2115 arrived to pick up the large group of passengers heading west. I took my seat in the 2006, while the 2002 was the lead unit. I really wanted to ride these ex Via Rail of Canada and formerly of the Canadian National. The rumble of their engines brought back fond memories of other RDC trips that I had taken. Where else in 2003 can you ride an RDC in regular commuter service in the USA? They are putting in a new siding at Garrison halfway to Hurst/Bell. I have always loved the revving up of an RDC engine and the hum it produces as it rolls down the rails. I remember the first RDC I ever saw back in 1972 camping in South Edmonton, Alberta along the CP Rail line there down to Calgary very late in the evening's twilight. I knew I really wanted to ride one someday and just look at what I have done since that time, BC Rail, Via Rail of Canada and now TRE. All too soon we were back at the Fort Worth ITC where most of the train detrained before we continued over to the T&P Station with me now done with riding Trinity Rail Express for this trip. A few pictures in the station before one of the outside of the building.

I checked out of the hotel and walked back to the Amtrak station photographing the RDC's stopping as TRE Train 2926. I paid to store my bags in a vain attempt to see a movie. Neither theater opened up early enough to suit my needs since I was told the train was on time. I went to Barnes and Noble for a book on the "Streamliners" before shooting TRE 2919 coming out of the building. I went to the Rodeo Steak House but found it close so a trip to the Santa Fe Freight House Market Place was in order. At Suppenhuas, Soups and More! I had them make me a plain roast beef sandwich which was excellent. I next witnessed the arrival of the Heartland Flyer with 83 P-42 DC, Superliner Snack Coach 65005, Hi-level coach 39940 and 91 P-42 DC.

I then found out my train would be late, so I went back to the theater and saw the musical "Chicago" which I really enjoyed. Later back at the depot I photographed under protective covering Northern Texas Traction Company 25, "Speed and Safety" trolley on display. I reclaimed my bags and watched the eastbound Texas Eagle arrive before I walked back to the 8th Street crossing for one last picture of TRE Train 2927 so I thought. Back at the station at 4:15 PM, a passenger told me that the train had just left Dallas and was expected to get here by 5:15. This was reminding me of that Oklahoma trip when we did not get out of here until 9:00 PM on that trip. Now the Amtrak agent updated it to 5:30 but with having a sleeper I did not care as was still reading John Grisham's book. I took a break at 5:15 and went out to 8th street for a shot of TRE Train 2938 leaving the Fort Worth ITC before I returned to the station.

Texas Eagle 21 4/25/2003

At 5:25 PM, the Eagle backed into the station but they put it on the same track as the Heartland Flyer so it could not back down the platform to the station but since my sleeper was the last car the walk was not that bad. I had my ticket taken by sleeping car attendant Elbert Flowers. At 6:00 PM, the Eagle left Fort Worth but only made it to Tower 55 getting stabbed for 15 minutes by a UP train that went across our way, run the power around the train and was now pulling west headed for Centennial Yard. At 6:15 PM, we headed south out of Fort Worth.

Elbert gave me the low down on my dinner which would be a choice of cold salmon, roast beef or chicken. I went to the dining car for this pre wrapped meal which was horrible. To give this to someone who paid money for a sleeping car is ridiculous. It was worst than any airline meal that I had ever eaten. My solution if no dining car is available, something that saves $200,000 then just let the sleeping car passengers order off the lounge car menu. a hot dog would have been far superior to that meal they gave me. I stopped by the lounge car for some meal saving M&Ms. I returned to my room to listen to Olivia Newton John and to read there USA today and Fort Worth Star as the Texas Eagle crossed the green rolling Texas countryside on its way to McGregor. We pulled in and left at 7:59 PM {5:50 PM} as the sun had set on another wonderful day of train riding. I relaxed listening to music before making up my bed and calling it another Texas night.

