Huntington Spring Board Meeting,
April 4-14, 2010

Don Winter


This trip was to attend the 2010 NRHS Spring Board Meeting in Huntington, WV. As usual, we traveled out and back on Amtrak.

The Journey East (4/4-4/7)

Sunday, April 4th, 2010

With an early evening departure from Los Angeles Union Station, 120 miles to the south, we plan on leaving Tehachapi after 1 pm, since this is a Sunday, with less traffic than a weekday, and we don't have any bags to check, since the Cardinal route doesn't handle checked baggage. Heading straight in on the Hollywood Freeway, we're at the station by 4 pm. Even Los Angeles is not quite shirt-sleeve weather as we wait for the time to board the train. As usual, we're out on the platform as the train backs in, and I collect the consist before boarding. We feel nothing of the magnitude 7.2 earthquake near Mexicali, that is apparently felt by some train riders who start in the San Diego area, or by the relatives they have been staying with.


P42                      195
P42                        64
Baggage              1750
Dorm                  39035
Sleeper                32115    Washington
Sleeper                32091    Minnesota
Diner                    38048
Lounge                  33021
Coach                  34063
Coach-Bagg.        31010
Coach                  34024

Train 4, 4-4-2010



Los Angeles

 6:45 pm

6:45 pm







San Bernardino






Winslow                             PT

6:09 am

6:24-26 am

Gallup, NM                         MT




12:12 pm

12:55 pm




Las Vegas, NM






Trinidad, CO



La Junta                           MT






Kansas City, MO               CT

7:25 am

7:10 am

La Plata



Ft. Madison, IA



Galesburg, IL

12:10 pm

12:28-31 pm













Southwest Chief Route Description

Departure is on time, not long before sunset, and the train remains roughly on time as we head through Orange and Riverside Counties. At dinner, one of our dinner companions wonders why the line dips south through Fullerton rather than heading directly east, and is not convinced by arguments regarding the local topography, and by the closure of some lines for light rail construction (Pasadena sub.), but does seem to understand when I say that Southern Pacific built through here before Santa Fe came to town, and thus has the route directly east.

We're done with dinner by Riverside, and go to bed as the train climbs Cajon Pass.

Monday, April 5th, 2010

For the first time in quite a number of trips on this train, I'm awake in time to record the times at Winslow. We're having breakfast by Holbrook, and are back in our room before Gallup. As usual, these days, the train is very early into Albuquerque, and we're there for ninety minutes before an on-time departure, with the whole lunch period elapsing during the stop! Once we get north of the active RaulRunner line, the ride quality deteriorates noticeably, and we wonder how much longer this route (Lamy to La Junta and then Las Animas Junction east) will remain acceptable for passenger service. The only event during the afternoon is a stop south of Las Vegas, NM, to check whether the actual local wind speed matches a wind warning. It doesn't, so we continue at normal track speed, but we're already late due to slow orders on the rough track, and get later until the schedule padding at La Junta puts things right. We're done with dinner by La Junta, but east of Las Animas Junction (where the coal trains turn south), we notice, again, how rough the track is getting on this lightly-used line (except for the two daily passenger trains). For some of us, at least, this makes getting to sleep rather hard.

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

I awake as the train stops on the fuel rack at Argentine Yard, before reaching Kansas City. We're early into Kansas City, but still not a legal connection onto the morning St. Louis train (if we had been going that way). This morning, we take the former Wabash line along the triple-track joint section near Carrolton. We lose time at Fort Madison due to having to stop on the third-track out from the depot, which has a very short platform and thus requires us to draw up for four separate stops, including the crew change. Even though we're 25 minutes late at Mendota, we're ten minutes early into Chicago! A glance at the arrivals monitor in the Metropolitan Lounge shows that all the western trains are on time this afternoon. However, no-one off them is heading for the same meeting we're going to.


P42                   77
Coach            25039
Coach            25003
Coach            25091
Diner              28021
Sleeper           62025    Northern View

Train 50, 4-6-2010




 5:45 pm

5:45 pm
Dyer 6:58 6:45-58
Rensselaer                  CT 7:49 7:47-49
Ashland                      ET 6:29 am 7:08 am
Huntington 7:09 7:29-37

Cardinal Route Description

Since the sleeper on the Cardinal is on the rear, I can't collect the consist as we traverse the platform, but Chris gets it from the conductor after departure. I watch the cityscape until we leave greater Chicago, and we eat dinner after the wait for time at Dyer, IN. To our delight, this is actually a full dinner, compared to the cheese tray we had been served out of Chicago on this train, in November, 2006.

