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A trip to La Plata to stay at the Depot Inn & Suites

by Chris Guenzler

I had to reschedule my trip to stay at the Depot Inn & Suites in La Plata from December to February because I made the trip to Texas to ride the Texas State Railroad before it shut down for good. I later learned that it received an extension of life until August 31st, 2007. I picked Saturday, February 10th as the date I would stay at the Depot Inn & Suites. This would be my chance to really enjoy the Depot Inn and relax there before I returned to La Plata on my Million Mile Trip in late April when it would be a major media event. Needless to say I had been looking forward to my first stay ever at the Depot Inn & Suites in La Plata, Missouri.

2/8/2007 I worked at McFadden Elementary all day on February 8th, 2007, then coached Track having a long practice. By the time I got home it was 4:10 PM and I still needed to finish packing. I had an early dinner of a quick steak before I drove to the Santa Ana train station, taking the furthest parking spot in the far northwest corner. I ran into the station to turn in my parking permit to park in the lot for more than 72 hours. I returned to the car, unloaded my bags and crossed to the east platform at the Santa Ana Boulevard grade crossing just before Metrolink 686 came into the station.

As Metrolink 686 departed, I heard a horn blow from the south.

Surfliner 583 2/8/2007

Surfliner 583 pulled into Santa Ana.

I was greeted at the door by the ever-friendly and smiling Jeffrey McConnell who welcomed me aboard as I started my second trip to La Plata. This train had Surfliner Cab Car 6903, Coaches 6412 and 6414, Coach/Cafe 6303 and Pacific Business Class 6806, with Engine 461 pushing. I took a downstairs seat and we were off and running to Los Angeles Union Passenger Station, which we arrived at a few minutes early.

I walked from Track 10 down, over and up to Track 12 to wait for the Southwest Chief.

Southwest Chief 4 2/8/2007

At 5:30 PM, the Southwest Chief backed into LAUPT with a consist of Engines 68 and 141, Baggage 1753, Sleepers 32047, 32093 Missouri, 32076 Delaware, Diner 38016, Lounge 33001 and Coaches 34016 and 31042. Rudy, the coach car attendant started to board our car at 6:05 PM and I was assigned seat 47, a large right side window seat. I settled in for the trip, listening to a solo album by Paul Stanley of Kiss called "Live to Win". We left LAUPT on time and by the time we reached Fullerton, I had listened to the CD twice. I inquired about upgrading to a sleeping car room and received a positive response. I put on Kansas' "Live at the Whiskey" and after Fullerton, Conductor Joe Knappe sold me Room 13 in the Missouri. I hauled my bags through the Lounge, Diner, Delaware and into the Missouri. I settled into my room for a much more comfortable trip to La Plata. Henry Ford would be my sleeping car attendant for this trip. I enjoyed the view from my darkened room as we made our way east to Riverside and San Bernardino.

We had a fresh air stop at San Bernardino and once we were on the move again climbing Cajon Pass, I made up my room and called it a night.

2/9/2007 I awoke with the train stopped just east of Flagstaff on a bright sunny morning. I went to the dining car where I enjoyed French Toast and Sausage Patties on a motionless train as we sat behind a few BNSF freights. Once we were on the move again, we passed a parade of westbound trains one after another, running on each other's block signals. I enjoyed the view from the lounge car to beyond Canyon Diablo, then returned to my room. I started my day off musically with John Mellencamp's "Freedom Road" as I read USA Today while the train was en route to Winslow and beyond. Once that was finished, I napped until after Grants before returning to the lounge car for the views as far as Dalies. I returned to my room for the rest of the trip to Albuquerque. As we arrived, I remembered that a unique rail item had been shipped back to its long-time home and I went to the vestibule hoping to see it.

Coming into Albuquerque, we passed the Santa Fe M-190 motor car, still on a flat car, after arriving from the California State Railroad Museum the previous week. We would see more of this unique trainset when we returned west through here on Monday. The Southwest Chief arrived in Albuquerque late for the first time in years.

Randy Jackson, a local friend of mine, was waiting on the platform for a visit during the layover.

The Missouri State Name lives on the side of my sleeper.

Passengers enjoyed the sixty-degree fresh air during our service stop here. We departed Albuquerque at 1:59 PM {12:55 PM} and headed to Lamy as I listened to Jethro Tull's "Crest of the Knave".

We passed the on-time westbound Southwest Chief as we took the siding at Waldo. As we left Lamy, I switched to the Rolling Stones' "Bridges to Babylon." We climbed through snow-covered Apache Canyon then up and over Glorieta Pass. Rob Quist and Jack Gladstone's "Odyssey West" was my next musical choice of the afternoon.

