A Circle Trip to New Philadelphia, Ohio
July 12th-August 1st, 2006

Don Winter


The proximate cause of this trip was the 2006 NRHS Convention in New Philadelphia, Ohio. Since the Convention was making available a bus from Pittsburgh on the Monday, and returning to Pittsburgh on the following Sunday, we decided to base our travel around arriving and departing Pittsburgh on those days, and to take Via's Canadien on the way back, stopping off for a full day in Seattle to spend some time with a friend. As usual, we traveled out and back on Amtrak, and in this case, Via.

The Journey East (7/12-7/17)

Wednesday, July 12th, 2006

Amtrak's Sunset Limited now departs from Los Angeles at 2:30 pm, so we set out from Tehachapi a little after 10 am, taking our usual route to Union Station via I-210 and the Pasadena Freeway, to avoid the traffic jams on I-5 in Burbank, Glendale, and LA. We park in the MTA garage, initially taking only the suitcase we want to check through to Philadelphia. (Amtrak's new policy would have permitted checking the bag to Pittsburgh, even though we're arriving there on a train that doesn't handle checked baggage, but we don't want to risk taking the time to acquire it after the train arrives and before the bus leaves.)

We're invited, by PA announcement, to board the train at about 1:50 pm, so we go out to platform 11 and board our sleeping car to New Orleans (there is also one on this train for Chicago via San Antonio), after which I walk the train to write down the consist.

P42                          9
P42                        51
Baggage             1264
Dorm                39031
Sleeper             32026
Diner                33037
Coach-Cafe     35004
Coach              34008
Coach              34050    ) off at San Antonio for train 22
Sleeper             32095    )

Train 2, 7-12-2006



Los Angeles

2:30 pm

2:40 pm




Ontario 3:24 3:48-51
Palm Springs 5:08 5:48-54
Yuma 7:24 10:21-25
Tucson 1:20 am 3:30-58 am
Benson                      PT 2:10 5:34
Lordsburg                 MT 5:20 8:42
Deming 6:15 9:59
El Paso                     MT 8:16
12:10 pm
Alpine                       CT 2:20 pm 6:49-7:00
Sanderson 4:11 8:36 (pass)
Houston 6:15 am 10:01-12 am
Beaumont 8:10 12:29-40 pm
Lake Charles 9:24 2:20-24
Lafayette 11:30 5:25-30
New Iberia 12:06 pm 5:52-55
Schriever 1:26 7:27-29
New Orleans 4:00 9:17

Sunset Limited Route Description

The train is ten minutes late out of LAUS. As usual, I set about recording details to add to my route description, since even though we've covered this line as far as Cabazon from the adjacent road and street, there are always some details that can only be seen from the line itself. The train runs down the Alhambra subdivision from Los Angeles to El Monte, not the line down the middle of I-10 that it had used the last time we took this train. We're stopped twice for opposing freights before reaching Pomona. The huge Receiving Yard at West Colton is almost completely devoid of trains or cars, with just a few cars, in two trains, awaiting classification adjacent to the hump. We lose more time because we have to crawl through the wye-bypass track at the east end of West Colton because trackwork is being done on both mains at that point, due to a previous derailment. We stop once more for an opposing freight before Palm Springs, and again for unknown reasons along the Salton Sea.

We take late dinner reservations, so that as far as is possible, dinner doesn't conflict with note-taking. In the event, we're called to dinner as the train stops in the siding at Niland—and sits there for an hour and 20 minutes waiting for five westbound Union Pacific freights to pass, including one that takes the El Centro line. Darkness has completely fallen by the time the train starts away again. The train also stops for several minutes just after leaving Yuma.

Thursday, July 13th, 2006

In the middle of the night, the train makes three separate stops at a grade crossing somewhere in Arizona, probably for a crew change. I observe the most amazing station procedures in Tucson, where the station agent checks the tickets and photo IDs of all boarding passengers at the gate, after calling the train, rather than during the waiting period beforehand, thus making the boarding process a 20-minute ordeal for passengers and car attendants alike, rather than quick and easy to get the passengers on board and (for first class passengers) into their sleeping quarters.

I arise as the train departs Benson, Arizona, and we're eating breakfast in Lordsburg. There's a long period of slow running due to track construction (of a second main track and associated resignaling) east of Lordsburg. There's a 20-minute delay after leaving the station at Deming, and two more short stops before reaching El Paso. At Anapra, the closest approach to the Mexican border, there are many examples of patched holes in the high border fence, but one remains open and a little girl is sitting on the fence railing, in the hole, with her legs swinging on the US side of the fence but her body and head in Mexico.

Leaving El Paso, we stop for short periods three times before leaving the built-up area, before the freight ahead gets out of our way in the Texaco sidings, and then for a longer time at McNary, while we're eating lunch, for an opposing freight. We wait for another 32 minutes at Hot Wells, because UP 5030 east, ahead, has air brake problems, and there are two opposing trains. We meet Amtrak train 1 at 4:53 pm (meaning it is also several hours late), and finally overtake UP 5030 at Wendell, after another ten minute stop.

Dinner is east of Sanderson, Texas, where darkness falls. The train stops for another  wait of over an hour for an opposing train, but picks up a little time over night (to only four hours late at Houston) due to the timetabled long wait at San Antonio.

Friday, July 14th, 2006

I awake as the train leaves Flatonia, TX, and must be only just over three hours late at this point. There are three stops for interfering traffic, of about 14 minutes apiece, along the way into Houston. The train passes through Houston, where there are two private cars, Warren R Henry and Evelyn Henry in a spur opposite the station, just after noon. The departure from Houston onto the ex-MP trackage requires a reversal, around a connector at a flat crossing, that take about ten minutes, but presumably that is accounted for in the timetable. The crew change at Beaumont, where the depot has been demolished since we last passed this way, requires the train to make two stops.

We eat lunch east of Beaumont, mindful of the announcement that there won't be any dinner service in spite of the train's lateness. (The two servers get off in Houston to catch train 1 this evening; with the steward alone serving "late lunch", which continues until 5:30 pm, when the cafe car also closes.) We have another 20 minute stop while still on UP-owned track. The train gets still later on the BNSF-owned trackage in Louisiana, ten minutes waiting for one westbound freight at Iona Junction, and 75 minutes at Crowley, where a westbound freight and Amtrak 1 pass us, and we then overtake a freight that had already been in the siding, requiring us to back out. We stop for another ten minutes at Lafayette Yard, but have only a couple of 'stop-and-proceed incidents after that.

Several places on the way into New Orleans, we pass communities of shanty houses and manufactured housing, all in disrepair, with magnificent large churches at their centers—all the available money must go to the church! Darkness falls as we enter the New Orleans suburbs, but the residual crew still  makes no attempt to serve dinner, or even to serve anything in the cafe for the last almost four hours. We arrive at New Orleans Union Station over five hours late, making a reverse move before we enter to turn the train around.

Both on-board services crew and local station personnel recommend taking a taxi for the three-block trip to the hotel, due to the social conditions prevailing in the city in the wake of hurricane Katrina. the taxi drivers have accommodated to these short trips by charging a $10 flat fare without the meter on. At the hotel, we eat a quick dinner before heading for bed, noting our required early arising in the morning.