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

For the second morning in a row, I awake during a stop at an on-line fuel rack, this one at Russell Yard, KY. After a 27-minute stop, we're only half an hour from Huntington on departure, including the stop at Ashland. We get up in plenty of time, but not time to eat breakfast, and are on the platform at 7:30 am. We take a taxicab over to the Pullman Plaza Hotel, where we get directly into our room! Our reservation includes tickets for free breakfast in the hotel restaurant, including this morning, so we happily go to eat.

At the Board Meeting (4/7-4/11)

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010 (cont.)

Later, we stop at the NRHS Registration Desk to get our badges, tickets, and goodie bag, and then take a walk that includes visiting the museum in the former B&O depot, a walk along the riverfront beyond the flood wall, and a visit to a bookstore where we both buy books. We greet many friends as they arrive, and later go out to eat dinner at an Italian Restaurant in the Pullman Plaza shopping center, directly above the bookstore we had patronized earlier. Others of our friends arrive on today's Amtrak Train 51, which is over an hour late, and thus doesn't get here until approaching 11 pm.

Thursday, April 8th, 2010

The first day's even is a train ride at the Hocking Valley Scenic Railroad, a more than two-hour bus ride to the north, in southeastern Ohio. As we're boarding the bus, John Fiorilla, who is going, agrees to meet with Greg Molloy, who is not, at 4 pm. Since the excursion isn't supposed to get back until 5 pm, I think the chance of this occurring will be slight! The bus leaves at 8 am, taking us across the Ohio River on a relatively new cable-stayed bridge, and then "east" along the north bank of the river on SR 7, past Gallipolis, site of the "Silver Bridge' disaster over 40 years ago, and then along the route of a former Hocking Valley branch line, now owned by CSX and served from the B&O line across the river, that still serves some coal-fired power plants at Kyger Creek, on the Ohio side of the river, before turning northwest on US 33, into a heavy rainstorm, past Athens, OH, location of Ohio University (which has grown a lot since the one time I saw it, in 1967), to the Railroad's facilities at Nelsonville, on the former Hocking Valley Railroad, later part of the Chesapeake & Ohio. Here, we board the tourist train for a ride northward, almost to Logan, OH.


Loco.        C&O 5833
Caboose            15212
Coach                 3501 (ex-B&O)
Coach    City of Logan (ex-CRI&P)
Coach                            (ex-CRI&P)

Hocking Valley Scenic Route Description

Departing at 10:26 am, the train takes us northwest, with a photo runby (in the rain) from 10:51 to 11:04, almost to Logan (11:14 to 11:24), and then back to Nelsonville (reached at 11:57 am), where we head for lunch at a nearby restaurant. Here, the planners expect that the restaurant will be able to served almost 40 people, each placing an individual order off the menu, in only an hour. Of course, this doesn't happen, and after 90 minutes, the last to be served have to be chivvied away from their uncompleted meals to get back onto the bus. Chris and I share a table with John Fiorilla and Marge Erich, and watch as John receives numerous e-mails from Greg Molloy (he says), most of which receive very cursory responses. (Greg is back at the hotel, preparing his PowerPoint slides for Friday's meetings.)

Back at the depot, most of us board the train for the short ride southeast to the line's shops, where we get to explore and photograph the whole area. There's a portable (rail-mountable) tamper, which Barry Smith seems not to recognize, but when he gets the same identification from both me and Tim O'Malley, he accepts what we have to say. In the shop are four more diesel locomotives, of varying make and model, which seems excessive for this railroad's needs. There's also a partially assembled steam locomotive, although not the one that the line had once operated (which was bought by Jerry Joe Jacobson, who once owned the Ohio Central).

Back at the depot, many of the group members visit the gift shop, a process which takes a good half hour longer than planned for, so by the time we leave it's clear the bus cannot make it back to the hotel until at least 5:30 pm! Chris and I try to have dinner with Joe Williams, but he's corralled by Greg Molloy into going to dinner for an unplanned By-Laws Committee meeting. So, we walk down the street to the Chinese Restaurant across the street from the Holiday Inn.

Friday, April 9th, 2010

The only activity this morning is the Regional Vice-Presidents meeting, so Chris and I get up just in time for our free breakfast, and then sit around until it's time for the Discussion Meeting (1 pm), most of which is taken up in Executive Session discussing a sensitive confidential matter that can't/won't be reported here. There are also reports on the Strategic Planning and By-Laws activities, neither of which has much of substance to report. (Some of our colleagues only arrived on today's version of Train 50.)

