Midwest and Northeast, including Syracuse NRHS
June 26th-July 15th, 1998

Don Winter


The main focus of this trip is the 1998 NRHS Convention in Stamford Connecticut. After looking at the dates of the convention, it becomes clear that we can have a full additional week’s trip, the week before the Convention, during which we can travel on the remaining Amtrak routes that we have not previously covered. As usual, we travel out and back on Amtrak.

The Journey East (6/26-7/5)

Friday, June 26th, 1998

On Friday evening, our son Henry drives us down to Los Angeles Union Station, we check luggage to Chicago (our schedule is too complex for it to go any further), walk out to the train, find our room, and I walk the train to record the consist before we leave. We're taking the Sunset Limited for our first look at the Sunset route since the news stories broke about UP's mismanagement of the SP merger and the resulting congestion in the Houston area and along the route. We expect to see evidence of that on Saturday and Sunday.

Sunset Limited Route Description


P40                  817
P40                  822
P40                  837
Transition         39026
Sleeper             32028
Sleeper             32012
Diner                38044
Lounge 33000
Coach-Smoker 31514
Coach              34027
Coach              34067
Coach              34041 (Below here to train)
Sleeper             32085 (22 at San Antonio)
Box Car           71157
Box Car           71171
Box Car           71092
Box Car           71031
Box Car           71198
Box Car           71160
20 cars, 80 axles
12 cars, 48 axles after San Antonio

Train 2, 6-26-1998



Los Angeles









Palm Springs


















El Paso MT

2:50/ 3:10





Del Rio CT



San Antonio


12:51/ 1:38pm










New Orleans



We’re late departing due to the late arrival of connecting train 11 from Seattle, so we’re in bed before departure. On departure, we then use the whole train as a switcher to pick up the six boxcars on the rear.

Saturday, June 27th, 1998

I'm expecting to awaken east of Picacho, on the line heading for Tucson, having crossed the new (to us) section bypassing Phoenix during the night. I awake as dawn is breaking, and think to myself that the Sonoran desert sure looks like the Chocolate Mountains of SE California. Then we cross a big river (gee, that sure looks like the Colorado!) and arrive in . . . . Yuma, AZ! We're about 3.5 hours late (at this point), and I arise hurriedly, as we're clearly going to see the line from Yuma east in the daylight (very unusual).

East of Yuma, this part of the Sonoran Desert has many saguaro, as well as cholla and yucca cacti along the line. When the train restarts from Yuma, it heads for the first block signal, where it stops. The Dispatcher gives us oral permission to pass the "signal displaying stop indication", and as we head towards the next signal at 15 mph, it becomes clear that some sort of electrical problem has disabled the CTC over the line for many miles to the east. This requires us to travel at a maximum speed of 20 mph between signals, stopping at each signal to obtain the Dispatcher’s permission to pass it and the switch (if necessary). This occurs at the following times and locations:

6:55-7:02 am, west switch Fortuna (MP 743.7); 7:08 am, east switch Fortuna; 7:14am;
7:22-7:36 am, west switch Kenter, 7:44-7:51 am, east switch Kenter;
7:58-8:04 am, west end of two main tracks; 8:24-8:31, west crossover at Wellton;
8:40-8;53 am, east end of Wellton, end of two main tracks, hand throw the switch;
9:07-9:11 am, west end Noah; 9:16-9:23 am, east end Noah;
9:34-9:38 am, west end Colford; 9:43-9:48 am, east end Colford;
9:54 am green signal at MP 786.4: three hours to travel just under 43 miles!

That means that the 60 miles takes about 4.5 hours (instead of the expected 1 hour), at the end of which we're 7 hours late! It's also the case that every single siding along the line has a freight train in it, some facing east, some facing west, some with crews, some without. Yes, the Sunset route is congested! At 7:42 am, the following SP8501 east reports a tie on fire at the Kenter west switch. At 8:15 am, we pass a westbound freight on the two-main track section. From 10:18 to 10:20, we stop at Aztec to pick up a ‘dogpatch’ crew to replace the one whose hours of service have expired. We have lunch before reaching Picacho. At Picacho, the Phoenix branch joins from the north, and the line's direction turns from slightly north of east to southeast towards Tucson. From 12:15 to 12:40 pm, we stop at Wymola, and at 12:55 we stop briefly at Red Rock, both for opposing freights. At Tucson station, we refuel the locomotives, then pull forward to water the cars. After departure, we sit at the platform end from 1:50 to 2:04 pm before proceeding.

At 3:00 pm, the dispatcher asks two eastbounds (behind us) to park their trains on track 2 at Mescal and run the power back light to Tucson.  One of these crews is already eleven hours into its duty time. From 4:33 to 4:46 pm, we stop at the end of two main tracks at the CP 1008 Crossover to meet UP 8000 west and then UP 6008 west. From 7-7:16 pm we stop at Tunis for an opposing freight to clear. Approaching Deming, NM, the crew goes dead-on-the-law just as we head for dinner. We're eating dessert when the train starts again with the fresh crew taxied in from El Paso. (Additional stop from 7:34 to 8::54 pm for this to happen.) The lines cross the Rio Grande, into Texas, on separate steel girder bridges. From 10-10:10 pm we stop on this bridge. During the servicing stop at El Paso, we take our late evening walk.

