An NRHS Conference in Colonial Williamsburg
January 23-February 3, 2011

Don Winter

Introduction

This trip was to attend the Winter 2011 NRHS Conference in Williamsburg, VA. we traveled out and back on Amtrak, encountering snow on the way, in both directions.

The Journey East (1/23-1/27)

Sunday, January 23rd, 2011

We have to leave a day earlier than originally planned, because Amtrak will not book an 80-minute connection off Train 30 at Washington, DC, and the train we wanted to connect to is the last train of the day to the Virginia Tidewater on a day other than Friday or Saturday. So, we have an overnight stay in Washington and will continue the next morning. (We're also another day earlier than really needed, because I want to go all the way to Newport News, not just to Williamsburg.)

We leave home on a beautiful spring-like day (55F.) at about 1:30 pm. and drive down to Los Angeles, where the temperature is in the 70s (F.), checking some of the luggage to Washington, DC, and then sitting in the north patio until its time to head for the train (we think). When we get the carry-on bags to the platform, from the car in the MTA garage, we find only a few people there, including an Amtrak conductor who is based in La Junta. The trainset has required a last-minute locomotive change, and doesn't arrive in the platform until after 7 pm, finally leaving an hour and twenty minutes late. I collect the consist as it backs into the platform.

[consist]

P42                158
P40                821
Baggage        1163
Dorm            39022
Sleeper          32015
Sleeper          32086    Louisiana
Diner             38007
Lounge          33007
Coach            34018
Coach            34028   

Train 4, 1-23-2011

Schedule

Actual

Los Angeles

6:15 pm

7:36 pm

Fullerton

6:50 pm 8:04-13

Riverside

7:33 8:57-9:00

San Bernardino                 PT

7:59 9:19-24

1-24-2011

   

Winslow                            MT

6:38 am 7:28-30 am

Gallup, NM

8:21 9:06-08

Albuquerque

11:42
12:10 pm
11:30
12:10 pm

Lamy

1:15 1:34-39

Las Vegas, NM

3:03 3:16-18

Raton

4:50 5:03-06

Trinidad, CO

5:49 6:06

La Junta

7:31
7:41
7:20
7:41
Lamar                                 MT 8:40 8:38-40

1-25-2011

   

Kansas City, MO               CT

7:24 am
7:40
(earlier)
7:43 am

La Plata

9:55 9:50-55

Ft. Madison, IA

11:09 10:59-11:09

Galesburg, IL

12:08 pm 12:10-13 pm

Princeton

12:58 1:04-06

Mendota

1:19 1:25-27

Naperville

2:42 2:16

Chicago

3:15 2:49

Southwest Chief route description

For once, we take the first dinner seating, and go to bed while the train is stopped at San Bernardino.

Monday, January 24th, 2011

I awake as the train arrives in Winslow, Arizona. While the weather is not springlike in Arizona and New Mexico, there is no snow on the ground in these states, either. The wonders of schedule padding get us into Albuquerque early. Ongoing track work on the RailRunner line causes us to lose some time to Lamy, but the schedule padding gets us back on time (early) into La Junta. The newly-reduced speed (60 mph) on the jointed track in Kansas makes for better sleep on the second night out, this trip.

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

We arrive in Kansas City before dawn, and before I awake. Here, the weather is definitely wintry, with snow everywhere. The Missouri River, during breakfast, appears completely frozen. Again, the schedule padding gets us into Chicago early. During the layover, we step outside the station only briefly, to visit the CVS drugstore across the street from the great hall. Of the departing western trains, Train 7 is delayed until 5:30 pm because the yard crew can't get HEP through the train! At boarding time, I collect the consist as we head down the train to the sleeper near the front.

