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The Trip Home From the NRHS 2006 Convention via Altoona.

by Chris Guenzler

The Bus to Pittsburgh 7/23/2006

Chris Parker got up and left just before 5:00 AM for the Pittsburgh Airport Bus and his 8:30 AM Flight to Los Angeles and home. I slept in, getting out of bed at 8:00 AM, had my last breakfast at the Knights Inn and paid the bill. At 9:00 AM, I left the room and walked across the street to the Holiday Inn for the bus to the Amtrak station in Pittsburgh. At 9:05 AM, the bus pulled up and we loaded all the luggage under the bus: one bin for Amtrak and the other bin for the airport. At 9:30 AM, the bus left the Holiday Inn parking lot for Pittsburgh. The bus took US 250 east to US 22 east near Cadiz.

East of Stubenville, we crossed the Ohio River into West Virginia.

The bus crossed the Ohio River. About six miles of West Virginia took us in to Pennsylvania. We took PA 60 north to the airport. This route was exactly the same route I told Chris to take to the airport. The bus did this trip to the airport in one hour and forty-two minutes. After dropping off three of our passengers at the airport, we headed to Amtrak. We took PA 60 south towards downtown.

The bus went under a trestle labeled "Norfolk and Western Railway Company". Next we dropped down the hill and went through the Fort Pitt Tunnel.

After exiting the tunnel, downtown Pittsburgh appeared as we crossed the Monongahela River. The bus arrived at a gate at the rear of the Amtrak station at 11:44 AM. Our bus host and driver went to find someone to open the gate. About ten minutes later, the Amtrak agent opened the gate and I helped unload the luggage. The agent said we could wait at the end of the platform for the Pennsylvanian to load after 1:00 PM. I decided to look around.

There were two private cars here: ex. Illinois Central observation car "Eaton" 800174 and Ohio Central business car "Sugar Creek" 800003.

The Private Cars on the right and my Pennsylvanian for Altoona on the left. I talked with several of our convention passengers before we all boarded the train after our crew had arrived.

The Pennsylvanian 44 7/23/2006

As I boarded this train, I told both train crew members that I was making the "Altoona Turn" so they would be aware of it. This long distance Amfleet train had P42DC 129, Coaches 82091, 25106, 25102, 25050 and Cafe/business class car 48120. I took a seat in the 25050 which still had its television monitors in the luggage racks. The purpose of this round trip was to relax and ride around Horseshoe Curve both ways again after visiting it on the ground. I read an Arrive Magazine, Amtrak's Northeast Corridor publication, before our on-time departure at 1:20 PM. On the way out of Pittsburgh, we passed the large US Steel plant. I enjoyed some chicken wings for lunch as we rolled east to Greensburg. My train crew told me that the westbound was already twenty minutes late leaving Harrisburg. We stopped at Latrobe to detrain five passengers and boarded seven more at this flag stop. I really enjoyed our fast eastbound trip up the curvy former Pennsylvania Railroad mainline.

After we left Johnstown, I spotted the Incline there. After that, my train climbed the western flank of the Alleghenies. We passed through Cresson and at MO Tower, I passed the 942,000.0 rail mileage mark. We took Track 1 though Gallitzin so I missed going by the Tunnel Inn on my eastbound trip. The train went through the South Allegheny tunnel before we started down the eastern flank. A few minutes later we rounded Horseshoe Curve.

After that the train made its way down to Altoona. We had to do a double stop as they brought the train in on the wrong track at the station. I detrained and put my bags on the platform to wait for my westbound train.

After the eastbound Pennsylvanian left for New York City, I settled in to wait at Altoona.

Altoona a longer wait than expected 7/23/2006

A westbound freight came by as my train was waiting so all I was able to photograph was the helpers.

The NS 658265 Railroaders Memorial Museum Horseshoe Curve Bridging the Gap for 150 Years sign was on display.

Also on display was Pennsylvania Railroad GG1 4913.

My bags wait for their ride to Pittsburgh to arrive. I walked over the Expressway into the station just as another westbound blasted by the platform. After adding Altoona to the station interiors that I have visited, I walked back to the platform as our train got later and later.

