Findlay Junction, Lancaster and Omaha
October 29-November 18, 2010

Don Winter

Introduction

This trip was to attend the 2010 NRHS Fall Conference in Lancaster, PA. We also rode the Union Pacific's steam excursion for the 50th Anniversary of 844's move from Omaha to Cheyenne to start the UP Steam Program, out of Omaha. As usual, we traveled out and back on Amtrak, recording the Texas Eagle detour over the former C&EI in Illinois in the process.

The Journey East (10/29-11/4)

Friday, October 29th, 2010

We set out from home at about 9:30 am, stopping at the Auto Club in Lancaster (CA) for street maps of Omaha and Council Bluffs (which turn out to be a single map). We get to Los Angeles Union Station about noon, and check two bags through to New York City before walking over to Olvera Street for a Mexican lunch. About 2 pm, we go back to the car to get the rest of the bags, and head for Track 11, where our train is ready for boarding. We're in the rear sleeper (Train "422"), as we're heading for Chicago via the through-car transfer at San Antonio. This routing is to travel on the detour through Illinois, resulting from the "high-speed" track work on the normal route through Springfield. I walk the platform to get the consist before the train leaves.

[consist]

P42                22
P42               165
Baggage       1734
Dorm         39007
Sleeper       32042
Diner           38045
Lounge        33031
Coach-Bagg.31032
Coach        34029
Coach         34086*
Sleeper        32110*    Tennessee
*to Train 22 at San Antonio

Train 2, 10-29-2010

Schedule

Actual

Los Angeles

2:40 pm

2:43 pm

Pomona 3:23 3:47-49
Ontario 3:34 3:59-4:01
Palm Springs 5:15 5:29-36
Yuma                          PT 7:28 7:47-51
10-30-2010    
El Paso                      MT 7:50 am
8:15 am
<7:30 am
8:15 am
Alpine                        CT 1:05 pm 12:32-1:05
Sanderson 3:16 3:07-16
Del Rio 5:42 6:11-17
San Antonio 9:30 pm ~10:15 pm

Sunset Limited route description

From 3:14 to 3:43 pm, we are delayed because a track foreman left his flags up even after his time of operation was over. At Milliken Avenue grade crossing, we have to manually protect the crossing because the gates are not working properly. From 5:53 to 5:57 pm, we stop at Myoma, because the Dispatcher has a westbound freight running around a disabled westbound train in front of us.

Chris and I have dinner at 7 pm, and are in bed and asleep before Maricopa.

Saturday, October 30th, 2010

The train is stopped in El Paso when I awake, having made up the lost time due to the schedule padding. There is a schedule conflict at Alpine, since Trains 1 and 2 are supposed to be there during the same time period, but there is only single track at the depot. (There is a siding about five miles each side of the depot.) Our crew plays games with a new Dispatcher, and gets in there first. We meet Train 1 at the first siding east of Alpine, at 1:30 pm. We have no business at Sanderson, but we still have to wait for time even though it's a flag stop. We're delayed from 3:52 to 4:06 pm, waiting for a freight to clear, and again from 6:35 to 6:47 pm and yet again around 7:30 pm (three different freights).

Chris and I eat breakfast in El Paso, lunch in Alpine, and dinner passing Uvalde. Train 21 precedes us into San Antonio. Some time after we go to sleep, the rear sleeper and coach are detached from Train 2, which continues along its way.

Sunday, October 31st, 2010

Overnight, cars are shuffled around, and by departure time (at which darkness still reigns), our sleeper is ahead of the diner in Train 22 and the through coach is back in the consist.

[consist]

P42                184
Dorm          39044
Sleeper        32110*    Tennessee
Diner-Lite    37000
Lounge        33011
Coach-Bagg.31008
Coach          34106
Coach          34086*
*from Train 2

Train 22, 10-31-2010

Schedule

Actual

San Antonio

7:00 am

7:00 am

San Marcos 8:32 8:36
Austin 9:31 9:19-31
Taylor 10:22 10:10-22
Temple 11:25 11:06-25
McGregor 11:51 11:58
Cleburne 1:00 pm 1:10-12 pm
Fort Worth 1:50
2:20
1:54
2:22
Dallas 3:20
3:40
3:28
3:40
Mineola 5:15 5:11-15
Longview 6:15 5:58-6:15
Marshall 7:33 6:42-7:33
Texarkana 8:43 pm 9:03-10 pm
11-1-2010    
St. Louis 7:19 am
7:55 am
6:35 am
7:13 am
Chicago 1:52 pm 1:46 pm

Texas Eagle route description

To our surprise, a cooked breakfast is served in the diner, not as a box breakfast in our rooms. We eat breakfast north of San Marcos, lunch between Cleburne and Fort Worth, and dinner at Marshall.

While we're stopped in Fort Worth, a southbound grain train on the former M-K-T is given the road across Tower 55, but has trouble getting started. He finally does so, just in time to delay our progress through that intersection (by at least seven minutes). We have a two minute stop on the way to Dallas to wait for a freight to clear. We stop for three minutes at Edgemont for a westbound freight to clear. West of Mineola, we stop for five minutes to avoid blocking a crossing east of the station while we wait for our departure time. Our greatly early arrival time at Marshall, which has a very short platform and a junction adjacent to the west end, results in the need to make multiple stops (its a crew change point), as well as shuffling out of the station to wait for (almost) time, and then shuffle back in to board any remaining passengers. The inbound crew calls this the "Marshall shuffle".

After all that, we have a ten minute wait at a siding north of Marshall, for a southbound freight to clear.

Monday, November 1st, 2010

Due to schedule padding, we're early into St. Louis. Due to the (planned) detour through Illinois, mentioned above, the schedule after St. Louis has no meaning, since this train doesn't even board passengers at St. Louis on detour days (of which there are many, this quarter). We thus leave St. Louis forty minutes early, and take the Merchants bridge route out of town (while we're eating breakfast). At Lennox, we take the former Bog Four (New York Central) line used by the former Chicago & Eastern Illinois to get out of town, instead of the usual Alton route through, well, Alton, proceeding past Pana, where the Big Four and C&EI used to split (the Big Four is no longer there) and Findlay Junction (where we had come on a UP Steam excursion back at the 1993 NRHS Convention in Chicago), and then north through Villa Grove and Woodland Junction to Thornton Junction, where we reach the Cardinal route into Chicago. Because the maximum speed on this route is only 60 mph, it takes longer than the Alton route, even with no station stops. Along the way, we make five operational stops, totaling 25 minutes in length.

C&EI Route Description

In Chicago, we drop the bags off at the Metropolitan Lounge in Union Station, and walk to Elephant & Castle for lunch. Later, we eat pizza in the station food court, while watching the commuters head for their trains at dinnertime. Our train boards at 8:30 pm, and we're in the rear sleeper, so getting the consist has to wait. After boarding, I get off again and walk the lengthy train (nearly a quarter mile). The same redcap who had brought us out to the train gives me a ride back to the rear after I have walked to the front. Sleeper passengers are served wine and cheese in the diner before departure, but there's no dinner on this train.

