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To the Nickel Plate 765 Trip

by Chris Guenzler

Dave Smetko asked me if I wanted to ride behind Nickel Plate 765 on July 25, 2015 from Youngstown to Ashtabula, Ohio and I said yes. Amtrak tickets were then purchased between Santa Ana and Chicago. I would then take Metra to Hanover Park and meet Dave late Thursday afternoon, we would drive to Ohio on Friday making a few stops along the way, then ride the steam trip Saturday, all new mileage for me. We would take a picture of the Sunday excursion before visiting the Hesston Steam Museum to ride their trains that afternoon. I would stay one more night at Dave's house before returning to Chicago on Metra then home on Amtrak. It should be an excellent trip.

7/21/2015 I woke up and ran a couple of errands in the morning then relaxed the rest of the day until it was time to head to the station for Pacific Surfliner 579. I used the elevator and bridge to get to Track 1 and waited for my train. Dave Smetko called and we discussed the upcoming trip.

Pacific Surfliner 579 arrived and I boarded the Business Class car and took a seat on the lower level. We stopped at Anaheim and Fullerton before making the final sprint to LAUPT, where I was given a ride to the First Class lounge to wait for the boarding of the Southwest Chief. The Red Cap drove me to the elevator and I took it up to the lounge then relaxed before being taken out to the train where I made my dinner reservation for 6:45 PM. I was the only passenger to be taken to the train just before it reversed into the station.

Southwest Chief train 4 7/21/2015

This Southwest Chief had a consist of Engines 81 and 154, baggage 1230, transition 39033, sleepers 32059 and 32076 "Delaware", diner 38050, lounge 33007 and coaches 34046, 34035, 31002 and 31017. I was in Room 13 of the "Delaware" and my attendant was Janette. I settled into my room and relaxed until our on-time and headed to the first stop of Fullerton where we stopped for 25 minutes waiting for the Riverside to LAUPT Metrolink train. Why can't Metrolink use Track 3 for this train and not delay ours or have our train leave LAUPT thirty minutes later?

I was called into the dining car just before Fullerton but was seated on the station side so I could see my dear friend Chris Parker who came to see me off. I had the Flat Iron steak and the Tiramisu dessert cup after which I put on a DVD of "Santa Fe 3751 Steam Special" plus "Milwaukee Road 261 Steam Charter" by Joe Harper then took a fresh air break at San Bernardino. I watched the rest of this great DVD before I made up my bed for the night.

7/22/2015 This morning started like so many mornings on the train with me waiting for the dining car to open at 6:30 AM. I enjoyed French Toast and sausage patties with a couple returning to Ohio and a lady going to Chicago. That lasted from just east of Winslow into New Mexico. I took a fresh air break in Gallup before putting on Guns N' Roses "Use your Illlusion I" which would take me towards Albuquerque and enjoyed a Coca-Cola as I watched this excellent show.

I was on the wrong side of the train for the red mesas of New Mexico on this trip.

The state is green because of all the monsoonal rains they have received.

This freight train had Norfolk Southern New York Central heritage unit in the consist. The BNSF mainline was really busy this morning as I headed east across New Mexico.

I always enjoy watching the sky on all my trips. Nature is the most wonderful painter of all.

I was taking different pictures on this trip to make it more interesting.

Views looking east on this beautiful New Mexico morning.

The red mesas on the south side of our route. The train made it into Albuquerque at 11:10 AM and I took a fresh air break then we departed on time with me having a 12:30 PM lunch reservation. I had the Angus Beef Burger with vanilla ice cream for dessert and was seated with a couple from Toronto returning home fron Las Vegas and a lady going to Arlington, Virginia. After lunch I watched my Sunday River Production DVD of "Union Pacific 844" in the beginning and during my watching of this, we lost 15 minutes waiting on the westbound Southwest Chief. After the steam DVD was over, I put on my DVD of "Keith Emerson Band in Moscow, Russia" that took me almost to Raton. Below are images of that trip.

Clouds on a beautiful afternoon.

The remains of Fort Union.

Two antelopes out on the plains.

Wagon Mound, New Mexico.

Two more antelopes out on the plains. I took fresh air at Raton then went to the dining car and was seated with a lady from the mountain above Kingman and a gentleman from north of San Francisco. I had the Flat Iron steak and the Tiramisu dessert cup and relaxed the rest of the way to La Junta then made my bed for the night.

7/23/2015 The trip across Kansas went fine and I arose at 6:30 AM, went and had my usual breakfast of French Toast and sausage patties before the train was refuelled at the BNSF fueling pads in Argentine Yard. From there we crossed into Missouri and stopped at Kansas City Union Station at 7:19 AM, five minutes early, where I took a fresh air break. The train left there on time and we headed to La Plata with me watching a pair of concerts as well as the landscape for new locations for future La Plata Railfan Events.

We lost about ten minutes due to slow orders as we arrived in La Plata on Track 2. It always seems funny to me to not get off here. The train departed and I noted that the bushes around the Lookout Point still needed to be cut back. We headed to Fort Madison as I finished the second concert and had an 11:00 AM lunch reservation. I was seated with a couple going to New York City from Winslow as I enjoyed the Angus Beef Burger with vanilla ice cream for dessert. The train crossed the Mississippi River into Illinois during the meal. After lunch I put on my DVD of the Los Angeles Kings "2014 Stanley Cup Champions" which ended at Naperville and I relaxed the rest of the way into Chicago Union Station, arriving there at 3:02 PM {3:15 PM} or 13 minutes early.

