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The Westbound Trip on the Lakeshore Limited, Texas Eagle and Sunset Limited

by Chris Guenzler

Chicago 3/29/2005

I stored my bags in the Metropolitan Lounge before walking over to Rock Records to pick up some additional music for the trip home. Back at Union Station I purchased a round trip for the 9:30 AM Metra run to Big Timber.

Metra 2207 3/29/2005

To use up some of the layover time in Chicago, I decided to take a ride out someplace and get back in plenty of time for my Texas Eagle. I have already written about this line so I will report anything of interest. I would have a half hour layover at Big Timber so I would check in with my mother there. The Amtrak train from Milwaukee came in as we rounded the Canal Street Curve. Our conductor is also being the Metra mailman delivering and picking up the company mail at the manned stations along the route. A freight train was blocking our path short of Bensenville station. It was then stop and go until after Itasca when we returned to track speed. We made our two Elgin stops along the Fox River before running the final miles to Big Timber Road. There was no pay phone here so I am glad that I am not stuck out here in the winter or with a car problem.

Metra 2234 3/29/2005

I boarded the Metra 2234 for the trip back to Chicago.

Chicago Gravel Company 18 just west of Bensenville on the north side.

Soo Line engines at the Bensenville Yard.

A Wisconsin Central engine at Bensenville. No Metra F-40C's were at the shops.

A delay into Chicago Union Station allowed for a picture of Chicago. We then ran into Union Station. I got off the train and went to the lounge for some phone calls. From there it was upstairs to Gold Coast for a pair a Char Dogs. In the lounge I enjoyed 6 songs of Alice Cooper and Coca-Cola. When all the Empire Builder passengers left, I moved in front of the wide screen television to watch CNN. At 2:55 PM they called all the 21, 321 and 421 passengers to go board their sections of the Texas Eagle. At the front door of the lounge it became a joke when I added 921, 1321 and 2121 before we were led out to our waiting train.

Texas Eagle 21 3/29/2005

Sleeping Car Attendant Mike Norton took my ticket at the door of the car and then I stored my luggage in Room 4 before venturing outside again to record our consist to San Antonio. We had engine 44, Baggage 1260, Sleeper 32000, Diner 38042, Lounge 33040, Coaches 31035, 31543 and 34057 and Sleeper 32115 Washington with private car "United States of America", "Northstar" 80028 FLNX 3 bringing out the rear. We left Chicago on time.

The Texas Eagle raced a Metra Train out of Union Station.

Amtrak engines at their Chicago Home.

One last look back at Chicago as we crossed the 21st Street Bridge.

I went to lounge car 33040 and something was not looking right at the far end.

Eight tables had been added to one end of this lounge car. Is it unique to the Amtrak system?

View of a Metra train in Joliet.

The Texas Eagle crossed the Kankakee River a few minutes later.

The Texas Eagle crossed the Kankakee River a few minutes later. A car sped down Interstate 55 with typical Illinois scenery with an interesting sky. We continued to roll south to Pontiac, IL then onto Bloomington-Normal as the sky continued to be interesting to watch. I took a nice shower and now felt refreshed heading into the evening listening to Rush "Retrospective 1974-1980." Lincoln came and went as the train headed towards Springfield. I had a 7 PM Dinner Reservation and was joined by Rod going to Maricopa, Charlotte heading to Dallas along with Sybil going to Fort Worth. Yolanda was our server for this meal. I had the Twin Medallions of Beef and a Chocolate Sundae. At Springfield I visited the depot picking up current Texas Eagle schedules for everybody going onto the Sunset Limited in our car. We arrived into Alton well after dark and I had the light of my room out to enjoy the approach to St Louis. The downtown stood out and the Arch was beautiful in the ever changing night time view. I could even see that horrible hotel that I stayed at during the NRHS Convention 2001. The Texas Eagle crossed the Mississippi River into Missouri and came to a stop at the brand new Amtrak Station in St Louis. I detrained to see the new station and what an improvement it is over the old temporary building that had been there for years. I then walked back and talked with the owner of the Northstar. It is an ex Great Northern Car that on October 31, 1988 Vice President George W. Bush rode The North Star between Baltimore and Washington. From the outside it is one beautiful car going to San Antonio for some work. I returned to my room, made my bed up and called it a night right after we left St Louis on time.

3/30/2005 I woke up someplace in Southern Arkansas, dressed and headed to the dining car after we passed through Hope. I enjoyed my usual French Toast and Sausage with Les who was heading to Dallas.