Sunday, June 28th, 1998

We're awakened by the conductor announcing the Pecos High Bridge, at 8:30 am. Hmmm. At 9:25 am, we flag a crossing with the gates staying down, just west of Del Rio. We're eating breakfast when we reach Del Rio. At 9:43 am, we pass westbound train 21 (the “through Texas Eagle”) at Johnstone. We have lunch during the switching stop at San Antonio.. First, we stop at Tower 112 at 12:40 pm to pass a signal displaying stop (because there is already a train in the depot), then at 12:48 pm we pull alongside train 22 with locomotives 841, 69, and 832 in the San Antonio Depot. Here, some cars are switched from our train to train 22. From 1:55 to 2:09 pm, we stop at Kirby to fuel the locomotives at the on-line fuel rack, and to acquire ice from the ice plant there.

From 2:40 to 2:42 pm, we stop for no discernible reason. At 3:42 pm, we pass the crossing at Flatonia. At Houston, Chris tries to call the hotel in New Orleans, to tell them we won't be there, but the reboard call comes when she's next in line. The train starts away from the platform, moves half a train length, and then stops for signals for another half hour (6:38 to 7:08 pm). Why didn't we spend that half hour in the Houston station? From 7:15 to 7:17 pm, we stop to flag the signal at Appaloosa Street We pass the Houston yard at Englewood, that is so congested, while eating dinner.[1]  We also stop alongside the yard from 7:28 to 7:30 pm. We reach Beaumont about bedtime, and make our station stop while westbound train #1 waits east of the station. (These trains are never in this station at the same time!) As we leave, the conductor calls the station to tell them we've a passenger for LA on board! We stop adjacent to #1 and swap her over to her intended train

[1] Part of the congestion in Houston this evening results from an engineer on a freight at Englewood Yard refusing to move his train without a pilot (engineer), because the route he has been asked to take to get out of town is one on which he is not (yet) qualified. Prior to the UP-SP merger, he would not have been asked to take that route.

Monday, June 29th, 1998

We reach New Orleans at 5:40 am, 10.5 hours late! After stowing our bags, and once it's light, we walk into the center of New Orleans, have 'breakfast' at MacDonald's (ugh!), take a ride out and back on the St. Charles Avenue street car line, once the morning rush is over, then take refuge from the heat in the riverside shopping center. Here we examine photographs and exhibits depicting the day a runaway ship ran into the shopping center, then have lunch before slowly walking back to New Orleans Union Station for our train. I have time to walk down the platform and record the consist before departure.

City of New Orleans Route Description


P40                  805
P40                  822
Transition         39013
Baggage           1003
Transition         39042
Sleeper             32058
Sleeper             32015
Diner                38055
Coach              34018
Coach-Smoker 31539
Lounge 33030
Coach              34017
IC Business      800210
IC Business      800413
14 cars, 56 axles, 1200 ft.

Train 58, 6-29-1998



New Orleans


















Yazoo City















Northbound Train 58, City of New Orleans, is on time on its early afternoon departure from New Orleans for Chicago. Out in the corridor, we hear a Scottish accented voice telling the crew she'd "baked biccies for them". The voice turns out to belong to a platinum blonde from Nova Scotia named Philomena (it says on her name tag, but her colleagues call her something sounding more like 'Fiona'), who is a waitress in the diner.

At 5:05 pm, we pass southbound train 59 with P40 803 etc. From 6:11 to 6:14, we stop at North Jackson Junction, then pull slowly through the switches onto the Yazoo District. At 6:52 pm there is a 10 mph slow order. At 6:57  to 7:03.pm, there is a 20 mph slow order. We stop at the north end of Valley from 7:04 to 7:11 pm. From 7:15 to 7:21 pm there is a 10 mph slow order. From 8:00 to 8:06 pm, there is another slow order. We eat dinner at 8 pm, and go to bed about 9;30 pm.

Tuesday, June 30th, 1998

I awake in the dark, as our car attendant is rushing around knocking on doors and telling some passengers they will be "bussed" to their destinations. He doesn't tell us, so clearly the train is going to Chicago by some diversionary route. I peer out into the pre-dawn gloom, and eventually discern that we're at Carbondale. At 4:20 am the train moves forward a few hundred yards, then sits for almost an hour (until 5:12 am). As it starts to get light, a short passenger trains heads the other way, into the station, and our train backs down to follow it there. By the time we finally leave (5:28 am), I'm fully dressed and have ascertained that a tornado has blown a coal train off the tracks at Tuscola, south of Champaign. We're going to run along the route once used by the now-canceled River Cities, to E. St. Louis, and then follow the standard St. Louis to Chicago route up to Chicago. The short train brought in the crew that knows the route to St. Louis.

River Cities Route Description

St. Louis-Chicago Route Description

At 5:48 am, we turn west off the IC mainline onto the IC St. Louis District, at DuQuoin. The countryside along here is typical southern Illinois grain fields, until we reach Belleville, which is now essentially a suburb of St. Louis. We eat breakfast while the train is stopped from 7:28 am to 8:01 am alongside the Alton & Southern yard in E. St. Louis, at a location named “Church”, waiting for SPCSL pilot C.R. Evans. At 8:13 we pass Valley Junction, at 8:16, Q Tower on the former Alton, former GM&O, former ICG, former Chicago, Missouri & Western, and latter Southern Pacific Chicago Short Line heading northeast. There are steel mills alongside the line where it runs as paired track with the Norfolk Southern (ex-Wabash) as far as Alton.. At 9:14 am, we pass the Alton depot, on the standard Amtrak St. Louis-Chicago route. From 9:31-9:41, we stop to inspect the train after the detector at MP 239.8 (Shipman) announces “144 mph”! At 10:32 am we pass the Springfield depot. From 11:10 to 11:27 am, we stop after the Head-End Power goes off at MP 144, with a puff of smoke near us on the sleeper. The Business Cars report a cable hanging down. We stop to rectify the problem. At 11:33, as we pull forward slowly, the HEP trips again. At 11:37 am, it’s restored successfully.