Saturday, July 15th, 2006

We're up as dawn breaks, take a taxi back to the station, and board the train only a few minutes after arriving there. In spite of what I've read in e-mails, I have no trouble walking the train on the platform to get the consist, including walking out to the locomotives.

P42                         80    )    off at Washington, DC
P42                         51    )
AEM-7                 936           on at Washington, DC
Baggage               1911
Sleeper               62019    Metropolitan View
Sleeper               62032    River View
Diner                    8552
Lounge               28001
Coach                25065
Coach                25085
Coach                25121
Coach                25004

Train 20, 7-15-2006



New Orleans

7:20 am

7:19 am




Picayune 8:38 8:44-47
Hattiesburg 9:43 10:13-20
Laurel 10:17 10:52
Meridian 11:17 11:49-55
Tuscaloosa 12:51 pm 1:35-39 pm
Birmingham 2:23
Anniston                   CT 4:04 4:57-59
Atlanta                      ET 7:40
Gainesville, GA 9:03 9:55-58
Lynchburg 5:54 am 6:19 am
Charlottesville 7:07 8:24-29
Culpeper 7:59 9:20-22
Manassas 8:33 10:04-07
Alexandria 9:25 10:41-44
Washington, DC 9:50
Baltimore 11:03 12:16-19
Wilmington 12:02 pm 1:09-11 pm
Philadelphia 12:25 1:35

Crescent route description

As we head out through the city of New Orleans, we're appalled by the state of the structures (mostly housing) in the areas along the London Canal and the south shore of Lake Pontchartrain, more than ten months after the hurricane. There's a 5-minute delay at "X" Tower awaiting an opposing NS freight. Crossing Lake Pontchartrain, we observe that it is very high, today. The causeway is only a foot or so above the water. We eat breakfast as we pass through Slidell, Louisiana, and the train loses another five minutes at Richburg siding due to the need to throw a switch manually. We eat lunch passing through Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Passing through Birmingham, it is evident that almost the entire infrastructure of the former steel industry here has gone, mostly being replaced by derelict land! The train loses about half an hour just west of Anniston, due to signal problems.

Our dinner reservation comes up just as the train reaches Atlanta, and the steward seems nonplussed when we walk into the diner at that point (apparently she had expected to serve all passengers already on the train before reaching Atlanta), telling us brusquely to come back when the train restarts from Atlanta. So, we eat dinner on departing Atlanta, after dark, with a couple from Toledo, Ohio, who are returning there by the connection to the Capitol Limited at Washington, DC.

Sunday, July 16th, 2006

I awake in Lynchburg, Virginia, where the train is only 25 minutes late. Just after leaving there, it waits for almost 50 minutes for an opposing freight, and later loses more time crawling past Manassas Junction. It takes  almost 50 minutes to change engines and service the train in Washington Union Station, after which we lose more time because the AEM-7 turns out to have no working dynamic brakes and must thus adjust its braking patterns (and thus take longer to slow for stations) accordingly.

The train is into Philadelphia after 1:30 pm, giving us only time to ride SEPTA out on the West Chester line to its current terminus of Elwyn (train 8317 out and 8320 back, with the same  EMU equipment, cars 382 & 383), before taking a New Jersey Transit train (4619, three loco-hauled Comet II cars pushed by an EMD locomotive) out across the Delaware River and the southern reaches of New Jersey to Atlantic City.

SEPTA West Chester line

NJT Atlantic City line

In Atlantic City, we (mistakenly) wait forty minute for a shuttle bus that take us to a spot several blocks from our hotel. After checking in, we have time before darkness to take a walk on the famed boardwalk along the beachfront, eating dinner at the hotel after all of the guests who are here for the Madonna concert tonight have left the place. We're not at all impressed by the present state of Atlantic City, but we came only to ride the rail line, not spend time at the "resort".

Monday, July 17th, 2006

After checking out this morning, we take a taxi back to the railway station, where we eat breakfast items from a snack counter while waiting for our train to board, observing a trainload of arriving commuters heading to jobs in Atlantic City, while we wait. The train is again three loco-hauled Comet II cars with an EMD loco pulling it. We observe some workers up on top of the cab car of what is advertised as our train, and are not surprised to see the platform/train allocation for our departing train change shortly thereafter. Some older folks in the car we ride in ask the conductor for assistance in leaving the train at Lindenwold, and are told he'll tell them when we get there. He does, but they don't get up before the train stops, even though they have several suitcases to take off the train, In fact, one of them is almost taken on to the next stop, getting the last bag, and has to press the door-open button as the train is about to move. We can't figure out why they didn't prepare for alighting before the train got tto their destination.

In Philadelphia, we have time to eat lunch before the Pennsylvanian arrives, and are then confounded by the behavior of the redcaps in getting luggage down to departing trains—there clearly should be at least one more redcap, and better communication with those waiting is required, as people were starting to panic when the redcap had not started to take them down to their train after the last boarding call had been issued. (This happened on three trains in a row, as we waited.)

In the Business Class section of the train, we find Ken Brooks and Karol Lopatkiewicz already there, having boarded here (connecting from DC) as we waited for the redcap. Another Business Class passenger, whose name we don't know and don't find out, is also going to NRHS. In the circumstances, we have to collect the consist while the train is under way, although it transpires that there would have been plenty of time at Pittsburgh!.

P42                    63
Coach            21081
Coach            25082
Coach            25089
Coach            85309
Cafe/Business 48190

Train 43, 7-18-2006




11:45 am

11:58 am


12:15 pm

12:25 pm

Lancaster 12:55 1:01-06
Harrisburg 1:28
Lewistown 2:48 3:02-05
Huntingdon 3:22 3:40
Tyrone 3:48 4:05
Altoona 4:00 4:20-24
Johnstown 5:00 5:16
Latrobe 5:41 6:03
Greensburg 5:52 6:12-15
Pittsburgh 7:05 6:53

Route description for the Pennsylvanian

At Paradise, the Strasburg Railroad's steam excursion train is getting ready to return to Strasburg as we pass, and whistles us a greeting. There is copious evidence near Lancaster that the track rebuilding along here is still going on. There is also work going on on the platforms at Lancaster. We stop for 11 minutes at MP 133.5 for two eastbound NS freights to pass (one is train 22W), and then run on the other track to MP 144.4, without seeing any sign whatever of the reason for operating only a single track this afternoon.

Checking the route details along the way, there are places where I fail to see crossings of the Juniata River that must be there (the river trades sides of the line), and other places where I find the SPV Atlas seems to have shown a pair of river crossings that aren't really there. Leaving Johnstown, we take "track 3" west of SG Tower, the Conemaugh line on the north side of the river that is supposedly set for only 40 mph maximum speed (we do seem to drag along here), returning to the main over a section that seems to have been heavily upgraded recently. Perhaps this has something to do with NS' new Shelocta Secondary that heads north from the Conemaugh line for coal traffic to a power plant at Shelocta?

Bob Brewster is also on this train, as Chris discovers when walking the train to get the consist, and he comes back to chat as we approach Pittsburgh. We chat some more at the station, while waiting for the bus to depart, and again on the bus.

