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Heading East with a stop in Pittsburgh to ride the Monongahela Incline

by Chris Guenzler

I worked another long hard day at McFadden Intermediate on April 5th, 2007, but this time did not go directly home. I got my hair cut and ran a few errands before I finished packing. My mother then drove me to the Santa Ana train station. I said hello to Marti, my excellent night-time Amtrak agent, before I made my way over the pedestrian bridge with my luggage.

Metrolink 686 bound for Irvine arrived first today.

Surfliner 583 4/5/2007

This train came in with Surfliner Cab Car 6908, Superliner Coach 31021, Coach 6405, Coach/Cafe 6351, Pacific Business Class 6801 with Engine 452. I boarded and relaxed downstairs for the trip to Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal.

We stopped at Anaheim and had a red signal at CP College, where I photographed the former Tustin branch of the Southern Pacific, before we continued toward Fullerton and our final sprint into LAUPT.

Southwest Chief 4 4/5/2007

I walked down, over and up to Track 12 to find a waiting Southwest Chief. This train had Engines 99 and 80, Baggage 1172, Transition 39010, Sleepers 32088 "Iowa" and 32097 "New Hampshire", Diner 38024, Lounge 33019 and Coaches 34041, 31033 and 34050. I boarded the New Hampshire and was given Room 4, with Paul Wilson as my sleeping car attendant.

After setting up my room, I went outside for a quick station picture. I put on the CD of Rainbow's "In Europe".

We left LAUPT on time and I made a 8:15 PM dinner reservation before we passed the MTA Subway yard with downtown Los Angeles in the background.

The view looking southwest from the flyover across the Los Angeles River.

We had interesting skies as we headed to our first fresh air stop at Fullerton.

A fresh air stop at Fullerton with changing sky colors. After Fullerton, at 8:15 PM, I was called in for dinner and sat with Ron and Judy, heading to Raton and Colorado Springs. I had the Pork Chop and Sweet Temptation Chocolate Cake. After dinner, it was "Rush In Rio" for the climb over Cajon Pass and after Summit, I called it a night.

4/6/2007 I woke up east of Flagstaff and went to the dining car for French Toast and Sausage Patties. I was seated with a reader of my stories on Trainweb from Triangle, Virginia and Ross and Cynthia from La Habra. Cynthia is making her first-ever long-distance train trip. After breakfast, it was more of "Rush In Rio" as I read USA Today with the train speeding toward New Mexico.

An Arizona morning. Once in New Mexico, I took a nap that lasted until Rio Puerco.

An interesting butte. My watch had stopped working last night so I would have to find a replacement in Chicago tomorrow. Because of our late running, we came to a stop at Isleta to wait for New Mexico Railrunner 509 en route to Belen.

New Mexico Railrunner 509 for Belen.

BNSF 6704 was waiting for both trains to depart.

Once New Mexico Railrunner had passed by, we crossed the Rio Grande River before arriving in Albuquerque. After a nice, long and warm servicing stop, we departed at 1:51 PM {12:40 PM} and I put on the final CD of "Rush in Rio".

Clouds were draped over the mountains north of Albuquerque.

Another view as we neared Lamy. At East Lamy, we met the westbound Southwest Chief in the siding. I rode in the lounge car for the trip through Apache Canyon and over Glorieta Pass. After that, I returned to my room and put on Alice Cooper's "Billion Dollar Babies". Later we crossed a very full Pecos River and I chose the Rolling Stones' "Exile on Main Street" for my next musical selection on this very gloomy afternoon.

A gloomy New Mexico Day.

I photographed the old stable foundations of Fort Union as we passed by. At 5:30 PM the following announcement came over the PA System: "This is Sam, everyone's favorite dining car steward calling all 5:30 dinner car reservations in for dinner!" I was again seated with Ross and Cynthia, along with Chris heading to Chicago. I repeated last night's dinner of Pork Chop and Chocolate Cake.

