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The Empire Builder and Coast Starlight to Oakland

by Chris Guenzler

Havre 8/22/2005

Since I needed a new backpack, a BNSF employee told me to go three blocks to Bing N Bobs Sports Shop where I purchased a new bright Orange one. I saw a sign on the way there for the Havre Railroad Museum. I had time so I checked it out.

The inside of the Havre Railroad Museum which has an excellent collection of Montana Rail Lore. The location of this museum is a block and a half south of the Amtrak Havre Station. After a good visit I headed back to the Amtrak station.

The James Jerome Hill Statue of the Empire Builder himself in front of the Amtrak station.

I went in and meet a few of my fellow eastbound Empire Builder before I went outside to take a picture of the new history of the name of Havre sign.

The Great Northern Steam Engine 2584 on display now surrounded by trees with a no skateboarding sign in front of it.

Later, a colorful BNSF 884 East pulled into Havre.

Canadian National 2570.

CSX 7627.

The Empire Builder Display Board being held by Joe Welsh who would be returning to East Glacier to meet his family there. The Builder pulled into the fueling racks at Havre. The conductor collected my tickets and told me to check with my sleeping car attendant to see if my room would be free.

The Empire Builder arrived into Havre.

Empire Builder 7/27 8/22/2005

The Empire Builder had engines 130 and 202, Baggage 1232, Transition 39024, Sleepers 32041 and 32054, Diner 38050, Coaches 34117, and 34133, Lounge 33055, Coaches 34135 and 31013 and Sleeper 32085. We departed Havre on time with me in Room 11 until Whitefish where I would change to Room 12. Lathan is my sleeping Car Attendant. I listened to that Rob Quist and Jack Gladstone presents "Odyssey West" that I was given by Rob on the eastbound trip this morning. It is a multimedia presentation commemorating the Bicentennial of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. The music had even a more special feeling as I was hearing it on the Empire Builder which I hope will "Roll On Forever!". It is an excellent CD.

The plains of Montana and Big Sky Country. Later Joe Welsh and I had dinner with me having my final Prime Rib on Amtrak until it is cooked fresh onboard again someday. It was horrible and only the Chocolate Sundae saved my meal. We changed crews in Cut Bank and I had to get my dessert to go to get the next pictures.

The Cut Bank River west of Cut Bank.

The trestle over the Cut Bank River.

BNSF 7852 West in the siding at Spotted Robe as we neared the Rockies.

Crossing the Two Medicine Bridge westbound.

East Glacier after our fresh air stop there.

Nice reflection in a pond near Bison. I took a shower and did that new door make it so much easier than those old curtains.

The Empire Builder descended the grade near Blacktail and I really enjoyed the ride through the snow sheds and over the Java High Bridge. It brought back plenty of memories of my trips to the Izaak Walton Inn and railfanning Marias Pass. I waved to the guest on the porch as the Empire Builder passed the Izaak Walton Inn. The Builder ran to West Glacier in twilight.

Rainbow greeted our train to West Glacier.

Fantastic clouds as we departed West Glacier. We waited there for the BNSF 7832 East before running to Whitefish arriving there at 9:02 PM. I made my switch to Room 12 just as we were pulling in. I enjoyed a walk in the night's fresh air. We left Whitefish on time and I slept the night away.

8/23/2005 I woke up at Pasco fifty one minutes down and the conductor informed me that we had met four freight trains between here and Spokane that cost us that time. I said, "Four trains for only 51 minutes. You could wait 51 minutes for one on the Union Pacific." "Really", our conductor said. "You are very lucky to be working on the BNSF", I said. He just smiled at that thought. I had my breakfast in the lounge car and rode there until Roosevelt.

The Empire Builder rolled along the Columbia River.

Mount Hood down the river. We had a fresh air stop at the usual very windy Wishram.

The Inside Gateway Bridge at Wishram.

BNSF 4835 East at West Wishram.