In spite of our early arrival, the bus (already holding passengers arriving on airplanes) waits until the advertised 8 pm, ostensibly for some people who missed the train in Harrisburg due to a later Ambus connection. It later transpires that Dianne and Braley Pastorino should have been on this bus, but their airplane was delayed somewhere and they don't get to Pittsburgh until 11 pm, taxiing to New Philadelphia after that.) The bus takes us west on US 22, through Weirton and Steubenville, and then northwest on Ohio 800 and US 250 into New Philadelphia, getting us there a little after 10 pm. This time, we have no conflict with the Donald Winters (from New Jersey) reservation at the hotel (we're staying in the Holiday Inn) and also get our reservation and banquet table in the NRHS reservation room before going to bed.

At the Convention (7/18-7/22)

Tuesday, July 18th, 2006

Today's excursion is on the Ohio Central's 'Columbus & Ohio River Railroad' east from Dennison to the western end of the Gould Tunnel, the practical eastern limit of OC operations without impinging on their Norfolk Southern trackage rights. We ride in the parlor car second from the eastern end of the train. During the early part of the trip, Barry Smith comes around with the envelopes containing the test version of the survey of At-Large Members, handing them out to the target audience, and inviting them not only to complete the survey but to come to a meeting at 7 pm this evening in a meeting room on the Schoenbrunn Inn, a block or so away from the Holiday Inn in New Philadelphia.

Alco C 420    7220    (on the other end from Dennison to Gould Tunnel)
EMD F40PH    271    (added during the run-around process at Gould Tunnel)
Baggage          2012    Morgan Run
Coach       CTVX 62
Coach     ORCH 107
Coach     ORCH 102    H H Wade
Concession          105
Coach     ORCH 106
Coach     ORCH 101
Coach     ORCH 104    City of Orrville
Coach     ORCH 103    Robert J Bixler
Diner                 8223
Parlor                            C&B Marshall
Tech Inspection  1501  Buckeye Limited

The Ohio Central System began in 1984, when Jerry Joe Jacobsen took over the first of the ten railroads, in two states, that now comprise the system—a segment of Norfolk Southern from Harmon to Zanesville, OH, that was originally part of the (original) Wheeling and Lake Erie Railroad, called the Ohio Central Railroad. The Columbus & Ohio River Railroad, comprising the former PRR Panhandle line between Columbus and Mingo Junction, OH, began operations in 1988. The Ohio Central System currently has 455 route miles, which carried 70,502 car loads in 2003. The excursions today and on Thursday are both on the Columbus & Ohio River Railroad, while Saturday's excursion will include a segment of the original Ohio Central Railroad through Sugar Creek.

Sugar Creek was the base of the Ohio Central steam excursions from 1988 to 2003. In 2006, the Ohio Central System owns eleven steam locomotives, at least two of which are operable.  The Ohio Central System also owns and operates a veritable museum of first generation diesel locomotives from EMD, Alco, and Fairbanks-Morse, as well as second generation units from EMD and GE that operate most of today's heavy freights. 

Dennison-Gould Tunnel route description

During this excursion, which starts at 8:30 am, we do a photo runby, taking 45 minutes, at the west end of the Gould Tunnel (where the reversal without a run-around track requires a second locomotive pre-positioned on a spur, and movement with only that locomotive, before re-attaching the first one ahead of it on the other end of the train, a process that takes twenty minutes), and another one, taking 46 minutes, on the newly-completed Apex Connector (which takes us twenty minutes to enter, having to let a construction debris train go by first)) before running three miles towards Apex, reversing at Carmen, returning to the beginning of the connector, and heading west for Dennison, reached at 4:45 pm. Returning to the hotel, we have dinner at Denny's across the street before heading for the 7 pm At-Large Members' meeting at the Schoenbrunn Inn.

A fair number of At-Large Members are present, and more appear during the meeting, but only the Pastorinos and ourselves are present among the National Directors for At-Large Members, and no officers show up until 7:40 pm, when Greg Molloy, Barry Smith, and Doug White appear. In the meantime, those Directors who are present tease out various views from the At-Large members who have come, and have difficulty manning the floodgates on the outpourings from others. One commonly expressed view is that At-Large Members feel like outsiders within the society, while another is that NRHS should be hosting current, frequently-updated, listings of the calendar of events from all the Chapters across the country, so that traveling members can attend local events.

Some members are interested in on-line forums, etc., while others just want to get their 2006 membership cards! When the officers arrive, there is some fruitful dialog with them, including agreement on the first steps to take to start potential projects as well as what needs to be done to get a revised version of the survey circulated with the 2007 Dues Bills for At-Large Members. To this latter end, a meeting is set up for Friday morning to discuss these matters with Bob Ernst, who is responsible for producing these bills. A number of completed survey are collected from attendees, and it is announced by the Officers that similar meetings will be an properly-programmed feature of future conventions.

Wednesday, July 19th, 2006

There are multiple consecutive events scheduled for today, and we are taking three of them. The first is the extended Cuyahoga Valley Scenic railroad trip, for which we have the Premium Class in the rear car on the train. Loading logistics require that passengers for this class be on the first bus out in the morning, at 6:45 am. As we head north on I-77, through Canton and Akron, we learn that we won't be covering the northernmost five miles of the line, because it was washed out in the northeast Ohio flooding a week earlier. Instead, we're going to Brecksville, where there is a nice depot located almost immediately underneath a large concrete road bridge spanning the valley at that point.

The bus gets here earlier than expected, but the train shows up at the planned time and pulls forward until the round-end observation car on the rear is on the short platform. Those of us with tickets for this car board, and the train then pushes back to put the desired boarding spot for the coaches on the platform. The remainder of the buses have now arrived, and their passengers are ready for boarding. Back in the observation car, there are enough seats for all the ticketed passengers, but after a while it seems that no-one wants to sit with one particular member, so seats in the rear-viewing area remain empty while there is competition for others. This is the reverse of what the car hosts had expected!

There are three bedrooms on this car, also, two of them used for bathrooms and one by the crew. Marty Swan, who has joined the convention here, has taken a ticket for one of the bedrooms, knowing it will be used as a bathroom, and when the train gets underway I go there to introduce myself, as I had promised in an e-mail. This is Marty's first convention since his knee surgery.

FPA4              6777
FPA4              6771
Generator         688
Coach              727    Invacare
Coach              165    Key Bank
Coach              167    Simon Perkins
Coach              168    Clarence Reinberger
Cafe               8700
Coach              163    Anne Farnham
Coach              169    Spirit of Summit
Observation          1    Saint Lucie Sound

These cars were built by Budd between 1947 and 1950, mostly for the Pennsylvania Railroad (later used by MARC), with the Cafe Car built for Southern Pacific and the Observation for Florida East Coast. The locomotives were built by MLW for Canadian National. The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad operates over a line built as the Valley Railroad in 1880, becoming the Baltimore & Ohio's Cleveland Branch in 1890. Excursion train began over this line in the early 1970s, in what has now become Cuyahoga Valley National Park, with the railroad assuming its present name in the 1990s.