[consist]

P42                185
P42                139
Baggage        1735
Sleeper        62013
Coach          25113
Coach          25025
Cafe             28025      this car forward go to Boston as Train 448n
Coach          25117      this car back go to New York City, with P32AC 706 as motive power
Coach          25000
Coach          25123
Coach          25102
Diner              8531
Sleeper        62007    Colonial View
Sleeper        62004    Beach View
Baggage        1709

Train 48, 11-1-2010

Schedule

Actual

Chicago                              CT

9:30 pm

9:30 pm

11-2-2010    
Erie                            ET 7:22 am 7:43 am
Buffalo 8:58
9:08
9:10
9:27
Rochester 10:08 10:20-25
Syracuse 11:38 11:43-54
Utica 12:42 pm 12:56-1:00 pm
Schenectady 2:00 3:02-14
Albany-Rensselaer 2:50
3:40
4:07
4:17
Croton-Harmon 5:21 5:58-6:05
New York Penn 6:25 7:05

Lakeshore Limited route description

We're in bed and asleep before the first stop out of Chicago (at South Bend).

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

I awake during the stop in Erie, so I have no idea when we arrive there. At Buffalo, the INS/DEA dog is walked through the train. We lose no more time until after Utica. A reduction to single track for track maintenance means we have to wait from 1:41 to 2:04 pm at CP 207 for Train 63 to clear, then crawl past the work area. From 2:33 to 2:42, we stop because the train has lost air. From 3:34 to 4:03 pm, we stop next to the Rensselaer shop to separate the train (a planned delay). Train 448 moves forward at 3:50 pm, after which dual-mode 706 backs on to our portion. From Poughkeepsie, we're behind a Metro-North train, and at Croton-Harmon, Amtrak Train 244 overtakes us. The latter delays us by five minutes, arriving at Penn Station.

Here, we have to wait to reclaim the checked baggage, and then walk the length of the station and across the street to Hotel Pennsylvania. It takes two tries to get us a room with a working lock/key. Once we're in the room, we walk over to Herald Square, and then back through Macy's, acquiring food for dinner on the way. Back in our room, we eat the take-out food and watch the (dismal) early election returns, going to bed before voting in California even concludes.

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

Today, we're riding two New Jersey Transit lines that we ddn't ride back in June/July. Gary Kazin will join us during the day, on an agreed-upon schedule that gets us all the new trackage in the daylight. We get up, walk over to Penn Station, buy the NJT tickets for the day, and then get drinks and food at one of the takeout places in the station, before heading for the first NJT train of the day. We can't get directly from Manhattan to either of the lines we want to ride, so changes of train are the order of the day. We start out on a Midtown Direct train to Montclair State, changing out of it at Newark Broad Street onto a train from Hoboken.

[consist]

Electric locomotive plus single-level cars          

Train 6231, 11-3-2010

Schedule

Actual

New York Penn

10:24 am

10:24 am

Secaucus 10:34 10:32-34
Newark Broad Street 10:44 10:42-44

Having traversed the Kearny Connection onto the Lackawanna Electric routes, we leave the train at Newark Broad Street, and await the arrival from Hoboken Terminal of our train for the Gladstone Branch. While we wait, an inbound train from the Dover line is annouced as being eleven minutes late. This is due to track maintenance taking place on that line at Chatham.

[consist]

EMU                     13xx
EMU                      1509
EMU                      1508           

Train 415, 11-3-2010

Schedule

Actual

Schedule

Actual

Newark Broad Street

10:54 am

10:55 am

2:13 2:18
East Orange 10:58 10:59 2:08 2:13
Brick Church 11:01 11:01 2:06 2:12
Orange 11:03 11:02-04 2:03 2:09
Highland Avenue 11:05 11:06 2:01 2:08
Mountain Station 11:07 11:09 1:59 2:05
South Orange 11:10 11;11 1:57 2:03
Maplewood 11:13 11:14 1:52 1:59
Millburn 11:16 11:17 1:51 1:55
Short Hills 11:19 11:19 1:48 1;53
Summit 11:24
11:25
11:23
11:25
1:44
1:43
1:47
1:45
New Providence 11:28 11:28 1:39 1:40
Murray Hill 11:34 11:32-34 1:36 1;36
Berkeley Heights 11:38 11:41 1:32 1:32
Gillette 11:42 11:44 1:29 1:30
Sterling 11:45 11:46 1:26 1:27
Millington 11:48 11:49 1:23 1:24
Lyons 11:51 11;52 1:20 1:22
Barking Ridge 11:54 11:55 1:17 1:18
Bernardsville 11:57 11:58 1:14 1:16
Far Hills 12:04 pm 12:06 pm 1:08 1:10
Peapack 12;13 12:14 1:04 1:04
Gladstone 12:18 12:18 1:01 pm 1:01 pm
      Train 424

(All actual consist data are from Gary Kazin's notes.)

After leaving the main line for the branch west of Summit, we're on single track, and have to wait for opposing trains at Berkeley Heights and Far Hills. At Gladstone, we walk to the deli about 100 yard beyond the end of the platform, buy sandwiches and drinks, and take them back to the train to eat on the way back. Again, we meet opposing trains at Far Hills and Berkeley Heights. Gary joins us at Summit. The preceding train, from the Dover line, is late and we get late running behind it, stopping at signals several times.

We leave the trasin at Newark Broad Street, where we cross under the platforms to the island platform, where we board the outbound train to Dover via the Boonton Line (the earliest such train of the afternoon). This is, of necessity, a diesel-powered train, from Hoboken, and is preceded by an electrically-powered Midtown Direct train to Montclair State, along the same route.

[consist]

GP40PH-2 4108, Comets 5429, 5398, 5375, 5327, 5356, 6034           

Train 1001, 11-3-2010

Schedule

Actual

Newark Broad Street

2:41 pm

2:42 pm

Watsessing Avenue 2:47 2:48
Bloomfield 2:50 2:50
Glen Ridge 2:52 2:53
Bay Street Montclair 2:55 2:55
Walnut Street 2:58 2:58
Watchung Avenue 3:01 3:01
Upper Montclair 3:03 3:04
Mountain Avenue 3:06 3:06
Montclair Heights 3:08 3:08
Montclair State Univ. 3:11 3:11
Little Falls 3:17 3:17
Wayne/Route 13 3:20 3:20
Mountain View 3:23 3:23
Lincoln Park 3:27 3:27
Towaco 3:32 3:32
Boonton 3:43 3:43
Mountain Lakes 3:43 3:43
Denville 3:49 3:49

Along the way, Gary shows us where the Montclair Branch used to go, where teh connection ends at the previous Boonton line, and how the old Lackawanna lines used to run at Denville. At the latter, he walks us across the parking lot to the Montclair line platforms, and sees us onto the express train to New York, which we board, leaving him to drive home.

[consist]

ALP 4426, Comets 6002, 5313, 5365, 5262, 5523, 5425, 5243, 6000 (locomotive trailing)           

Train 6856, 11-3-2010

Schedule

Actual

Denville

3:52 pm

3:53 pm

Morris Plains 3:58 3:59
Morristown 4:03 4:04
Convent Station 4:07 4:08
Madison 4:11 4:12
Chatham 4:15 4:16
Summit 4:20
4:21
4:21
4:22
Newark Broad Street 4:35 4:40
New York Penn 5:00 5:00

New York City Area Route Descriptions

Back in Manhattan, we return to the hotel to drop off our bags, and then do some shopping in Macy's before having a steak dinner on 34th Street. We then go to bed early.

