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The Trip Home from the NRHS Convention with a stop in La Plata and my 1,350,000 Rail Mile

by Chris Guenzler

6/26/2012 After 12 hours of sleep at the Smetko's home, I awoke at 8:32 AM and prepared myself for the day, repacked and fixed breakfast. I checked the Internet before Dave's son Matthew took me to the Hanover Park station to catch my Metra train back to Chicago, starting part 1 of the trip to La Plata.

Metra Train 2211 came in, stopped then departed. I waited for my train to Chicago.

Metra Train 2232 arrived and I boarded, with a freight train blocking us at Bensenville thus causing a delay.

Later we were stopped waiting for Metra 2215 to cross over, after which the train took me to Chicago Union Station. Once there I put my luggage in the Metropolitan Lounge before going up to the food court and getting my Gold Coast Char Dogs for the trip. I visited the magazine shop on the food court level before returning to the lounge to wait for my train to La Plata. I met several NRHS members and passed the time talking with them then my conductor came and took my ticket; at 2:20 PM we walked out to the waiting train.

Southwest Chief 3 6/26/2012

I boarded coach 34013 and was assigned Seat 43 for the short trip to La Plata and watched my Emerson Lake & Palmer "Live at Montreaux 2007" DVD while waiting for the on-time departure. We stopped at Naperville then headed out into the Illinois countryside as I then watched the Railfans Chasing Trains Preview-2 "La Plata Mania" filmed last summer during our La Plata Railfan Event 2011. That lasted through Mendota and beyond with the next DVD being Jethro Tull "Live at Montreaux 2003", while train stopped in Princeton and Galesburg during this program. That lasted to the crossing of the Mississippi River and then I took a fresh air break at Fort Madison. Next stop, mine at La Plata and I checked out all my photo locations for tomorrow. We arrived at La Plata on time where I detrained.

La Plata 6/26/2012

Brock picked me up and took me and another passenger to the Depot Inn & Suites. I was given the Pullman Suite, did my laundry, picked up my rental car paperwork and drove to the KFC in Kirksville for dinner. I filled up the rental car before returning to the Inn and drying my clothes then took a sauna bath before calling it a night.

6/27/2012 I was up early, checked the Internet then had my breakfast before heading out to take pictures. With a high heat warning just like last summer during the La Plata Railfan Event, I would only photograph and stay inside during the heat of the day. This morning I would attempt to get pictures at those bridges I have never been to in Northeast Missouri.

I drove north on US 63 to State Highway F then turned left on State Highway V. I turned right on Missouri Highway 6 which curved north and became Route J and another right on Missouri Highway 11. I went straight on Route K and left on Route M but found it closed with no detour due to a bridge replacement. This delay would cost me. I returned south to Route K and went east to Colony to Route V, which took me back to Route M which took me to Rutledge and I turned right on Route A, but when I crossed the BNSF mainline, had to make a quick stop for a westbound train.

First came Union Pacific 4509 West then I walked across the bridge and here came another train.

Union Pacific 8190 East just east of Rutledge. I took Route A to South Gorin then turned right on Route U then left on Route A into Wyaconda, and just as I was about to enter town, a westbound BNSF directors special went flying by. Had I not had to detour, I would have caught that train as well. Bad luck starts my day. I took Route A north to US Highway 136, turned right on the way to Kahoka then went north on Missouri Highway 81 to the bridge over the BNSF mainline, a brand new photo location for me. This road was closed last summer due to bridge replacement.

The views of the railroad from the Missouri Highway 81 bridge.

BNSF 1069 West.

BNSF 5881 East.

BNSF 1098 West. From here I headed north on Missouri Highway 81 then turned right on Route C and right on a road to another bridge that I had stopped at last summer on the way back from Train Festival 2011 but had no trains. I hoped today would be different and it did not take long for a train to appear.

Me and my shadow.

BNSF 5200 East at the bridge just west of Revere.

BNSF 7482 West. I drove north to Route C, went directly to the bridge over BNSF mainline in Revere and parked the car in the shade before walking out onto the bridge.

Me and my shadow.

BNSF 4384 East at Revere. I returned to Missouri Highway 81 then turned right on US 136 and saw a train at the bridge over the BNSF mainline at Medill.

An unknown westbound BNSF train heads out of Medill.

The westbound view from the bridge. From here I went west to the newly paved Route BB, turned left and when it turned to the right, went straight down the dirt road over two hills to a bridge I had never been to.

Me and my shadow at this new bridge. The wind was really blowing here.

The views down the tracks from this bridge.

BNSF 4306 West at this bridge west of Medill.

Views of the bridge.

The track inspector came and I knew nothing would be coming on that track. Amtrak left La Plata at 10:57 AM this morning and I knew it took 32 minutes to reach my location from La Plata. Today it took twice that long.

Amtrak's Southwest Chief running now an hour-and-a-half late. I returned to La Plata and went straight to Trainparty to visit Bob Cox then mailed a couple of items at the La Plata post office before returning to the Depot Inn & Suites. I went swimming in the pool then watched my DVD of "Kangaroo Jack" while I wrote this story. I watched "NCIS" then went to the Red Rooster for dinner, returned to the room and relaxed for the night.

Click here for Part 2 of this story