[consist]

P42                120
P42                170
Baggage        1857
Dorm            39013
Sleeper          32023
Sleeper          32045
Diner             38024
Lounge          33006
 Coach-Bagg. 31036
Coach            34100   

Train 30, 1-25-2011

Schedule

Actual

Chicago                              CT

6:40 pm

6:40 pm

South Bend                         ET 9:09 9:13-16
Elkhart 9:29 9:35-38
1-26-2011    
Cumberland 9:19 am
9:31
9:57 am
10:01
Martinsburg 11:03 11:37-39
Harpers Ferry 11:25 12:01-05 pm
Rockville 12:10 pm 12:47-49
Washington, DC 1:10 pm 1:14 pm

Capitol Limited route description

We eat dinner (in a full diner, after years of diner lite on this train!) as the train heads into rural Indiana, losing some time due to congestion from other trains, including a stop at Englewood for a Metra Rock Island train to pass in front of us.

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

There's a lot of snow, with more falling on the west slope of Sand Patch, where I awake. The CSX Dispatcher stops us just west of the summit, because he's using both tracks on the east slope for climbing westbound trains, one passing another. We wait for 24 minutes, with one westbound passing us, before crossing over and heading down the east slope, meeting the other train east of the tunnel. As we arrive in Washington, we make a couple of momentary stops for trains to clear in front of us, before we stop in one of the through platforms. We collect the checked bags before leaving the station.

There's no snow falling in Washington as we walk the block and a half to the hotel, but the snow starts to fall around sunset. We eat in the Dubliner Irish Pub, attached to the hotel, as the snow accumulates outside, and make arrangements for a taxi to pick us up at 6:30 am, anticipating we won't be able to walk back to the station with all the luggage.

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

The booked taxi arrives as we check out, which is good, because there's almost a foot of snow on the ground! We ask the redcaps to take us down to the train, which they do at 7 am. It transpires that Train 67 will originate here, today (it normally comes down overnight, from Boston), due to the snow in New England, which is apparently much worse than it is in Washington. Although there's a Business Class car on the rear of the train, the crew elects not to use the cars behind the cafe, and Business Class is allocated a standard 80-seat Amfleet coach at the front (as opposed to the 64 seats in the designated Business Class cars).

[consist]

P42                123
Coach        82533
Coach        82754
Coach        82752
Cafe           28363
Coach        82776
Coach        82554
Business     81518           

Train 67, 1-27-2011

Schedule

Actual

Washington, DC

7:30 am

7:37 am

Alexandria 7:47 7:56-58
Quantico 8:14 8:37
Fredericksburg 8:33 9:44-46
Ashland 9:17 11:28
Richmond (Staples Mill) 9:38
9:45
11:41
11:44
Richmond Main Street 10:12 12:07-11 pm
Williamsburg 11:15 1:24
Newport News 11:50 1:53 pm

Virginia Tidewater route description

At Virginia Avenue, where we stop for three minutes, the CSX Dispatcher says "come on down and join the misery", so we anticipate delays on the way south, as indeed there are. There is much snow along the Potomac, but it decreases steadily as we head south, almost disappearing by Richmond Staples Mill Road, and gone completely in downtwon Richmond and thereafter. We stop for six minutes at Featherstone, during which CSX Q.139 pases heading northbound, and 34 minutes at Arkendale, both at red signals, meeting Train 98 at 8:58 am, two hours late, after which we cross over and overtake a CSX manifest that we had been following, then crossing back and meeting a north bound VRE train at 9:40 am, Amtrak train 86 at 9:43 am, Amtrak train 96 at 9:50 am, and CSX Q.438 at 9:53 am.

We then stop from 9:58 to 10:45 am at Hamilton, due to a VRE breakdown at Fredericksburg, during which Amtrak train 84 passes (10:06 am). We then meet CSX freights at 10:49 and 10:54 am, and Amtrak train 94 at 11:24 am. After leaving Richmond, we are stopped at signals for nine minutes and three minutes, due to coal trains on the former C&O. At Newport News, we see C&O 2-8-4 2756 in Huntington Park, across from the depot, as we take a taxi to our hotel.

