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Minnesota Zephyr Dinner Train 6/1/2007

plus finishing the Hiawatha Light Rail Line.

by Chris Guenzler

After a couple of bad days at work, I was glad to be at the Santa Ana Train station waiting for Metrolink 681 to arrive at 4:34 AM.

I boarded this train which took me to Los Angeles Union Station and the Flyaway Bus to LAX again. This time it would be only a one way trip due to my late return hour coming home. I bought my one way Flyway Ticket and walked to the bus that had just pulled in. Thirty minutes later I was at LAX in the Security Line in Terminal 2 which was quick. At 6:15 AM I was seating in front of Gate 28. I did my usual Sudoku Puzzles while I waited for my flight this morning.

Northwest Airlines Flight 803 6/1/2007

I boarded this 757-300 Airplane and took my seat 47F. We backed out of Gate 28 at 8:27 AM PDT and took off at 8:44 AM PDT.

I saw Cajon Pass from the air. The flight took us over Price, Utah and seeing Glenwood Canyon with the former Denver and Rio Grande Railroad was a scenic highlight before the clouds took over. We touched down at 1:50 PM CDT at Minneapolis/St Paul International Airport. Once I got off the airplane, I followed the signs and took the tram to the Rental Cars Counters. Alamo did not have their act together but I got a Silver Sebring. I drove to the Mall of America and parked the car. I then walked to the Light Rail Station on the lower level.

Hiawatha Light Rail Line 6/1/2007

I bought a six hour Day Pass then boarded the waiting train. We left the Mall of America Station located under the parking structure. The line curved left and runs along Old Shapokee Road. The line curved left before turning right into the 28th Street Station as a light rain was falling. Bloomington Central Station was next then we passed the large glass buildings before turning left into the middle of 34th Street going under Interstate 494. We next passed the National Cemetery. We ran through Humphrey Terminal Station closed for construction before we entered the Airport Tunnel. We stopped at the Lindbergh Terminal and continued under the run ways. Our train exited the tunnel and ran to the Fort Snelling Station where I detrained. Being here means I have now ridden the complete Hiawatha Light Rail Line having done the rest at the NRHS Northstar Convention in 2004 before the southern end of the line was built.

The train that brought me here left as a light rain was falling.

The train then headed to downtown Minneapolis.

Another northbound train arrived into Fort Snelling.

My train for the Mall of America arrived and I boarded. I just sat back and enjoyed a wonderful trip back to where I started. The Hiawatha Light Rail line is a fun line to ride and I really have enjoyed myself riding it both times.

I drove east towards Stillwater stopping at a Target off a Minnesota Highway 5 for more Floppy Discs. I drove from Target to the Stillwater Train Station for some pictures of my next train ride.

Minnesota Zephyr Dinner Train 6/01/2007

The Minnesota Zephyr Dinner Train.

Another view of the Minnesota Zephyr Dinner Train.

The Grand Dome an ex Homebuilt Southern Pacific Three Quarter Dome Car ex SP 3064 ex Amtrak 9373.

The emblem on the nose of the F-unit.

The Stillwater Depot.

The Grand Dome.

F7A 788 ex BN 752 nee NP 6019.

The Minnesota Zephyr Dinner Train.

Dome Coach ex Missouri Pacific 894 renumbered 594 in 1963 to Illinois Central as IC 2210 in 1967.

F7A 787 ex BN 716, 9756, 972553L, 9756, nee SP&S 804.

The Minnesota Zephyr Dinner Train was waiting for the passengers this evening. The Grand Dome an ex Homebuilt Southern Pacific Three Quarter Dome Car ex SP 3064 ex Amtrak 9373. The emblem Minnesota Zephyr Dinner Train on the nose of the F-unit. The historic Stillwater Depot looked great. The F7A 788 ex BN 752 nee NP 6019 is on the south end of the train. The Dome Coach ex Missouri Pacific 894 renumbered 594 in 1963 to Illinois Central as IC 2210 in 1967. The F7A 787 ex BN 716, 9756, 972553L, 9756, nee SP&S 804 is on the north end of the train as they load the food aboard. With the pre trip pictures done, I drove over to the Days Inn. I registered and checked my e-mail then made some phone calls and relaxed before I returned to the Stillwater Depot for my second ride on the Minnesota Zephyr Dinner Train. I decided to ride this trip again because this is the last year it is scheduled to operate. The owner is retiring and a local group wants to put in a trail where the tracks are now. I parked the car and walked towards the Stillwater Depot.