From 11:37 am to 12:06 pm, we wait in the siding at McLean for train 303 to pass. At Bloomington, there is another NS crossing, this time of the ex-Wabash Kansas City line, by the closed passenger depot, followed by an SP yard. At Normal, Amtrak’s “Bloomington” depot is adjacent to the Illinois State University campus. From 12:37 to 12;50 pm, we wait at Bloomington for a southbound freight headed by CSX 5812. Lunch is cans of stew that crew have produced from somewhere, served free to all remaining passengers. At 1:39 pm, we pass Dwight. At 1:50 pm, there is a 10 mph slow order. The conductor times out at 2:00 pm, but we don’t relieve him until Joliet!

We stop from 2:22 to 2:29 at Joliet to relive the conductor, then from 2:33 to 2:50 at Ohio Street, and from 2:55 to 2:59 at Lockport where we finally exchange crews. From 3:30 to 3:50, we stop at Corwith because of congestion at Bridgeport, ahead, then wait for train 305 to pass. At 4;10 we pull west onto the former CB&Q, then stop at Jefferson Street at 4:12 pm. At 4:14, train 391 is next to us, climbing the St. Charles Air Line. At 4:16 we reverse direction. We get to Chicago at 4:30 pm, just in time for our Illinois Zephyr out to Quincy. We spend less than an hour in the Metropolitan lounge before boarding the train.


P42                  70
Café/Custom    20012
Coach              54004
Coach              54532
Coach             54586

Train 347, 6-30-1998






LaGrange Road



























Illinois Zephyr Route Description

Darkness falls as we pass the BN(SF) classification yard south of Galesburg. At Quincy, we share a taxi to the hotel with the café car attendant. We go to bed immediately, since we’re going to be in town less than eight hours!

Wednesday, July 1st, 1998


P42                  70
Café/Custom    20012
Coach              54004
Coach              54532
Coach              54586

Train 348, 7-1-1998



























LaGrange Road






We’re up at 5:30 am, check out of the hotel and take a taxi back to the station, where we board our train. On seeing us, the conductor enquires what we’re doing. When we tell him we’re just riding the track, he says that had he known that the night before, he would have let us ride over to West Quincy while they turned the train!

While coming west, we had noticed a couple of steam locomotives stuffed and mounted in parks at lineside, adjacent to station stops, so today I make sure I get photographs of them. One of them is ex-CB&Q 4-6-4 3006 at Galesburg. In Chicago, we have plenty of time to spare, so we eat lunch in the station, then ride the Metra North-Central line out of the north side of Chicago Union Station. This train runs out on the former Milwaukee West Line to Franklin Park, then turns north onto the Wisconsin Central line. A stop in the Franklin Park location has a shuttle bus to O’Hare Airport. North of this is WC’s Schiller Yard. We see a couple of WC trains in the Schiller Yard area, one of which later passes us at speed as we wait for our return train at Antioch station.

Chicago Area Route Descriptions

On our return to Chicago,, we retrieve our checked luggage and board our train to Grand Rapids, making sure we have bought drinks and food for the evening before doing so, since this train has only a couple of automated serving machines for food and drink service.


P32                  515
Automat           8601
Coach              54577
Coach              54579
Coach              44554
P42                  61

6 “cars”:, 24 axles

Train 370, 7-1-1998



Chicago            CT






New Buffalo, MI (ET)



St. Josephs









Grand Rapids



Pere Marquette Route Description

From 5:45 to 5:59 pm, we wait at CP 518.  We pass through Porter at 7:40 pm, EDT. At 8:49 pm we stop to flag a signal at MP 80. At 9:04, we resume speed at MP 75. Arriving at Grand Rapids, we take a taxi directly to our hotel, negotiate for a noon checkout the next day, and go to bed.

Thursday, July 2nd, 1998

On waking this morning, we discover we are directly across the street from the Gerald Ford Presidential Library. However, we don’t have time for a visit, as we have to have lunch and them make our bus connection from the Grand Rapids station to Kalamazoo, where we have several hours to wait before resuming our train journey east. Greyhound gets us to Kalamazoo on time, and I make sure I photograph the trains passing the station during our waiting period. Eventually, our Pontiac-bound train arrives and we board the Custom Class section of the food-service car.

Wolverine Service Route Description


P32                  519
Baggage           1221
Custom/Café    53003
Coach              54522
Coach              54575
Coach              54521
Coach              54541
ex-F40             90225
8 “cars”, 32 axles

Train 352, 7-2-1998






Battle Creek









Ann Arbor









Royal Oak









From 6:18 to 6:20 pm, we wait for a clear signal. At 6:52, we pas train 355, west of Albion. In Jackson, we spot the wheelchair lift five cars back from the locomotive. At 8:56 pm, there is a 10 mph speed restriction on the “old curve” onto the Grand Trunk Western, and along that line to the Detroit station. The latter is at 6th & Woodward. At 9:25 pm, we turn left at Milwaukee Junction and Clay Avenue onto the line to Pontiac. In Pontiac, there are no taxis available, so we have to wait until the one called to take the crew to their hotel can return from that task. We watch the crew put the train away onto its siding, then wait. When the taxi returns, we head down Interstate 75 into Detroit, then cross into Canada to our hotel in Windsor, ON. As luck would have it, the taxi gets stopped by the Canadian Customs folks for a “full inspection”, which turns up nothing. At the hotel, we go directly to bed.