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

After a long night's rest, we pack and check out, walking across the street to Penn Station and then across the station to Club Acela. Although we could have caught an earlier Keystone, we wait for Train 43, on which we have Business Class seats. Although we've asked for redcap assistance, the redcaps never come (for us), and we have to go to the train by ourselves.

P42                         18    (from 30th Street)
Business Class    81531
Cafe                   43387
Coach                 25079
Coach                 25041
Coach                 25091
Coach                 8256
AEM-7                  931    (off at 30toh Street)

(The AEM-7 leads from NYP to 30th Street)   

Train 43, 11-4-2010

Schedule

Actual

New York Penn

10:50 am

10:51 am

Newark 11:07 11:07-10
Trenton 11:42 11;42-44
Philadelphia 30th St. 12:10 pm
12:42
12:09 pm
12:42
Paoli 1:12 1:09-12
Lancaster 1:52 1:49-52

Pennsylvanian route description

It only takes about 15 minutes (which is still much too long) to change locomotives in Philadelphia, not the 32 minutes allowed, and the extra can't be for boarding passengers, because all passengers were allowed to board while the power was off and were ready to go when it came back on!

In Lancaster, we take a taxi out to the Eden Resort, and check in. We then start seeing other NRHS Board Members and local Chaper members whom we know. We register for the meeting when the Chapter is ready, and later have dinner in Arthur's, sharing a table with Tom Moss.

At the Conference (11/5-11/7)

Friday, November 5th, 2010

We have an interior room, overlooking the ballroom, so even though that area has a skylight, it's not clear that the sun would have come shining into our room in the morning. In the event, it's still pitch dark when we get down to the lobby to wait for the bus to today's events. Chris goes off to the adjacent Sheets' gas station with John Goodman, Becky Gerstung and Carl Jensen, to get some juice and donuts. (I already have coffee from the maker in the room.) Even at departure time of 7:30 am, darkness still reigns outside. Of course, this is because Daylight Savings Time still prevails today and tomorrow, after which darkness will fall by 5 pm.

The bus departs in the glimmering twilight, and head east and then south, to Strasburg. At the Strasburg Railroad, we all (one bus load and a van load) board a motor car (predecessor of a doodlebug), from the Lancaster, Oxford & Southern. This gives us a run out to the end of the line at Paradise (Leaman Place), adjacent to the Keystone line we had arrived on yesterday, and back again. We have a photo-runby at a location still set up for a Halloween celebration.

At 9:30 an, half of us head off across the road to the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania (the other half take a shop tour at the Strasburg railroad, which Chris and I did with R&LHS), where we have a guided tour of the main exhibit hall. While we've been in the hall twice before, the insights given by the guide are quite interesting as we tour the four lines of restored locomotives and cars (the hall is set up as an old time fully-roofed station on a curve), some of which are set up as period trains, both passenger and freight. Afterwards, we visit the bookstore, which has nothing on my list, and discover that the former Strasburg railroad bookstore, which surely would have, has moved away.

Following this, Chris and I visit the restored J Tower (restored by Lancaster Chapter), on the Strasburg Railroad site. Built in 1885 on a site at Lemoyne, PA, this PRR tower was closed in 1983, acquired by the Lancaster Chapter, and moved to its present location in Strasburg, where it has been fully restored (but has not interlocking any more). After its restoration, the Chapter donated the tower to the Strasburg Railroad, on whose property it is located.

Re-boarding the bus, we head east, again, to the Lancaster Chapter's facility in the beautifully-restored old freight station at Christiana, where we have a catered lunch and there is time to visit the facility and the newly-restored Conrail (former Erire-Lackawanna) caboose plinthed outside. At 1:30 pm, we head further eastward, into Delaware, for a visit to the Wilimington & Western, which has recovered from two major floods since we were last here in 1995. We tour the shops at the east end of the line (a little over a mile that we had not ridden before), where we see steam locomotives 98 and 63 and the parlor car the railroad has created from a Lackawanna MU car, and then ride their doodlebug about halfway out their line to the west, past some of the areas that have been restored after flood damage.

The bus then returns us to the hotel, avoiding Friday rush-hour traffic along the way. Chris and I have dinner with John and Peggy Sweigart, before he has to go to the Regional Vice-Presidents' meeting at 7:30 pm. (As the local RVP, he's running the meeting.)

Saturday, November 6th, 2010

This morning is as dark as Friday morning! :-) We get Chris' drink and donuts from Sheets, and then board the bus. At 7:40 am, the bus heads for Manheim, northwest of Lancaster, passing the former Alcoa plant at which our bus host works, along the way. Manheim has made a museum out of the former depot (dating from 1881, on a former Reading branch), and has a (very) short stretch of track on which a restored Birney trolley car runs, powered from live overhead. This meeting is in Lancaster because 75 years ago, what became the Lancaster Chapter, formed in 1933 on a fan trip on a Birney car like the one at Manheim, and what became the New York Chapter, decided that there should be a national umbrella society to which rail history groups all across the country could adhere, thus forming the National Railway Historical Society. Thus, the rise in the Birney conjures up the ghosts of the society's founding. The museum is operated by the Manheim Historical Society, and thus is only partially devoted to the railroad. The artifacts are well displayed and (sometimes) identified, but they are not arranged or identified to tell any kind of a story (or stories).

From Manheim, we head back into Lancaster, and then take US 30 west. across the Susquehanna River, and then head south through Red Lion, turning east onto a side road to Muddy Creek Forks, a one time way station on the erstwhile Maryland & Pennsylvania Railroad (Ma & Pa), where some buildings are now maintained in (restored) 1913 condition as a museum. There is also a few miles of track relaid on the former railroad alongside the river, and the museum has some operating maintenance-of-way equipment on which we get to ride those few miles upstream (north). Only half of us can ride at any one time, and Chris & I are in the first group to ride. After the ride, we have time to visit the buildings and the railroad vehicles on the tracks south of the road crossing.

The Maryland & Pennsylvania Railroad Preservation Society, which own both the railroad equipment and track and the restored buildings in the village keeps its various piece of equipment on the team track and main line south of the mill and grain elevator, and we visit these pieces of equipment first, including a diesel switcher. Then we walk around the ground floor of the mill and grain elevator, where in addition to the equipment that once operated these facilities, there are displays of various kinds of grains to show what was processed here. The General Store, across both road and railroad, has a still-operable rope elevator, once used for moving goods between the floors, and has two floors laid out to show the facilities and the kinds of goods sold here at the target date of the restoration. For sale in the store, in addition to drinks, are two books by Dennis McIlnay, who will be speaking at tonight's banquet on the subject of one of them, and George Hilton's book on the Ma&Pa, all of which we buy.

The lunch catered by the preservation society is served in a tent outside, accompanied by very welcome hot cider. After lunch, the bus heads back toward Lancaster by a different route that takes us along the west bank of the Susquehanna River, and then back on US 30. At the hotel, we have the "pre-meeting" discussion meeting, which in the absence of a budget for the new fiscal year is very quiet, the major discussion being of the introduction of the new society logo with no explicit Board approval, and then of Board decisions versus 'management' decisions. Those of us with rooms facing inward had received notes under our doors advising us of a function taking place tonight, and were momentarily disconcerted until we realized that this referred to us! The banquet features Cindy Bowers talking about the history of the Lancaster Chapter, and Dennis McIlnay talking about the 1947 wreck of PRR's Red Arrow on the slope east of the summit above Horseshoe Curve. After the (lengthy) distribution of 'door prizes', Chris gets the author to autograph the two books we had bought earlier in the day.