A Speeder sits out in front of the Stillwater Depot.

Up the steps, I turned around for this picture. I went into the depot to wait for boarding. The train consisted of F7A 788 {ex Northern Pacific}, Baggage {ex Milwaukee Road}, Dome Coach {ex Missouri Pacific} named St Croix, Table Car {ex C&O}, Table Car {ex Denver Rio Grande}, Table Car {ex C&O} and the Grand Dome {ex Southern Pacific}. At 6:30 PM they called us to board the train. I went to my assigned table in the Grand Dome and took my seat.

I was seated across from Kay and Stan from Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

View inside the top of the Grand Dome. Drinks were served with me just having water tonight.

The Zephyr Cabaret, a group of singers in US Army costumes sang as they walked through the car singing "Bugle Boy of Company B". Shrimp Cocktail was already on the table followed by Chicken and Wild Rice Soup.

Our Conductor is Frank Campbell retired switch man of the Chicago Northwestern and later the Union Pacific. At 7:55 PM, the train started the slow march towards Duluth Jct.

We ran north along the St Croix River seen through the trees along the highway below the cliff.

The train ran below the cliff along the highway. We got one last view of the St Croix River through the trees. We climbed a short grade that took us over Highway 95.

As we climbed away from the river, there were retaining walls to hold the slopes in place. This area is Dutchtown as the train climbs to the west following Browns Creek up the 2.2 percent grade to gain 250 feet in elevation. The salads were then served.

I was enjoyed the cascading miles of Browns Creek and to the top of the grade at the Oak Glen Country Club.

Next a picture of me in the Grand Dome. The train rolled by the Sawmill Country Club and later a beautiful lake on the north side of the tracks.

My meal was then served being a large piece of Prime Rib with Red Potatoes. The Prime Rib was fantastic and after I had finished, a walk of the train was in order.

The ex Rio Grande Table Car.

The ex C&O Table Car.

In the Dome of the ex Missouri Pacific Dome Car.

The Zephyr Cabaret, now wearing railroad clothes before they went through the train singing the "Chattanooga Choo Choo”.

The lower level of the ex Missouri Pacific Dome Car.

Glasswork on the train.

Looking down the side of the train. We reached the turn back point of the trip near Duluth Jct and during the stop the engineer walked back through the train to switch ends. Our conductor asked if any passengers would like to ride up in the engine. You know what my answer was and we walked into the engine room and the cab of the F7A 787. As a kid this was my favorite type of engine. Due to our lateness this return trip was at five miles per hour. For dessert we all enjoyed a New York Cheesecake which was delicious. We arrived back in Stillwater and as I walked off the train I had a few thoughts to share about this trip. Mark was an excellent server, the food was top rate and the ride will always be a memorable experience. I drove back to the Days Inn and had a good night sleep.

6/02/2007 I woke up not even hungry so I just had some Orange Juice. After a check of e-mail, I checked out and drove back into the Twin Cities following the signs towards the Amtrak Station but stopped at the Minnesota Commercial Railway.

Overview of the Minnesota Commercial Railway.

M636 Cat 71 Giulio Capuano.

C36-7 59.

C36-7 55.

B23-7 1971.

SF30C 50.

Looking towards their shop. I walked back to the car and drove over to the Amtrak Station and got there just as the eastbound Empire Builder arrived on time to the Twin Cities.

Private Observation Car at the Midway Station.

The Empire Builder was at rest at Midway Station. I walked into the station before returning to my rental car and I headed towards my next train ride here. I stopped at a gas station for some snacks for later before I drove to Minneapolis Jct and parked my car for the Milwaukee Road 261 Trip to Duluth.