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The Milwaukee Road 261 Milwaukee to Chicago 6/22/2004

by Chris Guenzler

Milwaukee 6/21/2004

After arriving early, I detrained off of Hiawatha 339 and found the rain had stopped so I headed to the Ramada Inn via the bridge that overlooked the Milwaukee Road 261. I checked in then after stowing my bags in my room I walked back over to the Milwaukee Road 261 train and recorded the consist for our trip to Chicago. I talked to the crew and was invited into the cab of Milwaukee Road 261. Following that exciting moment, I walked over to the Hilton to check my E-mail before returning to my room for the night.

Milwaukee Road 261 Milwaukee to Chicago 6/22/2004

Sleeping in late, I returned to the Milwaukee Amtrak Station via the bridge with 261 bathed in the beautiful morning light. Our train had a consist of the Milwaukee Road 261 S-3 4-8-4, Auxiliary Tender 250002, Amtrak P42DC 39, Milwaukee Road {MR} NSR 1615 Grand Canyon, MR NSR 31 Minnesota River, 800861 Arizona, 800721 UP Echo Canyon, 800748 SP Golden Sands, Pennsylvania Henry Hudson, MR NSR Wisconsin Valley, 800197 Montana, 800702 Lambert Point and MR Cedar Rapids. At 10:05 AM, the Milwaukee Road 261 backed onto the waiting train to the west of the station.

The Milwaukee Road 261 pulled the train into the Milwaukee Amtrak Station at 10:43 AM and after a few pictures of the train pulling in, I boarded the Golden Sands for the trip to Chicago. Amtrak Hiawatha 334 departed for Chicago on time at 10:50 AM and we left for Chicago at 10:53 AM.

The Milwaukee Road 261 slowly made our way out of the station and over the switches before we crossed the Menomence River.

A good curve was next as we made our way to the Kinnickinnic River Bridge followed by the crossing of the former CNW {UP} line. The Milwaukee Road 261 whistle brought back plenty of memories of other Milwaukee Road 261 trips I had taken on it.

It was a beautiful sunny day as the Milwaukee Road 261 raced down the mainline across the Wisconsin countryside. We blew through Sturtevent as the public truly enjoyed the passing of the Milwaukee Road 261. We crossed into Illinois and slowed to a stop before Roundout to service the engine. I walked the coaches during this stop to see the differences. As we ran down the Metra Line there were looks of amazement on people's faces as the Milwaukee Road 261 steamed by them. Photographers were everywhere along the Milwaukee Road 261 route into the Windy City as we made our way to our only passenger stop of Glenview.

The train made our way to Tower A2 where the Milwaukee Road 261 was walked over all the crossings of the former CNW {UP} there.

The Milwaukee Road 261 looked great at the curve at Canal Street.

The Milwaukee Road 261 then entered Chicago Union Station at 1:42 PM on Track 19 ending an excellent first Milwaukee Road 261 trip for 2004.

Chicago 2 6/22/2004

After I dropped my luggage off in the temporary Metropolitan Lounge in the southwest corner of the Great Hall, I ventured out to Roosevelt Street for some Amtrak and Metra action plus I knew the Milwaukee Road 261 would be by sometime soon on the way to the BNSF Western Avenue Yard for the layover until Friday. I had always wanted to take pictures off this historic vantage point for watching trains in Chicago. The first train that came by was the northbound Texas Eagle which later became my City of New Orleans later in the evening.

The moment that about 200 people were waiting for took place as the Milwaukee Road 261 steamed by heading to Western Avenue. I called this my Milwaukee Road 261 photo runby of this trip today. After almost everyone had left, the California Zephyr then departed thirty minutes late. All through this trip Amtrak in Chicago could not get trains out of the station on time. The eastbound Southwest Chief then backed in twenty minutes early. I met a father and son who had been on the back platform with me on the Trainorders Sierra Pacific Limited and had followed the Milwaukee Road 261 down from Milwaukee. It is truly a small world! The new Blue Water then departed for Port Huron on time. The westbound Southwest Chief departed five minutes late along with the on time southbound Texas Eagle. The Wolverine from Detroit arrived fifteen minutes early then more Metra Trains came and went before the Illini backed out of the station so he could head forward at the St Charles Air Line on his way to Carbondale.