Cuyahoga Valley Scenic route description

The train leaves Breckswell at 9:13 am. Along the way south on the truly scenic valley line, we have a runby at a grade crossing with a convenient road for the photo-line, near MP 51, taking 43 minutes, and then another near MP 63, where there is a convenient boardwalk for the photo-line, taking 30 minutes. Lunch is at the normal southern-end of the train's operations, at Akron Northside, where the coach passengers have to alight and get into line outside, while those of us in the observation car are served in our seats (a 51 minute stop). I take the opportunity to walk the outside of the train to get the full consist. On the way, Chris has taken the opportunity to walk the train, talking to At-Large Members, handing out surveys and collecting completed surveys. She finds more people who have not yet received their 2006 membership cards.

South of the Akron Northside station, the train uses a part of the former B&O line (the whole run is former B&O) that has been out of service for many years, and has recently been rebuilt for excursion use. We have another runby at a park on the north side of Canton, taking 23 minutes, before reaching the end of the line, where the buses wait, at 2;30 pm. There are three different destinations for buses at this spot, and confusion reigns as the buses are pointing away from the alighting spot (there is only one), and their destinations signs are in small type in the front windshields only. Joe Williams helps resolve this issue, at least for us.

We're heading for the Minerva Steam Museum in Minerva, Ohio, some 13 miles east of Canton. The bus starts out following the bus in front, which is apparently headed west, but the driver realizes the mistake, and heads east, arriving at the museum well behind the other two buses going there. This museum has a couple of home-built ex-Wheeling & Lake Erie steam locomotives awaiting potential restoration, and used to have ex-C&O 2-8-4 2700, also needing restoration, which now sits on the north side of the Ohio Central line west of Dennison station. The museum traded that engine to the OC for three diesel locomotives and five passenger cars, used by the museum for passenger excursions such as the one we'll take today.

Inside the museum's main building are some artifacts for sale, and a large collection of junk awaiting appraisal as to its use in a museum. Chris point out that a stack of china is not collectible at all, but is in fact a cheap line of china from the early 1960s. Our excursion train has two old clerestory passenger cars, with no air conditioning on this hot day, and three cabooses, with a former OC diesel for power. We travel three miles east, to the branch line's Norfolk Southern connection at Bayard Junction, while hearing about the railway history of Minerva along the way. The town used to have five railway stations, of which only one remains (visible on the south side of the line). Minerva is where William McKinley's wife had a farm, and was thus the site of the "Porch Speeches" of his Presidential campaign. I also get to chat with the newly-retired Alex Mayes and Teresa Renner, who are sitting directly behind us. There are a couple of runbys at a convenient spot along the way, and return to Minerva, where we board the buses for the return to New Philadelphia, about one hour later than expected.

This gets us back to New Philadelphia some 20 minutes after the last bus should have departed for the next activity, but since that activity required these buses, things have been delayed somewhat. We hustle forward and get on the front bus, which promptly departs for the Amish restaurant in the Sugarcreek area. Many conventioneers are already here, already seated, and in some cases, already eating. Soon, we're doing likewise. We happen to be seated across from a couple of At-Large Members, so we engage them in conversation, finding out the usual set of facts. (Not surprisingly, at the convention, the At-Large Members seem to have joined NRHS to go to conventions! This is a self-selected sample on this question, so proves nothing.)

At the end of the dinner, our return bus has to stop at a Comfort Inn to drop off Charlie Bach and his lady—they booked too late to get into any of the hotels actually in New Philadelphia and are taxiing back and forth each day. Back at our hotel, it's time to go to bed.

Thursday, July 20th, 2006

Today's excursion is again on the Ohio Central's Columbus & Ohio River Railroad—this time west from Dennison to Newark, Ohio. Today, however, we start out by taking the side trip to the Ohio Central's workshops at Morgan Run, on the route of the excursion, which leaves after all the rest of the buses have left. This is because the bus ride to the shops, south on I-77 and then west on US 36, takes much less time than does the train trip from Dennison to Morgan Run. At the shops, we learn that OC's 4-8-4 has a hot bearing and cannot be used for our train, so we'll get a former Canadian 4-6-2 instead. There are several other steam locomotives on the grounds, in various stages of deterioration, as well as one in the shop building. There are also a number of diesel locomotives in what looks like a 'one of each first-generation model' collection.

We watch a diesel come in from the Sugar Creek direction, a train of covered hoppers heading that way, and the steam locomotive and its tool car heading west on the line, before our train arrives from Dennison. We have seats in the Theater Car ('Technical Inspection') at the rear of the train, today. (We could have done that on Tuesday, as well, but chose not to since that excursion would have the locomotive in the way for half the trip.) This permits viewing of the line we have just passed, in a much more convenient fashion than the rear of a round-end observation car. While we're finding and taking seats among those who have already boarded, the diesels that have brought this train from Dennison are cut-off, and the steam locomotive attached.

4-6-2             1293    (from Morgan Run to Newark and return)
Alco C 420    7220    (from Dennison to Morgan Run and return)
EMD F40PH    271    (from Dennison to Morgan Run and return)
Baggage          2012    Morgan Run
Coach       CTVX 62
Coach     ORCH 107
Coach     ORCH 102    H H Wade
Concession          105
Coach     ORCH 106
Coach     ORCH 101
Coach     ORCH 104    City of Orrville
Coach     ORCH 103    Robert J Bixler
Diner                 8223
Parlor                            C&B Marshall
Tech Inspection  1501  Buckeye Limited

Dennison-Newark route description

The train departs Morgan Run at 10:14, having taken 24 minutes to change locomotives. There is a photo-runby, taking 29 minutes, with the passengers in a grassy space that used to be a freight yard in the vee of the former PRR and former W&LE lines at Trinway, after which the train continues to Newark. here, it turns around using various CSX tracks (formerly B&O) that collectively have the effect of going around a wye (which takes 55 minutes), and then stops for the steam locomotive to be serviced (which takes 25 minutes, with another 12 minutes to get back out on the main line). The return journey should have featured another runby at Trinway, in the opposite direction, but instead features the passengers getting off, and then back on again when lightning is seen, followed by a thunderstorm. Nontheless, we have to wait 45 minutes at Trinway for a coal train to clear the line ahead of us, as it heads down the former W&LE line. It takes eleven minutes to change locos again at Morgan Run.

Back at Dennison, at 5:35 pm, we bus back to the hotel, read for awhile, eat at Denny's and go to bed anticipating our first night with no early-morning alarm for awhile.

Friday, July 21st, 2006

There are no excursions today, and we've chosen not to got o any of the seminars, but we do have a 10 am meeting of the National Directors for At-Large Members with Bob Ernst and Barry Smith. At this, we discuss with Bob what needs to be done to include the survey with the At-Large Members dues bills in October, and then have an editing session on the draft survey as tested on three days of excursions. In the afternoon is the Board Meeting at 1 pm, which runs long as usual even though there are no lengthy controversies. Chris chooses to sit in the front row, adjacent to Bob Heavenrich (I'm in between the two), and Ann Miller, newly a National Director for a Chapter in New Jersey, sits down next to Chris. Greg Molloy gives a briefing on the problems ailing National NRHS, using an illustration showing that while NRHS would like to do things that are Cheap, Good, and Fast, management experience shows that only two of these are possible, and often only one is attainable. Greg compares NRHS National dues with those of comparable organizations, but for many NRHS members the appropriate measure is National + Chapter dues, which are often quite a bit higher than national dues alone. The Board Meeting is followed by the Annual Membership Meeting, which passes peacefully. During the Board Meeting, we sign up for the activities in Huntsville in November, and register for the April board meeting in Greenville, SC.

