Meetings on Both Coasts
October 21-November 3, 2011

Don Winter


This trip was to attend the 2011 NRHS Fall Board Meeting in Wilmington, DE. We also attended the R&LHS Southern California Chapter's Annual Meeting in Los Angeles, before getting on the train to head east. As usual, we traveled out and back on Amtrak.

In Los Angeles (10/21-10/23)

Friday, October 21st, 2011

After lunch on Friday, we drive down to Los Angeles, taking the usual route via Lancaster and Palmdale, and then the Foothill Freeway to avoid most of the traffic, reaching the Metro Plaza Hotel somewhat after 4 pm. Later, we walk over to Olvera Street to have dinner at our usual restaurant.

Saturday, October 22nd, 2011

We get up in time for the usual breakfast at the hotel, encountering Dave Arthur (who has just got in on Train 3) at the computer in the lobby, then head off at about 11 am, out Sunset Boulevard to the Freres Taix Restaurant where the Southern California Chapter of the R&LHS is having its annual meeting. We chat with Jed Hughes, Dave Abbott,  Bob & Laura Drenk, and Jim & Peggy Caballero, and then sit with Robert & Roberta Young, Roger and Dave Simon and others for lunch. After lunch, former Santa Fe and Amtrak engineer Don Richardson, who posts stories on the Cajon Pass List gives an interesting talk, there are the usual Chapter events, and I get one of the door prizes, a book which we don't already have!

After the meeting, Chris and I drive out to Eagle Rock, where we buy some jeans that will fit over her knee brace. Returning to the hotel, we later eat dinner at the same restaurant as on Friday night.

Sunday, October 23rd, 2011

After breakfast, we repack and check out of the hotel. We take the car over to the MTA garage, east of LA Union Station, check some of the luggage with Amtrak for delivery to us when we get to Wilmington, and walk to the front of the station, where we meet Chris' brother, Roger, and his wife, Kris. The four of us take their car up to our usual restaurant in Chinatown, where we have a leisurely lunch. After lunch, they return us to the station, where we sit in the outdoor seating area, reading, until it's time to return to our car, get the rest of the luggage, and head to the platform for our train.

The Journey East (10/23-10/26)

Sunday, October 23rd, 2011 (cont.)

We get to the platform just as the train is backing in, so I can easily collect the consist before boarding the train, which then leaves on time.


P42                  83
P42                   92
Baggage         1757
Dorm            39031
Sleeper          32118    Wyoming
Sleeper          32063
Diner              38049
Lounge           33016
Coach            34027
Coach            34078
Coach-Bagg   31017
Sleeper          32117    deadhead to Albuquerque

Train 4, 10-23-2011



Los Angeles

 6:15 pm

6:15 pm


6;50 6:47-52


7:33 7;33-36

San Bernardino

7:59 7:52-59
Victorville                     PT 9:10 9:07-14



Gallup, NM                         MT

8:20 am 8:33-38 am


11:42 am
12:10 pm
10:57 am
12:24 pm


1:17 1:59-2:02

Las Vegas, NM

3:05 3:48-50


4:50 5:32-37

Trinidad, CO

5:49 6:34-36

La Junta 

Lamar                          MT 8:40 8:54



Kansas City, MO               CT

7:24 am
6:58 am

La Plata

9:55 10:03-08

Ft. Madison, IA

11:09 11:18-24

Galesburg, IL

12:08 pm 12:18-22


12:58 1:12


1:19 1:30-32


2:42 2:20-24


3:15 3:03

Southwest Chief route description

We eat dinner with the Amtrak employee who is riding with the deadhead sleeper to Albuquerque, which is on the train to check-out its riding qualities following repairs at the Los Angeles maintenance facilities. After dinner, the train stops at Devore for six minutes, for reasons we were unable to ascertain.

Monday, October 24th, 2011

On the transcon in Arizona and New Mexico, the BNSF dispatcher does the usual excellent job of moving the passenger train back and forth between the Two Main Tracks to keep us moving past both eastbound and westbound freights. Leaving Albuquerque, it takes 26 minutes for the train to set out the deadhead sleeper on one of the outer tracks at the station. On the other hand, the signals between CP Madrid and Lamy have now been repaired (after two successive trips on which they were out due to copper theft). We meet Train 3 at Glorieta, costing us four minutes to run through the siding. Approaching Trinidad, there are three shortline locomotives standing on the Colorado & Wyoming track, showing that progress has been made on its reopening.