I walked east across the bridge to the former Rock Island Line to catch some Metra Trains at La Salle Street Station arriving and departing. I walked all the way west across the bridge to a Baskin Robbins for a chocolate mint cone. I returned to the bridge for more Metra and Amtrak action. The State House for St Louis departed on time next.

Five minutes later the Pere Marquette for Grand Rapids departed Chicago on time. Metra trains kept leaving the Zephyr Pit back to the station and soon the Zephyr Pit was empty. From here on it would only be outgoing and reverse move Metra Trains. Next we had a deadhead move of the late Empire Builder to the wye and then the Wolverine departed on time for Pontiac. This bridge on Roosevelt Street is a train watching spot I would recommend highly to any passenger train lover. I returned to the station for some Coca-Cola, Char Dogs and to wait for my next Amtrak train.

City of New Orleans 59 6/22/2004

They led all the sleeping car passengers from the replacement lounge at 7:20 PM and I walked to my car as I recorded the consist of this train taking me to Hammond. We had P42DC 47, Baggage 1208, Transition 39014, Diner 38001, Lounge 33010, Coach Baggage 31040, Coaches 34042 and 34047, Sleeper 34027 and dead heading lounge 33008. I was in Room 8 with Marcie being my wonderful sleeping car attendant for this trip. Right on time we backed out of Chicago Union Station and out to the connection to the St Charles Air line that will take us to the former Illinois Central Mainline of America now Canadian National. We joined the Metra Electric Line for our exit from Chicago through Homewood and out to University Park. I went to the dining car and enjoyed the Chef Special of Beef Tips with Ice Cream for dessert. I turned in for the night after having such a great day. Marcie made an announcement over our car's PA system that all the toilets were out in our car. "Every trip is an adventure!"

6/23/2004 I woke up about twenty minutes before Memphis with views of the Mississippi River and a new streetcar line as we came into town. Once there I detrained for a picture of our train. Due to a freight train crossing in front of us we were delayed leaving Memphis. I enjoyed a French Toast and Sausage breakfast with the same couple from the Bay Area that I had dinner with last night. We entered the State of Mississippi as the City of New Orleans rolled south on this rainy morning. At Greenwood, MS the smokers took a soggy break while I enjoyed the fresh air from the door of the sleeping car. If I was still drinking and they offered me free drinks in the pouring rain I would have been the first one off the train. I have not done any drinking in 3444 days and have no plans ever to start again. The train left Greenwood an hour and seven minutes late.

The rain let up as we rolled into Yazoo City which we departed at 11:00 AM {9:51 AM}. Some CN track work slowed the train on the way to Jackson, capitol of Mississippi as we passed through the forests. We left Jackson an hour late and I found the conductor to tell him what I am trying to do and he thinks we should get to Hammond prior to my northbound 58 arrival. I sat back and relaxed as the train was on a fast trip south. We arrived at Hazlehurst and departed at 12:53 PM {11:55 AM} then sprinted to Brookhaven at 1:12 PM{ 12:16 PM}. We ran through some bayous on the way to McComb the last stop in Mississippi 1:38 PM {12:40 PM}. I went to thank Marcie for a great trip and that most wonderful dining car staff on the City of New Orleans. I relaxed as we crossed into Louisiana then I prepared to detrain when the City of New Orleans would arrive at Hammond just an hour late.