This hotel is not one of my better travel planning decisions, being no longer a Holiday Inn, and very run down, in what is now a minority neighborhood. There are no amenities in the hotel, neither water glasses nor coffee pot in the room (but there is a refrigerator), and the telephone doesn't not even work for calling the front desk. There are only fast food restaurants within walking distance. As we walk back from eating, the same cab driver stops to ask how things are, and arranges to pick us up in the morning.

At the Conference (1/28-1/30)

Friday, January 28th, 2011

The cabbie is as good as his word, and we return to the station just before the train backs in to start loading. The conductor is somewhat surprised that we are going only one stop (and in Business Class at that), and nearly takes the tickets to Washington, as well.

[consist]

P42                 139
Cafe             48191
Coach           82702
Coach           82588
Coach           82654          

Train 94, 1-28-2011

Schedule

Actual

Newport News

9:15 am

9:15 am

Williamsburg 9:38 9:36-39

At the depot in Williamsburg, we take a taxi to the Williamsburg Lodge, our home for the next three nights, get directly into our room, and then eat breakfast in the hotel restaurant, where we greet Don Bishop and Nina Lawford-Juviler. We then head out into the 40-degree weather to spend the rest of the day at Colonial Williamsburg.

Williiamsburg was the capital of Virginia from 1699 (moving from Jamestown) to 1780 (when it moved to Richmond). It was thus the capital of the British colony during the years leading up to the War of Independence and the first few years of that war. In 1926, John D Rockefeller, Jr., decides to restore the heart of Williamsburg to its 18th-century appearance, and provided funding for that purpose. Restoration (and reconstruction) of buildings in Williamsburg's historical area has continued to the present day. Many of the buildings are open to the (paying) public, and staffed by actors in period dress who, depending on the building, provide tours, act period parts, or perform period tasks and explain them to visitors. The period of choice varies slightly, but generally falls between the end of the Seven Years War (1763) and the Declaration of Independence (1776), with the specific date chosen for dramatic possibilities, where applicable.

Our hotel, run by Colonial Williamsburg, is right on the south edge of the historical area, making everything well within walking distance, for us. Tickets are available to "conference visitors" covering the whole period of the conference (through Sunday afternoon, for us) for one price, and provide a badge to be worn showing ones' ticketed status. We walk into the historic area on a diagonal path paved with shells, purchase these at the Lumber House Ticket Office, and make dinner reservations at Chowning's Tavern at the same time. Then we start our traversal of the sites that are open today, with some guidance from the ticket seller. The historic town has a central street (Duke of Gloucester Street), extending from William & Mary College, to the west, to the Capitol, to the east, astride which is the large public Market Square containing the Magazine and the Courthouse, ad well as open public areas. West of the square, a wide approach (Palace Green) leads north to the Governor's Palace. A street parallel to the main street is aligned with the north side of the central square. (There is one to the south, too, but it is open to normal traffic and tends to act as the southern boundary of the historic area.)  Various north-south streets connect the three east-west streets.

The larger houses tend to be arrayed around the Market Square or along the palace green, with artisan's workshops, retail establishments, and taverns disposed among the smaller houses along the main street and the major side streets. Our visits thus comprise an interesting variety of houses, large and small(er), and artisan workshops, as well as the major public buildings. The ticket office is located on the south side of the main street, across from the southeast corner of Palace Green, and with some advice regarding buildings that are closing shortly (for the day), or will not be open on the weekend), we head out onto Palace Green, passing by the church at the southwest corner, to visit the Wythe House. George Wythe, a lawyer and one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, lived in this house from 1755 to 1791, and taught both Thomas Jefferson and John Marshall. The house has four rooms, each with a fiireplace, on each of two full stories, with a large staircase in the center. The rooms are decorated and furnished in period style and with period pieces.

