Facebook Page

Winter Trip East to Chicago via Seattle Part 2

by Chris Guenzler

Empire Builder 8 12/28/2007

As I waited in the King Street Station train time came and went before it was announced that the mechanical department had not released the train from the yard. Once it was released it would be sent to the station to be boarded. I called home and learned it was only 51 degrees back at home in Santa Ana. They boarded all of the coach passengers at 5:02 PM and I took Seat 47 in the 34114 Coach also known as the 811 Car. This Empire Builder had Engines 131 and 192, Baggage 1255, Transition 39003, Sleepers 32028 and 32001, Diner 38034 and Coaches 34114 and 34105. We left Seattle at 5:33 PM {4:45 PM} for this trip to Chicago. We came out of the Seattle Tunnel and along the Seattle Waterfront. A Sounder Train blew by us on its way to Everett and we would follow it all the way there. The Dining Car Steward never came into the coaches to give out Dinner Reservations. After our Edmonds stop I got one for 8 PM. At Everett, Donavon going to Whitefish, joined me at my seat. At 8:07 PM Donavon and I were seated with Denise going to St Louis. I ordered the Flat Iron Steak and while we waited the Empire Builder passed through the Cascade Tunnel, the longest railroad tunnel in the United States. Our meals were finished as the train passed through Icicle Canyon. At Wenatchee we took a cold fresh air break.

Fresh air stop at Wenatchee.

The old Great Northern freight house. I did a few more Sudoku Puzzles before I called it a night.

12/29/2007 I woke up at Spokane and the westbound Empire Builder showed up just before we left at 2:10 AM {1:15 AM}. Donavon got a seat to himself which allowed me to stretch out across two seats. PA announcements woke me up just before we entered the Flathead Tunnel, second longest in the USA. This Empire Builder now had Engines 167, 131 and 192, Baggage 1255, Transition 39003, Sleepers 32028 and 32001, Diner 38034 and Coaches 34114 and 34105, Lounge 33030, Coaches 34116 and 31042 with Sleeper 32050 bringing up the rear markers. I visited the lounge car for a Cinnamon Roll and a cup of green tea before listening to Queensryche "Empire".

Great Northern NW-3 181 was on display as we arrived into Whitefish for a fresh air break in the 12 degree morning air.

The Empire Builder at Whitefish.

Winter railroading is having to use a sledge hammer to get inside the baggage car to work it.

Station scene at Whitefish. We departed Whitefish at 8:42 AM {7:46 AM}.

A peak to the north was seen as we passed through Columbia Falls.

A very quiet Going to the Sun Highway looking east at West Glacier. Next the Empire Builder ran along Glacier National Park running along the Middle Fork of the Flathead River through a very beautiful canyon.

The Empire Builder passed through that canyon. Yes "Talk" was my next musical choice for our beautiful trip across Marias Pass.

We were running along the Middle Fork of the Flathead River.

The train ran by a snow covered meadow near Nyack.

East of Nyack.

Near Pinnacle, Montana.

The Essex Ballast Pit.


We ran through Essex, Montana where BNSF Helpers were waiting for their next duties.

The train went by the Izaak Walton Inn, where I have stayed four times in the past.

The Empire Builder stopped at Essex.

I took a picture inside of the Essex Snowshed looking out.

The train crossed the Sheep Creek Trestle.

Just east of West Java.

The train crossed the Java High Bridge.

It was a very quiet US Highway 2 as our train entered Glacier National Park.

The Empire Builder was running at restricted speed at East Java as the snow fell. Our train is going slow as it is having to plow out the track so we can get through. There has been no westbound trains at all this morning so we are the first train running east. Back up to track speed, I put on Duran Duran CD "Greatest Hits" as the snow continued to fall.

The train came into Marias the Summit Ridge of the Rocky Mountains then came into view. The train then crested Marias Pass.

The train was descending Marias Pass towards East Glacier.

The train ran by the snow covered golf course at East Glacier.

The train crossed the Two Medicine Bridge east of East Glacier before we headed to Browning, our next station stop out on the high plains.

Big Sky Country Montana.

View from the Cut Bank River. For lunch I had a Hot Dog, Rolled Gold Pretzel and a Mountain Dew. I put on my CD of "Odyssey West" by Rob Quist and Jack Gladstone. At Shelby we passed the station then backed into the station for a fresh air break with me wearing my shorts and it was very pleasant cool.

I could see the Bear Paw Mountains.

At a lonely grain elevator as I put on Mick Jagger "Greatest Hits" which got me to Havre and beyond. Our train got stopped by a dragging equipment detector and the crew suspected ice hanging off the bottom of the train and took care of it.

The train was now coming into Havre our next fresh air stop.

The Great Northern Steam Engine S2 2584 ay Havre. Back on the warm train, the nice couple sitting behind me had an extension cord and a plug at their seat. Since they offered to share it with me and the family in front of me. I could watch some DVD's. I put on Jackie Chan "Eagle Shadow Fist". We left Havre at 2:35 PM {1:32 PM} and before long I got another 8 PM Dinner Reservation but this should be the last night of eating this late on this trip I hope.