I finished just before we arrived at Raton for a very cold fresh air break. Back inside my warm room, I put on Jethro Tull's "Stand Up" for the trip up and over Raton Pass into Colorado.

As we descended the Pass, there was snow on the ground. I took a hot shower as we headed toward Trinidad and put on ABBA's "More Gold" as day turned into night. I called it a night before La Junta prior to bouncing across Kansas all night.

4/7/2007 During our trek into BNSF's Argentine yard I went to the dining car and was seated with Glen and Karen Copper of Milwaukee. Karen has been involved with the "Tracks Ahead" television program that covers numerous topics about railroading. The dining car was out of French Toast, so I had to have Frosted Flakes. We were joined by Reg Miller going to Flint, Michigan. I finished just before we arrived in Kansas City on a cold windy morning.

Southwest Chief at rest at Kansas City.

Several freight trains passed through as our train was serviced. After we left Kansas City, I went to the rear door to document our trip across the Missouri River bridge east of Sibley where I planned to pass 1,000,000 rail miles on April 27th.

We went under a Santa Fe signal bridge as we slowly made our way across the Missouri River floodplain following a BNSF freight.

One of the gentle curves on the floodplain.

The train passed the former Santa Fe station at Sibley.

The railroad becomes single track at Sibley for the crossing of the Missouri River.

The train started onto the bridge.

The train passed the spot where I would celebrate the 1,000,000 rail riding mark if all goes according to plan on that trip.

I took a picture from the back door on this trip since I would be occupied with a large onboard celebration the next time I rode over this bridge.

A beautiful river on a beautiful day!

I took some more photographs of this long, impressive bridge as the tracks curved to the right.

Later we passed that BNSF freight running on the joint line with the Norfolk Southern. I went back to my room for Jethro Tull's "Benefit", followed by Scorpions' "Eye II Eye".

The La Plata station stop interrupted my music as this is where I would detrain on the Million Mile Rail Trip on April 27th for a two-night stay at the Depot Inn and Suites along with a major celebration.

Ray Burns of and came down to the station to see me come through on a very cold spring day.

I photographed the brand new train viewing platform that is part of the Depot Inn and Suites complex. Our next stop would be Fort Madison, so I put on Queen's "Innuendo" to get me there.

Our train crossed the Des Moines River as we entered Iowa.

The train descended into the Mississippi River floodplain, running beside the river to Fort Madison for a cold fresh air stop.

Cold fresh air stop at Fort Madison.

Minutes later, the Southwest Chief crossed the Mississippi River.

I looked back from Illinois to Iowa across "Old Man River". I napped beyond Galesburg then went to the lounge car for a chocolate chip cookie sitting at a table until Kewanee where we came to a stop for CSX 6770 west and NS 9140 West. We reversed a tenth of a mile to clear a circuit so the signal maintainer could correct a signal problem before we left East Kewanee. John Cougar's "Freedom Road" was my next musical choice, followed by Paul Stanley's "Win to Live" to get me closer to the Windy City on this dark gloomy afternoon. Just west of Aurora, the westbound Southwest Chief passed us. We almost made it into Chicago Union Station but we were aligned on the wrong track going into the station. Once our conductor walked back to protect our rear, we backed up about three car lengths before pulling into Track 26 at 4:54 PM {3:20 PM}, ending a very relaxing trip on Amtrak's Southwest Chief.

Chicago Cold and Windy 4/7/2007

After I stored my bags in the Metropolitan Lounge, I went to get a new watch. The two CVC pharmacies west of the Chicago River closed at 5 PM, as were the five other stores east of the Chicago River. I walked over a mile before finding a Macy's which had a $250 watch reduced to $64. I kept walking south down State Street, and at Adams, found a Walgreen's with watches for sale starting at $14.95, so I bought one. Back inside warm Union Station, I visited Gold Coast for a pair of Char Dogs which I brought back to the lounge then called home so that my mother could take care of something that I forgot to do before I left. I reclaimed my luggage and learned that the eastbound Capitol Limited to Pittsburgh would be late because of mechanical problems from this morning's late arrival. It was just another day at Chicago Union Station. It was announced at 6:45 PM that dinner would not be served on the Capitol Limited tonight, so they gave each sleeping car passenger $18 for dinner. Those Gold Coast char dogs certainly were good!