Sunday, November 7th, 2010

After the change to Standard Time, the actual Board Meeting is this morning. The usual required reports go fairly quickly. The leftover "personnel" matter from last April is resolved with the culprit accepting a motion of censure that apparently covers even deeds that were never raised to the investigator. The big issue that is raised is of modifying the usage of the new logo to include the society's full name, which, after  much discussion, passes on a roll-call weighted vote by almost two-thirds. The meeting runs long, and Chris and I have to hurry to meet our reserved time at the Sunday Brunch (which is excellent) in the banquet room.

The gathering is now over, and most people head alot immediately, to get home tonight. Chris and I are in no hurry, since we only need to be as far as Omaha by Friday (but not Friday night). So, we hang around in our room all afternoon, and eat a much lighter meal in Garfield's in early evening.

The Journey West 1 (11/8-11/11)

Monday, November 8th, 2010

We have reserved the hotel's shuttle for 9:45 am to go to the station, and get up in plenty of time to check out and make this time. We have the redcap take us and the luggage down onto the blustery cold platform. As the train arrives (a regular Kestone service), I note the number of the Can Car, Chris walks the train later to collect the rest of the consist from the inside. There is no Business Class car on this train (nor cafe, for that matter), so we ride in the coach selected by the redcap.

[consist]

Cab Car                 9646
Coach                    82709
Coach                    82744
Coach                    82750
Coach                    82758
AEM-7                     946      

Train 646, 11-8-2010

Schedule

Actual

Lancaster

10:32 am

10:37 am

Paoli 11:10 11:16
Philadelphia 30th Street 11:35
11:45
11:39
11:48
Trenton 12:13 pm 12:13-15 pm
Newark 12:47 12:45
New York Penn 1:05 12:56

Since the traction is electric all the way from Harrisburg, there's no need to change locomotives in Philadelphia, and the scheduled stop there is only ten minutes instead of the 42 required by the Pennsylvanian. The train zooms up the Northeast Corridor, which had become so familiar to us last summer, much faster than the commuter train combination we had used then. With the schedule padding, we're into New York's Pennsylvania Station ahead of time, and walk with the bags over to the hotel across 7th Avenue, where the check-in clerk protests but gives us a room immediately (to the surprise of the maid who has only just cleaned it).

We have lunch at a nearby fast food place, and then walk north on 7th Avenue to Times Square (42nd Street), turning east to Broadway, and walking south on that street to Herald Square, where we go into Macy's to do some shopping. We spend the rest of the afternoon in the room, eating dinner at another nearby fast food joint (because we're not hungry enough for a full meal).

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

Today, we'll ride the one remaining New Jersey Transit line, and then ride the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail Transit (HBLRT) in the afternoon (named after the two counties in which it runs). The train we want doesn't run from midtown, so we take a Midtown Direct train one stop to Secaucus and change platform levels to catch the Pascack Valley line train. We walk over to Penn Station, buy the NJT tickets, and get some food and drinks at our usual stand before heading down to the platform for our train out that one stop (a train to Montclair State, as it happens).

[consist]

ALP-46 4637 plus eight bi-levels           

Train 4619, 11-9-2010

Schedule

Actual

New York Penn

8:32 am

8:34

Secaucus 8:47 8:49

At Secaucus, we go up the escalator to the concourse, and then down two escalators to the east side platform.

[consist]

GP-40 4003 plus six single-level coaches           

Train 1605, 11-9-2010

Schedule

Actual

Schedule

Actual

Hoboken Terminal N/A N/A 12:01 pm 12:03 pm

Secaucus

9:05 am

9:09 am

11:49

11:51-54

Wood Ridge 9:15 9;20 11:38 11:41
Essex Street 9:19 9:25 11:31 11:33
Anderson Street 9:22 9:28 11:28 11:29
Newbridge Landing 9:30 9:32 11:25 11:26
River Edge 9:33 9:36 11:21 11:22
Oradell 9:38 9:39 11:17 11:18
Emerson 9:42 9:42 11:14 11:14
Westmont 9:45 9:45 11:11 11:11
Hillsdale 9:48 9:48 11:08 11:09
Park Ridge 9:51 9:52 11:04 11:05
Montvale 9:54 9:55 11:02 11:02
Pearl River 9:58 9:58 10:59 10:59
Nanuet 10:02 10:02 10:54 10:54
Srping Valley 10:10 10:09 10:48 10:49
      Train 1622

Between Wood Ridge and Essex Street, at a siding on the single track, the northbound train waits for a soutbound train, and vice versa in the other direction two hours later. At Spring Valley, while the station building is open (and this provides shelter from the cold wind), there are only a very few seats unless one is patroinizing the fast food stand that is in there.

At Hoboken Terminal, we buy lunch from a fast food place, and eat it in the main waiting room (probably forbidden). We then walk out the south side of the station, and walk westward on the temporary path to the HBLRT station, where we buy the necessary number of tickets to cover the whole route for both of us, in one transaction at the ticket machine. We then board a train out north, through Weehawken, to Tonnelle Avenue (the final e is pronounced), in North Bergen, where we take a different train south to West Side Avenue, which returns nearly to the Hoboken terminal, but then turns south, through Jersey City, splitting off to the southwest at the Liberty State Park station. From West Side Avenue, we return to the junction at Liberty State Park, and then head south to 33rd Street in Bayonne, running alongside the CSX (formerly Jersey Central) freight line to the Chemical Coast. Finally, we take a train back to Hoboken Terminal. Along these routes, there are good views across the Hudson River to both Midtown and Downtown Manhattan, as well as to Brooklyn and the Statue of Liberty.

Back at Hoboken Terminal, we take PATH to 33rd Street in Manhattan, whence we walk out the southwest corner of the Penney's store and back to our hotel, another half block west. At 7 pm, we meet Joe and Elissa Williams in the hotel lobby, where we discover that Joe's idea of a 'local' restaurant is one five stops south on the Broadway subway line, then three block east on Canal Street and two blocks south in Chinatown. After a good dinner and interesting conversation at Ping's, we return the same way (but take an elevator down instead of the three staircases up), leaving the train at 34th Street, where Joe and Elissa continue north to Times Square and then  Grand central for their Metro-North train home to Darien, CT.

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

We're starting the trip back west this afternoon, but first there's time to fill in one last piece (for this trip) of detailed route description in New York City. We check out of the hotel, drag the bags over to and then across Penn Station, check two of the bags to Omaha, and then drop the rest off in Club Acela, where we get some drinks. We then walk back across Penn Station to the 7th Avenue subway station, where we buy metrocards with enough on them for two one-way trips and a little to spare (Joe had handled this the previous night), and then take the subway north to Times Square and the shuttle east to Grand Central Terminal.