Cattle out grazing on a cold Montana afternoon.

Interesting clouds as we head east across Montana. At Savoy we took the siding for the westbound Empire Builder.

The cows were enjoying the Big Sky Country of Montana.

Even eastern Montana has a beauty all of its own.

Our train ran by two frozen ponds in eastern Montana before Malta.

After Malta a partially frozen lake. Next it was back to Kissology III, Disc 2 Tiger Stadium 6/28/96 Reunion Tour.

The train ran along the frozen Milk River on the way to Glasgow which it got dark before we reached there.

Leaving Glasgow as we headed towards Wolf Point. On the way there our train held the mainline for a westbound BNSF freight. After Wolf Point we headed into North Dakota. Twenty minutes before Williston we were stopped by another westbound BNSF freight. After that one of our engines developed a problem. At 8 PM they called me into the Dining Car and I was seated with Lindsey going to Chicago before she moves to the Big Apple and Gene and her grandson Gavin going to Minot. I had a Flat Iron Steak and Chocolate Ice Cream. At Williston, Heather had joined me at my seat heading to Fargo. The train stopped at Stanley before it made its final sprint to Minot where I took a very cold fresh air break. The Empire Builder left Minot at 11:10 PM and I called it a night.

12/30/2007 A baby crying "No!" woke me up at 2:30 AM as the train made its way to Fargo. We stopped at St Cloud to switch train crews before we made our way into the Twin Cities of Minneapolis/St Paul.

The train ran by Shoreham Yard where all of Canadian Pacific 2816 Steam Trips departed from giving me some unique train riding mileage over the years.

Minneapolis Junction is the home of the Milwaukee Road 261 Steam Engine that has taken me to many new and exciting places over the years. The Empire Builder arrived into Midway Station at 8:10 AM {7:05 AM}. They added on an extra coach, the 31005, for the passengers going to Chicago from the Twin Cities. Once the power was restored, I watched Kissology III DVD of the Dodger Stadium Show from 1998. We left Midway Station at 9:00 AM {7:50 AM}.

The train passed the Minnesota Commercial Railway Shops on this very cold windy morning. The train headed down Short Line Hill to St Paul. Coming down the hill bought back memories of the Milwaukee Road 261 on July 4th, 2004 over these same tracks.

The train ran by former St Paul Union Station.

We started our trip along the Mississippi River this cold morning.

Icicles on the Dayton Bluffs as we headed east.

Lock and Dam 1 looking very different from the day I rode the 2816/261 Double Header Steam Trip back in September.

The train was crossing the Mississippi River at Hastings. The Empire Builder then threaded its way through CP Rail freight trains at East Hastings. After we passed two more freights we arrived into Red Wing and had to do a double spot which would be a common thing on the way to Milwaukee.

The bridge at Red Wing which we departed at 10:19 AM.

The frozen Mississippi River at Lake City on our way to Winona.

Another picture as we ran beneath the bluffs on the west side of Lake Pepin.

A little wind can prevent the river from freezing much to the happiness of the little black birds. At Midland we took the siding for a CP Rail stack train.

The Flash Flood Steam from last August as seen from the 261/2816 Trip last September looks beautiful with the snows covering its banks. Our train departed Winona at 11:42 AM {10:11 AM} after we had switched train crews.

Still running along the Mississippi River

The train crossed the Mississippi River on the way to our next station stop at La Crosse, Wisconsin. We departed La Crosse at 12:20 PM {10:47 AM}. On the way to Tomah Kissology III finished so I put on Jackie Chan "Fire Dragon". The Empire Builder went through the tunnel west of Tunnel City before we arrived into Tomah departing there at 1:03 PM {11:28 AM}. Before Wisconsin Dell we got stopped by a CP Rail freight train running ahead of us.

Arriving into Wisconsin Dell which we departed at 1:49 PM {12:09 PM}. Next to watch was Jackie Chan "The Young Tiger." The Empire Builder's next stop was Portage 2:07 PM {12:27 PM} and Columbus 2:42 PM {12:57 PM}. The Empire Builder then sprinted the remaining miles to Milwaukee arriving there at 3:42 PM.

Both Empire Builders in the Milwaukee Train Station at the same time. Mick Jagger "Greatest Hits" would take me most of the way to Chicago. We departed Milwaukee at 3:53 PM {2:07 PM} and headed to Glenview 4:59 PM {3:12 PM}. It was now after dark as we made our final sprint as it started to snow to Chicago Union Station which we arrived into at 5:22 PM {3:55 PM} ending an excellent and wintry trip aboard Amtrak's Empire Builder.

Chicago 12/30/2007

I stashed my bags in the Metropolitan Lounge before heading upstairs to get a Gold Coast Char Dog. I bought a post card and mailed it before I returned to the lounge to wait to board my next train of this trip the City of New Orleans.