Sunset Limited 1 4/26/2003

Waking up in San Antonio to the banging of cars as they prepared to take us down and turn the train with me picking up additional mileage. All that noise plus the lady in the next compartment gabbing on her cell phone made this sleeper a very noisy place in the middle of the night. Once they respotted us, the Texas Eagle's power was right outside my window. We left San Antonio on time after the Sunset had picked us up.

I slept through Del Rio and woke up to the view of water of the Amistad Reservoir outside my window. I went to the dining car for French Toast with Stephan as my steward and enjoyed the Pecos River High Bridge while eating. John one of our ex San Diegan Business Class attendant working as a coach attendant stopped by for a visit. I returned to my room for more reading, music and West Texas scenery. I finished the Grisham's book just before Alpine and as we were twenty minutes early I detrained to inspect the station.

I shot pictures of the Sunset Limited crossing Paisano Pass before I napped from Marfa to about thirty minutes from El Paso. Tiredness hit me all at once and I do not feel all that well. I listened to Frank Zappa's "One Size Fits All" the rest of the way to El Paso. Looking at the gap in the mountains in Mexico brought back memories of that Bosque de Chihuahua trip I once did. After some freight train interference, we finally pulled into El Paso. I walked out on a hot day for a picture and the consist of our train. We had the 41, 3 P-42 DCs, 1711 Baggage, 39017 Transition, 32070 Alabama, 32080 Idaho Sleepers, 38066 Dining, 33038 Lounge, 34090, 34139, 31519 and 34046 Coaches and 32003 Edward L Ullman Sleeper.

The train departed El Paso on time with me catching on film the eastbound on time Sunset Limited, the Rio Grande River crossing into New Mexico and the train's climb to Lizard with the slums of Mexico on their side of the border right up to the fence. Once I was back in my room, I listened to Frank Zappa's "Apostrophe" and started to read the "Streamliners" book by Bob Johnson and Joe Welsh, with Mike Schaffer. We went into the siding at Afton, NM for a hot eastbound freight and were held out of Deming for another one. I shot pictures of the Southwestern Railroad at Deming. I still did not feel that well and having skipped lunch I thought I would better eat something so I went to the diner to order off menu 3. I was not all that hungry so I had only half of the Beef Tenderloin. Stephan thought I looked horrible and on the way back to my sleeper, John felt my head and said I was burning up. Me playing doctor to my own disease ordered lots of sleep. I went to bed with an extra blanket on my bed about Benson and the fever broke about Maricopa. I had a weird language dream which was a first for me. People were speaking in odd languages yet I was able to understand them all. It was a long night.

4/27/2003 It is always a joy to be woken up from a sound sleep and told "LA in an hour and ten. Good news, we shall be early!" I got up, showered, felt like a new man and rolled up the predawn hours towards Los Angeles listening to U2. We departed Ontario at 5:35 AM {4:39 AM} and I went to the lounge car for a cup of tea. After Pomona I met the ever friendly conductor Fred Banuleos and Conductor X = Xi, another real special person. At El Monte, we took the flyover with me taking pictures as well as the sunrise from the rear door. Having no express cars on the rear end is great for pictures.

We ran down the Metrolink line in the middle of the San Bernardino Freeway in order to reach the Los Angeles River which we crossed to get to Los Angeles Union Station. We arrived LAUPT at 6:25 AM {7:55 AM}, an hour and a half early.

Surfliner 564 4/27/2003

I walked across to Track 9 finding 761 going to Santa Barbara parked ahead of Train 564 heading to San Diego. When I saw engineer Bob Morgan, I knew I was in the right place. About five minutes before departure, Joe Nappa took my ticket and then we were on our way to Santa Ana. At Hobart, we passed a special Metrolink train heading to the California 500 out in Fontana. The BNSF dispatcher did an excellent job weaving us through the westbound BNSF fleet. We passed the on time Southwest Chief just east of Norwalk. 564 ran on time to Fullerton, Anaheim and to my stop of Santa Ana where I hopped off for one last picture.

I walked through the station to a taxi to my home ending another fantastic trip aboard Amtrak. Home for two nights then I would be off again.