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

As usual, I awake when the train stops for fuel on the on-line fuel rack at Argentine Yard, and we get up while the train is stopped in Kansas City. At breakfast, I'm amused that the waiter doesn't know the Missouri River when we cross it (someone else in the car asked him). East of the triple jack joint with NS, at WB Junction, the BNSF dispatcher here is also good at moving the passenger train back and forth between the tracks to get us past both eastbound and westbound freights. The weather has been unseasonable warm in the midwest, with autumn colors just starting to appear. Somehow, we lose ten minutes between KC and La Plata, which of course we get back due to the schedule padding into Chicago. Half of the inbound platform at Naperville is under reconstruction, necessitating an unusual double-spot here.

We have only two hours in the Metropolitan Lounge before out train will be called, so don't bother going anywhere. I collect the consist of the Cardinal on the way down the platform to our sleeper. There are three private cars on the rear of the train, presumably returning home from the recent AAPRCO trip that ended in Kansas City. Departure is on time, the last time on this train we will be on time.


P42                    199    (to DC)
HHP-8                663    (from DC)
Baggage             1760
Sleeper             62037    Southern View
Diner                28017
Coach              25103
Coach              25013
Coach              25018
Private                            Oliver Hazard Perry    (to Cincinnati)
Private             800736    Birch Grove
Private                            Chapel Hill                    (to Cincinnati)
Private            800957    Fraaklin Tavern    (Huntington to DC)
Coach              81529                   (deadhead, Huntington to DC)

Train 50, 10-25-2011




5:45 pm

5:45 pm

Dyer 6:58 7:18-20
Rensselaer                  CT 7:40 8:18
Huntington                  ET 7:03 am
7:10 am
Charleston 8:20 8:53-9:03
Montgomery 8:49 9:34-10:05
Thurmond 9:40 10:58
Prince 9:59 11:15-20
Hinton 10:29 11:50-55
Alderson 10:59 12:24 pm
White Sulphur Springs 11:31 12:58-1:03
Clifton Forge 12:23 pm 1:58-2:03
Staunton 1:37 3:16-27
Charlottesville 2:48
Culpeper 4:11 8:26
Manassas 4:46 9:16
Alexandria 5:30 10:07-10
WAshington, DC 6:08 10:27-56
New Carrollton N/A 11:05
BWI Airport N/A 11:21
Baltimore 7:05 11:38
Wilmington 7:56 12:29 am

Cardinal route description

After a three-minute delay at CP 518, still on the Buffalo Line, the train crosses onto the Metra Southwest Line (former C&WI at this point) and then onto the connector to the UP (former C&EI), stopping north of the Belt Railway of Chicago intersection from 6:02 to 6:20 pm, because the work crew there and the BRC dispatcher can't get their act together, and then on the UP, from 6:41 to 6:52 for a red signal at Dolton Junction. After Dyer, there is a five minute stop at the flat crossing at St John's, for no discernible reason. We go to bed somewhere south of Monon.

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

All but seven minutes of the lost time is picked up in schedule padding (and the three private cars on the rear from Chicago have been dropped off) by the time of the stop at Huntington, as the first glimmerings of daylight are appearing. But at Huntington, we use the entire train (second time this trip) to switch two cars out of the CP Huntington Chapter's siding, to take them to Washington, DC. These cars are left over from the New River Train excursions earlier in the month. (The main train went as a unit to Spencer, NC, on Monday.) This takes from 7:18 to 7:51 am. Once we get going, the CSX dispatcher proves adept at switching us from track to track to clear freight trains on each track in turn.

Before Montgomery, we hear a call on the radio for paramedics to meet us at the station. The CSX dispatcher mistakes where this call is for, and the paramedics aren't even dispatched until after we've stopped. This costs us another 35 minutes delay. In the New River Gorge, the lingering warm weather has left us with very little in the way of autumnal coloring, and it is later confirmed that the excursionists were very disappointed this year. Along the way, we pass many coal trains, a rail grinder, and a rock train.  We meet Train 51 at LA Grange, on the Buckingham Branch Railroad, at 3:09 pm.

I had originally considered waiting for dinner until after we got to Wilmington, but the lateness by Charlottesville has made it clear we can't do that. However, it transpires that we don't yet know the half of it! Sitting in Charlottesville, the radio starts to chatter about a CSX freight ahead that has split a switch at the end of a siding. The freight crew has spiked the switch into position for us to proceed, but the railroad's management says that isn't good enough for a passenger train. So, we will have to wait for a track inspector to drive down from where we had passed him on the pass over the Blue Ridge, get on the line in front of us, hi-rail out to the switch, inspect it, and them hi-rail back to get off the track (if the swtich is OK). Meanwhile, we're blocking a crossing out of a university parking lot at rush hour, so we have to pull forward to a place where we're clear of all crossings but a grade crossing is still available for the track inspector to get on the track in front of us.