Friday, July 3rd, 1998

On arising this morning, we realize we can see the Detroit skyline across the river from our hotel window. We check out of the hotel and take a taxi to the Via Rail Canada station on the north side of town. Along the way, we pass ex-CN 4-6-2 5588 stuffed and mounted in a park alongside the river. About 10:30 am, our train backs down from the siding on which we have been able to see it, and moves into the platform. Our “Via One Service” car is at the front of the train, and there is never a real chance to identify the rest of the consist, although I can count how many cars there are before we board. The cars on this train are all of the Bombardier “Light, Rapid, Comfortable (LRC)” series, although since the locomotive is an F-40, we won’t be tilting on this particular train.


F40                  6427
LRC Club        3460
LRC Coach
LRC Coach
LRC Coach
LRC Coach
LRC Coach

Train 74, 7-3-1998





11:02 am





12:42/47 pm

1:09/ 2:22 pm










Windsor to Montreal Route Description

We make a brief stop at 11:42 am, just before Chatham. In Chatham, the line intersects with the CSX (ex-Pere Marquette) Sarnia subdivision. From 12:20 to 12:25 pm, we stop at Newbury, and from 12:37 to 12:50 west of Glencoe. The included lunch in the Club Car is excellent. We make a long stop in London to “repair the train”. From 2:27 to 2:30 pm, we stop at London Junction to wait for train 73. with Via F40 6401. At 2:34 pm, we make an emergency stop at Highbury, due to a truck encroaching on the road crossing. From 2:34 to 2:39, we pull slowly by with the crew inspecting the train. We pass Bayview Junction at 3:52 pm.

We had been scheduled to have a couple of hours in Toronto, during which I had hoped to get to a record store to buy some “not-available-in-the-US” CDs. However, we arrive so late that we are led directly over to the train on which we’re scheduled to travel to Montreal. This also comprises LRC vehicles, but it has an LRC locomotive and does tilt, at times, during our high-speed trip to Montreal. Again, there isn’t time to collect the consist, but I do manage to count it.


LRC Loco.       6917
LRC Club        3455
LRC Coach      3563
LRC Coach
LRC Coach
LRC Coach
LRC Coach

Train 66, 7-3-1998






Dorval, PQ






The first few miles out of Toronto station are covered quite slowly, but then the train picks up speed fast. At 6:10 pm, we pass the Detector at MP 238: 96 miles in 69 minutes. At 6:24 pm, we pass train 65 at Quiente, and at 6:33 the Detector at MP 209: 124 miles in 92 minutes. At 6:55 pm, we pass Kingston, ON, and at 7:04 the Detector at MP 163: 170 miles in 123 minutes. The included dinner exceeds the lunch in excellence! We pass three more detectors, 7:38 at MP 110, 7:56 at MP 80, and 8:13 pm at MP 54, before slowing down for the Montreal area. These correspond to total of 223 miles in 157 minutes, 253 miles in 175 minutes, and 279 miles in 192 minutes. The last four intervals correspond to 90, 95, 100, and 91 mph, respectively. The last few miles past the Via coach and locomotive yards into Montreal Central station are covered at a much more sedate pace.

The Montreal taxi driver doesn’t recognize the name of our hotel, but he does recognize the address! Sure enough, when we get there, the name is what he says it is, apparently having changed since we made our reservations four months previously. They have our reservation, so all is fine. Once checked-in, we go directly to bed.

Saturday, July 4th, 1998

We have the morning free in Montreal, so we head to the shopping district to find a couple of record stores at which to buy those CDs. We succeed, and have time to have breakfast at a Bistro and walk around for a while, before heading back to the hotel, checking out, and going to the station. When we get to Montreal Central Station, we find that The Adirondack is not running Due to a landslip along Lake Champlain, and we will be taking a bus from Montreal to Albany (where we will have several additional hours to wait for our train to Rutland). The bus leaves Montreal at 12:50 pm, heads directly down the Interstate, and even with the border stop, deposits us in Albany at 4:55 pm. We’re certainly glad we had that big breakfast at the Montreal Bistro! South of Saratoga Springs, we observe a long traffic tie-up at an exit from the northbound interstate, apparently comprising people heading to a Fourth of July function at Saratoga.

Our train to Rutland shows up on time, but not before we’ve seen more of the Albany station than we ever wanted to see! This includes having the police and paramedics called to deal with a young lady who was apparently intent on taking about two-dozen loaded brown shopping bags on a southbound train with her, but has slipped on the newly-mopped floor. She is taken off for medical attention, and the bags are removed to the storage room.


P32 Dual          712
Custom/Café    48910
Coach              44683
Coach              21069
Coach              21031
Coach              21262
Coach              7602

Train 293, 7-4-1998









Saratoga Springs



Fort Edwards, NY



Fair Haven, VT






Ethan Allen Route Description

This entire trip is covered in darkness. We eat “dinner” in the Custom Class car. When we arrive in Rutland, VT, we have ridden on the full length of every route Amtrak currently operates (as well as some former routes, no longer operated by Amtrak). We travel to the hotel in the same taxi as the Custom Class car attendant, and go directly to bed..

Sunday, July 5th, 1998

We take the opportunity to sleep in, then checkout but leave our bags at the hotel. We eat lunch at McDonald’s, then walk around the area, which is still all decked-out for the Fourth of July, including photographing a freight with both Green Mountain and Vermont RR power. Mid-afternoon, we return to the station and board our return train. The attendant is the same, but the rest of the train crew is different from Saturday’s train.


P32 dual           710
Café/Custom    48932
Coach              21102
Coach              21620
Coach              21078
Coach              7609
24 axles

Train 296, 7-5-1998






Fair Haven



Fort Edward



Saratoga Springs



Schenectady (arr.)