The banquet is in a nearby meeting hall, with good food and congenial company (Bob Brewster, Pat Molloy, Chris Guenzler of Trainweb, Chris Parker of PRS, Jim Replogle, and someone whose name I didn't catch). John B Corns, the night's speaker, had to make a 90-minute round trip to acquire his own projector, when the facility didn't have a slide projector! His projection of slides taken when he was the CSX company photographer, and his commentary thereon, were entertaining, especially his pictures of cats supposedly emulating Chessie, but the banquet ended much later than we would have liked.

Saturday, July 22nd, 2006

The third Ohio Central excursion runs from Dennison west to Morgan Run, north-northeast to Brewster, southeast along the Wheeling & Lake Erie line back to the Ohio Central at Bowerston, and back west to Dennison. We're again in the Theater Car, looking out the rear of the train, except when we're heading west, when we're directly behind the diesels..

4-6-2              1293    (from Morgan Run to Sugar Creek)
GP-9     ORHS 471    (from Morgan Run to Bowerston and Dennison)
Alco RS 18     1800    (from Morgan Run to Bowerston)
Baggage          2012    Morgan Run
Coach       CTVX 62
Coach     ORCH 107
Coach     ORCH 102    H H Wade
Concession          105
Coach     ORCH 106
Coach     ORCH 101
Coach     ORCH 104    City of Orrville
Coach     ORCH 103    Robert J Bixler
Diner                 8223
Parlor                            C&B Marshall
Tech Inspection  1501  Buckeye Limited
EMD F40PH    271    (from Dennison to Morgan Run)
Alco C 420    7220    (from Dennison to Morgan Run and return)
Alco RS 18     1800    (from Bowerston to Dennison)

Morgan Run-Brewster route description

The "new" Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway was formed in the late 1980s or early 1990s to take over, from Norfolk Southern, some of the trackage of the original Wheeling and Lake Erie Railroad that had been absorbed by Norfolk & Western (as part of the Nickel Plate) in 1964.

Brewster-Bowerston route description

The train departs Dennison at 8:26 am. Another group of people goes to Morgan Run, and boards the train there while the steam locomotive is being attached and the diesels run around the train (with the steamer leading us northward), a process that takes seventeen minutes. There is a photo runby with the steamer at Leverad's crossing, along the way to Sugar Creek (where the steamer is removed), that takes 27 minutes. The train stops for an hour at the Pearl Valley cheese factory before reaching Sugar Creek Removing the steam locomotive at Sugar Creek takes ten minutes.

After lunch, Chris walks the train and Joe Williams sits down next to me for an extended chat. At Brewster (or Harmon), the train curves west onto the 'new' Wheeling & Lake Erie (ex-NS, ex-NNW, ex-W&LE), continuing along the south side of the latter's Brewster Yard, before reversing along the yard and around the wye at Harmon, a process that takes 50 minutes in total. After a quick run along the W&LE (with a 40 mph speed limit rather than the much lower speeds on the various OC lines), followed by a 40 minute stop just short of Bowerston, we have another runby, with diesels, on the Ohio Central at Bowerston (taking 35 minutes), with the passengers standing on the W&LE line, before returning to Dennison, reached at 4:58 pm. Here, I walk east to take some photos of ex-C&O 2700 before boarding the bus back to New Philadelphia.

On arrival, the convention program is over. We say many goodbyes, eat dinner in the Texas Road House restaurant at the hotel, and then pack for departure before going to bed.

The Journey West (7/23-8/1)

Sunday, July 23rd, 2006

Our bus to Pittsburgh, this morning, departs at the same time as the van to the Akron/Canton Airport, so we see the Pastorinos for one last chat about matters. The bus carries those going to Pittsburgh Airport, and those going to the railway station both for the Pennsylvanian this afternoon and the Capitol Limited tonight. We take the same route as coming out, except for the diversion to the airport, arriving at the station by noon. As before, we're allowed to use the rear gate to get our luggage in and out without taking it down to the front entrance and then up the elevator/escalator/stairs to the platform. With an hour to wait before train boarding time, there's plenty of time to collect the consist (which Chris Guenzler does, and allows me to copy his notes), and there are a surprising number of freight trains passing through the station.

By the time boarding is called, the intending passengers are gathering at an invisible line on the platform end, and the result is like the running of the bulls in Pamplona, when the announcement is finally made. Ken and Karol are with us in the Business Class section, as before.

P42                    129    (off at Philadelphia)
Coach             82091
Coach             25106
Coach             25102
Coach             25050
Cafe/Business 48157
AEM-7               936    (on at Philadelphia)

Train 44, 7-23-2006




1:20 pm

1:20 pm




Latrobe 2:11 2:16
Johnstown 2:54 2:54-57
Altoona 3:49 3:52-58
Tyrone 4:05 4:25
Huntingdon 4:32 6:43-45
Lewistown 5:09 8:33-35
Harrisburg 6:45
Elizabethtown 7:13 10:17
Lancaster 7:30 11:12-14
Downingtown 7:59 11:45
Exton 8:05 11:53
Paoli 8:15 12:00-03 am
Ardmore 8:28 12:16-19
Philadelphia 8:45
Trenton 9:53 1:25-27
Princeton Junction 10:00 1:34-37
Newark 10:28 2:07-09
New York Penn 10:50 pm 2:25 am

Progress is fine until after Tyrone, PA, when we stop at a red signal, and then inch forward under "Restricting Proceed", with the occasional "Approach" intervening, with, it is said, six NS freights ahead of us and a work area right on the crossovers at CP Jacks (in the Mount Union area of Pennsylvania). We are unable to pass any of the freights until east of CP Jacks, and we don't pass the last couple until just west of Lewistown, after we and two of the freights ahead of us have crossed over at McVey, to go around an eastbound freight whose crew's hours of service have expired. By this time, we're three and a half hours late, a condition that prevails all the way in to New York City. We pick up some time into Harrisburg, but lose it again waiting for 25 minutes west of Lancaster for a train to clear a line that is effectively single due to the overnight construction activity.

We arrive in New York City at 2:25 am, and hurry up to the concourse level of Penn Station and out the Seventh Avenue exit to the Hotel Pennsylvania right across the street. We may be booked into a hotel elsewhere in the city (not what I had thought we were doing, but . . .), but at this time of night, with an early morning departure, we're not going to waster any time finding that other hotel. We're in bed by 3 am.

Monday, July 24th, 2006

The alarm goes off at 6 am, only three hours later, and we get up and make out way back to Penn Station. Some potential thief offers to "help" us with out luggage, but we decline. We tag all the bags as "going to Canada", even though they'll be in the Business Class section with us, and then avail ourselves of the services of a redcap to get down to the platform and to the Business Class car at the head of the train, getting us our choice of the seats there. I'm pleasantly surprised to discover we will be sitting on the Hudson River side of the car!

