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Heading East to get to the 2006 NRHS Convention

by Chris Guenzler

Every year at the NRHS Convention, I sign up and pay the ten dollar pre-registration fee which ensures that I have the first chance at getting my Convention registration brochure early. This year, the NRHS Convention was 'Buckeye Rails and it was held in New Philadelphia, Ohio. Once I received it, I picked my events and mailed it back the same day. In this case, I got everything I paid for, which was "The American", "Cuyahoga Valley Classic", "The Cincinnati Limited", "Social Hour and Banquet", "The Buckeye" and the "Morgan Run Shop Tour". Later, after it was announced that a train ride was included, I signed up the "Optional Return via the Minerva Steam Museum". Chris Parker also decided to go but he would have to fly back and take care of the rental car because of time constraints. As always, I would take the train but to where, Cleveland or Pittsburgh? I checked the arrival times in both cities. Cleveland had times of 12:36 AM for train 30, the Capitol Limited, or 4:02 AM for train 48, the Lake Shore Limited. Pittsburgh only had one choice which was 4:00 AM on the Capitol Limited. Since there were other railroads I wanted to ride east of Pittsburgh, that was my choice. Steve Grande assisted me with getting my tickets for this trip. Once I knew I had what I wanted at the convention, we then purchased my Amtrak tickets from Santa Ana to Pittsburgh and return. I planned to get to Pittsburgh on July 14th, so now I could work on arranging some pre-convention trips. I contacted the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad and that was a go. Sand Patch Grade could be done after that. Next, I contacted the Potomac Eagle Scenic Railroad and that was a go. After that trip, my next destination would be Horseshoe Curve. I checked with the East Broad Top Railroad and found out that I could ride this train with an overnight stay at the Tunnel Inn in Cresson, Pennsylvania. I would make a stop at Washington, Pennsylvania at the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum on the way to New Philadelphia. Hotels were then taken care of and I was all set. After the convention, I would take a round trip on the Pennsylvanian to Altoona before heading home. It should be a great trip.

For once, Tuesday, a day that one of my trips was to begin, I was able to relax at home before being driven to the Santa Ana train station.

The new northbound canopies had all been tiled

The bridge towers were still being worked on.

We were told to wait on the middle platform but Surfliner 582 came in first, so it was weird standing in the middle. I found some shade under the new bridge in the area where I, along with the rest of the Pacific Business Class passengers, would be boarding.

Surfliner 583 7/11/2006

The train pulled into Santa Ana about ten minutes late and I took Seat 1 downstairs in Car 6807. The train, operating in push mode, had Cab Car 6800, Coaches 6408 and 6812, Coach/Cafe 6803 and Pacific Business Class 6807, with engine 464. I enjoyed a Coca-Cola as the train made its way to Anaheim and Fullerton while I did Major League Sudoku puzzles. As the train continued to Los Angeles Union Station, I saw one of the Sounder train sets heading east for San Bernardino.

Southwest Chief 4 7/11/2006

The Southwest Chief was already on track 12 and we came in on track 10. I found a luggage cart before walking down the ramp, under the tracks and back up to the right track. The train had P42DC's 74, 99 and 69, Baggage 1755, Transition 39045, Sleepers 32030 and 32047, Diner 38011, Lounge 32032 and Coaches 34085, 34065 and 34056. No express cars on the rear, yeah!

I boarded the 32047 and had Room 6 with Efren as my sleeping car attendant. I relaxed in my room reading USA Today until an on-time departure. The book for this trip was "A Life on the Road" by Charles Kuralt. We paused at Bandini to let Metrolink 706 pass by heading west before we entered the south track for Fullerton.

At Fullerton for the first time ever we used the south platform for our station work.

The view looking back at Fullerton. I had received a 7:45 PM dinner reservation and was seated with George and Linda heading to Buffalo then onto Woodstock, Ontario. Also dining with me was Robert going to Cincinnati, then on to Washington DC and Danville. I had a pork chop and chocolate bundt cake. Dinner conversations were excellent. Later I took a fresh air break at San Bernardino. As I was enjoying the climb over Cajon Pass, Conductor Dave Arthur stopped by for a catch-up visit before I called it a night.