Texarkana was a fresh air stop and here is the rear of the Texas Eagle with the Northstar bringing up our markers.

The Presidential Seal of the United States in the drumhead. We left Texarkana on time and headed southwest into Texas. Led Zeppelin "Early Days and Later Days" was my next musical choice. We rolled through the forests and hills until Jefferson, TX where we slowed while a Kansas City Southern cleared the railroad crossing there. Minutes later at Woodlawn we took the siding to meet NS 8970 East and UP 9147 East. We pulled into Marshall, Texas at 8:50 AM.

I took a picture of the beautiful Marshall, Texas Station. I jumped back on and the train backed away from the platform until our official departure time of 9:35 AM.

The beautiful purple blossoms of the Wisteria on some of the trees at Marshall. Later at Lansing Jct we took the south mainline into Longview arriving there at 9:50 AM for a long fresh air break.

I photographed the front and rear of the Texas Eagle at Longview. I even had time to visit the station there. We left Longview on time and ran west towards Mineola. At Greggston we went around the UP 4817 East holding the mainline. The last of my unlistened music was Deep Purple "Under a Gun". From now on I will be repeating my music so no more reporting of music for this trip. We crossed the former Cotton Belt at Big Sandy. I lucked out with a beautiful clear spring day in Texas as our train made it to Mineola on time. We had a long slow order for tie replacement as we passed through Terrell and for a few miles west. From there we ran to Dallas which we arrived thirty minutes early.

A Trinity Rail Express train with two RDC's.

TRE 2005

Our train and a TRE Train before we departed.

UP 4992 West.

A Dart Light Rail Train for Parker Road.

Another TRE Train pulls into Dallas.

Ready to leave for Fort Worth with engine 569, Coaches 1057 and 1056 and Cab Car 1004.

Engine 569

The train left Dallas on time. The Texas Eagle next passed the Texas School Book Depository Building where Lee Harvey Oswald shot to death President John F Kennedy from the sixth-floor window on November 22nd, 1963 about 12:30 PM. A day almost all Americans alive then still remember!

The Texas Eagle leaves Dallas behind crossing the Trinity River on the way to Fort Worth. At Tower 55 we took the southeast leg of the wye before we backed into the Fort Worth Transportation Center 40 minutes early.

The Heartland Flyer waits for its evening departure to Oklahoma City with Cab Unit 90229, Hi-level Coach 39940, Superliner Lounge 39940, Hi-level Coaches 39957 and 39952 with engine 184.

The opposite end of the Heartland Flyer.

The rear end of our Texas Eagle.

Texas Traction Company 24

The Loram Rail Grinding Train on the BNSF line.

The Eastbound Texas Eagle arrived a few minutes late into Fort Worth. I then walked through and around the backside of the station building to get another TRE picture. At the front of the station there is now an Enterprise Car Rental Office. I will use it on my next trip to the Fort Worth area.

The TRE going east through the Tindall Storage Building. I then walked back to the train to wait for our on time 4:00 PM departure time.

The Texas Eagle left on time and leaving Fort Worth noticed that the Holiday Inn is now the Plaza Hotel that overlooks the Tower 55 and station area. I got myself a 5:45 PM Dinner Reservation, the second and last seating as our Dining Car Staff detrains at Austin. This is a vast improvement over that horrible box dinner we got the last time I rode the Sleeping Car out of Fort Worth. KFC would have been a far better choice than that stuff they tried to feed me. Thank Heaven for that wonderful Lounge LSA who took care of me there. I took a wonderful shower washing my hair before I did some word fill in puzzles prior to Clebrune. I went to the lounge car to listen to some of the Rail to Trail Program that was going on there. They called the 5:45 PM Dinner Reservations and I was seated with Karen and Emily going to Los Angeles along with Holly going to San Antonio. I had the Beef Medallions and a Chocolate Sundae. Yolanda, with her fantastic smile, who served me all my meals was excellent. A special thank you to the entire dining car staff of the Texas Eagle.

We arrived at Temple, Texas which was a fresh air stop right in front of the Temple Railroad Museum whose prize engine is the Santa Fe 3423, a 4-6-2.

Santa Fe HH600 2301

Santa Fe 2301 along with Santa Fe Caboose 1556, a MKT Caboose and several passenger cars. All of this equipment and more is part of the ongoing museum project.

The Temple Santa Fe Station.