P32 dual power    703    off at Rensselaer
P42                      109    on at Rensselaer
Business/Cafe   48188
Coach              25095
Coach              25093
Coach              25100
Coach              25116

Train 63, 7-24-2006



New York Penn Station

7:15 am

7:20 am




Croton-Harmon 7:58 8:08-13
Poughkeepsie 8:37 8:48-51
Rhinecliff-Kingston 8:50 9:10
Hudson 9:12 9:40-44
Albany-Rensselaer 9:45
Schenectady 10:23 11:16
Amsterdam 10:40 11:37
Utica 11:39 12:34-38 pm
Rome 11:53 12:53
Syracuse 12:40 pm 2:01-14
Rochester 1:58 3:53-57
Buffalo-Depew 2:56 5:02-06
Buffalo-Exchange St. 3:09 5:18-20
Niagara Falls, NY 4:10 6:11-15
Niagara Falls, ON 4:30
St. Catherines 6:07 8:10
Grimsby 6:25 8:30
Aldershot 7:00 9:03
Oakville 7:15 9:20
Toronto 7:44 9:43

Maple Leaf route description

This is a real business train as far as Albany, used by people on their way to meetings (or a work week) in the state capital there, who are probably not enjoying the river scenery the way I am. There are a couple of minor delays still in electric territory, and at Croton-Harmon, I notice that the FL-9s are still stored outside the shops. Just north of Poughkeepsie, the train stops with a hot axle indication on coach 25095, but no hot axle is found. There are 27 minutes of delay between CP 114 and CP 115 due to red signals not caused by trains ahead. The Control Box at CP 114 is stenciled "Abolish Poverty".

At the Rensellaer station that serves Albany, I take advantage of the switch from the dual-power Genesis locomotive that has brought us this far to the standard genesis that will take us on to Toronto, to step out on the platform and take some pictures of the process, and of the newish depot here, that was being built the last time we were here (in 2000). The run along the Mohawk River, as far as Utica, is also very scenic. There are two minor delays before Utica, and an unexpectedly long stop at Utica. Freight train interference difficulties (and incompetent dispatching) finally show up on the west side of DeWitt Yard, just east of Syracuse where Amtrak used to have its station, with a very slow crawl around the north side of town and a stop of several minutes before entering the new, permanent, station northwest of downtown.

The station in Syracuse is also new to us, having replaced the Amshack on the east side of town that we had to use in 1998. Unfortunately, we are losing more time to freight train interference on this section, with three more stops at adverse signals, and slowing due to track reconstruction on the east side of Rochester making us two hours late by Rochester (we were 50 minutes late out of Albany due to those signaling problems near Hudson, NY). A 45-minute crawl between Buffalo Exchange Street and the Tonawanda area seems to have been factored into the schedule, since we lose no more time over that segment of the line.

We're only an hour and 45 minutes late leaving Niagara Falls, Ontario, because the Canadian Customs and Immigration inspection really doesn't take all the time allotted it in the schedule. However, we're late enough that we have to yield to an on-time incoming train just west of the Niagara Falls area. In Canada, the train becomes a Via operation, albeit using Amtrak equipment, with a Via cafe car menu and attendant. We're late enough that we must eat on the train, not in Toronto, however. In Toronto, two hours late, we're glad our hotel is (again) just across the street.

Tuesday, July 25th, 2006

We've requested porter assistance over to the station for this morning, since the subterranean passageway has stairs, rather than elevators or ramps, but the hotel has noted the request as being assistance at 9 am, not to catch a 9 am train. Once that is sorted out, we have trouble meeting up with the porter in the station, and miss the cutoff for checking the large suitcase to Vancouver, BC. The Via redcap, however, handles this by grabbing a Vancouver baggage tag  and taking that suitcase to the baggage car himself.

The car we're assigned to is not on the train today (and won't be until Jasper, where we're no longer assigned to it), so the redcap rushes off and comes back with our new assignment in a different car (of identical plan), much further forward in the train. We'll still have to change cars in Edmonton, but only once not the expected twice (the second one in Jasper). Finally, we're all settled in bedroom B of car 110, where we'll spend the next two days and nights.

F40PH                6451    (off at Winnipeg)
F40PH                6441    (off at Jasper)
F40PH                6444    (on at Jasper)
F40PH                6405
F40PH                6437
Baggage               8606
Coach                  8118
Coach                  8169
Coach                   8122
Dome/Coffee Shop 8510    Skyline
Sleeper (110)        8316    Brock Manor
Sleeper (111)        8312    Butler Manor
Sleeper (112)        8335    Mackenzie Manor
Dome/Activity        8512    Skyline
Diner                     8410    Frontenac
Sleeper (113)        8302    Allan Manor
Sleeper (114)        8325    Elgin Manor
Sleeper (115)        8333    Lorne Manor
Sleeper (116)        8226    Chateau Salabery
Sleeper (117)        8220    Chateau Papineau
Sleeper (118)        8204    Chateau Caholtai    (on at Jasper)
Dome/Activity        8517    Skyline
Diner                      8408    Empress
Sleeper (119)        8327    Fraser Manor
Sleeper (120)        8326    Franklin Manor
Sleeper (121)        8340    Stuart Manor
Obs./Dome/Sleep  8717    Waterton Park

Manor sleepers have 3 sections (and two toilets and a shower were 3 sections used to be), 6 bedrooms, and 4 Slumber rooms (a Pullman chair that converts to a bed, with a toilet).

Chateau sleepers have 3 sections (and two toilets and a shower were 3 sections used to be), 4 bedrooms (one of which is much larger than the others), and 8 Slumber rooms.

The Park car has three suites, of different kinds and sizes, as well as the rear-end observation and dome space.

Via Train 1, 7-25-2006









Parry Sound 1258 1342-48
Sudbury Junction 1558 1613-24
Capreol 1635
Felix 1816 1909-11
Foleyet 2040 2142-44
Armstrong                ET 0650 0740-49
Collins                      CT 0625 0719-23
Allenwater Bridge 0710 0806-09
Savant Lake 0730 0838
Sioux Lookout 0905
Red Lake Road 1054 1213-20
Redditt 1213 1327-30
Minaki 1237 1352
Ottermere, ON 1259 1412-14
Winnipeg, MB 1545
Portage la Prairie 1805 1901
Brandon North 1915 2029
Rivers, MB              CT 1940 2045-47
Edmonton, AB         MT 0800
Edson 1124 1159
Hinton 1234 1258-1302
Jasper, AB              MT 1405
Blue River, BC        PT 1802 1926-32
Vancouver, BC 0750 0744

Via Canadien route description

While I suspect that every bedroom in these sleeping cars is taken, the other kinds of rooms are by no means full, and the dinner sittings, other than second, are also not completely full. Since this is the height of the season, there has to be some economic inefficiency in this mix of rooms, carrying around empty space while those desiring bedroom space are unable to travel because that kind of space is all taken.

The route out of Toronto is not exactly what I had expected (there are two possibilities, and I had guessed wrong), and I hadn't realized that the Parry Sound to Sudbury segments was on CP, not CN. However, my route notes are now correct. There is a reverse move required on the way out of Toronto that consumes a few minutes, but is presumably accounted for in the schedule. We wait 17 minutes for a southbound freight (CN 102) at Pine Orchard, and a total of twelve minutes for CN 106 at Zephyr. There are a couple of one minute stops and a period of slow running on the CP Parry Sound subdivision due to track maintenance

We eat lunch near Washago, and dinner after departure from Capreol. The first class section of this train has two dome/"activity" cars, plus the dome/observation at the rear, and two diners. For this part of the trip, we're assigned to the forward diner, "Diner A", and have first sitting for lunch and dinner on Tuesday and second sitting on Wednesday. The swap is determined by the crew, so that all passengers have first sittings one day and second the next, due to the imbalance in requests. (Unlike on Amtrak, where everyone seems to want early dinner, the preference on this train is for second sitting!) During the day, Chris buys herself a "Silver and Blue" insulated mug in the activity car, to complement the "Daylight 4449" insulated mug that I already use.

