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A Trip Home from the Mendota Railroad Museum

by Chris Guenzler

This trip was originally going to be to Topeka to rent a car to Abilene, Kansas to be there for the first run of the restored AT&SF 4-6-2 #3415 inaugural run to Enterprise. Carole Walker my excellent travel agent tried and tried to get me a rental car in Topeka but with no luck on a Saturday morning. With a reservation on the Southwest Chief in a room I had to pick a new destination. I could go to the Depot Inn & Suites but I wanted to write a story. Then the idea hit me, why not go to Mendota to visit and write about the Mendota Railroad Museum. I called them and they would be waiting on the platform for me when I would arrive. Steve changed my Amtrak reservation and I was all ready to take this trip.

Surfliner 583 5/21/2009

I came home from Jefferson and packed for the trip. At 4:20 PM my mother drove me down to the Santa Ana Train Station and I went to Track 1 to wait for my train to LAUPT.

Surfliner 583 arrived into Santa Ana and I took a seat on the lower level of a Surfliner Coach. It was a quick trip to Los Angeles and soon the train was pulling into Track 12 at LAUPT. I walked down the platform to wait for the Southwest Chief to arrive into LAUPT.

Southwest Chief 4 5/21/2009

The Southwest Chief backed in with Engines 203 and 47, Baggage 1716, Transition 39006, Sleepers 32068 and 32099 New Mexico, Diner 38066, Lounge 32023 and Coaches 34077, 34004 and 34014. I took Room 18 in the Transition Sleeper. I listened to Sweet "Blockbuster! The Best of Sweet" both before and after dinner. The train departed LAUPT on time and at 7:00 PM I was seated in the Dining Car with a couple going to Chicago and a man going to Kansas City. I enjoyed a Flat Iron Steak and Vanilla Ice Cream. After dinner it was back to The Sweet as the train climbed Cajon Pass. After Summit I called it a night made up my room then slept all the way well into Arizona.


I was up after we left Flagstaff and went to the Dining Car for French Toast and sausage patties. I was seated with my Kansas City Friend again.

The turntable in the BNSF Winslow yard.

BNSF power in Winslow.

The La Posada Hotel and Harvey House Restaurant in Winslow.

The former Santa Fe Station in Winslow.

The Louis Sockalexis BE Sleeper/Lounge PRR Frank Thomson 800110.

The other private car in Winslow that I don't have the number of. I started my DVD watching of this trip with Jethro Tull Live.

The clouds were hanging low on this morning.

The Red Mesas here are in Arizona right before the Southwest Chief entered New Mexico.

BNSF power in Gallup.

The Gallup Amtrak Station.

This ex Santa Fe caboose in Gallup. I switched the DVD to Kiss "Live in Texas".

The Southwest Chief leaving Gallup behind.

Those low clouds are still hanging around.

Later at Isleta, a waiting BNSF freight was waiting for us to pass through.

BNSF power at Albuquerque.

An ex Santa Fe Caboose.

A former Santa Fe unit.

Ex Santa Fe and Burlington Northern Cabooses.

The old Santa Fe turntable in Albuquerque.

The former Santa Fe Albuquerque Shops.

Cars sitting outside of the shops on the north side.

Amtrak protection power at Albuquerque.

New Mexico Railrunner laying over at their facility at Albuquerque before we arrived there at 11:16 AM way early. At 11:30 AM I had a lunch of the Angus Beef Burger and Vanilla Ice Cream. After lunch I watched Led Zeppelin Live as the train left Albuquerque on time. We went through Lamy, met the westbound Southwest Chief at Canyoncito before climbing Glorieta Pass. Later we arrived into Las Vegas, New Mexico.

The former Santa Fe Roundhouse in Las Vegas.

The former Santa Fe Freight House in Las Vegas. Right before the station we came to an emergency stop as our train almost hit two kids. Our train was delayed twenty minutes.

Another ex Santa Fe Building in Las Vegas.

The former Santa Fe Station in Las Vegas.

The former Santa Fe Harvey House in Las Vegas was The Hotel Castaneda.

Those low clouds are still hanging around! I saw four baby antelopes right before Wagon Mound. Later at Raton I took a fresh air break. At 6:00 PM as we climbed Raton Pass I was called into the Dining Car and I had the worst Flat Iron Steak that I have ever had on Amtrak. After Trinidad I was back in my room and I watched Hanna Montana Live in 3D. The train made a fast trip to La Junta where I detrained for more fresh air.

The Southwest Chief at La Junta. I managed to get On-line and checked my E-mail before we left La Junta on time. I made up my room and called it a night.


I went to the Lounge Car for a Cinnamon Roll then back to the Sleepers for some Orange Juice while the train was being refueled at the BNSF Argentine Yard.

Private car at Kansas City Union Station.

The Missouri River Runner 314.

This BNSF freight passed through Kansas City with Norfolk Southern power on it. The train left KC on time but someone pulled the Emergency Brake which delayed us a few minutes. I put on the movie called Johnny English.

The Sibley Station.

The Missouri River.

The Missouri River Bridge.

Later the coaling Tower at Marceline.

The tender of the Santa Fe steam Engine in Ripley Park in Marceline.

The Santa Fe Marceline Station now the Walt Disney Museum. Usual I would be packing up my room to be ready to detrain in La Plata. This trip I didn't have to do that. I put on my Queen DVD "Queen on Fire Live at the Bowl".

The Train Party/Trainweb Building at La Plata.

The ever changing pile of Ballast at La Plata.

The Chris Guenzler Million Mile Lookout Point at La Plata where the Depot Inn & Suites is located.

Santa Fe Lake in La Plata that the steam engines of the Santa Fe Railroad used to take water from.

The Des Moines River as we entered Iowa.

Later the Mississippi River as we neared a fresh air break at Fort Madison.

The Mississippi River as crossed it into Illinois.

More clouds as we ran fast across Illinois.

An interesting farm after Galesburg.

The Southwest Chief arrived into Mendota about forty minutes late and I detrained to start my visit of the Mendota Railroad Museum.

Part II