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The Trip Home from the Soo Line 1003 Charter

by Chris Guenzler

While we waited at the Amtrak station in Milwaukee, we got on the Greyound internet and checked things.

Elizabeth and our luggage at the Milwaukee Amtrak station. The security guard checked everyone's tickets to ensure they belonged in the station.

The murals above the Amtrak counter. Half an hour before the train was scheduled to depart, we were told to line up and after a ten minute wait, they opened the gate and doors.

Hiawatha Service 338 11/16/2020

As we walked out to the train, I stopped for a picture of the rear of the train.

As we walked toward the door, I put my luggage down and took a picture of the front of the train. Elizabeth boarded with her luggage then the conductor helped her take my luggage onto the train and I just then boarded. On the trip to Chicago, we wrote the entire SOO Line 1003 story. Once that was done, it was time for a few pictures as neared the Metra Milwaukee Road coachyards.

Downtown Chicago as seen from the train.

Former Surfliner unit with Metra lettering.

Metra MP36 411.

Another former Surfliner unit with Metra lettering.

Metra SW1500 5, originally Southern Pacific 2476. We rode the train the rest into Chicago Union Station and had another surprise when on the next track over was the Metra heritage unit painted for Milwaukee Road.

Metra MP36-3S 405 in Milwaukee Road heritage paint scheme.

A view of our Hiawatha train in Chicago.

I checked the south side for any heritage units but there were none, although there was an interesting line-up of engines. We waited in the Metropolitan Lounge, wrote the Hop story and uploaded them both then relaxed and waited to board the City of New Orleans.

City of New Orleans Train 59 11/16/2020

At 7:35 PM they called City of New Orleans passengers who could walk to the train to line up in the hall. We then followed an attendant to the gate who turned us loose for the train.

The City of New Orleans train facing north due to backing to the St. Charles Airline. After we took the luggage to our Bedroom A, I detrained to get the consist which was P42DC 114, Transition 39006, Sleeper 32017, Diner 38042, Lounge 33037 with Coaches 34002, 34012 and Baggage Coach 31036. We have Ronnell Finlay as our sleeping car attendent for this trip. The Dining Car was not open tonight due to the nine hour late arrival into Chicago today. Ronnell took our dinner orders which we would eat in our room The train left Chicago on time and once Elizabeth got past the line the Southwest Chief and California Zephyr uses she was on new mileage all the way to New Orleans. The train backed up way past the junction of the airline and then headed up the line that once led to Dearborn station ex Santa Fe routing.

The Chicago skyline with the former Sears Tower, now Willis Tower, which is the highest building in Chicago. The train was approaching the St. Charles Airline line.

The reason they don't use the full St. Charles Line is this lift bridge is up.

We have entered the St. Charles Airline with our last view of Willis Tower.

Two more views of the Chicago skyline.

Soldier Field as we neared the end of the St. Charles Airline. We ran down the former Illinois Central mainline, past the Pullman Historic District and made our way to Homewood, which is not currently a stop since it closed for renovation as of August 2020. The first stop was therefore Kankakee. Ronnell delivered our dinner and I had the braised beef while Elizabeth had the pasta with meatballs with no dessert offered. We made our way down the Canadian National main line into the night.

11/17/2020 I was up about thirty minutes after Memphis, got dressed and went to breakfast. I was served at a lounge car table and had an orange juice, fruit loops with milk and a cinnamon roll the steward got for me from the lounge car. I then sat in a seat in the lounge car and watched northern Mississippi roll by outside. The train stopped in Marks and a while after that, I found Elizabeth sitting at a table in the Dining Car getting her breakfast. The train rolled on south as I was back in my room.

Farming is a main part of the Mississippi economy. At Money siding, ten minutes north of Greenwood, we stopped for CN 2263 North running long nose forward.

Canadian National 5833 in local service. The train then ran into Greenwood and I played Solitaire on my way to Yazoo City and beyond to Jackson, while Elizabeth continued writing her year-end letter in the lounge car. We got stopped by CN 6989 North on the way to Jackson at Cynthia siding.

The Capitol Building of Mississippi. The train pulled into Jackson and Elizabeth and I took a fresh air break.

City of New Orleans at rest in Jackson, Mississippi.