Because we have only a limited time today and on Sunday, I choose not to linger in the Wythe House Garden, so we head around the corner, westward, to the Wheelwright, who is in the rear outdoor area, preparing to place an iron tire on a wooden wheel, using the heating process which was later adapted for putting new tyres on steam locomotive wheels. The wheelwright is responsible for all aspects of constriction and maintenance of the carriages used in Colonial Williamsburg. The re-tiring process will take too long for us to watch it to its conclusion, so we leave, and head east, across Palace Green, and along Nicholson Street, past the St. George Tucker House (beautifully appointed on the outside), which is used as a Donor Reception Center), to the northeast corner of North England Street and Nicholson Street, along the north side of the Market Square, to a house which the ticket seller has told us will not be open on the weekend, so we must visit it today.

We enter the Peyton Randolph House through its oldest portion, via a door facing North England Street. This two storey house was later added to by an additional two-storey portion connecting to the smaller house to the east. The newer portion is more grandly furnished than the older. We go upstairs in the older portion, and then pass through bedrooms to the newer, where we descend the grand staircase and view the dining room, set for the usual afternoon dinner with some guests. The rooms are decorated with period furniture, draperies and art. Peyton Randolph was an important figure in Williamsburg at the time just before independence, being Speaker of the House of Burgesses and becoming a delegate to the Continental Congress, of which he was elected the first president. Unfortunately, he died in 1775, while attending the meetings in Philadelphia. After touring the house, we go out to the outbuildings, behind the house, where we view the laundry room and the kitchen, where historical trades cooks are preparing food of the period, which we can view and smell, but not eat.

Chris and I leave the outbuildings, walk around to the front of the house, and head east, stopping to chat with an artisan working on the front of the smaller house to the east. Then we cross the street to visit the Cooper, who is making a period wooden bucket from oak staves and metal trusses to hold them in place. On a bucket, the staves are straight, but for a cask they would be curved by application of heat. After visiting the cooper, we re-cross the street to visit Anthony Hay's Cabinetmaking Shop. The west end of this building is built directly over a stream, making it look as if something inside had originally been water-powered, but we don't see any evidence inside that this was actually so. The west end of the building is arranged as a showroom for completed pieces, with the workshop at the east end. One of the current workers also makes period harpsichords, one of which resides in the showroom and can be played. The workshop is outfitted with period tools, showing us exactly what the craftsmen of the time had at their disposal, which are used exclusively in the production of cabinets and the like for use in the historic area.

We exit from the rear of the workshop, cross the stream on a small bridges, and return to Nicholson Street, where we continue east and then make our way south down Botetourt Street to Duke of Gloucester Street, where we patronize Tarpley's Store, and then head east on Duke of Gloucester Street, quite the most built-up street in Colonial Williamsburg, lined with taverns and businesses, until we reach Charlton's Coffee House, the newest of the reconstructed locations in the historic area, where we are treated to a tour or the private and public rooms, a sampling of hot chocolate in the period style, and a skit on the style of gossip to be expected in 1766, based on the happenings elsewhere in the colonies. We leave the coffee house and head across to the Capitol, at the east end of the street, where we are five minutes late for a tour and are directed towards the Public Gaol while we wait the 25-minutes for the next tour.

The Public Gaol is where those arrested for felonies awaited their trial at one of the court sessions, which could be as much as six months away. In the 18th-century, the gaol was not used as a location for punishing convicted offenders, who were generally executed soon after conviction, unless a pardon could be obtained. However, almost 80% of those coming to trial were found not guilty, perhaps because of the draconian sentences awaiting the convicted. Gaol cells held as may as twenty people each in a twenty-by-ten foot cell (including the "throne" in each cell, used as a toilet), of which there were three in the partially original and partially reconstructed gaol. An exercise yard is also included, along with a house fo the gaoler.