Chicago 7/23/2015

I detrained and walked straight to the Metra ticket office to buy a round trip to Hanover Park then walked to the train and took the rear seat in the cab car, placing my luggage on the seat with me. Metra 2223 took me from Chicago Union Station to Hanover Park where Dave Smetko was waiting for me; he drove me to his house and I got the Tigger Room and we relaxed around the house until bedtime.

The Drive to Youngstown 7/24/2015

Dave awoke me at 5:00 AM and I prepared for my day then left his house and drove the toll road into Indiana where we stopped at an Oasis for a McDonald's breakfast of hot cakes and sausage. We then drove into Ohio exiting at Exit 52 and drove southeast to our first stop of the trip on the old Wabash grade in Whitehouse.

Norfolk and Western caboose 518388 built by the railroad in 1927, painted as Wabash, along the Wabash Cannonball Trail in Whitehouse. From here we went into Waterville.

The Toledo, St. Louis and Western station in Waterville built in 1885. The Toledo, Lake Erie & Western Railway leases the one mile of track on which the depot is located. TLE&W operates an excursion line between Waterville and Grand Rapids. Dave and I proceeded to Grand Rapids.

Railroad display of the Toledo, Lake Erie & Western Railway.

Ann Arbor 44-DE-22 1 built by Whitcomb in 1941. This locomotive was the first diesel locomotive owned by the Ann Arbor Railroad and was the dedicated switcher for their yard in Owosso. It was later sold to the Dundee Cement company, then bought by a TLE&W member. This unit is now in TLE&W Museum ownership and is planned to be restored into operational condition and painted back into original its original Ann Arbor paint.

Detroit Edison Company 0-6-0 202 built by Baldwin in 1920. In 1956, it was donated to the Michigan Railroad Club at Detroit and then in 1966, donated to the Monroe County Historical Society at Monroe, Michigan before being leased to the Toledo, Lake Erie and Western in 1973.

Milwaukee Road refrigerator car 1xx built by General American.

Chesapeake and Ohio caboose 903667 built by the railroad in 1970.

Baltimore and Ohio coach 3508 built by Pullman in 1932, which serves as the railway's Museum Car and Meeting Car and is currently numbered 403. From here we went to the new museum grounds on Saylor Lane.

Hygrade Fine Products refrigerator car 609 built by General American.

Grand Trunk Railroad transfer caboose 75057 built by the railroad from a box car.

Nickel Plate Railroad caboose 466 built by International Car in 1962.

Track crew bunk car of unknown origin. From here we drove to Fostoria Iron Triangle Rail Park.

Welcome to the Fostoria Iron Triangle Rail Park. Fostoria, named for Charles Foster, was formed in 1854 when the villages of Rome and Risdon officially united. It was also the year the Fremont and Indiana Railroad began laying track for its line that originated in Fremont and passed through Fostoria and Findlay on its way to Indiana.

In 1872 the Chesapeake and Ohio completed the section of track that ran through Fostoria. The C&O ran between Columbus and Toledo and was principally a coal hauler but by 1877, the C&O was running four passenger trains a day in both directions. On July 22, 1873 the Baltimore & Ohio line reached Fostoria on its way to Chicago from the eastern seaboard and in the 1880's two more railroads came through Fostoria. The New York Chicago and St. Louis, better know as the Nickel Plate, was routed through Fostoria in spite of fierce lobbying by Norwalk. The last railroad to come to town was the new York Central, originally the Atlantic & Lake Erie Road.

In addition Fostoria was served by three interurban lines between 1898 and 1932: the Tiffin, Fostoria & Eastern Electric Railway, the Toledo, Fostoria & Findlay and the Fostoria & Fremont. These carried freight and mail as well as passengers. The TF&E and the TF&F also operated amusement parks near Bascom and Arcadia to induce ridership. Meadowbrook Park in Bascom was originally owned by the TF&E. Today trains are still an indelible part of the Fostoria landscape with over a 120 trains a day passing through the town, making it one of the premier railfanning locations.

A CSX train was passing through as we arrived.

CSX 3092 East came through on the old Baltimore and Ohio mainline.

Next a Norfolk Southern local came through on their line at Fostoria.

CSX 7866 East came through next.

Dave really was enjoying the rail park.

CSX 3148 East came through later.

CEFX SD45 3119, ex. Southern Pacific SD45R 7407, nee Southern Pacific 8828 built by Electro-Motive Division in 1966 came to interchange with the Norfolk Southern.

CSX 5264 West came through town.

That was followed by Norfolk Southern 8431 West. From here we drover over to the B&O station.

The Fostoria Baltimore and Ohio station built in 1907.

CSX 7345 East crossed the other Norfolk Southern crossing here.

The Chesapeake and Ohio freight station in Fostoria. From here we drove straight to Youngstown where we checked into the Travelodge, went to the boarding site then went depot hunting.

The Erie Railroad station built in 1922 on Commerce Street is now an office building.

The Pennsylvania Railroad station built in 1948 served as the bus station and is currently a fireworks store.

Around the corner on Mahoning Street is the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad station built in 1905 which was formerly a restaurant and the Amtrak stop but now serves as a banquet hall and is on the National Register of Historic Places. From here we drove south to a Long Horn Steakhouse where I had a fantastic Top Sirloin then returned to the Travelodge and I charged my phone and computer before calling it a night.