We sit west of the Carlton Road grade crossing from 4:55 to 6:43 pm, then have to stop for two minutes and five minutes at the siding in question. By now, we're four-and-a-half hours late, and will stay that way for the rest of the trip to Wilmington. We have to stop for nine minutes at Rapidan to meet Train 19, and four minutes at Calverton for NS Train 228, plus six minutes because the CSX dispatcher puts a freight in front of us at AF Tower (south of Alexandria) but we gain this back (and more) at the locomotive change and car drop in Washington, which also recovers enough time for additional stops at New Carrollton and BWI Airport to drop off passengers who would normally have transferred to a Regional in Washington.

In Washington, I step off the train to trot back and see which cars we had picked up in Huntington. While doing that, I run into Ken Brooks (and some others whom I don't know), who are meeting the Washington Chapter's new coach, Franklin Tavern, which is one of the two cars. Ken says that he'll be very interested to see my trip report on this day! I also note the number of the electric locomotive coming onto the train before reboarding for the ninety-minute run up the Northeast Corridor. The train finally reaches Wilmington at 12:26 am. Along with Bob Murray, from the Blackhawk Chapter, Chris and I take a cab to the hotel, where we get checked in expeditiously and are in bed before two am. This is why I don't plan to arrive in the evening before a morning excursion start!

At the Conference (10/27-10/30)

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

We get up at about mid-day, and go to the hotel restaurant for lunch. There are already many NRHS people around, so we chat some, and then, finding that the registration desk won't open until 3 pm, go back to our room for awhile. Later, we go back down to the lobby and pick up our nametags and registration packets, including tickets for the two excursions and the banquet. Steve Wasby lobbies us to vote against the Alaska convention proposal for 2013, and we find out from Joe Maloney that Chris is substituting for Bill Gill, again, at this meeting. There are no reasonable-looking restaurants visible from the hotel, so we eat dinner in the hotel restaurant before retiring for the night.

Friday, October 28th, 2011

Today's excursion starts at 12:30 pm, so we get up just in time to eat breakfast, thereby removing the urge to eat lunch as the bus is rolling. We meet and greet many more friends and acquaintances from prior meetings as the crowd gathers for the bus, which is parked across the side street. (The one-way streets around the hotel do not permit proper safe parking of buses adjacent to the hotel.)

At 12:30 pm, the bus leaves, and heads north on I-95 and US 202 into Pennsylvania (only a few miles), to West Chester, where the bus driver misses the station the first time around, and has to go around the block to get back there. This former Pennsylvania Railroad Branch (the main portion of which is now part of SEPTA) is run, at this end, by a tourist line called the West Chester Railroad. Our train of vintage commuter (formerly electrified) cars is waiting in the platform, locomotive at the western end.


RS-18                 1803
Box Car
Box Car
Baggage             9275
Coach                9117
Coach                9124
Cab-Car            9114      

West Chester Railroad route description

The train is set up for Halloween festivities. It heads east at 1:39 pm, making a photo-runby at a location known as 'Christmas Tree Farm", where there is a small platform on the south side, and another at Cheyney Station, where there are some very visible former catenary supports still standing over the track. At Glen Mills, where the ornate depot is now a historical museum (we can't get in), there is a facilities break from 2:47 to 3:20 pm, and the train then heads back, making a photo run at Locksley and a photo stop at the railroad's yard before getting back to West Chester at 4:22 pm

We return the way we came, except for one-way streets at both ends, but since this is now Friday rush-hour, we take a bit longer to get back than we had to come north. At the hotel, there are still more old friends to meet and greet before we have dinner, again in the hotel restaurant. This time we go to bed quite early, with an early excursion start in the morning.

Saturday, October 29th, 2011

Today's excursion was planned to be on the Cape May Seashore, but that line was washed out by the recent hurricane, so what we have now is a package of short visits that fill the time. There are more people this morning, so we have two buses rather than one. At 7:30 am, the buses leave the hotel for the short drive out to the Greenbank station of the Wilmington & Western Railroad, where, just as a year ago, we ride the doodlebug, which not surprisingly proves not to have enough seats for two busloads of people. We do, however, run out further on the line this year, with a photo runby on the way back. (Since the temperature is just above freezing, I don't participate.) Tim O'Malley and Rob Mesite sit behind Chris and me, and when I start writing in my notebook, Rob says: "Ah! That's the notebook from which those trip reports come!"