The train took the famous "S" curve along our route. We went onto Las Vegas and I went to the lounge car to wait to be called into the diner for dinner. I was seated with a gentleman going to Raton, then the bus to Pueblo, and another young man returning home to Alderson, West Virginia. I enjoyed the Pork Chop and the Delicious Chocolate Cake. After dinner it was Billy Joel's "Stormfront" which took me to Raton, the next fresh air stop.

Fresh air stop at Raton. I then took a refreshing shower and was back in my room as we exited the Raton Tunnel into Colorado. As I sat in my darkened room, it was time for Deep Purple's "Under the Gun". The train paused at Trinidad, and after that I made up my room with us running an hour-and-a-half late on this clear Colorado night.

2/10/2007 I woke to a clear morning as the train finished refuelling in Argentine Yard. I enjoyed French Toast and Sausage Patties as the train was stopped in Kansas City. We departed Kansas City at 8:15 AM, half-an-hour late with me enjoying the views of the Kansas City metro area.

We crossed the Missouri River bridge at Sibley, where I plan to pass the Million Rail Mile Mark in late April.

C.A. Junction could be a backup location for that big event. The train stopped at a red signal at Ethel as we waited for BNSF 5504 West to clear the mainline. The Southwest Chief arrived in La Plata at 10:41 AM {9:57 AM}, ending a relaxing and quiet eastbound train trip.

The Depot Inn & Suites La Plata, Missouri 2/10/2007

I was picked up by Tom Marshall, owner of the Depot Inn & Suites, who drove me over to their motel. Once inside, he picked up my key to the Pullman Suite and led me to the room.

He opened the door and showed me my room and all the features that go along with it. I walked back with him to the ticket counter {front desk} to sign my registration papers. I went back to the Pullman Suite and will describe the room.

In one corner is the desk and drawers with a bed lamp on top of it.

There is a very large and comfortable bed with artwork above.

There is a bath/sauna tub in the Pullman Suite.

Between the bed and sauna is another chest of drawers, bed lamp and a step box to get up onto the bed.

A big-screen wall TV and DVD player is above the room's fireplace.

There is a collage of St. Louis Union Station pictures and information.

There is art work above the bed in the Pullman Suite.

There is a vanity area with the bathroom and shower behind the wall.

Finally, there is a very comfortable couch with a tall lamp next to it. That is the Pullman Suite for you. Now I will describe the interior of the hotel. There is a long hallway with various railroad displays on each side.

Our first stop was a look into the General Store at the Depot Inn & Suites.

There is plenty to see in the display cases including conductor's uniforms.

Various railroad related displays.

There is a pictures with a roundhouse map.

They have Santa Fe timetables, along with model trains.

Also here are BN employee timetables and Rio Grande models.

More railroad memorabilia.

More pictures and interesting equipment.

They have some china plates.

More pictures with more tools below.

Even more pictures. I had to return to the room to get another disc for this camera before we will continue the tour. We will now resume.

There is a Santa Fe passenger train poster.

Additional picture displays.

There is a display that included a switch broom for clearing snow out of the switch points.

There are model trains.

They have a collection of railroad lanterns.

There are sure plenty of things to see in the halls of the Depot Inn & Suites. On to the lobby.

There is a pool table in one corner and behind it, a selection of books including some on railroads that guests can look at during their stay here.

To the right is the fireplace, with the famous May 10th, 1869 picture of the completion of the transcontinental railroad at Promontory Point, Utah, above it and several very comfortable chairs.

To the right of that, mounted in a bookcase, is a big-screen television set.

In the wall that separates the lobby from the heated indoor pool is displayed a very large train along with more railroad memorabilia on the ledge above.

The ticket counter is the front desk of the hotel and there are more pictures behind it. I will describe the grounds of the Depot Inn & Suites.

A handcar on a piece of track sits outside the main entrance.

There is a railroad crossing signal at the south end of the building. The eaves of the building read "northbound, eastbound, southbound and westbound."

Next I walked along the former Wabash Railroad right-of-way to where the future train watching platform would soon be built.

The view from here includes the BNSF mainline, the building on the left and the Amtrak station down the tracks on the right. I walked back down the old grade back to the Depot Inn & Suites. Outside the back door is a playground area for children.

The view of the rear of the Depot Inn & Suites.

On my way back inside to warm up, I passed this baggage room scale out in front of the motel. Time to get another disc for the camera and warm up on this 18 degree late morning with a 15 mile an hour wind blowing from the northeast.

Back outside the back door the playground area for the visiting children.

One of the many baggage carts on the property.

A Railway Express Agency {REA} Baggage Cart.

Two more baggage carts out by the old Wabash Railroad grade.

A baggage cart with railroad ties on it.

There is a miniature train on wheels.

There is also a gift shop that was closed until spring.

The view of the Depot Inn & Suites from out along the highway.

A railroad crossing device protects the northern entrance into the hotel.