A westbound Norfolk Southern stack train came through with helpers on the rear.

That train was followed by another westbound Norfolk Southern train.

Then there was an eastbound Norfolk Southern train that rolled through Altoona.

Later, as my train was now over an hour late, I decided to photograph the twin Pennsy diner and observation car.

An eastbound Norfolk Southern Triple Crown Roadrailer train went through next.

The single truck between each trailer. The station agent then made an announcement of the train's ETA being 6:30 PM. I went back across to the station to find out why. It turned out that one track near Lewistown was out of service for track work and the open track had a freight train break down on it. This was good news for me for two reasons. One, it cut down my waiting time in Pittsburgh and two, it allowed me to take multiple photographs in Altoona instead of what should have been a less than twenty minute wait.

While I continued to wait, an eastbound helper set returned to Altoona.

That was followed by another Norfolk Southern stack train rolling east.

The eastbound met a local that would turn off the mainline just west of the station.

The local pulled by the station.

The local pulled by the station with NS GP38-3 5813.

A green signal meant our train might be coming. Around a curve a headlight appeared and my westbound train came into Altoona and my stay here was over.

Pennsylvanian 43 7/23/2006

The westbound train finally pulled into the station at 6:30 PM {4:06 PM}. There would be no picture of the Horseshoe Curve westbound as we were on Track 3 and had a triple meet with two eastbounds on the curve on Tracks 1 and 2. Being on Track 3 was good news as I got to do both routing through Gallitzin and would go by the Tunnel Inn. Between the curve and tunnel two more eastbounds had gone by us. When we reached the Tunnel Inn, no one was out to look at our train. This train consisted of P42DC 42, Coaches 21211, 25040, 25060 and 26020 with Cafe/Business 48154. I got that by walking back through the train to get a hot dog for dinner. Once finished, I just sat back and relaxed listening to Dio "Greatest Hits" starting my musical journey home. With a crying child behind me, the volume was turned up all the way. The train arrived into Pittsburgh at 8:56 PM {7:05 PM}. I let all the other passengers off the train as I had nothing but time to kill.

I took a picture of the Pennsylvanian after it had arrived in Pittsburg and then called Chris Parker to see if he arrived home safely but left a message. I met Rolf from Santa Cruz who was taking the California Zephyr from Chicago tomorrow. He had an adventure when he came to the convention. His California Zephyr was four hours late arriving in Chicago so he had to take a Greyhound bus to Pittsburgh, a trip from Hell, but made it to the NRHS bus to the Convention. We chatted in the station before we went up to the platform to wait for our train to Chicago to arrive.

Capitol Limited 7/23/2006

The Capitol Limited pulled into Pittsburgh and I made my way through the crowd to Sleeping Car 32025 where I was met by Nathan Bryan, my sleeping car attendant. I had Room 5 for this trip. I walked back outside to get the rest of the consist. This train had P42DC 179 and 190, Baggage 1221, Transition 39016, Sleepers 32025 and 32029, Diner 38016, Lounge 33011, Coaches 34097, 34000 and 34072. Nathan had already made up my room, and in the correct sleeping direction. At that point, after we had left ten minutes late, a tired Chris called it a night.

7/24/2006 I was awakened at 6:15 AM EDT on July 24th with an announcement of breakfast in the dining car. I was seated with Ray and Bob, both Catholic Priests. I had French Toast and Sausage Patties as the train ran west this early morning.

I had awoken to a view of scenic Indiana in the early morning light. Poison "The Best of Poison" started my musical day and a Coca-Cola assisted in starting my day off correctly.

We passed a graveyard east of Maple City, Indiana before freight train congestion stopped us before Elkhart.

We pulled into Elkhart and then headed west to South Bend.

The South Bend platform was originally shared with the South Shore Line before the railroad was relocated to South Bend Airport station. Back on the move and now on Central Time, it was Metallica "Master of Puppets" that would take me most of the way to Chicago.

The train ran by the Indiana Dunes State Park.

Switchers performing their duties this morning at the steel mills.

One could see Lake Michigan along the industrial landscape. We stopped and went on our way to Union Station. One delay was UP 5011 East.

After yet another stop, we crossed beneath the Stevenson Expressway and the CTA Orange Line.