Here, we buy round-trip tickets to Yonkers (actual round-trip tickets, not two one-way tickets as on NJT or Metra), and go to the indicated track to board a Poughkeepsie train for the ride out to Yonkers. Our goal is the details of the segment from the junction at Mott Haven (where the Harlem and New Haven lines that we had ridden and described in April 2009 diverge) to Spuyton Duyvil (where the Amtrak line from Penn Station, that we will be riding later in the day, converges, across the Harlem River).

[consist]

Metro-North P32AC and coaches          

Train 817, 11-10-2010

Schedule

Actual

Schedule

Actual

New York GCT

9:45 am

9:45 am

10:49

10:45

125th Street 9:58 9:58 10:38 10:37
Yonkers 10:11 10:13 10:21 am 10:22 am
      Train 746 (EMU)

At Yonkers, we cross below the tracks to the other island platform, and ten cold minutes later, board the next inbound train back to GCT, whence we retrace our route of earlier in the day, back on two subway trains to Penn Station. Here, we eat lunch in a restaurant, and then settle in to Club Acela to with the after 3 pm boarding of our long distance train, watching the Club space fill up and empty again with travelers for various Acela Expresses and long distance trains such as the Crescent (for Atlanta and New Orleans) and Silver Meteor (for Florida). It's interesting to note the different kinds of dress between the business folks headed for the Acelas and the folks headed for the long distance trains.

Eventually, the redcaps come for us and we descend to the platform and board our sleeper at the rear of Train 49. Penn Station's platforms are too narrow and crowded to collect the consist here, so we'll try to handle that later. In any case, half the train doesn't arrive until Albany-Rensselaer.

[consist]

P42                      123
P42                           ?
Baggage               1241
Sleeper              62040    S----- View
Coach                25028
Coach                25047
Dinette                53511 -- this and all ahead come from Boston, added at Albany Rensselaer
P32AC                 715    )    off at Rensselaer
Coach                25067    ) 
Coach                25100
Coach                25069
Coach                25101
Diner                    8512
Sleeper               62019    Metropolitan View
Sleeper               62032    River View
Baggage                1752          

Train 49, 11-10-2010

Schedule

Actual

New York Penn

3:45 pm

3:46 pm

Croton-Harmon 4:29 4:27-30
Poughkeepsie 5:10 5:15-18
Albany-Rensselaer 6:25
7:05
6:15
7:07
Schenectady 7:31 7:29-36
Utica 8:44 8:50-54
11-11-2010    
Bryan 7:05 am 7:19-33 am
Waterloo 7:33 7:45-59
Elkhart 8:25 8:39-43
South Bend               ET 8:48 9:02-04
Chicago                      CT 9:45 10:00

We meet Train 48 at 4:39 pm, north of Croton-Harmon.

At Albany Rensselaer, where it is already dark, the dual-mode locomotive and one coach are removed. I walk the platform, but the Boston section is too far out in the yard to walk alongside, so Chris walks the train inside to collect the car identities. I get the lead locomotive from the radio, but as the train backs into Chicago, I never do get the second locomotive's identity.

We eat dinner west of Schenectady, and are in bed and asleep before Syracuse.

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

I awake west of Toledo, in daylight but thick fog. We stop somewhere unknown from 6:55 to 7:05 am. We eat breakfast west of Elkhart. By 9:30 am (Central time), it appears we will be in Chicago on time, but then we stop for six minutes at 21st Street or Lumber Street (our car is still south of 21st Street, but I think the locomotive was at Lumber Street), changing crews to "Job 3", We then pull out onto the former CB&Q, past the west apex of the wye, and back around the wye into the platform at Union Station.

About an hour later, we walk east on Adams, timed to get to The Berghoff after 11:30 am, where we eat lunch. Then we walk back to the station, and wait in the Metropolitan Lounge a little longer until the California Zephyr is called. I collect the consist by walking along the platform, before the train is ready to leave. On this walk, I spy Tim Noel waiting by the door of the coach next to the lounge, to greet his passengers.

[consist]

P42                        3
P42                     131
Baggage             1234
Dorm                39042
Coach               34047
Coach               34028
Lounge              33006
Diner                  38042
Sleeper               32012
Sleeper               32026

Train 5, 11-11-2010

Schedule

Actual

Chicago

2:00 pm

2:00 pm

Naperville 2:34 2:29-34
Princeton 3:44 7:21
    11-12-2010
Omaha 10:55 pm 3:23 am

California Zephyr Route Description

From 2:44 to 2:47, we stop at Aurora for an eastbound coal train to clear.

On the radio scanner, we routinely hear Conductors reminding Engineers (who have a more powerful radio in the locomotive) about Form B's showing upcoming track gangs who must be contacted by radio before the train enters their limits, which are marked by a "yellow-red flag" two miles from their limits, and a "red flag" at the beginning of the limits. (A "green flag" indicates the end of the limits.) As we approach Plano at the full track speed of 79 mph, at 3:00 pm,, the engineer begins screaming into the radio at the same moment as he makes a full brake application. It transpires that he has come upon a yellow-red flag that he had not prepared for. By the time the train comes to a stop, it has passed through the limits, thankfully without hitting anyone or any of the machines.

For this transgression, both engineer and conductor are relieved of duty immediately. This means we have to wait here until Amtrak can rustle up a rested crew which is qualified for this segment, and then drive them out to the train.  In the meantime, a BNSF Road Foreman arrives by road, to interview the engineer and conductor on the train. This section of line is double track, so other trains are able to pass and meet ours without significant delays (except that they now have only a single track on which to do this. A westbound BNSF coal train passes, Amtrak Train 6 meets us at 4:13 pm (hours late). A westbound BNSF empty coal train passes, followed by Amtrak Train 3 at 5:19 pm (90 minutes late). Some people on the train (including Tim) had expected Train 3 to drop off our replacement crew. Another westbound BNSF freight passes, then an eastbound, and finally an eastbound loaded caol train meets us.

At 4:45 pm, the head-end power shuts down and restarts as the locomotive goes into standby. At 6:20 pm, the HEP goes down again, as the locomotive is brought back into run condition, indicating the relief crew is here. We start moving at 6:36 pm. Chris and I go to our selected dinner reservation after 7 pm. During dinner, we have the opportunity to chat with Tim. The Princeton stop shows we're now three and a half hours late, so after dinner we decide to put the beds down and get some sleep before reaching Omaha, anticipating another stop along the way to wait for another replacement crew, as this one will time out before the normal crew change point at Omaha.

In Omaha (11/12-11/14)

Friday, November 12th, 2010

I awake at (my watch says) 2:41 am, somewhere in the vicinity of Pacific Junction, or maybe just after we have turned north onto the line into Omaha. We slowly get ready to depart the train on its arrival at Omaha. Outside, rain is falling steadily. We get off and walk into the pre-fabricated station building, wehre we reclaim the checked bags. Then, we run into Rick Martin, from Chicago, whom we had known intermittently since the NRHS Convention in San Jose, back in 1992. He wants to k now how to get to the same hotel we're going to. There's one taxicab sitting there, so all three of us get in and it takes us to our hotel, some eight blocks north on the adjacent north-south street.

Rick is here to ride on the same Saturday excursions that we're here for, so we offer to take him around with us on Friday, after we get the rental car we have reserved. At the hotel, we check in and go to our various rooms for more sleep. I awake around 10:30 am, and as we're getting dressed, Chris calls Rick to get him ready to ride out to the airport with us, so that we can pick up the car and not come back to the hotel afterwards. We get the car around noon, which will provide a target on Sunday for returning it without incurring the third day's charges.

