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The Trip to Fort Worth on the Sunset Limited and Texas Eagle plus TRE and DART.

by Chris Guenzler

My mother drove me to the Santa Ana train station and dropped me off at the corner of the northeast parking lot. That made it easy to get to the east platform via the Santa Ana grade crossing at the north end of the station. It was a rather windy early afternoon as I waited for Surfliner 573 to take me to Los Angeles Union Station.

As I finished my first Sudoku puzzle of the trip, Metrolink 811 heading to San Juan Capistrano arrived at Santa Ana.

Surfliner 573 12/27/2006

The train pulled in with the following consist: Surfliner Cab Car 6903, Coaches 6407 and 6453, Cafe/Coach 6302 and Pacific Business Class 6802 and Engine 456. We departed on time and made our way to Anaheim, Fullerton and Norwalk before we made the final sprint to Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal. We arrived into LAUPT on Track 12 and Sunset Limited would be backing in across the platform on Track 11.

Sunset Limited 2/422 12/27/2006

At 1:45 PM, the Sunset Limited backed into LAUPT with Engines 47 and 97, Baggage 1172, Transition 39005, Sleeper 32045, Diner 38018, Lounge 33097, Coaches 35002, 34016 and 34097 with my Sleeper 32057. Cars 34097 and 32057 are the through cars for the Texas Eagle known as Train 422. I walked down the platform for a picture of the train and it was raining again. My sleeping car attendant, as far as San Antonio, was Lloyd Berry from El Paso, Texas. I returned to my room and started listening to Billy Joel's "Stormfront" prior to our on-time afternoon departure.

Our train passed Mission Tower as we left Los Angeles via San Gabriel.

We crossed the Los Angeles River.

The train ran through East Bank Jct.

We ran through Yuma Jct.

Yard power could be seen at LATC, Union Pacific's intermodal yard, with downtown Los Angeles in the background.

We entered the Alhambra Trench and passed a UP freight train.

Views of the Alhambra Trench.

After we passed Mission San Gabriel, I returned to my room from the rear door and relaxed to Pomona before walking through the train which was completed after the Ontario station stop. Back in my room, I listened to Jethro Tull's "Heavy Horses", my next late afternoon musical choice. We were stopped by a UP doublestack train at South Fontana for a few minutes after I had received a 6:00 PM dinner reservation.

At least the traffic on the San Bernardino Freeway was moving while we waited for the train to pass. On the move again after a second UP freight, we passed by West Colton Yard before crossing over at CP Ramona. This is just before the BNSF crossing at the former site of Colton Tower.

I went to the lounge car for the trip up San Timiteo Canyon and over Beaumont Hill. At Loma Linda, we crossed back over to the north main and later we passed an eastbound UP freight at Hinda. We continued with no delays over "The Hill" to Palm Springs, a fresh air stop, which I passed up because of the cold windy conditions. UP 2424 West passed through during our station stop. At MP 606.1, I passed my 969,000.0 rail mile before being called for dinner. Roy and Joyce, going to Dallas, joined me in the dining car this evening. I ordered the beef ragout and Mississippi Mud cake. I returned to my darkened room for an evening of more Jethro Tull music as I enjoyed the clear desert night. I called it a night after Yuma, making up my room, climbing into my bed and dreaming the night away!

12/28/2006 I woke up two states later as the train was speeding east towards Deming, New Mexico. In the early morning darkness, I prepared myself for the day and went to the lounge car to wait for breakfast. At 7:00 AM, the dining car opened and I was seated with Pete going to Houston. I enjoyed French Toast and Sausage Patties. We crossed the Rio Grande River into El Paso, Texas with Ciudad Juarez to the south of the International Border.

I took pictures of the Sunset Limited in the station, along with interior views of the station.

The very impressive El Paso Union Station.

The main entrance into the station.

Inside the station the Train Board.

The Amtrak Ticket Counter.

Views inside the Station Hall.

I saw the 100 Years of El Paso Union Station display, bought a newspaper and walked back to the train.

Sleeping Car attendant Lloyd Berry and our sleeping car passengers were enjoying our early arrival into El Paso.

I was at the rear of our train when a westbound UP freight came by en route to the mainline fueling racks just west of the station. We left on time and continued eastbound to our next station stop of Alpine,

Our train went by the leased power in the UP yard. I put on Jethro Tull's "Crest of the Knave" on this extremely stormy western Texas morning.

As we neared Sierra Blanca, the clouds hid the mountain peaks from my gaze.

I saw the mesas east of there.

To the south one could see the Rio Grande River and Mexico. As we continued on, it became time to listen to Queen's "Live Killers". The book I was reading on this trip was "Wicked, the Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West" by Gregory Maguire. We were stopped briefly at Aragon for a track inspection truck to clear the mainline so we could continue.

There was some freight train congestion at Paisano Jct.

We met UP 4451 East at Paisano. I took a few pictures of our crossing of Paisano Pass, the highest point on the Southern Pacific's Sunset Route.

We arrived in Alpine early at 1:42 PM and had an extended fresh air stop.

The sleeping car passengers were really able to enjoy the fresh air.

Downtown Alpine.

The painting on the back of a gas station in Alpine.

Sleeping Car Attendant Lloyd Berry kept on eye on his Sleeping Car Passengers in Alpine. The Sunset Limited departed on time and we made it just to the next siding, Strobel, where we pulled in behind an eastbound freight to wait for some westbound trains.