This evening, we do manage to get Joe and Elissa Williams to join us for dinner, where we have much discussion of matters of mutual interest.

Saturday, April 10th, 2010

This morning should have been the visit to the CSX locomotive shops, but since this was canceled by CSX as soon as HQ heard about it (last Friday), we are instead going to visit Heritage Farm and the several facilities of the Collis P Huntington Chapter, here locally. Heritage Farm is an assemblage of pseudo-historical farm buildings containing displays of real artifacts, large and small, of farming activities hereabouts, arranged to tell a story. We visit the Progress Building, with time-phased exhibits, the Transportation Building, which includes what used to be Don Maxwell's model railroad, with numerous other model and full-size artifacts, the General Store, and the stalls for the petting zoo.

We then go to the Chapter's outdoor museum, location of a former C&O 2-6-6-2 steam locomotive (#1308) that once operated on the Logan Branch, south from here, for seven years in the early 1950s, and a couple of cabooses of different eras, the Chapter's yard area, where the restored cars are kept (NYC-38 and Braddock Inn), along with four former VRE cars under restoration and a couple of freight cars used for storage, and the Chapter's indoor museum and meeting room.

This afternoon is the formal Board Meeting, with all of the required elements, where little of abiding interest is discussed, followed this evening by the banquet, with video programs on the side-by-side steam run at the 1991 Convention, held here, and the Kinzua Viaduct, which collapsed in a windstorm a few years back.

Sunday, April 11th, 2010

The final event of the meeting is an excursion to the C&O's Greenbrier resort, at White Sulphur Springs, which includes a ride through the New River Gorge in the Chapter's lunge car, NYC-38, on the rear of today's Amtrak Train 50. Along with several others, Chris and I will be departing westward, directly from White Sulphur Springs, on this afternoon's Train 51, so we check out of the hotel (before dawn), and take our luggage on the van ride over to the Chapter's Yard, where we board the car prior to it being added to the rear of Train 50. Some others, Joe and Elissa included, are continuing eastward on Train 50 (in NYC-38), rather than visiting The Greenbrier.

After the Amtrak train leaves Huntington, it pulls forward past the switch into the Chapter's yard, and then reverses to where the car is parked (well outside the fenced area of the yard), having to take two attempts to couple up. This process takes 24 minutes after the official departure from Huntington, making the train 68 minutes late at this point.


P42                      154
Coach                25039
Coach                25003
Coach                25029
Cafe                   28021
Sleeper               62022   Mountain View
Private                NYC-38    (from Huntington)    

Train 50, 4-10-2010





Huntington 7:09 am 7:48-53 am
             pick up NYC-38   8:17
Charleston, WV 8:15 9:13-19
Montgomery 8:45 9:45-47
Thurmond 9:36 10:37
Prince 9:53 10:54-57
Hinton 10:23 11:25-28
Alderson 10:53 11:57-59
White Sulphur Springs 11:25 12:30-36 pm

During the trip east, I take detailed notes on the first segment from Huntington, several people take care to view the mosaic of Chessie in the floor of the depot at Prince, and we have interesting conversations with Don Maxwell and with Joe and Elissa Williams for much of the rest of the way through the scenic mountains to White Sulphur Springs. At the latter, a bus is waiting to take us to the resort, so we load our luggage on it, and then at the resort, collect the bags of everyone taking Train 51 onto a single luggage cart for ease of late retrieval. Then the group is taken to the Crustal Room, where our catered lunch is waiting. We sit with many of the same people as the night before at the banquet, for this excellent buffet-style meal.

After lunch, we are split into two groups for a tour of the "Project Greek Island" secret bunker beneath the West Virginia Wing of the resort. Although the resort is well worth visiting in its own right, the classified underground facility built to house the US Congress in the event of a nuclear attack is a surprising component of the overall facility. Built between 1959 and 1962, the bunker would have been entered, in the event of a nuclear war, through massive blast doors and decontamination chambers, which gave at least one participant on this tour the appearance of an extermination facility rather than an operational facility! With its own power plant, continually refreshed food and water supplies, dormitories, medical facilities, cafeteria and congressional meeting rooms, the facility was intended to permit government operations in the event of nuclear destruction or contamination of its normal home. The bunker is built into the hillside below the West Virginia Wing, but is actually at a higher level than the dining room in which we ate! It was decommissioned in 1995.

