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Empire Builder Chicago to Portland 27 10/6-8/2020

by Chris Guenzler

Elizabeth and I decided to sleep in and rest. I had had enough train riding so my decision was a good one. Once we got up we spent time on line before we checked out of the Holiday Inn & Suites. We walked back to Chicago Union Station and after we checked Elizabeth's case, we went into the Metropolitan Lounge. I went upstairs to get lunch and found Gold Coast Dogs closed due to Covid 19 virus. I went to MacDonald's and had a plain hamburger which hit the spot. I returned and sent Elizabeth off to get her lunch. She got a turkey sub from Jersey Mikes Sub. So while we waited, we were able to get on line via Amtrak Connect in the first class lounge. At 1:50 PM they called us to board the Empire Builder and we walked around to the south concourse.

Amtrak Midwest Charger 4617 on an Amtrak train on the adjacent track.

Empire Builder at the south concourse. We walked along the train to the last sleeper and boarded Deluxe Bedroom E. The consist for this train was P42DC 12 and 11, Viewliner Baggage 61058, Tranistion Sleeper 39036, Sleeper 32001, Diner 38057, Coaches 34103 and 34084, Lounge 33048, Coach 34002 and Baggage 31040 and Sleeper 32028. Ainsley was our sleeping car attendant. The train left Chicago on time and headed west.

We went by the Milwaukee Road Metra Shops.

The skyline of Chicago. The train stopped in Glenview before crossing the state line into Wisconsin and headed next to Milwaukee.

Coming into Milwaukee.

Crossing the Menomonee River right before the Milwaukee Amtrak station where I took a fresh air break.

Miller Park, home of the Milwaukee Brewers.

Scenic Wisconsin. Our next stops will be Columbus and Portage and then we went to the Dining Car for dinner.

Wisconsin Dells. My Braised Beef and Chamomile tea did not fill me up. The portions were too small and were extremely poor compared to the food Amtrak used cook aboard. Elizabeth enjoyed her Chicken Fettucine. I had a Brownie and Elizabeth had a Blondie.

Sunset over Wisconsin. I was totally dissatified with my dinner and it was the poorest meal in 1,669,000+ rail miles. What a joke! The Amish brought their own food which I might have to do. We stopped in Tomah and it was getting dark. Our next stop would be La Crosse. We then crossed the Mississippi River and came to our next stop at Winona.

The Empire Builder at Winona.

The Winona Milwaukee Station. Our next stop was Hastings and we decided to call it a night.

10/7/2020 I got up at 7:15 AM while Elzabeth slept in. I went to the Dining Car for Fruit Loops and Orange Juice and after that I went to the lounge car for a cinnamon roll. I rode west under a three quarter moon. The next stop was Rugby, the geographic center of North America. The sun finally rose at 7:40 AM. I rode west and saw the Surrey Cutoff join our line. I went back to my room, found Elizabeth stirring and got my camera for some pictures in Minot this morning. North Dakota is a new state for Elizabeth.

On the way was a engine at a grain elevator.

The Minot Soo Line station as we went by it. We arrived into Minot and I detrained. First I heard a horn and saw flashing gates.

A Canadian Pacific grain train came through here this morning.

The Great Northern Minot station.

The Empire Builder at rest.

The rear of the Empire Builder. I returned on board and waited for our departure. The train departed on time and headed out of Minot. Our next stop would be Stanley, followed by Williston.

A North Dakota lake.

Bakken oil fields.

North Dakota big sky with interesting clouds.

A North Dakota scene.

Another sky scene.

Bakken oil refinery.

Another oil scene.

This happily married couple in our Deluxe Bedroom. Soon the train ran to Williston.

Great Northern 2-8-2 3059.

Burlington Northern caboose 10405 former Northern Pacific.

Great Northern Williston station.

A local BNSF set of power.

Independent Locomotive Services GP9 1362 former Great Northern 912. We left Williston on time.

A view of the other end of the Williston station.

A scene of North Dakota.

The last view of North Dakota from the back door of the train as we headed for Montana, yet another new state for Elizabeth. We would have to wait to see the Missouri River after we went through Culbertson, Montana.

Montana trees in fall colors.

The big bend of the Missouri River that Lewis and Clark traveled west up in 1803. Our train was now making its way to Wolf Point.

Fall colors in Montana. The train stopped in Glasgow.

A dam on the Milk River.

A classic horseshoe curve on the Milk River. The train stopped in Malta and the next stop would be the servicing stop in Havre, however the train had to stop at West Harlem due to some things on the tracks. The train took an eighteen minute delay.

Empire Builders met today at Zurich.

Grain elevators at Zurich. We headed into Havre.

Archer Daniels Midland CHS LLC GP9 4553 orginally Rock Island 1320.

Archer Daniels Midland SW1500 2234 orginally Reading 2751. We stopped sat the BNSF fuel racks to fill up our engines, before we pulled into the station.

The Havre sign.

The Havre Great Northern station.

Great Northern 4-8-4 2584.

Statue of James J Hill. The train left Havre twenty five minutes late and the train headed west.

These mountains to the north just short of Canada are the ones that the US Calvary chased the Nez Perce Indians under Chief Joeseph who spoke those most famous words, "From where the sun now standsI will fight no more forever!" The train ran to Shelby, our next fresh air stop after a crew change on the second stop.

The Shelby Great Northern Station. The train left Shelby on time and next we head to Cut Bank. We went to the Dining Car where I had the Braised Beef again and was much better with a Blondie for dessert and Elizabeth had the Chickem Fettucine with a Blondie which she enjoyed.

Big Sky Country.

Previews of things to come.

Views of the Rocky Mountains and Glacier National Park as the sun was setting.

Reflecting mountains west of the East Glacier Station. The night took over and we kissed through tunnels. The train stopped at West Glacier then headed on over to Whitefish where I got off for some night photography.

Whitefish station.

Great Northern NW-3 181 on display. I reboarded the train, made up the room and we called it a night.

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