Kansas City Southern 4777 was also here before we departed for Brookhaven. It was here we had lunch where I had my usual Braised Beef and Elizabeth enjoyed the Chicken Marsala.

Illinois Central 4-8-2 2542 at McComb City Railroad Depot Museum.

Illinois Central business car 4.

Illinois Central refrigerator car 51000.

Illinois Central Railway Post Office 95 built in 1914.

Illinois Central caboose 9384.

Illinois Central wrecking derrick 100417. The train continued south to the Galva Canal.

Crossing the Galva Canal.

The bayou country of Louisiana.

Lake Ponchartrain.

Trees along the shore of Lake Ponchartrain.

Interstate 10 crossing Lake Ponchartrain.

The new railroad bridge across Lake Ponchartrain. The train finished its crossing of the lake then Elizabeth and I packed up our room. The train arrived in New Orleans after it was wyed. We arrived early and Elizabeth got her checked bag back then walked out front to get a picture of the station.

New Orleans Union Passenger Station. We walked the five blocks to our hotel.

Holiday Inn New Orleans. Elizabeth checked us in and we received a room with a balcony on the 16th floor.

Views from our balcony of the Big Easy New Orleans.

The RTA Rampart Line Streetcar is below us on Loyala Avenue. We went out to the Loyala Avenue RTA station first.

The RTA Rampart Line Streetcar came into the station before we walked down Poydras Street to the St. Charles Streetcar Line.

St. Charles Streetcar Line came into the Poydras Station and we boarded. Elizabeth was finally riding the St. Charles Streetcar Line in New Orleans. Now some views from along the line before it became too dark for pictures.

The trip to South Claiborne Avenue.

We detrained from Streetcar 932 at Claiborne Street.

We boarded the Streetcar 903 for the trip back to Poydras Street.

One of the mansions in the Garden District of New Orleans.

We detrained at Poydras Street. Elizabeth enjoyed her ride. We walked back to the Holiday Inn for the night including the season's first eposide of NCIS. After that we called it a night.

11/18/2020 We got up at 6:30 AM and after I checked E-mail and a few other things, we both went down the Streetcar Restaurant for a breakast of pancakes, bacon and orange juice. We went back up to the 16th floor and checked a few more things before I packed up and with the bill already in our hands, we went down the elevator and returned the key. We then walked back to Amtrak.

New Orleans Union Passenger station with the Amtrak cube sign. We went inside, Elizabeth checked her big bag to Los Angeles and we were set to head towards home. I got online and relaxed before we walked out to the train.

Sunset Limited 1 11/18/2020

This train had a consist of PH42DC 39 and 82, Sleeper 32040, Diner 38046, Lounge 33016 with Coach Baggage 31035 and Coach 34116. We are in Room B with Mike as our sleeping car attendant. We left on time and headed out of New Orleans. As we neared East Bridge Tower we slowed to let a freight train clear.

East Bridge Tower.

KCS train at West Bridge Tower. Next we climbed the approach to the Mississippi River Bridge.

Crossing the Mississippi River.

My last picture of New Orleans. At the west end of Avondale Yard, we had to throw a switch to get onto the proper route west.

Crossing the Bayou Villars.

The land of too much water bayous in Loiusana. The train stopped at the first stop of Schriever then onto New Iberia.

On the way to New Iberia the Morgan City Cemetery.

Crossing the Lower Atchafalaya River.

The train crossed the Charenton Drainage and Navigation Canal. Elizabeth spent most of the trip in the lounge car, enjoying the sights on each side of the train, working on her computer and reading magazines.

Sugar cane plants waiting to be harvested.

The New Iberia Cemetery.

The Louisiana and Delta GP15-1 1709 ex Illinois Central GP9 9061 rebuilt. The train stopped at New Iberia and made its way to Lafayette, our first fresh air break of the trip. I had to wait for lunch from the lounge car but I then had a hot dog, chocolate cookie and a orange juice. Back in the room it was time for my Alice Cooper DVD Brutally Live.

Out of our window I caught Rail Logix CEFX MP15AC 1543 and SW1500 1553 at Iowa, Louisiana. The train stopped in Lake Charles.

More of the bayous of Louisana.

The train crossed the Calcasieu River.

The train crossed Bayou Choupique.

Neches River before the train crossed in Beaumont and into Texas and we took a fresh air break in Texas.