Once we have the car, we head directly over the I-480 bridge across the Missouri River into Council Bluffs, and not finding a place for lunch first, go to the Union Pacific Railroad Museum, now located in the former Carnegie Public Library in the center of Council Bluffs. This is a very well done museum, with plenty of signs and carefully arranged artifacts, all designed to tell the story of the Union Pacific railroad, including its construction history, the heyday of the Streamliners, and the current operations of the railroad. There's a locomotive simulator, with full imagery of a number of line segments, an explanation of Dispatching (from the Harriman Center, located in the former freight station just north of the main line in downtown Omaha), and mockups of the interior of various passenger cars of the immediate pre-Amtrak era.

We ask for advice on eateries, and are pointed at the Main Street cafe, two blocks north. After lunch, we drive south to the Rails West Museum, located in the former Rock Island Depot adjacent to the north side of the tracks through town. Normally open only on weekends, this is specially open today due to the expected influx of riders for tomorrow's excursion. Inside the depot is a restored waiting room, an HO model railroad (quite well done), and several display cases, with artifacts that are barely identified, and not arranged to tell any story at all. Outside, there are a couple of display tracks, with some cars and loco motives, including former UP FEF-1 4-8-4 814.

Next, we drive west to Golden Spike Park, where current UP FEF-3 4-8-4 844 (which will haul our train in the morning) is parked with its set of service cars and the concession car, and adjacent to it is Iowa Interstate's ex-Chinese QJ 2-10-2 7081, which Henry Posner III has brought over from Iowa City, and which will also be running an excursion on Saturday, back east to its home. We get some photographs and patronize the concession car, thinking it will be easier today than on the train tomorrow. Then we drive back across the river to Omaha, and south to the erstwhile Union Station, now the Durham Western Heritage Museum, where we will be boarding our train early tomorrow morning.

Unlike tomorrow morning, the museum is open today, so we go inside the massive art deco waiting room, which is still fitted out with the ticket counter (now used as a gift shop), waiting benches, and soda fountain, just as it had been in its days of operation. It's a pleasure just to sit on one of the benches and look around. Most of the museum exhibits are downstairs, so we proceed there, where there are several railroad cars and former UP 4-6-0 1243 (which we had seen when it was carried on a flatcar to Railfair 99 in Sacramento). There are also a number of exhibits of the heritage of Omaha and its surrounding areas. All are designed in a similar style to the UPRR Museum, and similarly tell a story rather than just displaying the artifacts.

By now, after a day of steady rain and what the car's instruments say were 38F temperatures, darkness is falling, so we don't try going to the one remaing museum site at Kenefick Park, and return to the hotel. During dinner, snow starts to fall outside, so even though we have the rental car, Chris arranges for us to have places on the hotel's van going to the Durham Museum at 6:30 am on Saturday morning.

Saturday, November 13th, 2010

When we get to the lobby this morning, we find that Rick has already left, but there's another passenger, Carl, whom we have met on previous excursions. The shuttle driver doesn't know how to get into the lower level area of the museum's grounds, where we will board the train, so we have to walk down the ramp in the several inches of slush, and then around to the south side of the train to find our selected/assigned cars in the still full darkness. Carl and Rick are both riding in Coach, but the exigencies of the on-line reservations process (all booked out in ten minutes) meant that we ended up with the cheapest First-Class space, of which some was either left over or made available after the fact. Chris and I turn out to be sitting at a two-person table in the lower-level of a dome-diner, City of Portland..

The consist is included in the handout materisal, so we don't have to get down and walk the train in the dark and slush to collect that. As we wait for departure time, dawn breaks and by the time we're moving, I can see well enough to capture route details as we back up across the Missouri River bridge to clear the switch at the east end of the single remaining platform track.

[consist]

FEF-3                                        844
Water Car                       Jim Adams
Step Car 
Tool Car                       Art Lockman
 Boiler Dorm                 Howard Fogg
Baggae Car                  Lynn Nystrom
Souvenir Car                 Reed Jackson      these cars all come off at North Platte
E9A                                              951       these four locomotives added at North Platte
E9B                                            963B
E9A                                               949
C44AC                                         6481
Power Car                                                   the rest of the train made the round trip
Coach                          Portland Rose
Dome Diner       Missouri River Eagle
Dine                    City of Los Angeles
Coach                            Texas Eagle
Dome Diner              Colorado Eagle
Baggage Car                Council Bluffs
Coach                              Katy Flyer
Dome Coach                    Columbine
Power Car                                    308
Dome Diner              City of Portland
Dome Lounge                 Walter Dean
Diner/Lounge                        Overland
Dome Lounge    City of San Francisco
Business Car                           Kenefick

Overland Route route description

While we're waiting to depart, a westbound empty coal train passes on the BNSF line, and an eastbound loaded coal train on the UP. At 7:34 am, we start out backwards, stopping from 7:44 to 7:46 after the locomotive has cleared 7th Street, then pulling forward and crossing over at 7th Street. There is an eastbound freight on the BNSF before the BNSF and UP lines separate. (One of the interesting things about Omaha railroad history is that the Burlington built lines both east and west of the city, while the Union Pacific began in the Omaha-Council Bluffs area, and a number of lines through Iowa ended in Council Bluffs-Omaha. This it was operationally quite natural, when the time came for a Union Station, for the Burlington to maintain its own separate station, which is on the south side of the tracks, here, where Amtrak now calls, and the other lines to connect at the Union Station, on the north side of the tracks. Eventually, there was an overhead covered walkway connecting the concourses of both stations.)

We cross back over at 57th Street, at 8:02 am, and then stop for three minutes at Seymour. In the next several minutes, we meet an eastbound UP manifest, and two eastbound UP coal trains. We then cross over again at Mercer, and overtake a westbound manifest at Fremont. Less than an hour west of town, not only is the sun completely out, but there clearly has not been any snow on the ground from this weather event! West of Fremont, the Union Pacific has done a lot of work on the track to make this route competitve for intermodal trains from the west coast with the service already being provided by BNSF. This includes high-speed crossovers and CTC with bi-directional signaling (as has already been evident east of Fremont).  Transit times using the Overland Route are now shorter (at least from the Bay Area) than those on the former Santa Fe route.

From 8:58 to 9:09, we stop at Best, where the crossovers are under maintenance, then flag the signal and discuss our passage with the maintenance team. From 9:20 to 9:22, we stop at the Intermediate Signals at MP 51.1, and then get the dispatcher's permission to pass them. We cross over again at 9:37 am, and then meet an eastbound double-stack and an eastbound coal train, and later an eastbound manifest. We stop at Clark  from 10:28 to 10:42 for the crew to check the locomotive, during which an eastbound coal train passes. We meet another eastbound coal train and eastbound manifest before reaching Grand Island.

The on-board crew, comprising Union Pacific employees who have apparently volunteered for this fund-raising event, hands out donuts (and there is coffee available in the kitchen below the dome). This train is a celebration of the 50th Anniversary of 844's ferry run from Council Bluffs to Omaha to initiate the UP Steam Program, back in 1960, and is being operated as a fund-raiser for the UPRR Museum that we had been at on Friday. There is a service stop at Grand Island from 11:16 to 12:00, at which Steve Lee boards the locomotive for what will apparently be his last run driving a steam excursion before his upcoming retirement. While we're stopped at Grand Island, three eastbound BNSF coal trains pass by on the elevated BNSF line passing over the UP main line.