At 3:15 pm, the train stops at “Rutland Center”. At 3:20 pm, it enters MCS (like CTC) at O&W Junction, and leaves it at 4:04 pm at Whitehall Junction. From 5:14 to 5:17 pm, we flag the signal at CPF 481. We leave the train at Schenectady to head west. We had been concerned about catching train 283 (Amtrak wouldn’t let us book it as a connection, and we had to buy a separate ticket just for that leg of the trip). However, there is a single-track section between here and Albany, which causes train 283 to wait for train 296 to clear, making 283 as late as 296 is. Again, we’re traveling in Custom Class.


P32 dual           709
Café/Custom    20908
Coach              21631
Coach              21176
Coach              44691
Coach              21167
Coach              21685
28 axles

Train 283, 7-5-1998


















Lake Shore Limited Route Description

At 7:02 pm, we pass train 288, and at 7:14 pm, we pass train 64 from Toronto. Most of the sidings along this dual track line appear to be occupied with parked eastbound automotive trains, complete with locomotives. At Syracuse, we take a taxi to the hotel and settle into the room for a weeklong stay. We get our NRHS tickets from the Convention’s check-in area, and have dinner at Coach Mac’s, located right in the hotel. (It’s all that is open on a Sunday night.) After dinner, we go to bed, putting out the “Do Not Disturb” sign first.

NRHS, Syracuse (7/6-7/12)

Monday, July 6th, 1998

We sleep in today, since the train does not leave until 11:30 am. This train leaves from the former Lackawanna station now used (with a new station building) by “On-Track”, the local transit line run by RDCs. In the waiting area, we meet up with Barbara Sibert, who has just arrived this morning on the Lakeshore Limited, directly from Los Angeles via Chicago. We also meet Dave Flynn, from Cornell University, who is helping out with this convention.

Today’s train is going to Scranton, PA, where we will spend the night at the old Lackawanna headquarters building, now a hotel, and have tours and an excursion at Steamtown on Tuesday. We’re far enough back in the line of first-class passengers that we don’t make the three first-class cars at the front of the train, but are first in line for the two at the back of the train. We stake out places in Good Vibrations, a lounge car, that we will manage to occupy every time this trainset is used during the convention.

Jack Humphrey and his son, who are train managers for this excursion, park their wives in this car and leave them to their own devices, returning for an occasional rest. The train heads south on the old Delaware, Lackawanna and Western (DL&W or “Lackawanna”) Syracuse Branch, now operated by the New York, Susquehanna & Western, to Binghamton, NY, where it crosses the Conrail Southern-Tier line (ex-Erie) and continues along the former-Lackawanna line (now operated by Canadian Pacific’s St. Lawrence & Hudson division, ex-Delaware & Hudson) to Scranton. Since Tuesday’s Steamtown excursion will also run on the former DL&W to Pocono Summit, we have an extended encounter with the old Lackawanna on this trip.

Syracuse to Scranton Route Description

At 2:27 pm, we drop off one of NYS&W’s owner Walter Rich’s guests in Binghamton. From 2:29 to 2:51 pm, we stop at Control Point BD for 8 minutes, then slowly cross ConRail and stop at the D&H East Binghamton Yard for a crew change.  We cross the Susquehanna between BD and East Binghamton Yard. We stop again from 3:03 to 3:05 pm at the end of the yard to deliver a radio to the crew.

When we reach Tunkhannock Viaduct above Nicholson, PA, the elder Mrs. Humphrey tells us all about the number of construction workers killed during the construction of the viaduct who are buried in the cemetery in town (or in some cases, in the concrete of the viaduct itself. The latter is a milestone in civil-engineering history, being the first (modern—the Roman Empire’s creations had preceded it) concrete structure of this size (height and length).) We stop on the viaduct, which towers above the town below, from 4:15 to 4:21 pm. We stop again at Factoryville Tunnel from 4:30 to 4:35 pm.

When we reach Bloom, at 5:11 pm, “NKP 514”, a Steamtown diesel, attaches to the rear of the train and pulls us the rest of the way to the old station at Scranton, adjacent to the hotel made from the old Lackawanna HQ building. We stop in Steamtown from 5:28 to 5:37 pm for Walter Rich and his party to alight.

Off the train, we walk to the hotel, get our keys and find our room. We listen on the scanner to the crews switching the cars for Tuesday’s excursion. Later, we walk down into the decaying center of Scranton, past buildings that are fenced off because they’re collapsing, to the three year-old mall adjacent to Steamtown, where we have dinner. Scranton is an old, dying anthracite-mining town that has, to some extent, been rejuvenated by the Steamtown developments. After walking back to the hotel, we go directly to bed.

Tuesday, July 7th, 1998

This morning, we walk over to Steamtown, entering via the employee parking lot because the place isn’t open yet, to board our excursion to Pocono Summit. This train uses Steamtown’s ex-Lackawanna suburban coaches together with the first-class cars we traveled down on (but not the coaches we brought down). The train is double-headed by Steamtown’s operating steam locomotives. It is 2317’s first excursion since complete refurbishment.

Scranton to Pcono Summit Route Description

Our scheduled 8:30 am excursion actually departs at 8:53 am. From 9:10 to 9:14 am we stop adjacent to Nay Aug yard. We pass Moscow at 9:29 am. The first photo runby is from 9:41 to 10: 37 am at Lehigh summit, the second from 10:53 to 11:28 at Tobyhanna, and the third from 1:17 to 1:37 pm at Winton, on the way back. From 11:40 am to 12:11 pm, we stop at Pocono Summit to remove the steam locomotives and add the E-8s. From 12:25 to 12:34 pm, we stop at Tobyhanna to load the lunches. We return to Steamtown at 1:58 pm.