The view looking south down the driveway in front of the motel.

REA Baggage Cart with three barrels on it.

By the entrance, there is a derailer at the end of a track panel along with a tool car.

A tool car rests by the derailer.

There is also a speeder by the Depot Inn & Suites sign.

There is a handcar at the south end of the track panel.

Next door, the Bank of La Plata sign read a balmy 18 degrees on this late morning. There was a 15 mile-an-hour wind blowing from the northeast so with my pictures taken, I returned to the warmth of the Pullman Suite to watch the DVD I brought of Blackmore's Night's "Castles and Dreams" on the large-screen TV in the room.

What a great picture that TV provided me of the concert. After the concert, I decided to try the heated indoor pool.

The view of the pool. Before I climbed down into the pool, I will show you what is around and above the poll area.

There is various railroad memorabilia surrounding the pool. I stayed here about five minutes, but since I was here to relax, I decided to leave because of the noise from the children. I returned to my room and changed clothes before taking a few more pictures out in the hallway.

There are framed posters of diesels and steam engines.

There is also a Union Pacific Big Boy diagram.

There is a steam train inside the wall between the lobby and the pool.

One last picture back in the hallway to my Pullman Suite. I bought a Depot Inn & Suites T-shirt before watching "Blade Trinity" on a movie channel. After the movie, I went to dinner at the Red Rooster Restaurant, which is two buildings south of the Depot Inn & Suites. I ordered a Porterhouse Steak, baked potato and cottage cheese, plus a chocolate shake. The temperature reached 26 degrees today. I returned to my suite and used that wonderful sauna and boy did I feel relaxed. It does not get any better than this in a motel room. I next watched my DVD of "Pirates of the Caribbean, Dead Man's Chest" on that fantastic big screen TV. After the movie, I called it a night after a great first day's stay at the Depot Inn & Suites.

2/11/2007 I slept so well in that bed in the Pullman Suite that I did not awake until 8:30 AM, which is considered very late for me. Looking out of my window, after a great shower, I saw more sunny skies. I called Julie at Amtrak to learn how the eastbound Southwest Chief was doing today as I wanted to take a picture of it here in La Plata. She had it arriving at 10:20 AM. I walked over to the Red Rooster for breakfast, passing the Bank of La Plata sign that read 26 degrees, with a southwest wind blowing the flags. I ordered waffles and sausage patties and after breakfast, returned to my room and watched ESPN Sports Center before heading to the road bridge that crosses over the BNSF mainline. It is a few minutes walk and offers a great view of the tracks.

First, an eastbound BNSF freight train came through.

That was followed by a westbound freight passing the eastbound.

A few minutes later, another westbound freight came through La Plata.

The Southwest Chief next came into town and made its station stop in under a minute before heading by my location for points east. I returned to the Depot Inn & Suites with the temperature now 34 degrees, so at least it got above freezing while I was here. I rented a trio of movies, of which I had seen parts of two and none of the third. The first movie was called "Cars". During the movie, I received a phone call asking me if I would mind changing rooms since someone had the Pullman room reserved for that night and it needed to be cleaned, so I said ok. So, after I had finished watching the movie, I went to the front desk and changed to Room A. I put my luggage in Room A and will now describe that room.

The vanity area in Room A.

The room has a TV, DVD player, chest of drawers and desk.

There is a nice comfortable chair next to the window with another chest of drawers, telephone and bed lamp.

The room has a very comfortable bed with a picture of B&O steam engine 867 above it.

There is a desk area with a drawing of Western Maryland Shay No. 6 above it. The next rented movie I watched was the new version of "King Kong". After the movie, I called home and then checked to see what time the westbound Southwest Chief was expected to arrive, and it was running on time. I put on my last movie "Open Season" and watched the first 45 minutes of it before walking back over to the Red Rooster for my last meal in La Plata on this trip.

The Bank of La Plata sign read 38 degrees which was the high for today.

I decided to try the Grilled Chicken Breast, home cut French fries, cottage cheese and a chocolate malt. The weather turned mostly cloudy late this afternoon, with freezing rain in tomorrow's forecast. I wished I could have stayed here one more day as I had never experienced that kind of weather. After dinner, I returned the three rental DVDs and at 7:00 PM, returned the key to Room A. I looked at the railroad books in the lobby and at 7:30 PM, Tom Marshall came in, and after a cup of coffee to warm himself up, drove me back to the station. I said goodbye to Tom and thanked him for a very relaxing stay at the Depot Inn & Suites. I highly recommend staying at this unique railroad theme motel in La Plata, Missouri.

The La Plata Amtrak Station where I waited for my Southwest Chief to take me home.

As I waited at the station for the Southwest Chief to take me home, an eastbound BNSF freight came through.

For my reurn trip home Click Here!