Mount Hood behind Hood River, Oregon. After all the pictures I took in July on that NRHS 700/4449 Trip I felt like I did not have to take anymore. We had a beautiful trip through the Columbia River Gorge but exited to cloudy skies in the greater Portland Metro Area.

As we approached Vancouver, the railroad cars at the 7th Street Restaurant. The consist of our Baby Builder was engines 137 and 190, Lounge 33055, Coaches 34135 and 31013 and Sleeper 32085. We stopped at Vancouver then crossed the Columbia River into Oregon. We arrived into Portland Union Station at 10:35 AM {10:10 AM}.

The Empire Builder rests at Portland Union Station.

Portland 8/23/2005

I put my luggage in the Metropolitan Lounge and called home leaving a message. My train to Oakland would not leave Seattle to at least 1:00 PM since it arrived there at 5:35 AM, 9 hours and 5 minutes late. I took some pictures of the lounge and station.

Views of the Portland Amtrak's Metropoltan Lounge for all First Class Passengers.

View of Portland Union Station

Portland Union Station Light and roof details.

View into the Waiting Room.

View of the Gift Shop. Knowing now I had plenty of time I walked over to Chinatown and took the Max Light Rail Line to Lloyd Center. I detrained there and look at what I found.

Portland General Electric Trolley 512. I asked at the Doubletree if I could check my E mail and cleaned it out. I went to Radio Shack for some more floppy discs and batteries. I had lunch at Arby’s before going to the Regal Theater to see Bill Murray in "Broken Flowers". I had to check in my camera due to piracy rules this theater has. I enjoyed the movie and Maxed back to the station learning that the Starlight would not be in until 6 PM, the new ETA. I made a few phone calls to Trainweb and home. After about an hour of lounging about, I decided to take a walk. First I walked over to the Portland Streetcar and waited.

The Portland Streetcar at Lovejoy Station. Next I walked over to the NW 9th Street grade crossing to wait for the Empire Builder.

The Empire Builder 28 leaving Portland Union Station for Spokane and Chicago.

The Cascade Talgo waited for its trip to Seattle. I returned to the lounge and called "Julie" finding out that the Starlight left Seattle at 2:07 PM {10:00 AM}. I started to wonder how Fred Dunn did heading home and learned that he arrived into Oakland at 1:07 PM, four hours behind schedule. Cascade Talgo 507 pulled into Portland on time so I knew we would be following him to Eugene. Our Lounge Attendant told us our train had to be recrewed and 6:35 PM was the new ETA. That time came and went but a few minutes later she announced it was at NW 9th Street Crossing and would be here in minutes. We all gathered up our luggage and waited by the exit door to the platform.

Coast Starlight 11 8/23/2005

The Starlight pulled into Portland at 6:47 PM and my Sleeping Car Attendant Jay handed me a 6:30 Dinner reservation that he had gotten for me. I put my stuff in my room and went straight to the dining car. Regina seated me and Tish finished me up. I ordered the Lemon Pepper Salmon which was excellent. We departed Portland at 7:06 PM {2:05 PM}. I enjoyed a Chocolate Sundae before I walked the train. We had engines 57, 119 and 112, Baggage 1171, Transition 39091, Sleepers 32032, 32076 Delaware and 32078 Florida, Pacific Parlour Car 39972, Diner 38011, Lounge 33030, Coaches 34512 Kiddie, 34049, 31000 and 34109. I returned to my room for some Jethro Tull.

Sunset before Salem. Darkness took hold as three UP light engines delayed us a few more minutes on our way to Albany. South of Albany a dragging equipment detector caught something so our crew had to walk the train. We then met the northbound Coast Starlight running over seven hours late. I watched some of "Sahara" before we arrived at a very cool Eugene, a nice fresh air stop. We departed there at 10:30 PM and I called it a night.