Capitol Limited 30 4/7/2007

At 8:04 PM, Sleeping Car Passengers were finally called to board the train. I noted the consist before boarding Room 2 in Sleeper 32033. This train had Engines 135 and 148, Baggage 1257, Transition 39024, Sleepers 32039 and 32033, Diner 38063, Lounge 33031 and Coaches 31027, 34058 and 34137. We had to wait for our train crew to arrive so our departure time was listed at 10:00 PM. Daryl was my sleeping car attendant. I was already in bed as the train left Chicago at 9:18 PM {7:05 PM}.

4/8/2007 I slept well and awoke east of Cleveland and a cold snowy morning this early April. I had my usual breakfast of French Toast and Sausage Patties.

After breakfast I put on the Young Dubliners "With All Due Respect" as we were having another delay outside of Ravenna, Ohio. Later we paused in Alliance for a short passenger stop.

An oil well east of Sebring, Ohio. Plenty of Norfolk Southern freight action on this line to keep me entertained.

Cheapke, Ohio.

We crossed the state line into Pennsylvania passing an iced pond.

More of the iced pond.

The next pond was frozen as well.

A red barn.

Icicles hanging down in a rock cut.

Just after we crossed the Ohio River at Beaver Falls.

The north side of the Norfolk Southern Conway Yard.

About thirty minutes later we pulled by the Amtrak Pittsburgh Station before we backed into it arriving at 11:08 AM {5:30 AM}.

The Capitol Limited at rest at Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh 4/8/2007

I stored my bags behind the counter, went outside and photographed the former Pennsylvania Railroad station that now houses an apartment complex. Next I followed some directions that were off by over a block. I found the Port Authority Transit Steel Plaza light rail station. I was planning on riding the whole system, but my late train forced me to change my plans. Instead, I would sample a small portion of the light rail and then go and ride the Monongahela Incline. After an eastbound trolley went by and waiting about fifteen minutes, my westbound arrived. I boarded and was off for a two-station trip. We exited the subway portion of the line, stopping at First Street then crossing the Monongahela River, stopping at Station Square. I exited, paid and got a transfer at here. Downtown Pittsburgh is a free-ride zone so passengers pay when entering or exiting a station outside the downtown. I walked a block north for a ride that I had wanted to take for years.

Monongahela Incline 4/8/2007


The Monongahela Incline was opened on May 28, 1870 being built at a cost of $50,000. The success of this incline then brought about 17 more inclines in the greater Pittsburgh area. In 1935 the cars were rebuilt and electric traction motors replaced the steam engines that had pulled the cables. In 1964, the Incline joined the Port Authority of Allegheny County. In 1970, it was declared a historical structure by the Pittsburgh History and Landmark Foundation. Later, it was declared a National Historical Landmark. Since that time it has been renovated several times and the stations have been restored to their original appearance. The length is 635 feet with an elevation gain of 367.39 feet. The grade is 35 degrees, 35 minutes and it has a speed of 6 miles per hour.

The Trip

After I entered the station, soon a car come down on the Incline. Once a single passenger detrained, I boarded the lower level while a family boarded the top level. The doors were then closed and we started up.

Just having left the station.

A little higher.

The view of Downtown Pittsburgh on this cold and cloudy day.

Passing the downhill car.

We continued to climb as the other car descended.

Looking across the Monongahela River.

Almost at the top!

At the top of the Monongahela Incline.