South of Temple we switched from the old Santa Fe to the former MKT and later the former Missouri Pacific. We stopped in Taylor and later in Austin, the capital of Texas, for our last fresh air break of the trip on the Texas Eagle. I made my bed with my feet facing the engine like I always do and called it a night. The Texas eagle arrived into San Antonio really early and then shuffled our through cars around so we would be the last car on the Sunset Limited when they picked us up in the morning. Then we sat with freight trains passing all night. At one point, I woke up realizing that we would now be headed in the opposite direction so I flipped the mattress around and went back to sleep.

San Antonio 3/31/2005

I woke up about 6:30 AM still in San Antonio and walked into the station getting an ETA on the phone from Julie, the Amtrak automatic phone voice. I walked back to my car to get my camera for some pictures.

The San Antonio Southern Pacific Station with the SP Herald and steamer 794.

A view of the San Antonio Station area. I met my new Sleeping Car Attendant Mr. Jones as we waited for the Sunset Limited to arrive.

UP 3820 East with the Alamodome in the view.

One last view of the Northstar waiting to be transferred to the shop.

The Sunset Limited arriving San Antonio at 7:15 AM{3:00 AM}.

One last freight, BNSF 9644 East passed through San Antonio.

Brand new BNSF hopper with their new logo painted on them.

Sunset Limited 1 3/31/2005

I went to the Dining Car with Robert Berry as my server. I ordered Pancakes and Sausage. We departed San Antonio at 7:57 AM {5:40 AM} and we escaped the San Antonio area with no delays. I learned from my fellow Sunset passengers that the Sunset had been delayed by freight train congestion just west of New Orleans and east of Houston. West of Locust we had a nice slow order.

I went to the rear door for pictures west of Seco showing vegetation typical of this part of Texas. I napped until an announcement for Del Rio that included just about every trip they leave someone behind, so take you stuff with you and your next train is Saturday.

Closing in on Del Rio.

We passed the UP 4478 West in Pinto siding. Following a nice fresh air stop at Del Rio after I visited the station we left there at 11:23 AM {8:35 AM}.

View of the Rio Grande River with Mexico to the right.

A few minutes later, the view of the Sunset Limited crossing the Amistad Reservoir.

After all the side views I have taken crossing the Pecos River, how about a rear door view for a change? I walked the train and talked with our conductor in order to get the train's consist. This Sunset Limited had engines 836 and 507, Transition/Sleeper 39017, Sleeper 32093, Diner 38063, Lounge 33034, Coaches 34137, 31005 and 34057 with my Sleeper 32115 Washington bring up the markers. I had to have something else to do in west Texas other than listen to music or doing word fill ins.

A nice rock cut with wildflowers.

There is an interesting rail bridge east of Sanderson. We slowed for the flag stop at Sanderson but with no passenger we just passed through at 2:03 PM {11:10 AM} with the old SP Station still standing but in bad shape.

Later, we caught up to a freight and followed him west until we got by him at Longfellow.

Further on in the afternoon, our train continued to climb towards Alpine. We changed crews in Alpine and departed there at 4:05 PM {1:24 PM}.

Our train was climbing Paisano Pass.

Paisano Pass. The train passed an eastbound UP freight at Paisano with CSX and NS power. Marfa may be best known for its "Ghost Lights" but today it was "Ghost Signs along the Tracks" which delayed us for no reason other than to do just that.

Train 2, the eastbound Sunset Limited, was found in the siding behind a freight train at Quebec running over four hours late. I rode in the Lounge Car for over an hour before going to the Dining Car for my 5:00 PM Dinner Reservation. I was joined by Brenda, Jess and Betty going to Ontario. I had the best T-Bone Steak on Amtrak that I have ever had along with a Chocolate Sundae. My sleeping car lost its vacuum for the toilet system so we would have to use the toilets in the through coach. The Union Pacific had a lot of trains out on their line today keeping most of them out of our way until we neared El Paso. We slowly followed the UP 4930 West stopping and going until we got by him at Iser. Freight train congestion nailed us again twenty minutes from El Paso. Is this Black Hole going to swallow up the Sunset Limited?