We now have almost three hours to spend at Steamtown. We patronize the bookstore and take part in one of the special tours of the roundhouse and workshop area, seeing ex-NKP 2-8-4 759 and ex-PRR K-4s 4-6-2 1361 under repair, among others. The visits to the restoration areas are especially interesting, showing many of the techniques and tools in use in restoring locomotives and cars.

At 4:53 pm, our return train leaves for Syracuse. The consist is the same set of locomotives as on Monday, followed by the same set of cars, but in reverse. This train has been switched back together while we were touring Steamtown. It reverses at Carbon at 5:08 pm, after being hauled up by ex-NKP 514. Tunkhannock Viaduct is passed at 5:43. We change crews at East Binghamton Yard from 6:57 to 7:00, and cross ConRail between 7:04 and 7:06 pm. When we are called to dinner, it transpires that the only available drinks are either caffeinated or have orange in them. We want neither. I ask for water, but am told this is for the crew only. As I protest, the OnTrack General Manager, who has been riding this excursion, happens to be passing and he insists that the crew give us water to drink. Another stop is made from 7:15 to 7:18 at NYS&W Binghamton, Chenango Forks is passed at 7:47, Whitney Point at 8:08, Cortland at 8:53, with arrival in Syracuse at 10:12 pm.

Somewhere around Whitney Point, as it was getting dark outside, it started to rain. By the time we reached Syracuse, the heavens had opened. We walked back to the hotel in pouring rain, to discover we had left the Do Not Disturb sign up on our room, and it had not been cleaned while we were gone!

Wednesday, July 8th, 1998

The skies are still cloudy this morning. We board buses at the back door of the hotel for the ride down to Owego to ride on the Tioga Scenic railroad along an old Lehigh Valley branch. This starts just north of the ConRail Southern-Tier line. The trainset comprises two Diners, an Open Air coach, and two enclosed Coaches. Half of the party will eat lunch first, and half later. We get seats in one of the diners for the first sitting. At the time, this seemed like the right thing to do.

Tioga Scenic Route Description

The Tioga Scenic runs through farmland surrounded by deciduous woods and crossed by bubbling streams. The train starts at 9:58 am. From 10:22 to 10:42, there is a runby at Flemingville, followed by another from 10:46 to 11:10.depot. From 11:37 to 11:47 am, we wait at Newark valley for a southbound freight headed by an ex-CP Alco C-420. We are invited to alight for photos, but it has started to rain quite heavily, so no one does. The model railroad in the depot doesn’t attract anyone, either. We’re eating our lunch at this time, anyway!

At 12:10 pm. we stop five miles from the end of the track (to which we had been scheduled to go), because of a washout of the track due to the rain, which the crew sees in time. We reverse to Newark Valley, where we sit from 2:10 to 2:54 pm before continuing our return journey to Owego.  The rivers and streams are several feet higher on the return trip than on the northbound trip. By the time those in the diners have finished eating, the rain has invaded the open car and no one wants to go there. In fact, those sitting in the coaches insist that lunch be brought to them, so after standing in the open car for a while we return to seats in one of the diners!

We bus back to the hotel and relax for a while. Then we have dinner in the seafood restaurant in the hotel and go to bed.

Thursday, July 9th, 1998

The weather is improving, but this day’s excursion starts out with an even longer bus ride, to the newly restored Utica Union Station. There, we spend some time admiring the restored ceiling and other parts of the building, before being conducted across the ConRail main line to the location where we will board the Adirondack Scenic Railroad’s train on its new extension down to Utica. While photographing the locomotives for this train, I run into Doug Walsch, with whom we had spent some time on both of our 1997 trips, to the Royal Gorge (and NRHS Salt Lake City) and to BC Rail. Syracuse is just a short way from Doug’s home near the Delaware Water Gap.

Adirondack Scenic Route Description

This excursion is managed by Al Kalfells, who is also the Convention manager this year. The train departs from the Utica Yard at 9:35 am, over the Mohawk, Adirondack & Northern as far as Remsen. We have a photo runby at Remsen from 10:39 to 11:21 am. Lunch is taken in a tent behind the Buffalo Head Inn at Forestport. Lunch requires two sittings, with those not eating lunch having a photo runby with the train during each sitting. We happen to be in the first sitting, from 11:48 am to 1:29 pm. From 1:40 to 2:13 pm, we have a photo runby at Bluewater. From 2:20 to 3:02, we again stop at Forestport to pick up the second half of the people. Between 3:44 and 3:47, we wait for orders at Otter Lake.

From 4:27 to 6:18, we’re at Thendara, where the locomotives are run around the train and we have a photo runby. The latter has to wait for the regular excursion train to return, and is nearly ruined by a set of departing passengers from that train who drive their car between the photo line and the oncoming train. L After departing Thendara, we again stop at Otter Lake, then at Forestport from 7:33 to 7:42 while the dinners are loaded. We stop briefly at Remsen at 8:10 to drop off a “photographer”, and return to Utica at 9:14 pm. There we again board buses for the drive back to Syracuse.

Friday, July 10th, 1998

There are no lengthy excursions today. We have elected to take the tour of the “On Track” system, using three RDCs, M-8, M-5 and M-7. “On Track” runs around the west side of Syracuse as well as some miles to the south of town. Syracuse is an old-time mill town that has been rejuvenated as a center of learning. The main line of the New York Central used to run through the center of town on the city streets, but was moved to a northerly bypass of the town when those streets were replaced by a limited-access highway. The old NYC station is still visible adjacent to that platform with sculptures of passengers on the one-time platform. The replacement station, adjacent to DeWitt yard east of town, is soon to be replaced by a new station adjacent to the regional mall northwest of town.