A few minutes later the train crossed the Chicago River before the train was wyed.

Amtrak units wait their next assignments.

The Chicago Skyline.

Backing into Union Station arriving at 9:53 AM {8:30 AM}, ending this segment of my train home.

Chicago 2 7/24/2006

I was first off and first into the Metropolitan Lounge where I checked my bags in for my stay in Chicago. I walked down the north platforms of Union Station to Madison Street and made my way quickly to the Ogilive Transportation Center. There I bought a round trip ticket to Elburn, as from Geneva to Elburn would be new mileage for me. I stopped at Auntie Anne's for a pretzel and a newsstand for a Coca-Cola before walking out to the train.

Metra 29 7/24/2006

I walked down for a picture of the train before I boarded. We departed on time with me sitting back and relaxing as far as Geneva. We left Geneva and headed first to La Fox passing plenty of new homes and a large Baptist Church, before we crossed a huge corn field. The train stopped at La Fox then west of there it continued across the rolling countryside, passing a stopped eastbound UP coal train. Before Elburn we passed the new overnight layover facility for the Metra trains on this line. Moments later we pulled into the new station at Elburn. I detrained for a few pictures. The Elburn station area was still under construction.

Westbound train after it had arrived at Elburn.

Waiting to depart eastbound for Chicago.

The Elburn Station area is still under construction. I reboarded the train for the trip back to Chicago.

Metra 48 7/24/2006

Right on time, we departed for Chicago.

The train passed the corn fields between Elburn and La Fox.

The train crossed the Fox River after our Geneva stop. I did a few more Major League Sudoku Puzzles which made the return trip go by faster. The train arrived back in Chicago and I walked back to Union Station. I went upstairs to Gold Coast for the usual Char Dogs and bought another Coca-Cola to make sure I would have plenty to get me home. I reclaimed my luggage and waited in the Metropolitan Lounge for my next train towards home. The Red Cap offered me a ride out to my sleeping car and when I saw the train it looked very familiar from this morning.

Southwest Chief 3 7/24/2006

The consist of this train was P42DC 22, 179 and 190, Baggage 1221, Transition 39016, Sleepers 32025 and 32029, Diner 38016, Lounge 33011, Coaches 34097, 34000 and 34072 and Expresstrak 74067, 74070, 74100 and 74102. This was the same train as the Capitol Limited, except for P42DC 22 and the Expresstrak cars were new. The other new thing on this train was that I was riding in downstairs room 13 of Sleeper 32025 with Richard Ruiz as my Sleeping Car attendant. I put on Motley Crue "20th Century Masters" before we departed on time. Before Aurora, I switched to Guns N' Roses "Appetite for Destruction". Near MP 46 we came to a stop then started to back up through the crossover at MP 45.76. After the switch was thrown, we were now on the south track because a local was on the north track.

A field in Illinois. I heard a familiar voice over the PA system and when I got to the lounge car, I found Shirley Robinson who is the excellent lead service attendant there. I received a 5:45 PM dinner reservation but this crew was calling people in by name. Since someone else had used Chris, I had to be Mr. Guenzler. Let us see if that name gets butchered. At 5:55 PM, I went in and was seated with Annette and her daughter Sarah, who had eaten with me going east, and another passenger named Jo. We were all heading home and very happy to be doing that. I had Pork Shanks and Chocolate Bundt Cake. After dinner I returned to my room.

The train ran along the Mississippi River bottom land as we neared our crossing of the Mississippi River.

We got stopped by a red signal as the drawbridge was up for a river barge. Remember river traffic always has the right of way over trains. Once the bridge closed, we got a green signal and we started across.

The Mississippi River looking north.

After we had entered Iowa, we stopped for a fresh air stop at Fort Madison and a crew change. On the move again, I took a nice hot shower before I relaxed for the rest of the evening.

The Southwest Chief crossed the southeast corner of Iowa then entered Missouri. A tired Chris then made up his room and called it a night.

7/25/2006 I awoke at 7:20 AM and discovered my watch had stopped and was dead as a doornail. I went to the dining car and was seated across from a passenger who was definitely in need of a shower or a good hosing. My French Toast was eaten much more quickly than normal in order to get out of there.