After the tour, there is time to visit the gift shop and other retail establishments before seven of us reclaim our luggage and head for the station to board Train 51, and the others board a bus to return to Huntington by road.

The Journey West (4/11-4/14)

Sunday, April 11th, 2010 (cont.)

There's some interesting conversation on the platform before the train arrives, and some more while we eat dinner at adjacent tables (seven people) in the dining car. Two of the seven leave the train at Huntington, to return to the hotel, while the rest of us continue on to Chicago in four sleeping rooms.


P42                  80
Coach            25061
Coach            25017
Coach            25078
Cafe               28010
Sleeper           62027    Orchard View     

Train 51, 4-11-2010



White Sulphur Springs

5:00 pm

5:23-28 pm
Alderson 5:31 5:58-6:00
Hinton 6:01 6:28-32
Prince 6:31 7:02-04
Thurmond (flag) 6:47 N/A
Montgomery 7:38 8:09-12
Charleston, WV 8:10 8:38-47
Lafayette                  ET 8:02 am 8:14-18 am
Rensselaer                CT 8:07 8:16
Dyer 8:57 9:04
Chicago 10:35 10:06

I take derailed route notes as far as Alderson, and the group then has dinner at about 7 pm. We travel through the New River Gorge, some of it in daylight, for the second time today, before going to bed west of Charleston

Monday, April 12th, 2010

Chris and I get up at Lafayette, and have breakfast with two of the others, with more conversation about future convention possibilities and the like. At Chicago, where for the first time I can recall, an Amtrak train arrives in the far western platform (Track 6), out in the daylight with an umbrella shed on the platform, Bill Chapman heads for the airport, and the remaining four eat lunch at Elephant & Castle before separating onto our respective long-distance trains, they to the Twin Cities and we to Los Angeles and home.

We ride out to the train with the Redcaps, permitting me to capture the consist on the way out. There is a private car (Rod Fishburn's Colonial Crafts), a deadheading Surfliner car, and a deadheading Superliner Sleeper on the rear, but still only two locomotives


P42                  195
P42                    44
Baggage           1730
Dorm            39036
Sleeper          32069
Sleeper          32002
Diner             38021
Lounge          33020
Coach-Bagg. 31025
Coach            34042
DH Sleeper    32112
Surfliner            8801    Port Hueneme
Private car    Colonial Crafts 

Train 3, 4-12-2010




3:15 pm

3:15 pm
Naperville 3:50 3:46-50
Mendota 4:39 4:37-39
Princeton 5:01 4:58-5:01
Galesburg 5:53 5:52-57
Fort Madison 6:57 7:04-10
La Plata                    CT 8:06 8:13-19
Lamar                     MT 7:05 am 7:16 am
La Junta 8:15
Trinidad 9:50 9:47-50
Raton 10:56 10:50-56
Las Vegas, NM 12:38 pm 12:43
Lamy 2:24 2:57-3:03
Albuquerque 3:55
Gallup                    MT 7:08 7:30-38
San Bernardino       PT 5:32 am 5:34-39 am
Riverside 5:53 5:56-59
Fullerton 6:34 6:41-44
Los Angeles 8:15 7:18

We're on time until we meet some slow orders after crossing from the former CB&Q to the former Santa Fe, west of Galesburg. Chris and I eat dinner between Fort Madison and La Plata. The track in Missouri is its usual spring roughness, especially on the 90 mph sections.

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

I awake as we enter Colorado, and we eat breakfast before arriving in La Junta. Later, we eat lunch south of Las Vegas.

After departing Las Vegas, we have to comply with a 40 mph speed restriction due to a high wind warning, which, in conjunction with a dark signal at Ribera, causes us to lose 35 minutes on the segment to Lamy. I'm able to tell our car attendant and an interested passenger some things about Colonial Crafts and private cars in general.

On arrival at Albuquerque, RailRunner passengers, heading for their imminent train, are crossing the track in front of us, and we have to stop so the conductor can escort us past the board crossing they're using. We're 21 minutes late into Albuquerque, and 17-minutes late out. A couple of ten mph slow orders near Acoma cause us to lose another 15 minutes by Gallup, where Chris and I are eating dinner.

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

I awake before the train stops in San Bernardino. Because arrival is so early, and because we have no checked luggage to collect, we're at Bristol Farms before its opening time. After shopping there, and the usual stops on the drive home, we're home by 11 am.