That was until the train took the siding at North Hammond and we would sit her for over thirty minutes waiting on the northbound City of New Orleans I was supposed to be on. The Conductor came to my room to see me with a plan. Marcie would walk me to the Transition Car where I would exit the train. The conductor would roll my luggage down the ballast along the train meeting me where I would exit. He led me rolling my bags to a sidewalk where I thanked him for getting me here. From there an off duty engineer walked me the rest of the way to the Hammond Station where the agent was waiting for me. My engineer gave me a Sprite after I had asked if the station had a Coca-Cola Machine. It was 90 degrees with 90% humidity and I was sweating like a pig. With no train in sight the Agent told me to walk across the tracks and street to Guy's Quality Foods Inc for some Coca-Cola. I returned to the station and looked down the track for eight more minutes until I saw a headlight that took ten minutes to get into Hammond.

City of New Orleans 58 6/23/2004

Believe it or not, I boarded the Georgia for the trip to Chicago. The train had pulled in ten minutes late with my sleeping car attendant Alonzo greeting me and we left five minutes late with me glad to be aboard.

After a picture of an above ground cemetery, I took a nice shower to wash off all the sweat and humidity on my unexpected walk between trains. I was truly happy to be aboard our train. This train was a combination of my Empire Builder and new equipment. I will designate either SEA, PDX or New in [ ]. P42DC 33 [new],Baggage 1261 [SEA], Transition 39009 [SEA], Diner 38011 [new], Lounge 33048 [PDX], Coaches 31513 [SEA}, 34037[SEA] and 34085 [PDX] and Sleeper 32076 Georgia [SEA and mine]. Talk about rough track between Hammond and McComb as it was a struggle to walk through the train. McComb has an Illinois Central 2-8-0 2542, IC 51000 Refer and a caboose in primer on display. I had an excellent Delmonico Steak blackened to perfection along with an ice cream. I sure have had great meals on the City of New Orleans. If you can believe this, as I walked out of the lounge car who came walking in other than Al Ingersoll, World Traveler from San Juan Capistrano. I sat with Al in the lounge car until Yazoo City where I showed Al my Grand Excursion 2004 T-shirt before I retired to my room for the evening.

The train curved through northern Mississippi before a beautiful big sun sunset. After that great sight I called it a night.

6/24/2004 I woke up at Effingham with the train running thirty minutes late. I rode the lounge car watching that big red sun rise before enjoying French Toast and Sausage as the train stopped in Matoon.

We stopped at the beautiful restored station in Champaign-Urbana. We rolled north across the flat Illinois farmlands making our way north towards Chicago.

The train slowly made its way into Chicago letting me have a chance to photograph the Metra Electric and South Shore Trains.

The train took the St Charles Air Line which we shared with a CN freight. We diverted to a different route to get to the leads to Chicago Union Station. We ran right along the CTA tracks with me picking up a little new mileage on the connection from the Airline to the route of the Texas Eagle. A special thanks to Alonzo my sleeping car attendant as well as the entire excellent and friendly City of New Orleans crew and staff.

Chicago 3 6/24/2004

I detrained at Chicago but waited at the gate to "Welcome Al to Chicago" which really surprised him. I headed up to the Food Court to read the USA Today and to wait for Gold Coast to open. After three word fill ins, I treated myself to two Gold Coast Char Dogs. I ran into Mark from Wesson, Mass. here to ride the Milwaukee Road 261 and it is always good to see him. Next I went in search of a new cassette player as mine was eating batteries daily. I tried eight different stores in Chicago until the last Walgreens by the Sears Tower had one.

On the way to the Ogilvie Transportation Center, I stopped by the bridge that overlooks the north entrance to Chicago Union Station and caught three Metra Trains in ten minutes. At Ogilvie I bought a roundtrip to Kenosha and waited to board my train.

Metra 321 6/24/2004

This is "I have been here done that before this trip before". I put on my new cassette player and listened to ELP Live in Long Beach 1972 all the way to Kenosha. It started raining in Evanston and after Lake Bluff there was a UP Coal train waiting for us to pass by on its way to southern Wisconsin. It was a pleasant trip to Kenosha and I always enjoy riding Metra. We arrived five minutes early and I took a picture of my Metra train.

Click here for Part 3 of the story.