On leaving Capreol, there is a 16-minute stop at the end of two track waiting for CN train 114 to clear, and an eight-minute stop for another eastbound freight later in the evening. The sleeping-car attendant makes up the bed at about 9 pm, and we go right to bed as darkness is falling rapidly. (Eastern time extends a long way west in Canada, as does Central time.)

Wednesday, July 26th, 2006

We awake still in Ontario, and still in the "Canadian Shield" area of trees, lumbering, and shallow lakes that we had been in the previous afternoon and evening (albeit, several hundred miles further west). These trains stop at many places across this segment of country, some of them scheduled as flagstops (of which we take only about half), but other at unscheduled places and times, such as one at 7:30 am today to drop off two fishermen and a canoe.

During the morning, the train makes a 20 minute stop at Sioux Lookout, before leaving that geological/biological province. Sioux Lookout is named for an incident in a war between the Sioux, from further south, and the local Ojibway, in which a fortuitous sighting of the Sioux from this area led to an Ojibway victory, sometime in the late 18th-century. Today's town is about 100 years old, dating from the construction era of the railway in this area. Today's opposing freights are doing a good job of avoiding delaying us, with one pulling into Sioux Lookout from the west just before we leave, and others being already at the passing sidings when we get there.

In Manitoba, and out on the great prairie, the train makes a much longer stop in Winnipeg for servicing the train in mid afternoon, and one of the four locomotives that had hauled us hitherto is taken off the train. Out on the prairie, there are not as many grain elevators in the small towns as one would have expected from the similar towns across North Dakota and Montana. Once the line is single track, again, we do have to make a couple of five minutes stops for opposing freights

By the end of second sitting dinner, the attendant has made up the bed, and we go to bed before the train enters Saskatchewan.

Thursday, July 27th, 2006

We awake already in Alberta. After breakfast, the train backs into its small station (on a long stub side-track) in Edmonton, and we move back to car 117, again in bedroom B, which means we move back to the second activity car and Diner B. Today, we have first sitting for lunch and second sitting for dinner. West of Eedmonton, we make a seven minute stop at one location, and fifteen minutes at another, to wait for eastbound CN freights. As we approach the double track segment through Jasper, we slow down behind a westbound CN freight, running on "Restricting" signals for the last 45 minutes into Jasper.

In early afternoon, the train enters the Rocky Mountains, and in mid afternoon, makes its long stop at Jasper, a resort town in the Rockies, on the east side of Yellowhead Pass. Here, the train drops off one locomotive, adds another, and adds sleeping car 118 at its correct spot in the train, which requires switching with the entire train from car 117 forward (15 cars) to pick up that car, and then shove it back onto the rear six cars. During this move, which takes about 45 minutes, we're isolated from a dome/activity car, since a group boarding in Jasper is taking over the forward dome/activity car and the rear one is behind the split in the train.

West Of Jasper, we stop for a couple of minutes to meet each of three eastbound CN freights on the way up to the summit at the Continental Divide. Once over Yellowhead Pass, and thus into British Columbia, we pass Mount Robson, highest peak in the Canadian Rockies at over 13,000 feet, and most impressive in its westerly aspect, since it towers 10,000 feet above the elevation of the railway line. (By contrast, Pike's Peak is only 9,000 feet above the surrounding land, and the many 14,000+ ft. peaks in the interior of the Colorado Rockies are only about 6,000 ft. above the adjacent Arkansas River valley.) As the line exits the Fraser River valley it has followed from the summit, and turns south to head into the Upper Thompson River Valley, there is a 15 mph slow order covering about seven or eight miles of track that takes us over half an hour to pass through. We meet five more eastbound freights before bedtime, only one of which requires us to wait (for less than five minutes).

We eat dinner as the train heads southward, past Pyramid Falls, and are sound asleep before the train reaches Kamloops. The previous nights have included an hour's extension due to the change in time zone (first, from Eastern to Central, and then from Central to Mountain), but we've been on Pacific time since late afternoon, so don't get such a benefit this night.

Friday, July 28th, 2006

When I awake, we're already in the outskirts of Vancouver (at "CN Douglas Island"), although the train's slow approach across the Fraser River and into the city gives us plenty of time to get dressed and ready to leave the train. The train reverses before arrival (a process that consumes 17 minutes), and then splits to fit all 21 cars into the platforms at Pacific Central station. We deposit all of the luggage with the Via baggage folks, alongside the suitcase they already have, for pickup just before boarding of the train to Seattle begins at 4:30 pm.

We then spend the day in Vancouver, riding the entire length of the Skytrain routes, including the Millennium line that didn't exist the last time we were here in 1995 (we were in North Vancouver in 1997, but not in the main city), as well as eating in a Thai restaurant and doing some shopping on Robson Street.

By 3:30 pm, we're back at the Pacific Central station. We get something to drink, and then Chris retrieves the bags from the Via baggage folks. A little after 4 pm, we move to the line forming at the Business Class sign, which starts to move forward at 4:30 pm. US Immigration checks are performed before boarding, and tickets are taken before going through immigration. Paul, the conductor taking the tickets, greets us with "welcome back", and then later comes by to find out where he's seen us before. We agree that it must have been on our trip over the Sierra Nevada on Silver Lariat. We're seated in the front car on this Talgo train, which means I can record the consist as we walk down the platform. To our surprise, the train includes a Diner, which upgrades our expectations of dinner tonight. Because Business Class boarding started 90 minutes before scheduled departure, there's a long wait after boarding before we leave.

P42                     120
Power                7750
Business             7450
Business              7550
Diner                  7800
Bistro                  7300
Coach                 7500
Coach                 7400
Coach                 7425
Coach                 7486
Baggage              7960
Cabbage           90252

Train 518, 7-28-2006



Vancouver, BC

6:00 pm

6:02 pm

Bellingham, WA



Mount Vernon 8:03 8:20
Everett 8:46 9:11-13
Edmonds 9:10 9:35-37
Seattle 10:05 pm 10:03 pm

Amtrak Cascades route descriptions

To the south side of the Fraser River bridge, the route is the same one we took on arrival, this morning. White Rock, just before the border, is a seaside resort built on the English model, with no buildings between the street along the shore and the shore itself. The customs check at Blaine takes only about 10 minutes (since the immigration work is already done). Along the way, we lose about 25 minutes due to freight train interference and meeting a very late Amtrak 516.. I'm concerned about our name coming up for dinner too early, but in the event its almost 9 pm (and pitch dark) before our names get called. We're into Seattle on time, taxi to the hotel, and go to bed.

Saturday, July 29th, 2006

Today is the day we've programmed to visit with Denis Bousquet, whom we've seen only once since leaving Cincinnati, 37 years ago. Denis calls at 9:20 am and again just after 11 am, and is with us before noon. We squeeze into the front seat of his truck, and head northeast, visiting Volunteer Park and eating lunch in a restaurant in the Madison Park area, just off Lake Washington. After lunch we head east, across the lake on SR 520, south on I 405, and east on I-90 to Snoqualmie Pass.