The (reconstructed) Capitol is a substantial two-storey structure, housing both the seat of government and the high court (where felonies are tried) when Williamsburg was Virginia's capital. The tour includes both sides of the facility, as well as acted sketches depicting the development of the Virginia Bill of Rights in 1775. The east wing contains the meeting room for the House of Burgesses (the elected, lower house) on the first floor, and committee rooms upstairs, whuile the west wing contains the Court Room on the first floor, and the King's Council Chamber (the upper house) on the second floor. The bridge between them contains a conference room where the two houses could negotiate their differences. Various courts met up to four different times a year to hear cases. This Capitol is where the Virginia legislature voted to instruct its delegation to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia to vote for independence, in 1776.

Wending our way back west along the main street, we go into the back yard behind the James Anderson House to visit the reconstructed James Anderson Blacksmith Shope, were we find several workers using materials, tools and facilities (such as a coal-fire forge) that would have been familiar to James Anderson. These workers reproduce iron objects and useful articles that are of use in the daily activities of the workers in Colonial Williamsburg. From the blacksmith's shop, we return to the hotel for an hour's relaxation before heading out, back to the historical area, for dinner.

Chowning's Tavern, on the north side of Duke of Gloucester Street, east of the courthouse, was opened by Josiah Chowning in 1766, and currently serves "hearty fare similar to the dishes enjoyed by its patrons in the 18th-century". We eat dinner there, on the second floor, where we are cajoled into wearing our napkins around the neck in period style. Chris and I eat welsh rarebit and crab cakes, both dishes which we regularly eat at home, today. The other possibilities seem much heavier than we wish to eat, and indeed, we do not clean our plates of the main course.

After dinner, we stop by the NRHS registration table and pick up our registration packets for the weekend's meetings.

Saturday, January 29th, 2011

Wrenching ourselves from the 18th-century to the 21st-century, we head this morning to the 9 am start of the NRHS Board Meeting. Today, the schedule-makers have allocated three hours for paragraph-by-paragraph discussion of the draft By-Laws that specify the proposed new governance approach, but the discussion actually takes six hours, and thus eats up the entire day, during which a number of substantive motions from the floor are approved, in the process which is described as "perfecting the By-Laws", with those motions' approval somewhat to the discomfiture of some of the society leadership. At the end, a move is made to approve the By-Laws for presentation to the membership, but the sense of the Board is to hold this off until Sunday morning.

Chris and I have dinner in the hotel restaurant, since we don't feel up to walking to any of the outside restaurants.

Sunday, January 30th, 2011

After overnight reflection, the By-Laws are approved for presentation to the membership as a whole. A presentation on the strategic planning process (which takes the National Trust for Historic Preservation as one of its exemplars) and a draft three-year budget follows. This process will culminate in resolutions for adoption at the Spring BoD meeting. The remainder of the quotidian Board Meeting follows, without incident or interest. Chris and I have brunch in the hotel restaurant (a bit different from Saturday's lunch buffet) before heading back to the 18th-century for the afternoon.

From the hotel, we head directly across Duke of Gloucester Street and up Palace Green to the reconstructed Governor's Palace, where we have to wait five minutes or so for the next guided tour to begin. The palace is a three-storey building, with a walled forecourt flanked by two advance buildings in which the Governor's aides had their offices. The first floor has an entrance hall, with a display of firearms and swords, flanked on the left by the butler's pantry and on the right by the parlor. Behind the hallway is the stairway to the second floor, and beyond that a formal receiving room. A late rear addition comprises a supper room and formal ballroom, beyond which double doors open onto the formal garden.

The second floor contains a sequence of bedrooms, laid out as if for the last royal Governor, Lord Dunmore, and the six children he had wth him in this house. The third floor, with its dormer windows in the roof, comprises six chambers that would have been used by children, their nurse and their governess. The guides tell us that we're touring the house prior to a formal ball in the evening to celebrate Lord Dunmore's return from a trip to the lands beyond the Appalachians, in 1774. After the tour, we exit into the gardens, where Chris and I head for the kitchen which is staffed by people actually cooking food of the period, which is available to look at and savor its aromas.