On Track runs around the west side of town to that mall, and will run into the new station when it is completed, to provide a cross-platform connection with Amtrak. Our excursion departs from the Armory Square station adjacent to the old Lackawanna depot that we used on Monday and Tuesday at 8:02 am, and runs around to the Carousel Mall adjacent to the ConRail main line, where it stops from 8:13 to 8:19 am. Returning south, we have two photo runbys, one at a massive overbridge between 8:27 and 8:40, and another at the former DL&W Yard from 8:42 to 9:05. Passing through Armory Square again, we stop from 9:09 to 9:15 to pick ups straggling passengers who still thought the train would depart at 8:30 am. Then we head south to Jamesville beach, where we have another photo runby from 9:37 to 9:57. Coming back north, we stop at the Central NY Chapter’s Jamesville facility from 10:03 to 10:38, to look at the equipment stored and under restoration there. This is the location where the two E-8s used on Monday and Tuesday were restored. We return to Armory Square at 10:53 am.

After lunch, Chris and I attend the NRHS Board Meeting, as guests (as any NRHS Member is entitled to do). This Board Meeting has a contest over the site of the 2000 Convention, between the Lancaster Chapter, who had been invited to make a proposal and has planned a set of excursion over the Ohio Central, with Convention Headquarters in Pittsburgh, and a group from Stamford, Connecticut, who propose to cover most of the New haven railroad’s remaining trackage in that state. Although Lancaster is chosen by the Directors at this meeting, that team withdraws by the time of the October Board meeting and is replaced by the Stamford team.

At the banquet in the evening, we sit with Bob and Diane Heavenrich, along with Alex Mayes and his wife Teresa. The featured speaker is Walter Rich. A film clip of a live TV broadcast of the departure of the 20th-Century Limited from Grand Central Terminal is also shown, which many attendees seem unable to resist treating as if it were a situation comedy, when departure is delayed and the participants have to ad lib.

Saturday, July 11th, 1998

Today’s excursion is a steam run up the valley south of Syracuse, and almost all the way to Binghamton. The consist is almost exactly the same as on Monday and Tuesday, except that the lead locomotive is Susquehanna’s Chinese-built 2-8-2 142. We have traveled behind this locomotive before, when it was at the Valley Railroad in Essex, CT, in September 1990. The scheduled 8 am excursion departs from Syracuse (Armory Square) at 8:43 am, passes Tully at 9:28, and stops to service the locomotive at Cortland, from 10:01 to 10:20. From 11:06 to 11:34, we have a photo runby at Whitney Point, where I discuss cameras with Bob Heavenrich. From 12:08 to 12:11, we stop just before the junction with the Utica line, and then from 12:14 to 1:42, we stop at Chenango Bridge to swap the locomotives around and service the steamer. From 1:12 to 1:18, NYSW stack train 555 passes, headed by 3614 with 109 cars. On the return trip, we pass Cortland at 3:14 pm, and have another photo runby from 3:52 to 4:35 at Tully. Since the E-units are now on the north end of the train, but the steamer still on the south end, we have runbys in both directions with the different kinds of power leading. The return to Syracuse is at 5:30 pm.

We again eat in the seafood restaurant this evening.

Sunday, July 12th, 1998

Today’s excursion is going the other way from Armory Square, so starts out with that same train consist in reverse. The differences are that Finger Lakes Railway chop-nose GP-9 1703 is ahead of the two E-8s (which are ahead of Morris County), and that E-9 2400 brings up the rear. On the return, 807 and 808 are on the point, with 1703 on the rear. This excursion, over the Finger Lakes Railway, will be the first passenger train to Auburn, NY, in over 40 years.

Finger Lakes Railway Route Description

The train departs Armory Square at 8:34 am, passes the Conrail interchange at 8:52 and enters the Finger Lakes Railway at Solvay, adjacent to the huge chemical plant there, at 8:57 am. At 10:05, it passes Skaneateles Junction. From 10:31 to 11:06, there is a photo runby at Hendrick’s Oil. From 11:15 to 11:32, the two E-8s are removed from their position inside the GP-9, and switched to the other end of the train, ready for the return trip. We then enter Auburn with only 1703 on the front. We’re in Auburn from 11:54 am to 12:45pm, while local politicians make speeches. At 1:04 pm, we drop off the local dignitaries, and from 1:32 to 2:03, we have another photo runby at Skaneateles Junction, again photographing the train running by both ways, with the different power on each end. During this runby, Al Kalfells wants Jack Humphrey to do something at the far end of the crowd, but Jack isn’t working today, so he doesn’t have a radio.

From 2:30 to 3:24, we stop at the Central NY Chapter’s Museum at the Martisco depot. In addition to the museum, there is also a railroadiana fair here. I find some NTSC videos of steam days in England, and buy 15 1-hour videos for an even $100 (all the actual cash we have with us). From 3:55 to 4:00, we stop at Solvay, and from 4:03 to 4:04 to remove 1703 from the rear. Before entering the NYSW trackage. From 4:23 to 4:27 pm, we wait for the On Track RDCs to pass, at the DL&W yard. The excursion ends at 4:35 pm, and with it the NRHS Convention.

We’re leaving on the westbound Lakeshore Limited tonight, after midnight, but we’ve kept the room to have somewhere to sit this evening. We eat at Coach Mac’s, which takes so long to produce the food that they eventually decide the meals are on them! We keep track of our train’s progress, or rather lack of it, and eventually check out of the hotel and head over to the Amtrak station well after midnight.