Here, we take a side road up to Washington's Iron Horse State Park, a linear park located on the right of way of the former Milwaukee Road Pacific Extension's crossing of the Cascades. We walk west (downgrade) about half a mile to the magnificent curved Miner's Creek Trestle, which still has the support brackets for the electric overhead catenary mounted on it (but has had the decking replaced by one suitable for walking and riding bicycles). Not far further west are the concrete remains (and some steel I-bars and brackets) of an avalanche shelter or snowshed, and beyond that some poles that once held a slide detector fence. On the way back, we spy the concrete base of an electrification support pole, and the fallen pole beside it.

Later, we visit Rattlesnake Lake, where Canada Geese have taken up residence. Back in Seattle, this time taking I-90 across the lake and then I-5 north, we run into the traffic for tonight's parade (Seattle's most important event of the year, totally unknown to us), and Denis has to drop us off two blocks short of the hotel. We walk back to the hotel, crossing the parade route in the process, and wait for it to finish (we've been able to hear its progress out of the hotel room window) before heading out for dinner. We then repack and go to bed.

Sunday, July 30th, 2006

Everyone who had been here for the parade is leaving first thing in the morning, so we have difficulty getting both a luggage cart (in the hotel) and a taxi. The hotel calls us a town car, which gets us to the station just too late to check our big suitcase through to Los Angeles. So, we have to take it on the train with us. Once glance at the train shows that the formation is wrong, which turns out to be partly because this is the first southbound Coast Starlight since four days earlier, due to a UP derailment, and partially because the Pacific Parlor car was found to have mechanical problems while the train was being assembled. The consist is backwards, has no Pacific Parlor (naturally), and has the Sightseeing Lounge ahead of three of the four coaches. I have time to capture the consist before departure, which is late due to the need to load food onto the Diner and Café before leaving. (Normally, this has been done in Los Angeles and is not needed in Seattle.). Train 7 arrives while we are still waiting, pulls through on the freight bypass (east side), and then backs into platform 5. That train is right on time!

P42                   121
P42                   115
Coach            31016
Lounge           33039
Coach            34045
Coach            34515
Coach            34103
Diner              38001
Sleeper           32090    Michigan
Sleeper           32094    Montana
Sleeper           32111    Texas
Dorm              39007
Baggage            1241

Train 11, 7-30-2006




10:00 am

10:20 am




Olympia-Lacey 11:39 12:05-08 pm
Cemtralia 12:02 pm 12:20-31
Kelso-Longview 12:48 1:17
Vancouver, WA 1:29 1:54-59
Portland 2:05
Salem 3:37 4:01-04
Albany 4:10 4:43-46
Eugene 5:10 5:49-6:02
Chemult 8:05 9:58-10:07
Dunsmuir 12:35 am 8:07-26 am
Redding 2:21 10:33-38
Chico 3:50 12:46-49 pm
Sacramento 6:35 3:31-4:09
Davis 6:50 4:25-28
Martinez 7:34 5:19-25
Emeryville 8:10
Oakland 8:35
San Jose 9:55
10:07 am
8:13 pm
Simi Valley 7:38 pm 7:00-02 am
Van Nuys 8:05 pm 7:33-39 am
Los Angeles 9:05 pm 8:08 am

Coast Starlight route description

All of the lateness accruing prior to the departure from Portland appears to be purely due to Amtrak, be it lack of preparations in Seattle, or overlong station stops along the way. North of Salem, the train makes an emergency brake application to avoid people on the track, who then skip out of the way, but the train crew must now inspect the train. This costs at least 10 minutes, overall. At Marion, we have to stop and flag a signal due to the theft of signal cable from the track circuitry installation. At MP 654, we stop for five minutes due to a freight train ahead, and then follow it slowly into Eugene. We're still following that same train south of Eugene, and there are other freights (and an eight hour late train 14, with which an exchange of dining car supplies is made) heading northbound, resulting in several five minute stops in sidings north of Oakridge until we can finally pass that train.

The Dining Car crew may also be something of a pickup group, since it rapidly becomes clear that the Steward is incapable of managing a Dining Car. Lunch Reservation calls slip half an hour, the Steward is not greeting people as they arrive, in spite of her admonitions to 'wait at the door to be seated'. Dinner is even worse, with reservation calls slipping 90 minutes (but named reservations being called in ahead of them), and the slippage stops only when the Parlor Car Attendant (who has no real job on this train, without his car) steps in and starts managing things, tacitly. Lunch is as bad the second day, and dinner that day becomes farcical, with the Steward announcing that all reservations have been put back 90 minutes, but then calling myriad named passengers before we complain to our Sleeping-Car Attendant who goes to the diner to find out what is going on. The Steward never does acknowledge a problem, but does call us in immediately thereafter.

Monday, July 31st, 2006

Of course, dining arrangements become secondary to what UP does to this train. Naturally, with the line just reopening, there is heavy freight traffic on the UP south of Portland, on Sunday, and the train is two hours late leaving Chemult (during our 90-minuite late dinner). However, just south of Chemult the train stops again, and the Conductor announces that 'UP is dumping ballast just ahead of us, has been doing so for an hour, and will be doing so for some time to come (at least half an hour)'. We go to bed, on Sunday, while the train is standing there, the train is stationary every time I wake up during the night, and when I arise, eight hours after going to bed, we're only 150 miles south of Chemult, at Andesite siding on the shoulder of Mt. Shasta, stopped again. It transpires that we sat so long north of Klamath Falls that the crew's hours of service expired and they crew had to be replaced, making the train four hours later at Klamath Falls than would have been expected from the Chemult departure. (Calling Amtrak would have been no help on this one, since four hours of delay occurred after the last reportable point before the Klamath Falls stop.)

At Andesite, we're in the process of losing another 90 minutes due to a broken rail in front of us. This makes us seven and a half hours late at Dunsmuir. We meet train 14 at Castle Crag at 8:34 am, so its a good four hours late at this point. South of Redding, the replacement crew's hours-of-service expire, and we have to wait 22 minutes at Graveyard Road Crossing, in Red Bluff, for a new crew which is being driven up from Sacramento. Two 10 mph slow orders before Chico, and another one afterwards cause us to lose even more time. We then spend 36 minutes in the siding at Berg, awaiting a northbound UP freight. We're thus more than nine and a half hours late on departure from Sacramento, and end up eleven hours late on arrival into Los Angeles (8 am Tuesday, instead of 9 pm Monday), although very little extra time had been lost by our ten hour departure from San Jose.

Tuesday, August 1st, 2006

Actually, we're quite happy with the 8 am arrival (although that means another hotel room we've paid for but not used), and we turn out to be glad we hadn't been able to check the big suitcase, since we can just head the short distance from track 11 to the MTA garage, where our car is parked. Changes have been made in the garage while we've been gone, and we need someone to open a new gate to let us out. We stop by Bristol Farms in South Pasadena, and then Kentucky Fried Chicken in Mojave, getting home a little after 11 am, earlier than if we'd spent the night in the hotel in Los Angeles.