Exiting onto Palace Green, we return southward, to visit the James Geddy House and, initially, the gunsmith and foundry in the back yard.  James Geddy Sr. was the gunsmith, who operated a fundry for making brasswork for guns. Today, this is operated to cast in bronze, brass, pewter, and silver. While waiting to tour the Geddy House, we chat with John and Peggy Swigart on its front porch. The house is interpreted as it was in the time of James Geddy Jr., who operated a silversmith's shop in part of the building. The house has two stories, with no dromers, but a front porch and balcony. The silversmith's shop has display cases with silver objects of the period.

The Shoemaker, across Duke of Gloucester Street from the Geddy House, demonstrates shoemaking tools and techniques of the period, making shoes in the 18th-century styles, which are interesting in and of themselves. From the shoemaker, we walk east, and back across the street, into the Market Square. The Courthouse, centrally located in the Market Square, was the location of the County Court (misdemeanors), Municipal Court (civil cases), and meetings of the town council, for a span of 150 years. At our visit, the guide is discoursing on the county court and its several punishments, including the stocks and pillory outside, and a whip which is laying on a table near the judge's bench.

The Magazine was the store for arms and ammunition dispatched from London for defense of the colony. It is a substantial building, laid out as an octogon, with an additional encircling wall and gate. The second floor of the Magazine has a substantial display of 18th-century arms, whose usage the guide is happy to discourse upon. The Magazine was the site of an incident in the months leading up to the Revolutionary War, when the Governor ordered the gunpowder removed from the Magazine to ships at anchor in the James River. A Saddlemaker demonstrates his leatherworking techniques on the first floor of the Magazine, below the armory display and interpretation.

We return to the hotel for a couple of hours relaxation, before heading out for dinner with Joe and Elissa Williams at one of the modern restaurants in town. Interesting conversation accompanies dinner.

The Journey West (1/31-2/3)

Monday, January 31st, 2011

A surprising number of people from the weekend's meetings are departing on this morning's northbound train. It takes several trips of the hotel's shuttle to get us all over to the station. Joe Maloney also arrives, delivering Bob Ernst for his departure. Also on this train are Greg Molloy, Barry Smith, Walter Zullig, Helen and Smoke Shaak, Robert Murray (the director from the Blackhawk Chapter), and Don Winters from New Jersey. Only we, Greg, and the Blackhawk guy are in the Business Class car up front.

[consist]

P42                53
Business        81540
Coach           82646
Coach           82684
Coach           82512
Coach           82732
Coach           82637
Dinette           43370
Coach           82708           

Train 94, 1-31-2011

Schedule

Actual

Williamsburg

9:38 am

9:42 am

Richmond Main Street 10:29 10:36-39
Richmond Staples Mill 10:59
11:04
11:02
11:07
Ashland 11:19 11:19
Fredericksburg 12:04 pm 12:00-04 pm
Quantico 12:24 12:36
Alexandria 1:00 1:06-08
Washington, DC 1:35 1:25

On the way north, there's snow on the ground by MP 45 (south of Fredericksburg). Arriving in Washington, ten minutes early dues to schedule padding, we, Robert Murray, and Bob Ernst leave the train (all of whom are connecting to Train 29, later this afternoon). During the afternoon, John Goodman, Bill Dredge, and  Ed Berntsen, who have spent the night at a BWI hotel after traveling north from Williamsburg yesterday afternoon, also arrive to travel on that train. Ed is here because his flights back to Tacoma have been canceled due to the impending bad weather across the mid-section of the country. The train is delayed into the platform, for reasons never fully explained.

On the way out to the train, I collect the consist as we pass by. Due to the deadhead coaches, the locomotives are too far out for me to get too, but a friendly crew members tells me what they are. All of our colleagues are in the same car, with Ed sharing a roomette with John (the only way they could get him a sleeper space at short notice).