Wilmington & Western route description

The doodlebug trip lasts from 8:02 to 9:32 am. After it is over, the buses head for Auburn Heights, where there is a museum with many steam automobiles. On the way there, snow starts to fall, so we're all glad to see that the indoor part of the museum is heated, and that there are hot drinks available. There are many steam cars inside the museum, and a couple of operable ones are fired up for those who wish to do so to take a ride. For me, it's just fascinating to hear a car chuffing along!

From this museum, the buses head to downtown Wilmington, to visit the buildings of the Frank Furness Historical Distirct. On the way, the snow turns to heavy rain, so we're all happy to get inside the former B&O Water Street Station (depot), built in 1886, one of three buildings at this location designed by architect Frank Furness. (The others are the 1905 PRR Office Building, and the 1907-08 PRR Wilmington Station, still in use by Amtrak today; the office building and B&O depot are owned and used by the ING bank.). We're given an interesting talk by an official of a group celebrating the works of Frank Furness at this location.

The B&O station is here because the B&O also used the Philadelphia, Wilmington & Baltimore before building its own line a couple of miles to the north, where there is another Furness depot. This one then became a freight depot at the end of a spur down from the B&O main line. The PRR buildings were built when the former PW&B was elevated through the center of town. There is also a Furness depot on the B&O line in Aberdeen, MD.

After the talk, there is time for lunch on our own in n adjacent market building. Then, the buses take us back to the hotel for the NRHS pre-meeting work session, devoted mainly to an elaboration of the "staffing" document that had been circulated earlier. In the evening is the banquet, where we sit with Don Bishop, Nina Lawford-Juviler and Barry Smith, as well as another National Director whose name I don't know. Don tells me about the damage that his Chapter's railroad had suffered in the same hurricane that had forced the change in plans for this morning. The after-dinner talk is by Mario Bergeron, Amtrak's Chief Mechanical officer, who gives us an overview of Amtrak's current status and plans in the locomotives and carriage stock area.

Sunday, October 30th, 2011

The Board Meeting is on Sunday morning. Greg Molloy makes an advocacy presentation on Alaska for the 2013 Convention. Bob Brewster has sent in a package on Denver as an alternative to Alaska, but since Bob isn't present, no-one actually presents this alternative, and it isn't made available to vote on, ostensibly on the grounds that no-one from the local Chapter there has endorsed it (why does that matter for a nationally-sponsored convention), and Denver Union Station will still be torn up in 2013. Naturally, under the circumstances, a majority of those present vote for Alaska.

Elissa Williams is present to hear the tributes to her late husband, Joe, who had died suddenly, shortly after the June meeting. The Executive Director issue is resolved by an initiative from Jack Hilborn to appoint a committee to study the duties, etc., of such a person, and report back a year from now (under the new governance regime). Surprisingly, the meeting is over by 12:30 pm. Attendees start to leave immediately, but there are still enough people around at lunch and dinner to provide companions to talk with  and say long goodbyes to.

The Journey West (10/31-11/3)

Monday, October 31st, 2011

This morning, we get up and have breakfast, since our schedule for the day doesn't provide an opportunity for lunch. At 11:30 am, we check-out (after resolving an issue with the NRHS rate not being charged for the applicable days), and take the hotel van down to Amtrak, where we find that our train is over an hour late (along with general lateness of all other southbound trains). It does not seem to be sufficiently late to endanger our connection in Washington, however. We engage the redcap at Wilmington to take our bags up to the Business Class car (especially since we can't check anything from here, on this itinerary). He calls the redcaps at Washington Union Station to meet us at the train, which they duly do.


AEM-7                  928
Business Class    81525
Coach (quiet)      82690
Coach                 82746
Cafe                    43366
Coach                 82999
Coach                 82671
Coach                 82592
Coach                 82712  

Train 95, 10-31-2011




12:22 pm

1:12 pm

Baltimore 1:13 1:56-2:01
BWI Airport 1:27 2:16-18
New Carrollton 1:44 2:33-37
Washington, DC 2:00 2:47

Northeast Corridor route description

No wonder the train is late! A single AEM-7 is supposed to be limited to six cars; this train has eight.

There is bedlam on the platform at Washington, since Train 95 is used from intermediate stations along the Northeast Corridor as a connection into Train 91, the Silver Star, which is normally several minutes behind Train 95, but in this case passed Train 95 at Philadelphia. It is stopped across the platform when we arrive in Washington, but many people have luggage to check and no time to check it. Our redcap assist with this issue until it is resolved. By this time, we're getting short on time to check our bags, so the redcap takes us up to the upper-level, and takes Chris and the bags to the baggage check-in facility, where all is resolved, and then takes us directly out to the train, which is already boarding sleeping-car passengers. (This is the first time I've changed trains in Washington without going into the station.) I manage to collect the consist as we pass along the train. Departure from Washington is on time.