Kansas this early morning west of Garden City.

More of western Kansas before we went into Colorado.

The wind turbine blade in Lamar now blocks the good view of the steam engine that had been on display there for years. "The Eyes of Alice Cooper" started this day off musically. Later we arrived into a very hot La Junta at 8:20 AM, where I detrained for some fresh air during our crew change.

My Sleeping Car Attendant Richard Ruiz.

The gang from our sleeping car.

Leaving La Junta.

Leaving La Junta we passed Santa Fe steam engine 1024 on display. My next bit of music was "The Final Temptation of Alice Cooper" as I read the Pueblo Chieftain.

The small hill on the way to Trinidad. Feeling tired I decided to take a nap and slept past Raton.

The view looking west south of Wagon Mound.

Clouds building in the west.

The train ran by Lone Tree Hill. Cheap Trick "Live at Budakon" was the next musical selection. Once that was done, I walked the train and said hello to a few coach passengers I knew. I read my new "The Buckeye Route - the Ohio Central Story" as I listened to the Scorpions "Blackout" which took us to Canyoncito where we met the eastbound Southwest Chief.

We dropped through Apache Canyon to Lamy. Prince "The Hits" took me all the way to hot Albuquerque and on the way there I obtained a 6:00 PM dinner reservation.

With over an hour to kill at the station, and after taking a picture of our train, I walked to a busy Cold Stone Creamery for a well-deserved ice cream. On the way back, I went by a long line of passengers waiting for the New Mexico Railrunner to take them home. I knew a train would have to come from their yard so I went past our head end and waited.

The New Mexico Railrunner came in from its storage area towards the north end of the station where it would load and take people home north of Albuquerque. It was 99 degrees as we prepared to leave Albuquerque on time with me listening to Rob Quist and Jack Gladstone "Odyssey West". We reached Dalies, with one westbound waiting, an eastbound stopped beyond the junction east and another eastbound stopped west of the junction. We took the south track and passed seven more eastbound trains stopped waiting to head to Belen. Since the power had been off in Albuquerque, dinner times were delayed.

A view east of Grants, New Mexico. With it now being an hour after my dinner time, I asked Richard to bring my dinner to my room.

Some pre dinner pictures of the Red Mesas of New Mexico. We came to a stop at Thoreau at MP 128 for an eastbound stack train. I ate my dinner in my room during a rain shower enjoying Chicken Fried Steak, which was excellent and a Chocolate Bundt Cake. We next lost Head End Power {HEP} and I learned it was a cable between the baggage car and the transition car. It happened just as I had climbed into the shower which did not work after the power was restored. I went back to my room and put on Blackmore's Night "The Village Lantern". By the third song we were back on the move again. We then made our stop at Gallup.

A few minutes later we entered Arizona and soon after I called it a night.

7/26/2006 I woke up before Victorville, dressed and headed to the dining car. I was seated with Graham Blackburn and Edward and Eileen of the Great Rail Journey Group. I enjoyed French Toast and Sausage Patties.

Sunrise was on the east side of Cajon Pass before I put on Blackmore's Night "Shadow of the Moon" for the trip down Cajon Pass from Summit to San Bernardino.

Metrolink trains waited at San Bernardino during our last fresh air stop of this trip. The Moody Blues "Greatest Hits" took me through Riverside and on toward Fullerton.

The train ran through Santa Ana Canyon. With me going to miss a good connection in Los Angeles to a Surfliner, I decided to detrain at Fullerton in order to be home sooner. The Southwest Chief arrived into Fullerton at 8:05 AM {6:24 AM}.

Metrolink 800 7/26/2006

I crossed over the bridge to Track 2 on the south side and found the phone did not work. I recrossed to Track 1, used the phone then bought a Metrolink ticket before crossing that bridge for the third time this morning, and waited for Metrolink 800 which arrived in Fullerton five minutes early. We stopped at Anaheim and Orange prior to reaching Santa Ana, from where I had started this whole incredible rail experience.

I took one last picture before my mother to pick me up and we went to Main Photo to drop off the film before going home, ending a great trip I love it when a plan comes together.