With no toilets and another UP Black Hole it was time to think, "Every trip is an adventure! We sat for fourteen minutes just short of Tornillo before we continued west passing the UP 3381 East in the siding there. We went about ten miles when I put on the second Led Zeppelin CD "the Latter Years" again to see if the train could beat the CD to its end of music before reaching El Paso. We stopped again with the CD playing "Kashmir" which was the fifth song on the disc. We finally got by the UP 4547 West with two songs left. Will the Led Zeppelin CD finished before we reached El Paso at 8:18 PM {5:10 PM}. A nice touch on the way into El Paso was the Wells Fargo Building is decorated in fluorescent lights making it look like an American Flag.

I called Richard of Let's Talk Trains leaving him another message letting him know I got to El Paso. I got a Coca-Cola out of the station's machine giving me enough of it to get me home tomorrow. Nine illegal aliens boarded our sleeping car with proper ID. Is there some reason the Border Patrol won't check sleeping cars? I got some new clean sheets and was making my bed as the Sunset Limited left El Paso at 8:35 PM {5:55 PM}. I called it a night after the train crossed the Rio Grande into New Mexico. During the night we arrived into Tucson at 3:45 AM and left at 4:30 AM {12:59 AM}.

4/1/2005 Sunrise on this morning as we climbed the grade to Shawmut. I enjoyed the Saguaro Cactus as I talked with Bob from Fort Worth. The Dining Car opened at 6:00 AM Pacific Time and I dined with Bob, Guillermo and John. Guillermo had a very interesting motorcycle story to tell about his cross country trip and what happened to put him on the train instead. He is now doing a Deming to Los Angeles round trip. I had the final French Toast and Sausage of the trip. We rolled across the Sonoran Desert then through the Gila River Narrows out into the Yuma Valley meeting UP 3839 at Fortuna. Once he passed we sped west to our next station Yuma which we departed at 7:51 AM {5:19 AM}. We crossed the Colorado River into California.

Miles later the Chocolate Mountains off to the northeast before we held the mainline at Cactus for the UP 4971 East.

The Glamis Sand Dunes from Cactus. Bob came back to my room to talk as we rolled west along the Salton Sea until I had to excuse myself for another picture.

The Salton Sea on a beautiful clear Spring morning. The Sunset then ran through the Cochella Valley and Indio. We made it to Palm Springs departing there at 10:16 AM {6:37 AM}. It was time for the trip over Beaumont Hill on this fantastic clear morning. We stopped at Beaumont Crossovers for the UP 4790 East to pass by before we crossed over the South Track for our trip down San Timiteo Canyon.

After a ten minute delay, the Sunset Limited started down San Timiteo Canyon. After passing two more eastbounds at Hinda we crossed back to the North Track. UP 9610 East worked hard climbing the grade passing us.

The Arrowhead first seen in years after the forest fires had burnt off the growth that had covered it up. This Arrowhead is the historic emblem for Arrowhead Spring Water. The Sunset crossed the Santa Ana River before we got across the BNSF at Colton. It was then up the short hill to the West Colton Yard which we flew by on the north side. We passed two more westbound freights around South Fontana. We followed UP 2942 West to Guasti before we did Ontario at 12:17 PM {8:05 AM}. We had slow orders and had to stop at a red signal before we got to Pomona 12:40 PM {8:15 AM}. We had been following the UP 4376 West that went into the siding at Walnut to clear the mainline for us.

The Sunset Limited had a red signal at Basset before we headed down the Metrolink Line down the middle of the San Bernardino Freeway. At East Bank Jct we waited for Metrolink to clear before we crossed the Los Angeles River and ran into Los Angeles Union Station arriving there at 1:32 PM {10:10 AM}. It was a very good trip west on the Sunset Limited.

Surfliner 578 4/1/2005

Surfliner 774 pulled into Los Angeles the same time we did running over two hours late from San Luis Obispo. The real 578 equipment was used on an on time 774 out of Los Angeles at 12:25 PM today. This way once it gets to San Diego it leaves there on time as 785 for Goleta. This causes 578 to have a very heavy passenger load as it has all of 774 passengers from north of LA plus all of the normal 578 passengers. Add in that today is Friday and we were standing room only. We departed LAUPT on time and I said goodbye to the now emptied Sunset Limited on Track 11. The eastbound Sunset Limited was backing in for its 2:30 PM departure to Orlando. This train had engine 460, Pacific Business Class 6803, Coach/Cafe 6306, Coaches 6411 and 6401 with Cab Car 6907. We headed to Fullerton and Anaheim before making the "Rail to Rail" stop of Orange before we rolled into Santa Ana on time. A taxi ride home ended this fantastic Amtrak trip to the New River Gorge, all the way across America and back!