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The Milwaukee Road 261 Circle Trip 9/14/2008

by Chris Guenzler

I woke up at the Best Western Dakota Ridge at 5:30 AM and after a brief continental breakfast I left the hotel. I took Interstate 35E to Interstate 94 and then exited finding my way to Minneapolis Jct, the home of the Milwaukee Road 261. I parked my rental car and walked down for a picture of the front of my train today and of the Milwaukee Road 261 and train set.

It consisted of the Milwaukee Road S3 4-8-4 261, Auxiliary Tender, Amtrak P42DC 198, Grand Canyon Tool Car NSR 1615, Coaches Lake Pepin 800799, St. Paul Pass 800798, Arizona 800861 and Wenonah NSR 202 800261, Baggage Concession Car NSR 2450 800237, Sleeper Minnesota River NSRX 31 800195, Lounge Wisconsin Valley NSRX 3103 800787, Amtrak Great Dome 10031, Super Dome 800862 and Cedar Rapids 800040.

A nice touch added to P42DC 198, the Hiawatha Emblem a piece of Milwaukee Road history was added to the side of the locomotive cab.

Amtrak Empire Builder passed the Milwaukee Road 261 on its way to Midway Station this morning.

The uniquely wonderful Cedar Rapids brings up the rear of our excursion train today. I went down and waited to board. At first they did not believe me when I said Judy had upgraded me to the Great Dome and I had to walk with the guy back to the Cedar Rapids where they found my name on the list for the Great Dome. I returned and found my seat.

My name on the table that was nicely decorated.

At 8:43 AM, the Milwaukee Road 261 departed from Minneapolis Jct and headed out towards the mainline.

The downtown skyline of Minneapolis could be seen as we left.

The view out of the dome looking at the Milwaukee Road 261 steaming ahead.

Our train went by the Softball Fields at the University of Minnesota.

Our train ran by the future Football Stadium of the University of Minnesota.

The train passed a few grain elevators on its way out of Minneapolis.

The train ran by the Minnesota Transportation Museum at the Jackson Street Roundhouse before we went down Westminster Hill.

The skyline of St. Paul could be seen from our train.

The train started its running along the Mississippi River.

The train went beneath the Dayton Bluffs in St Paul.

Our train ran by the CP Rail engine facility at Pig Eye Yard. I decided to take a walk back through the Premium Class end of our train.

The view out of the back of the Cedar Rapids.

Good friend and excellent videographer Joe Harper who rode these two trips instead of filming. Everyone deserves a chance to relax and enjoy a few trips every now and then.

Three views inside the Super Dome.

Me in the Super Dome.

One more view inside the Super Dome. I got back to my seat in the Great Dome and they served Eggs Benedict Strata, Sausage and Fresh Fruits. I had three links of sausage since I cannot eat eggs.

Looking across Old Man River, the Mississippi River.

The train ran by Lock and Dam 1.

The Milwaukee Road 261 approaches the lift bridge across the Mississippi River.

The Milwaukee Road 261 heads out across the Mississippi River Bridge at Hastings.

Crossing the Mississippi River at Hastings. After that I walked the train forward to see who I might find aboard that I knew. Up in the first coach was Cary from Alabama along with members of his family. I made my way back to the Great Dome before a quick servicing stop at Red Wing.

Two views of the Red Wing Station.

The train ran through the valley with no road construction being done on Sunday much to the happiness of our train chasers today.

The view inside the Great Dome.

Looking east across the Mississippi River at Wisconsin.

View as the Milwaukee Road 261 took one of the many curves along the Mississippi River on the Minnesota side. One reason I love these trips is visiting with so many people I know only because of the Milwaukee Road 261 and the Friends of the 261 who ride the train. This group has so many heroes who the general public never knows about. The car cleaners who work throughout the night, the engine staff that keeps the fire going all night long and the car workers who keep everything working right. Without these and many more people, these trips would never be as successful as they always are!

Three views looking at the mighty Mississippi River and Wisconsin on the other side which we will be riding on later on this trip back to the Twin Cities.

The train ran by the football stadium in Winona.

The train went by the old Milwaukee Road Freight House in Winona.

The train arrived into the Winona Station where we made a brief stop.

Four more views along the Mississippi River as we ran through Dakota and Dresbach.

The Milwaukee Road 261 has reached the junction at La Crescent and unlike yesterday, will turn east and cross the Mississippi River into Wisconsin and a stop at La Crosse.

Two views at La Crescent.

The train took the big turn to reach the Mississippi River Bridge.

The train came onto the Mississippi River Lift Bridge to enter Wisconsin.

The train curved into La Crosse with a pair of CP Rail engines off to the left.

An ex Milwaukee Road engine in "Bandit Colors".

The train pulled into the La Crosse station and we all got a drink and then deboarded to get our box lunch. After I got mine I went to take a few pictures before it would be lunch time for me.

The Milwaukee Road 261 being serviced in La Crosse. I then walked the length of the train to take a few more pictures of our unique train today.

The Amtrak Great Dome.

The beautiful Super Dome.

The beautiful Cedar Rapids.

The rear of this unique excursion train set. I walked back to the station and found a table and ate my pork sandwich. After a tasty lunch, I watched Frank Sanburg being interviewed and added a few comments to it. I went back onboard the train and waited for departure time in the Amtrak Great Dome.

Click here for the Trip back to the Twin Cites via Wisconsin!