[consist]

P42                 18
P42                 71
P42                   6
Deadehead 82519
Deadhead   82627
Baggage        1237
Dorm         39016
Sleeper       32064
Sleeper       32099    New Mexico
Diner           38032
Lounge        33024
Coach         34062
Coach         34107           

Train 29, 1-31-2011

Schedule

Actual

Washington, DC

4:05 pm

4:48 pm

Rockville 4:29 5:10-12
Harpers Ferry 5:18 6:05-08
Martinsburg 5:45 6:35-47
Cumberland 7:14
7:24
8:16
8:26
2-1-2011    
Elkhart 7:28 am 7:45-47 am
South Bend                ET 7:51 8:06-08
Chicago                     CT 8:45 9:03

We arrange for six of us to eat at the same time, on two adjacent tables. The weather forecast is for snow tonight, but although there's snow on the ground, none appears to be falling. We eat between Martinsburg and Cumberland, having lost another fifteen minutes, mainly due to the extended stop at Martinsburg.

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

When I awake, in Indiana, there's plenty of snow on the ground, but none falling. The morning newspaper says that snow will begin in Chicago around noon. The weather map shows a swath all the way out to Albuquerque, but not following the route we're taking west of Kansas City. At Elkhart, it becomes clear that we've picked up about 45 minutes on the schedule, overnight. This would have put us into Chicago early, but the three locomotives and two deadhead coaches mean we must wye the train first. As we do so, the City of New Orleans comes down of the St. Charles Air Line just to our north, and then backs into the station alongside us.

Bob Ernst and Robert Murray head home, here, while the other five of us go to the Metropolitan Lounge to await our afternoon continuing trains. Due to the weather (below freezing), we elect not to go to Elephant & Castle for lunch, this time, choosing, instead, to eat in the station food court. As we eat lunch in the Mezzanine, the flow of people heading for commuter trains suggests that offices in the city have closed for the day, and workers are heading home. We're expecting John, Bill and Ed to leave first, since their train is scheduled out at 2:15 pm, but there's an announcement that their train is delayed, so Chris & Ieave first. I collect the consist as we progress down the platform to our sleeper, noting that we have a sleeper instead of a Transition-Dorm car, today.

[consist]

P42                  5
P42                54
Baggage        1734
Sleeper        32020
Sleeper        32028
Sleeper        32104    Oklahoma
Diner            38042
Lounge         33036
Coach          34120
Coach-Bagg.31004
Coach-Bagg.31006    )    from Albuquerque
Deadhead     39030    )           

Train 3, 7-3-2010

Schedule

Actual

Chicago

2:45 pm

2:45 pm

Naperville 3:20 3:46
Mendota 4:09 4:51-56
Princeton 4:31 5:15-18
Galesburg 5:23 7:53-56
Fort Madison 6:27 9:13-21
Kansas City
9:56 pm
10:45 pm
2-2-2011
3:28 am
3:45 am
2-2-2011    
Newton 2:45 am 8:00-08
Hutchinson 3:20 8:50-52
Dodge City 5:25 10:51-11:01
Garden City               CT 6:21 11:24-12:00
Lamar                        MT 6:59 12:47 pm
La Junta 8:15
8:30
1:47
1:59
Trinidad 9:50 3:15
Raton 10:56 4:10-29
Las Vegas, NM 12:38 pm 6:07-14
Lamy 2:24 7:54-56
Albuquerque 3:55
4:45
9:06
2-3-2011    
Kingman                   MT 12:46 am 8:00-08 am
Needles                     PT 12:49 8:03-11
Barstow 3:39 10:33-11:05
Victorville 4:18 11:50-52
San Bernardino 5:30 12:54-1:01 pm
Riverside 3:53 1:19-22
Fullerton 6:34 2:02-06
Los Angeles 8:15 am 2:41 pm