8/24/2005 I arose right after the Cantara loop and went straight to the dining car for breakfast of French Toast and Sausage. We departed Dunsmuir at 6:55 AM {12:35 AM} and that was followed by another daylight trip down the Sacramento River Canyon. At Silverthorn we went into the siding to wait for the northbound Coast Starlight who was running five hours late.

The Coast Starlight crossed the Redding Trestle before a very warm fresh air stop at Redding. At Tehama we had to wait for a track maintenance gang to give us back the railroad. Next a non working detector caused another walking inspection of our train. I decided to take a few pictures.

Views of the upper level of the Pacific Parlour Car

The Pacific Parlor Car Theater.

Author Gordon Gill who I spent most of my time talking with on the southbound Coast Starlight.

Nanette our Parlour Car Attendant along with in Training Larry.

Lounge Car Attendant Aaron Astrup, the always smiling and pleasant person. We did Chico at 10:53 AM {3:50 AM}. Minutes later they announced that this Coast Starlight would be terminating in Oakland. The Conductor said would not it be better to get to your destination tonight instead of tomorrow. Train 5 passengers would be bused to Reno to catch their train. Train 4 passengers would get off in Sacramento to be bused to Train 716 to Bakersfield and bused to Barstow. All San Joaquin Passengers plus all south of Los Angeles Surfliner Passengers along with those going to Van Nuys, Simi Valley, Oxnard and Santa Barbara would get off at Sacramento and be bussed to Train 716 to Bakersfield then bused south. San Jose, Salinas, Paso Robles and San Luis Obispo Passengers were to stay on the train to Oakland then be bused to their destination. Myself plus anyone going to Davis, Martinez, Emeryville and Oakland would stay on the train to our destinations. I walked back to the Parlour Car to find Gordon to make sure he knew all the details of his trip to Santa Barbara. We rolled off the Shasta Route onto the old Feather River Route to Sacramento. I saw my Brother Bruce and wished Gordon a safe trip home to Virginia. We departed Sacramento at 1:24 PM {6:35 AM} before we headed to Davis.

The US Navy Mothball Fleet was seen before we crossed the Martinez Bridge and were dropping into Martinez.

As always I enjoyed the run along the Carquinez Straits and San Pablo Bay on our way to Emeryville. After we passed the new Amtrak Yard and passed down the street in front of my hotel for the next two nights we arrived into Oakland at 3:22 PM {8:35 AM}. This ended not only my journey on the Coast Starlight but the train would stop here as well as it had been terminated.

The terminated Coast Starlight in Oakland. I knew I would see this same trainset in a couple of hours.

Oakland 8/24/2005

I waited at the station to cancel my San Joaquin Ticket for tonight to get me here I had purchased before the Empire Builder Trip came up. I walked to the Jack London Inn and checked in. I checked my e-mail before going up to Room 311 on the back side of the building away from the railroad out in front of the building. I next went out in front of the hotel to catch some rail action with the trains coming down the street.

A deadheading San Joaquin Train 714 returning to the Oakland Amtrak Yard.

Union Pacific 718 heads to an outlaying yard.

Capitol Train 541 comes into Oakland from Sacramento. I had dinner at the Pizzeria SFO Bar and Grill enjoying an excellent steak. I would get up every time the crossing gate bells would ring to get some pictures.

Union Pacific 9564 West through Jack London Square.

Deadheading Capitol 541.

Next here came my Train 11 which ran to Niles Jct and Newark in order to be pointed north. Oakland has no wye long enough to turn the Coast Starlight.

BNSF 2576 East next came by my hotel, the Jack London Inn. I walked to the BART Station to learn how to use their ticketing machines. On the way back I spotted the old Western Pacific station. I returned to my room, made a few phone calls and called it a night.

Oakland 8/25/2005

On the way to the BART Station I made a brief detour.

The old Western Pacific Station in Oakland

It now has another use as a business.

The word "Baggage" gives away its heritage.

Remember the California Zephyr used to stop right in the middle of the street in front of the station. Now I will walk over to the 12th Street BART Station to ride their whole system. But that is the next story.