The first bridge is the one that the light rail uses. I detrained, paid a $1.75 for a transfer before I boarded the upper level of the car to record the trip back down. This end has an open view with grating that allows for clear pictures.

Leaving the upper Station House.

Starting down the Monongahela Incline.

Passing the car that is heading up.

Further down the incline.

Nearing the bottom.

At the bottom, I exited first the car and then the building.

The Monongahela Incline.

The lower station building.

Views of the cars on the Monongahela Incline. What an experience it has been to finally gotten to ride the Monongahela Incline. I returned to Station Square using my transfer and waited for my light rail train back to Steel Plaza.

The trolley pulled into Station Square and I rode back to the Steel Plaza Station.

Back at Steel Plaza Station.

Interesting artwork. I returned to street level hearing loud church bells as it was Easter Sunday and was serenaded all the way back to Amtrak. I reclaimed my luggage then went up to the platform to wait for my next Amtrak train to Harrisburg.

Pennsylvanian 44 4/8/2007

At 1:10 PM, boarding began. This train consisted of engines 194 and 75, Amfleet coaches 82651, 82017, 25014, 25037, 25059 and Amcafe 48195. The 194 had been on the westbound train yesterday and had died causing that train to be four hours late into the "Steel City". We left Pittsburgh on time and then paused to wait for a westbound Norfolk Southern freight. It was snowing as we approached our first stop of Greensburg followed by Latrobe. The train twisted and turned through the hilly countryside to Johnstown.

Our train played leap frog with an NS double stack train so this picture is the last time that I see him today.

Later we passed the Tunnel Inn where Chris Parker and I both stayed last August before we plunged into that Summit Tunnel on Track 2.

Next we descended and right before the Horseshoe Curve we came to a stop because of a red signal.

Once we got a green signal, we took a ride around the world famous Horseshoe Curve.

After we stopped at Altoona, the Railroaders Museum with the Pennsy GG-1. Fourteen miles east we stopped at Tyronne. I did several Sudoku puzzles on the way to Huntington. I listened to Led Zeppelin "How the West was Won."

Junitia River. At Lewistown our large group of Amish passengers detrained. The train would now make the final sprint to Harrisburg.

A Pennsylvania farm.

Later we ran along the Susquehanna River.

Approaching the Arch Bridge over the Susquehanna River.

Our train curving onto the Arch Bridge.

The train crossed the Susquehanna River. We arrived in Harrisburg at 6:51 PM {6:45 PM}. I went up into the station and there was no answer from the number that Amtrak had given me for Hertz to pick me up. I went outside and found a taxi to take me to Harrisburg Airport. There I rented a KIA Spectra which I drove east to the Town of Intercourse, Pennsylvania.

Intercourse 4/8/2007

I checked into the Best Western Intercourse Village Inn. The name of this unique village has nothing to do with sex. When the village was founded in 1754, it was known as Cross Key. Theory 1: there was an old race track that existed east of town. The entrance to the track was known as "Entercourse". It is believed by some people the "Entercourse" gradually evolved into "Intercourse". Theory 2: Two famous roads crossed here, the old King Highway from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh and the road from Wellington to Erie intersected in the middle of town. The joining of these two roads is claimed by some to be the basis for the towns of "Cross Keys" or eventually "Intercourse". Theory 3: the final idea comes from the use of the language used during the early days. The word "intercourse" was commonly used to describe "fellowship" and "social interaction and support" shared in a community of faith which was much a part of a rural village like this. This history was taken from the Village of Intercourse Merchant Association. I made a few phone calls before calling it a night.

4/9/2007 The next morning, I went to the Intercourse Village Restaurant on the hotel's grounds and had French Toast and local sausage with orange juice, which was excellent. Four dollars was deducted from my bill since I stayed at the hotel last night, so this place was really a bargain. I checked my e-mail again before checking out and driving to Strasburg for a trip to the Pennsylvania Railroad Museum, Strasburg Railroad and a stay at the Red Caboose Motel.