During the trip, Carl Heinrich, President of the Friends of the UPRR Museum, notice me taking the route description and asks what I'm working on. He seems bemused by the answer. Box lunches are served while the train is stopped at Grand Island. Once we get started again, we meet an eastbound double-stack, an eastbound coal train, an eastbound grain train, and eastbound refrigerator car train, and two eastbound double-stacks. We slow and then stop at Cozad, where an eastbound coal train passes us. After we get started again, we meet an eastbound double stack, an eastbound coal train, an eastbound intermodal (trailers as well as double-stacks), and an eastbound coal train. Maintenance forces are swapping in concrete ties on one of the three tracks, as we meet another eastbound coal train, an eastbound double-stack, and an eastbound manifest before we diverge from the main line at the east end of the Bailey Yard at North Platte, at 2:17 pm.

The steam consist (844 and all of its support cars) cuts off at 2:40 pm, and the C44AC is coupled on at 3:01 pm. It then pulls us up over the 'sheep jump' (a track that bridges over the main line while reversing the direction of a train passing over it, mainly used to get westbound locomotives to the diesel shop), and coupling onto the three waiting E-units at 3:40 pm. We finally depart North Platte eastbound at 4:01 pm. The people in our car are called to Overland for our hot dinner at 4:30 pm, and darkness falls while we're eating, so keeping track of the trains we meet while heading eastward is not practicable. The train now operates at 79 mph over most of the line, and the effect is as if were were traveling on one of the UP Strealiner fleet in the glory years of the 1950s and early 1960s.

From 6:21 to 6:23 pm, we stop at Grand Island, to drop off two managers and board another. Once again, we're stopped to flag the crossovers at Best, just as we were heading west, making two stops from 8:06 to 8:10 pm, and then from 8:21 to 8:23 pm. At 9:31 pm, we stop in Omaha, having entered the track directly from the west. This means that the first class cars are well to the west of 10th Street, and there is no footing here for us to deboard onto. We thus have to walk forward to the Missouri River Eagle, a process which takes 20 minutes or so. Chris tries calling the hotel for the shuttle, but can't get her phone to work. (Carl has acquired the van, but it receives another call while we're still passing through the train, and has to leave.)

Rick is at the front of the train, using his tripod to capture 'available-light' shots of the E-units with the former Union Station in the background. The view is magnificent! He offers us his phone, but now Chris can't find the phone number, so we walk the eight block back to the hotel, passing the Harriman Dispatching center on the way. The temperature is just above freezing, so the snow has melted but the going is "brisk". At the hotel, we run into Carl who explains about the shuttle. We're alright, now that we're back at the hotel, sixteen hours after leaving it!

Sunday, November 14th, 2010

We get up late, and have breakfast at the hotel (which runs later on Sundays). The one rail museum we did not get to on Friday was to see the Big Boy (4023) and the Centennial (6900) at Kenefick Park, which I can't find on my map. To my surprise, the hotel desk clerk knows immediately and exactly where the locomotives are, and tells us in detail how to get to the appropriate parking area, which is at the Botanic Gardens, south on 10th Street, beyond the railroad lines, almost to I-80, and then east to the end of a specific street. We drive this, and can't see the locomotives! It transpires that they're at the top of a 62-step flight of steps at the rear of the parking lot, overlooking I-80's crossing of the Missouri River.

We climb the steps in the mid-morning chill (but thankfully, sunshine), and visit the two locomotives, which are well sited for display above the Interstate, but not for photography from within the park. Once we're done at this location, we stop at the hotel to alert the shuttle driver, and then drive out to the airport and return the car., getting it in under the 48-hour deadline (for paying for only two days). The shuttle drive picks us up, and is appalled to hear that we paid Hertz for the fuel, but to me, that's in the noise of having spent just under $25 per museum visited with the car!

We spend the rest of the afternoon in the room, with the NFL games on television, and then in early evening walk south to the Old Market area to look for a place for dinner. This is a gentrified restoration of what was once the warehouses and trading establishement of the eponymous function, where downtown Omaha once was (it has since moved several blocks west, to judge by the location of the high rise buildings). I had looked up restaurants in a brochure in the room, but this is Sunday, and the ones I had noticed are closed, so we end up at a spaghetti house that comes close to being the worst restaurant we have ever patronized (albeit it is crowded, this evening). The food is terrible, and the server overly enthusiastic about asking how we're doing. I don't comment on the food (since it's obvious there's nothing that could be done to improve it), but I do comment about the server's behavior.

The Journey West 2 (11/15-11/18)

Sunday, November 14th, 2010 (cont.)

Back at the hotel, we check in with 'Julie', and discover that our train is on time out of the last station before Omaha (some two hours away). So, we call down to the desk to reserve the shuttle for 10:15 pm (so we can check the bags before the deadline) and finish packing. We go down and check out, and then wait for the shuttle, which is out at the airport. The desk tells him to come back and take us to Amtrak, not wait for all outstanding arrivals at the airport, so he does so. At Amtrak, we check the bags, and then settle down to wait, as the train seems to get five minutes later for every ten minutes that passes. Finally, it shows up some twenty-five minutes late.  I note the numbers of the locomotives as they pass, and Chris will get the rest of the consist later. On the train, we go right to bed.

[consist]

P42                        117
P42                          19
Baggage                1211
Dorm                   39035
Coach                  34052
Coach-Baggage    31033
Coach                  34000
Lounge                 33035
Diner                    38016
Sleeper                 32052
Sleeper                  32059

Train 5, 11-14-2010

Schedule

Actual

Omaha                              CT

10:55 pm
11:05

11:20 pm
11:42

11-15-2010    
Denver                              MT 7:15 am
8:05
7:16 am
8:05
Fraser-Winter Park 10:07 10:04-08
Granby 10:37 10:35-37
Glenwood Springs 1:53 pm 1:32-53 pm
Grand Junction 4:10 3:30-4:10
Green River 5:58 5:52-58
Helper                              MT 7:20 7:14-20
11-16-2010    
Reno                                 PT 8:36 am 8:16-36
Truckee 9:37 9:31-37
Colfax 11:48 11:42-48
Roseville 12:57 pm 1:18-20 pm
Sacramento 2:13 1:43-49
Davis 2:44 2:05-07
Martinez 3:26 2:47
Richmond 3:58 3:13
Emeryville 4:10 pm 3:22 pm

Monday, November 15th, 2010

I awake as the train is beginning its trip around the wye to back into Denver Union Station. The schedule padding has allowed last night's lateness to become an on-time arrival in Denver. Light snow is falling in the station area, which bodes well for a very scenic run across the mountains today, provided we don't end-up running in the clouds themselves. I get Chris up, and as she is dressing, the last call for breakfast is made. We eat breakfast with a couple from Denver, who have started to ride Amtrak lines just for the pleasure of it, so an interesting conversation ensues as the train climbs up through the 'Big Ten' and 'Little Ten' curves and the snowscape becomes more and more interesting.