Elizabeth making her first visit to Texas, her last new state of this trip.

The French Bayou.

On the Sunset Route tonight, the sunset!

The skyline of Houston, Texas. The train ran into Houston, our next fresh air break.

The Sunset Limited at rest at Houston.

Those two private cars, Warren R. Henry and Evelyn A. Henry, which were on our Southwest Chief, are based in Houston.

The Houston Amtrak station.

One of the history boards in the station. I returned to the train and the trauin left Houston on time. I played Solitaire while Elizabeth proofed Robin Bowers story. Robin has an excellent website on The train rollled west into the Texas night. Mike made up the room and we went to bed. Tonight Elizabeth slept up and I slept below. During the night the night, Texas Eagle-through cars were added to the Sunset Limited at San Antonio and the complete consist of the train was now PH42DC 39 and 82, Sleeper 32040, Diner 38046, Lounge 33016 with Coach Baggage 31035 and Coaches 34116 and 34135 with Sleeper 32072 Arkansas bringing up thre rear markers.

11/19/2020 I woke up well past San Antonio and dressed before going to the dining car for Fruit Loops and orange juice. I then returned to the room and after Elizabeth got up and showered she went to the dining car for breakfast, while I returned the room for day use.

The only sign of human life in this part of Texas are the duck blinds used by hunters. I played Solitaire as I now usually do on the train while Elizabeth enjoys the views from the lounge car.

An interesting rock formation as we head west deeper into west Texas. The train stopped at Sanderson whose station no longer exists.

A west Texas view. The train made its way into Alpine, our next fresh air break of the trip.

The Alpine Southern Pacific station.

Southern Pacific cabosse 4605

The Sunset Limited at rest in Alpine, Texas. We got on-line after that and cleaned out my E-mail. I got my lunch of Buffalo Chicken Wings, Pretzels and a cookie with 7 Up from my room. The train climbed Paisano Pass.

Crossing Paisano Pass.

Future mileage riding.

Union Pacific 2729 west with an all-box car train at the Paisano Pass siding.

Later the Marfa City Hall. The train next headed to Sierra Blanca and I watched my DVD of Godzilla with Raymond Burr.

Rail miles I hope to ride in the future. From here we made our way into El Paso. We were stopped at Lasaka for Union Pacific 8029 East with a long stack train and at McNary another Union Pacific train. Another train, this time Union Pacific 6073 East and we were headed out of El Paso by our sister train, the eastbound Sunset Limited before we started for the station.

El Paso and Southwestern Freight House. We then made our way into El Paso, our next fresh air break of the trip.

The train at El Paso

The El Paso Southern Pacific station.

The inside of the Southern Pacific El Paso station. I reboarded the train and relaxed.

Cuidad Jaurez.

The Rio Grande US/Mexico International Border.

The Rio Grande River.

The Mexico Border fence.

The Rio Grande Valley.

The sunset over Mexico.

RJ Corman SD-40-2 7895 at Brazos Yard. At 6:00 we were called into the Dining Car for dinner. Elizabeth and I had Braised Beef which she really liked. After dinner we watched the DVD of the film Wonder on my computer. After that I made up the room and we called it a night.

11/20/2020 We woke up after Pomona and Elizabeth then showered and I returned the room to day use. The train was late enough so our wait in Los Angeles would not be too long. The train rolled the final miles through the suburbs of the greater Los Angeles Basin.

Mt Wilson on a clear morning. The train ran into Los Anngeles Union Passenger Terminal arriving at 7:18 AM {5:35 AM} ending an excellent trip on the Sunset Limited. Elizabeth really enjoyed the lounge car and the views it provided her and I also really enjoyed my trip aboard the Sunset Limited.

The Sunset Limited at reat at LAUPT. We went down to baggage claim and while Elizabeth waited, I picked up our Metrolink tickets for Santa Ana. Once the baggage carousel started her bag was the second bag to come down the chute and we then walked to Track 11B to our waiting train.

Metrolink 600

We boarded the cab car and sat on the lower level. The train made all the Metrolink stops and arrived into Santa Ana bringing this trip to an end. David Aten was there to greet us home and Greg Smith was there to take us home to the apartment. It had been an excellent Soo Line 1003 trip to Wisconsin and one we would do again in a heart beat.