Travelogue by Dutch Myers
This travelogue includes a train trip from Lancaster, PA through Pittsburgh and Chicago to La Plata, MO with a return via Washington, DC. The purpose was to attend the grand opening of the Amtrak Museum and Silver Rails Event Center in La Plata, Missouri on February 23, 2008. Extra information on train route towns can be found in parts of my two previous travelogues if interested. http://www.trainweb.com/travelogues/dutchmyers/.
Members of the California based Train Travel Meetup Group, TrainWeb.com, Media, Amtrak and other officials gathered from many locations for this La Plata occasion. There is no argument that the Depot Inn & Suites is the place to stay in La Plata. It proved to be as outstanding as last year when I attended Chris Guenzler's Million-Mile Man celebration. The Depot Inn and Suites is owned by Tom and Kelly Marshall and managed by Maria Snodgrass. The nearby Red Rooster Restaurant compliments as another top-notch establishment. Additionally, be sure to check out the photos of another local eatery, called Grandma's Home Cookin'.
WASHINGTON & PHILA.
Then we crossed on the double track and
from Iowa to Illinois.
stop was Galesburg, Illinois where we passed over a container train on
out of town.
We pulled into Chicago Union Station only
late; deciding to just relax in the Metropolitan Lounge until it was
the Capitol Limited (CAP) to leave.
Taking a short break from the lounge, we rode the escalator up
front of the building for some fresh air.
While standing there, it began to spit rain turning to a few
snow. We returned to the
Metropolitan Lounge and a couple of hours later boarded the Capitol
after night had fallen upon the city.
We would stay in our roomette on the Capitol Limited to
instead of riding the Pennsylvanian from Pittsburgh.
The CAP pulled from beneath the station, to find itself
engulfed in a full-fledged winter storm.
A short while before it had been a few flurries. Now fire pots kept switches from freezing against wind driven snow and sleet. The snow muffled sound as we slowly crossed a bridge out of Chicago,
White Sox Stadium,
an elevated train, eastward
over the super
Our car attendant had shown us to our roomette, and made sure we had everything we needed. Larry did a very professional job. Having made dinner reservations for 7:30 PM while waiting in the Metropolitan Lounge, it wasn't long before we were called to the dining car. We both ordered flat iron steak diners and they were excellent. Afterward, we went to the observation car and watched the snow blanket town after town along the Great Lakes route. During the night, we passed through towns like South Bend, Elkhart, and Toledo, Ohio. In the wee hours at Cleveland, we would turn in a southeasterly direction towards Pittsburgh.
Back at the roomette, I took the upper bunk this time. Our room number was 10 and directly over the wheels. Even with a room on the upper level, the wheels sounded strange. I suspected flat spots on the wheels, but as we increased speed it sounded much worse. Our car was bouncing and jerking like I've never experienced on the CAP before. It reminded me of that section through Kansas on the SW Chief, only worse. Neither of us was able to capture any sleep in our saltshaker of a car. Just dozing off, the car would jerk violently and throw a person nearly out of the bed. One actually had to hold on to the edge of the bunk like a roller coaster ride. The beds were very comfortable - the ride was not. We are not people who are quick to complain. However, after discussing the situation the next morning, we gave a letter to the attendant who then gave it to the conductor to be forwarded. In the letter, I told of my concern for the safety of the car and that it needed to be inspected and possibly go to the shop. AMTRAK has not responded.
Since we couldn't sleep, we were up
early as the CAP
pulled into Pittsburgh.
stepped off the
train to have a look around. The
springs under the car were packed heavy with ice and snow, and we
that had contributed to the bad ride.
Yet, in talking to other travelers in the dining car, the next
and the observation car, we learned that our sleeping car was the only
violent motions. Once moving
again, we visited the dining car, observation car and coaches to find
rocking normally. Proof enough of
a sleeping car that needed maintenance.
Our French toast breakfast in the dining car was good as was the
service. Here is dining car
attendant L. Tyler doing a fine job.
Although the CAP had struggled with ice
snowstorms throughout the night, we were making a timely run as we left
Connellsville, PA at 7:39 AM.
Cumberland, MD we passed through Confluence, PA where the Casselman
Laurel Hill Creek and Youghiogheny River come together.
The area is aptly described as "where mountains meet rivers" with the highest mountain in PA nearby.
Although rain showers and overcast skies
photos, the snow did provide some scenic shots.
10 AM, we arrived into Cumberland, MD just a few minutes
the train made three slow stops at the station for
some reason, which held up the folks getting off to stretch their legs. Then the crew was busy doing something
on the train and we didn't pull out until about 10:19 AM.
further time through Martinsburg, WV and arrived
into Harper's Ferry at approximately 12:17 PM, about a half hour
we were in and out of town
quickly and on our way to Rockville, MD.
With padded time on the schedule and Herculean efforts by the
were actually a little early getting to the yards at Washington, DC. Never the less, the normal route to the
station was being used and would have made us quite late.
Our crew found another way though as we
passed the switch, and then backed into the station, making us only ten
Our only complaint had been the badly riding sleeper car, and that certainly was not the crew's fault. We were achieving what I had tried to do on two previous Capitol Limited trips. By arriving in Washington on time, it allowed us to catch an earlier train to Philadelphia, and thereby a perfect connection to Lancaster, PA. This meant we arrived home only a few hours longer than detraining in Pittsburgh at 5:30 AM to take the Pennsylvanian. Instead, we spent extra daylight hours on the CAP to leisurely have breakfast and lunch in the diner, and enjoy the scenery and ambiance of train travel to Washington, DC. A great finish to our trip and a "well done" to the AMTRAK crews.