The scenery is covered in white as we reach Moffat Tunnel, not quite into the clouds, but the snowscape is brilliant as we exit the west end of the tunnel into Winter Park, where it appears that ski season could open today. (The temperature at Fraser is 23F.) The brilliant scenery continues through Byers, Gore and Red Canyons, but has diminished somewhat by the time we're eating lunch as the train passes Dotsero. However, after the passage of Glenwood Canyon, there is much snow in the vicinity of the Glenwood Springs station, where we stop long enough for Chris to collect the rest of the consist (baggage car). Below this location, the altitude has dropped to the point where there is little more snow at track level, while much remains up in the mountains on either side of the Colorado River valley. There's no sign of snow during the lengthy stop (to wait for time) at Grand Junction (43F).

Along the way, we meet BNSF 4977, an eastbound manifest, at Flat (11:03 am), and Amtrak Train 6 at Dotsero (12:59 pm). Darkness falls about the time we separate from the Colorado River and climb up onto the plateau to the west. Chris and I eat dinner as the train makes its Helper stop.  From 7:40 to 7:50 pm, we run at restricted speed because something has triggered a slide fence in Price Canyon, then have to stop for Dispatcher's permission to proceed. Chris and I are asleep by the time the trains tops in Provo.

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

The train is west of Winnemucca when I awake, into a sunny but not snowy landscape. The temperature is apparently much warmer here, confirmed by the weather map in the newspaper pushed under our room door after the Reno stop. By now, the train is quite empty, with only four or five of the small rooms in the car occupied. We eat breakfast before and during the Reno Stop, so that we're ready to watch the scenery as the train climbs Truckee River Canyon (where there's fog along the river) and then Coldstream Canyon on the way to Donner Summit. Since the train is on time, we can wait until after Colfax to go to the Diner for lunch, thus enabling us to watch the scenery on the west side of the pass, also. An operational stop from 12:48 to 1:11 pm at Rocklin, due to congestion ahead (including Amtrak Train 6 at Roseville, late due to locomotive problems) makes us twenty minutes or so late at Roseville, but the vast amount of schedule padding between Roseville and Sacramento turns that into an early arrival into Sacramento, and, since the train does not pick up passengers from Sacramento west, an early departure thence, and early passage of all subsequent stations, culminating in an over 45-minute early arrival at Emeryville.

We have no bags to collect, so eschewing a visit to the depot this afternoon, we take the footbridge directly to the west side of the tracks, and walk over to the Four Points hotel, a quarter mile or so away. As frequent visitors, we get an end room with a small balcony, and the temperature is warm enough to sit outside and watch the trains go by until darkness falls, a couple of hours later. About an hour after that, we walk over to PF Chang's for an excellent dinner, after which we retire for the night.

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

At daybreak, a quick call to 'Julie' confirms that the Coast Starlight has left Sacramento on time, so we arise, check-out, and walk back to the Emeryville station, heading for the depot this time. A couple of Capitol Corridor trains go by, and then our train arrives, slowly, permitting me to collect the front part of the consist (that can't be done from within the train) as it comes to a stop. We put our bags in the room, and head directly for breakfast, which we manage to have in the Pacific Parlor car as the train makes its way from Emeryville to Jack London Square, past the locomotive and car facilities at West Oakland, where the old Southern Pacific shed, damaged by the 1989 earthquake, has recently been demolished..

[consist]

P42                   144
P42                      73
F59PH                466
Baggage            1855
Dorm                39005
Sleeper              32015
Sleeper              32066
Sleeper              32007
Parlor                39974
Diner                 38058
Lounge              33039
Coach               34046
Arcade Coach   34510
Coach                34064

Train 11, 11-16-2010

Schedule

Actual

11-17-2010    

Emeryville

8:15 am
8:25

8:15 am
8:25

Oakland Jack London Square 8:40
8:50
8:34
8:50
San Jose 9:55
10:07
9:51
10:07
Salinas 11:48 12:07-16 pm
Pas Robles 1:38 pm 2:00-03
San Luis Obispo 3:20 3:14
3:48
Santa Barbara 6:17 6:12-20
Oxnard 7:05 7:02-05
Simi Valley 7:38 7:34
Van Nuys 8:05 7:59
Burbank Airport 8:15 8:07
Los Angeles 9:00 pm 8:26 pm

Coast Starlight Route Description

The train takes the Mulford Line today, the first time we have been that way since the Coast Starlight started taking the route through Fremont several years ago. From 9:25 to 9:31 am, we take the siding at Albrae for a northbound Capitol to pass. There are good autumn colors alongside the line south of San Jose. The radio reports a car on the track in Gilroy, so we stop at south Morgan Hill, and then run forward at Restricted Speed. We pass a car accident off to the east, well to the north of Gilroy, and there's nothing to be seen at the specific crossing in Gilroy, so we resume speed at 10:56 am. The car attendant comes by to take lunch reservations, and we make them for the Pacific Parlor car. (We won't be able to do that for dinner, since with only 15 sleeping car passengers by that time, it isn't worth setting up the steam tables with all of the potential choices for dinner.)

From 11:46 to 11:49 am, we stop at the south end of CTC (north end of Salinas) to get a Track Warrant. (We have to stop to do this, because there's only one person in the locomotive cab, today.) The conductor is irritated that the track warrant only goes to MP 210, and not all the way to CTC Santa Margarita. There must be another train out on the line today! Having stopped, the conductor has to check on the position of the spring switch at North Salinas (since the signal is red), which takes five minutes, and we then have to run at Restricted Speed through Salinas, due to flagging the signal. Chris and I have lunch after the train leaves Salinas, a half hour late.

From 1:42 to 1:44 pm, we stop at McKay to get a new Track Warrant, this one the rest of the way to CTC Santa Margarita. From 2:35 to 2:38 pm, we stop at CTC Santa Margarita because the signal is red. Nonetheless, we're early arriving at San Luis Obispo. Train 14 gets there at 3:26 pm, clearing the track for us, but is having locomotive trouble, so we wait in case we have to give that train one of the three locomotives we have. We don't, so we leave at 3:48 pm, almost a half hour late again. From 4:30 to 4:32, we stop at MP 281 to copy a Track Warrant, this time all the way to CTC 356. (The previous one had been to MP 284).

The car is almost empty, so we're able to sit on the west side from where the line reaches the Pacific Ocean to somewhere south (east) of Point Arguello, but west of Gaviota, where the oncoming darkness becomes too great to see anything. Because we're not early(!), we don't have to sit for half an hour at Ellwood, waiting for the northbound Surfliner that we meet here in a rolling meet. Chris and I have dinner at Santa Barbara. At 6:57 pm, a Metrolink train (121) has just arrived at its station at Montalvo. We meet Metrolink train 123 at Santa Susana, and Amtrak 785 at Chatsworth before arriving in Los Angeles early.

We take the carry-on bags to the car and then go to the other end of the station to get the checked bags. We then drive the two bocks from the east end of the station to the Metro Plaza Hotel at the west side, where we have a room for the night. As I get to the room, the phone is ringing, and the desk clerk tells me he's given us the "wrong room". He comes running up with a new key, and as I get to the new room (its larger), Chris appears with the luggage cart of bags from the car.

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

We get up just in time to have the included breakfast, check out, and head for home, stopping at Bristol Farms in South Pasadena on the way. We get home about 1 pm, where all is well.