P42                    189
P42                    195
Baggage            1717
Dorm                39010
Sleeper              32040
Sleeper              32029
Diner                 38048
Lounge              33035
Coach                34139
Coach                35004
Coach                34137

Train 29, 10-31-2011



Washington, DC

4:05 pm

4:05 pm

Rockville 4:29 4:26-29
Harpers Ferry 5:16 5:21-25
Martinsburg 5:45 5:48-53
Cumberland 7:16
Elkhart 7:29 am 7:26-32 am
South Bend                 ET 7:51 7:54-57
Chicago                      CT 8:45 8:59

Capitol Limited route description

Twice before reaching Martinsburg, the trains slows down to dead slow, and reports a "false partial" at a signal. At 6:46 pm, we stop to flag a switch at Orleans Road, in the area under track reconstruction, and run slow to Doe Gully.

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

The sky is still totally dark at South Bend, showing how much this area is in the wrong time zone. the NS Dispatcher crosses us back and forth to pass freights going in both directions We're delayed for several minutes at Englewood crossing (where the Union Station used to be), just after 8:30 am, presumably for a Metra Rock Island train to clear the crossing ahead of us.

In Chicago, we sit in the Metropolitan Lounge for two hours, then take a slow walk several block east on Adams Street to have lunch at Elephant & Castle, returning for another couple of hours in the lounge before its time to board our train, watching all the folks for the other western trains leave to board thie trains before us. (The Texas Eagle is called almost an hour late.) I collect the consist as we head out to the train, which departs Chicago on time.


P42                      66
P42                     193
Baggage             1216
Dorm                39018
Sleeper             32085    Kentucky
Sleeper             32094    Montana
Diner                38024
Lounge             33036
Coach              34082
Coach              34093
Coach-Bagg.    31016
Diner-Lite         37026   (deadhead from Albuquerque)
Sleeper             32092   (deadhead from Albuquerque)

Train 3, 11-1-2011




3:00 pm

3:00 pm

Naperville 3:35 3:31-35
Mendota 4:24 4:23-28
Princeton 4;48 4:48-52
Galesburg 5:38 5:40-45
Fort Madison             CT 6:42 6:42-48
Lamar                        MT 6:59 am 7:15 am
La Junta 8:15
Trinidad 9:50 9:59-10:01
Raton 10:56 10:59-11:05
Las Vegas 12:38 pm 12:59-1:02
Lamy 2:24 2:40-43
Albuquerque 3:55
Gallup                     MT 7:08 7:23-28
Winslow                  PT 7:50 8:13-15
Victorville 4:18 am 5:07-12 am
San Bernardino 5:32 6:15-30
Riverside 5:53 6:47-49
Fullerton 6:34 7:30-36
Los Angeles 8:15 8:09

We meet Train 6 east of Naperville, and three eastbound coal trains east of Galesburg, before leaving the former Burlington line to run on the former Santa Fe the rest of the way to Los Angeles. We eat dinner west of Fort Madison, and are in bed by La Plata.

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

I resist sitting up while its still dark this morning, so we don't get up until we're in Colorado, and then have to scramble to get in for breakfast. Snow is falling outside here in the high plains. From 7:59 to 8:07 am, we stop for an eastbound (southbound to Texas) coal train to clear in front of us. As we leave La Junta, snow flurries deposit snow on our windows, which does not completely melt off until south of Raton. More snow falls as we climb Raton Pass, but the snow is gone by the time we reach Springer, perhaps due to a different air mass, but perhaps just due to a lower altitude. There is, however, a high wind warning here that limits us to 40 mph for awhile.

At 2:11 pm, we meet Train 4 at Fox,, due to our 24-minute lateness. We lose ten more minutes at Lamy waiting for a New Mexico RailRunner Track Warrant. We run slowly approaching CP Madrid, perhaps because there's a RailRunner train in the way. Schedule padding regains some time by Albuquerque, but the process of adding two deadhead cars prevents us from leaving on time.

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

We were 25 minutes late when I went to sleep, and are 54 minutes late when I awake, in the dark, at Victorville. The room across from us now has its third set of occupants of the trip, having turned over at Kansas City and Flagstaff. Schedule padding means we're just ahead of time into Los Angeles.

We take the carry-on bags to the car, then go to collect the checked bags from Baggage Claim. After a stop at Bristol Farms, for specialty groceries, and in Acton, for a biology break, we're home before noon. All seems well.