First the westbound Sunset Limited came by heading to Alpine about an hour late. We followed that freight one siding east to Lenox where we took that siding.

UP 5547 West came by and had to clear the block before we could back onto the mainline and continue.

On the move again, we finally passed UP 3657 East at Lenox. My next musical selection was Emerson, Lake & Palmer's "Live".

We passed through Sanderson forty five minutes late after the delays at Strobel and Lenox. Darkness fell long before we reached the Pecos River High Bridge. At 6:00 PM, I was called to the dining car and was seated with Patsy from Oklahoma City. I enjoyed a Half-Baked Chicken and another piece of Mississippi Mud Cake. I finished dinner just before Del Rio, our next fresh air stop. A westbound UP freight passed by while we were in the station. A refreshing shower was next before I returned to my room to read more of "Wicked" and listen to Deep Purple's "Under the Gun". After that was done, I made up my room and called it a night. The Sunset Limited arrived in San Antonio just after 11:00 PM, a little over thirty minutes late. Later that night, our through cars, which had been left by the Sunset Limited, were switched onto the Texas Eagle for the morning departure to Chicago.

Texas Eagle 22/422 12/29/2006

At 5:00 AM, I got up to record the consist of the Texas Eagle that our through cars for Chicago had been added to earlier this morning. Thus, the train's consist was Engine 19, Sleepers 32115 and 32057, Coach 34097, Diner 38038, Lounge 33001 and Coaches 31017 and 34052. As you can tell, the through cars 32057 and 34097 were cut into the consist instead of being added to the rear of the train as they had been in the past. I went back to bed and the train left San Antonio on time with me sound asleep. Twenty minutes before San Marcos, I awoke and dressed before heading to the lounge car for a cinnamon roll and orange juice. Since the dining car crew boards the train in Austin, passengers receive a box breakfast that did not really appeal to me. I rode in the lounge car until near Austin with some local railfans pointing out things along the route on this cloudy morning.

The train crossed the Colorado River of Texas just before our fresh air stop at Austin.

I took a photograph of the train at the station and then went inside to visit. It started to rain as we made our way to Taylor. Motley Crew's "20th Century Masters" was my first musical choice this morning.

Scene between Taylor and Temple.

After Taylor, we turned north onto the former Missouri-Kansas-Texas for the run to the former Santa Fe connection just before Temple. On the outskirts of Temple one of the large hospitals in Temple. Temple was the next fresh air stop.

The Texas Eagle in Temple.

I photographed Santa Fe 4-6-2 3423 at the Temple Railroad Museum. During the stop, it became lunch time so I went to the diner and was seated with Alan and Jennifer going to Chicago from Austin. I had the Angus Burger and chocolate cake as the train made its way to McGregor during the meal. Back in my room Guns N' Roses' "Appetite for Destruction" was the next musical selection of this dark cloudy rainy early afternoon.

We stopped in Cleburne and I took a picture of part of the former Santa Fe shops where the CF-7s and other engines were built. From here, we continued toward Fort Worth. The Texas Eagle had no delays at Tower 55 and pulled into the Fort Worth Transportation Center at 2:18 PM.

Fort Worth 12/29/2006

Chris Parker and I met inside the station and we put my bags into the trunk of the rented Ford Taurus. We walked over to the Texas and Pacific station in a light rain to catch the Trinity Railway Express (TRE) to Dallas. We bought our tickets and went upstairs to board the waiting train.

Chris Parker aboard the TRE 2932

Me aboard the TRE 2932. Since I had written about my trips on the TRE in 2003, I will only make a few comments about our trip this time. This was Chris Parker's first trip aboard the TRE. We had a very enjoyable ride on this very dark late afternoon. Before we arrived at Dallas Union Station, we had to wait for my Texas Eagle to Chicago to arrive.

I photographed TRE 2932 and we visited the station before walking two blocks to a Subway sandwich shop for dinner. We returned in pouring rain with strong gusty winds. We bought Premium day passes, then boarded a DART train for Westmoreland. This route shares the tracks with the trains going to Ledbetter where I had ridden before as far as the 8th & Corinth station. We stopped at the Convention Center and Cedars before we crossed the Trinity River and came to the 8th & Corinth station. At the junction just south of there, we turned right onto brand new trackage for me. In the pouring rain we stopped at the Dallas Zoo Station {just to the west}, Tyler/ Vernon, Hampton and on to the last stop on this line at Westmoreland. I detrained for a picture.

Our DART train left Westmoreland and Chris and I enjoyed the light show that Mother Nature provided for us as we returned to Dallas Union Station. We boarded the soon-to-depart TRE Train 2935 for the return to the Fort Worth Transportation Center and our car. It was a great night to be safe inside a train as it poured and we counted the seconds after the flashes of lightning until it thundered. A few times there were no seconds between the flash of light and loud thunder. It was interesting to watch people run for their cars in the pouring rain across flooded parking lots at the various stations. Lightning knocked out the trackside signals before the Hurst/Bell station. Our conductor did a great job of keeping us informed during these delays. At Fort Worth, Chris and I thanked the conductor for the safe trip back before we walked across street to the car.

It does not rain like this back home in Southern California. With all this nasty weather and President Bush safe inside an armored vehicle in Crawford, Texas, Chris and I decided to stay off Interstate 30 and took Lancaster/Division Street as we drove east. The rain and the wind were incredible as we slowly made our way towards Arlington. It does not rain like this in Southern California. We made our way through the mess to the Best Western Southland Inn and got out of that wild weather for the night.