The Journey West (7/13-7/15)

Monday, July 13th, 1998


P42                  70

P42                  16

Baggage           1107

Dorm               2508

Sleeper             62003 Bay View

Sleeper             62030 Patriots View

Diner                8559

Lounge             28007

Coach              25011

Coach              25056

Coach              25089

Coach              25037

Coach              25059

Coach              25066

Sleeper             62007 Colonial View

Baggage           1233

MHC               1407

Express            1712

RoadRailer       460069

19 cars, 76 axles


Train 49, 7-12-1998









Erie, PA















Bryan               ET



Waterloo          EST/CT






South Bend









Lake Shore Limited Route Description

We’re in the front sleeper, and are asleep as soon as is practicable after boarding. In the morning, I awake at Erie, but go back to sleep. Getting up in Cleveland, we sit at the same breakfast table as Barbara Sibert and Jeff Wells (another PRS member, from Riverside). Jeff works at the Amtrak reservations center, and thus has an advantage over the rest of us when it comes to Amtrak travel. Last might, he rode an Empire Service train east to Albany, and boarded the late westbound LakeShore Limited there, thus getting several more hours in bed than the rest of us. He relates that the train is late because the Spuyten Duyvil bridge, in New York City, had stuck in the open position and the train had to wait for it to be fixed.

From 10:44 to 10:59 am, we have a 30 mph slow order at Millbury.  During that time period, from 10:45 to 10:53, we wait for a CSX freight to clear. At Toledo, I have time to walk the train and record the consist. Also at Toledo, I see private cars Duchess Lynn, Cleveland, and Eaton. From 11:26 to 11:42, while still at Toledo, we wait for an eastbound freight to clear the end of the station trackage so that we can pull out onto the main. Even though this train isn’t going to be in Chicago until after 3 pm, the train crew sees no need to provide lunch for the First-class passengers.

From 2:05-2:13 pm, we stop at CP 497. From 2:56 to 2:59, we wait for the 21st Street signal to clear. From 3:05 to 3:08, we stop at 14th Street for the express cars to be removed. With less than 90 minutes to boarding time for the Southwest Chief, there isn’t time to go anywhere. The Metropolitan Lounge is crowded, and we’re forced to put our luggage in a storage closet down the corridor from the Lounge. Chris and I find something to eat on the Mezzanine level of the station. Then it’s time to board the train for Los Angeles.  There’s time to record the consist that is present in the platform before departure.


P42                  3

P42                  60

P42                  64

Baggage           1726

Transition         39031

Coach              34113

Coach              34057

Coach              35011

Coach-Smoker 31530

Lounge 33016

Diner                38058

Sleeper             32075 Connecticut

Sleeper             32027

MHC               1537

MHC               1463

MHC               1523

MHC               1445

MHC               1561

MHC               1441

MHC               1424

Business Car    800857 Canadian River

(from Kansas City to Newton)

20 cars, 80 axles (except from KC to Newton)

Train 3, 7-13-1998


















Fort Madison


8:56/ 9:03

La Plata






Kansas City

12:28am1:03 am


Dodge City



Garden City      CT



Lamar  MT



La Junta


9:54/ 10:05







Las Vegas, NM









Gallup              MT



Winslow           MST/PT






San Bernardino






Los Angeles



Southwest Chief Route Description

The train stops from 4:49 to 5:07 pm at 14th Street, to attach the MHCs to the rear. This is evening rush hour, so we pass four different “dinkies” between Chicago and Belmont. The “5:04” passes us at Naperville, without stopping there. At 5:54 pm, we pass it again as it stops at Aurora, the end of the line for Metra trains. From 5:58 to 6:10, we slow between Montgomery and MP 42.9 dues to restricting signals. We eat dinner west of Galesburg, into Iowa and Missouri, and are in bed soon after the La Plata stop.

Tuesday, July 14th, 1998

Our sleeping car attendant turns out to be a railfan, who regales us with stories and information as we travel. Without him, I would not have known the identity of the Business Car on the back through eastern Kansas.

From 10:25 to 10:27, west of La Junta, there is a 25 mph speed restriction. At 10:45 am, the mountains are in view. From 1:13 to 1:17, there is a slow order near Wagon Mound. From 3:20 to 3:39 pm. we take the siding at Glorieta for train 4, with P42s 7, 14 and 32. He swaps to us a ‘carry-by” passenger to take back to Lamy. At 3:53, we pass the La Junta to Barstow freight with BN 6160 at Canyoncito. From 4:16 to 4:20 pm, there is a 10 mph slow order

At Albuquerque, I walk to the back of the train to record the MHCs added to the rear. From 7:52 to 7:56 pm, we stop at MP 150 for the crew to inspect the rear bearing on P42 8. The problem turns out to be a false reading in the locomotive’s computer. At 7:23 pm, the radio talks about overturned MoW equipment at Lupton. However, this has been fixed before we get there. We eat dinner after Gallup, and are asleep before Flagstaff.

Wednesday, July 15th, 1998

From 7:55 to 8:00 am, we stop to let a freight cross in front of us, east of Fullerton. Although we were almost an hour late at San Bernardino, we’re into Los Angeles essentially on time. Unfortunately, our son Henry has called the Amtrak number to learn the former, but doesn’t know about the schedule padding that led to the latter. So, he arrives to pick us up about 45 minutes after our arrival. It then transpires that he hasn’t fueled the car, so we have to go looking for a gas station near LAUS. By the time we find one, it’s 10:15 am. We’re home by 11 am, but I don’t get into work until after lunch.