Train 5, in an adjacent platform, has not left by the time our train leaves Chicago Union Station into a snowstorm, at 2:45 pm. The City of Chicago declares a blizzard emergency at 3 pm, with the city receiving almost 20 inches of snow, with drifts up to four feet, before the storm ends. Train 3 starts to lose time immediately, stopping at Union Avenue for six minutes, while a preceding additional Metra train stops at Western Avenue. Metra is clearly running a service to cater to early homegoers, since another outbound Metra train passes us on the south track, apparently running a skip-stop service. The inbound service is also more frequent than hourly, suggesting early outbound trains returning to the city to take up their normal outbound paths later in the afternoon. We stop for nine minutes at La Vergne, and four more at Congress Park, just before crossing over to the center track. We meet inbound Amtrak train 4 just after corssing over, at 3:29 pm. We then cross over to the south track at Fairview Avenue, at 3:37 pm, and then all the way back to the north track at Lisle, at 3:41 pm. We're 26 minutes late at Naperville.

We stop at Eola for four minutes, while an inbound Dinky (Metra train) crosses over from the Transportation Center in front of us, continuing to run more slowly than track speed even thereafter. We cross over at Somonauk and then back over at Earlville, to run around eastbound and then westbound trains on the other tracks. We're 47 minutes late at both Mendota and Princeton. Train 5 leaves Chicago shortly after we do, and runs not far behind us, all the way to Galesburg, in the worsening snow. This means that our conductors have to get down and sweep the snow out of the switch points, every time we're called upon to cross over from one track to the other, from Kewanee, on west. The initial wait at Kewanee (5:45 to 6:49 pm) is for Amtrak 6, which is also clearing out switches as it comes east, passing us at 6:44 pm. We then have to run slowly to Galesburg, due to a high wind warning. We're delayed again from 6:51 to 7:13 due to clearing out the snow from the crossover at West Kewanee.

Dinner reservations are handed out by Maureen, but it transpires she's a trainee Lead Service Attendant, and the actual LSA is our old acquaintance, George, previously on the Sunset Limited. Chris and I eat dinner aroind Galesburg. We're almost three hours late at Fort Madison, after which I go to bed. We lose another three hours to Kansas City, but get some of it back due to the schedule padding into KC.

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

I wake around 3:25 am, just in time to note the train arriving at Kansas City's Union Station, some five and a half hours late, a status it will largely retain to Albuquerque. I go back to sleep, waking again after dawn, somewhere around Ellinor, in the daylight. This means I have now seen all of the route in daylight. I get up quickly, and start taking route descriptions as soon as I can ascertain a specific location. There is little snow falling in mid Kansas, but the ambient temperature is below 0F, so there's a speed restriction to 65 mph for that, except on the jointed track sections, which are limited to 60 mph anyway.

There's radio chatter about picking up a freight locomotive at La Junta to help cope with snow drifts over Raton Pass, but we don't pick up any such locomotive, and there are no evident snow drifts over the pass! As the day progresses, we hear that the line between Galesburg and Kansas City is now closed, that the Train 4 that passed us during the night (not late yesterday afternoon) is stuck somewhere, that the succeeding Train 4 is being annulled at Albuquerque to provide cars for a make-up Train 3 tomorrow, and that Trains 3 and 5 out of Chicago, today, have been canceled. We don't hear anything about the progress of the Train 5 that followed us to Galesburg. The low temperature restrictions last until somewhere around Lamy.

At Albuquerque, locomotive 197 adds an extra coach and a deadhead Dorm car to our train, from the consist of the annulled Train 4. Passengers from that train have been offered passage back to Los Angeles on our train, to await the re-opening of the line. (The alternative is hotel in Albuquerque, at their own expense.) I go to sleep while the shuffling is still going on in Albuquerque, so don't know the full extent of the delay there.

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

At dawn, we're somewhere on the western descent from the Arizona Divide. At the Kingman crew change, we're almost seven and a half hours late. Chris and I have breakfast as we stop at Needles, and lunch just west of Barstow. No sub-zero temperatures here! We're into Loas Angeles early enough to drive home before complete darkness, but not to make a stop at Bristol Farms. We get home just after 6 pm, about six hours later than normal.

xxx