7/12/2006 I woke up just before we crossed Canyon Diablo. At 6:30 AM I went to the dining car and had breakfast with Tom and Annette both heading to Chicago. I had French Toast and Sausage which hit the spot. As the Chief passed though Holbrook, I started listening to both CDs of "Carl Palmer Band Working Live" as I enjoyed the first Coca-Cola of the morning. I read a chapter of my book then did a Sudoku puzzle, then alternated, as the train rolled out of Arizona and headed into New Mexico. We paused at Gallup and I later walked back to the rear door of our train. On the way back to my room, I stopped to talk with Gingi, one of the excellent coach attendants on the Southwest Chief. Back in the room, the Scorpions "Blackout" was the next musical selection which was followed by Metallica "Master of Puppets". Efren came by passing out both lunch and dinner reservations with me selecting only a 5:00 PM evening meal seating. We arrived at Albuquerque over an hour early

The Southwest Chief at rest at Albuquerque.

I saw the work was being done on the New Mexico Railrunner platform. Expresstrak 74064 was added to the rear of our train, so I would not be able to take semaphore pictures on this trip. It was a hot day in Albuquerque so I waited outside in the shade during our layover. After a southbound New Mexico Railrunner came in and discharged its passengers, the Southwest Chief departed on time. I continued the book and Sudoku puzzles listening to Billy Squire "Greatest Hits". Lamy and Apache Canyon passed by with me listening to the "Eyes of Alice Cooper" and enjoying USA Today. Next the Moody Blues "Greatest Hits" as we stopped in Las Vegas and continued eastward. In Shoemaker Canyon, we encountered a rain shower that gave the area an eerie look. On the way to Raton the clouds parted as we sped across the high plains.

At 5:00 PM I went to the Dining Car and was seated with Rodney going to a bridge tournament along with Donna and Joe going to Columbus, Indiana.

I enjoyed the Roast Chicken with no veggies and another Chocolate Bundt.

Climbing Raton Pass, we passed a BNSF freight. After that picture, I put on Blackmore's Night "Shadow of the Moon" as we plunged into the Raton Tunnel, entered Colorado and descended to Trinidad.

BNSF 4306 East waited for us to pass, then would follow us east to La Junta. Next, I listened to Blackmore's Night "The Village Lantern" which took me east to La Junta, our next fresh air stop. There, I walked over to Safeway for more Coca-Cola while a smoker who cussed out our assistant conductor then refused to show his identification or ticket receipt was removed by the local police. He had outstanding warrants. He was going from San Diego to New York but would be spending some time in La Junta. The Southwest Chief left La Junta and headed east out into the night. About twenty minutes east of La Junta, we came to a sudden stop and the Head End Power {HEP} went out. At 8:55 PM we started moving again. The problem was a broken air hose which our new crew fixed very quickly. Any time you work under the train you always turn off the HEP. With that done, I called it a night.

7/13/2006 I got up at 6:30 AM and went to the dining car for breakfast with Annette, George and Jeanne. I had my usual French Toast and Sausage Patties. We were held at Holiday before we went through BNSF Argentine Yard on the north side.

BNSF Glacier View and other BNSF business cars were added to our train while our engines were refueled.

A Ferromex engine passed us going west as we rolled towards Kansas City.

A BNSF freight waited to follow us east.

We arrived at Kansas City and I took a walk on that very hot humid morning to get all those BNSF car numbers. BNSF 77 {HEP Car} 800665, BNSF 66 Cajon Pass 800663, BNSF 7 Santa Fe 800637 and BNSF 30 Glacier View 800675. Having the information I needed, I returned to the coolness of my room to enjoy a Coca-Cola. We departed Kansas City at 8:46 AM {7:45 AM}.

We left the KC Metro area behind us and at Sibley, our train took a big curve before we crossed the Missouri River.

After that, I put on the two CD's of Keith Emerson "Hammer It Out" as the train crossed Missouri. I finished the book just west of La Plata, where and will be moving in the near future. In fact I spotted the building as we passed through town. Later we did a fresh air stop at Fort Madison, Iowa.

The Mississippi River.

Crossing the Mississippi River.

Looking north at America's Great River.

Later at Cameron, a BNSF freight waited for us to enter the former Chicago, Burlington and Quincy mainline to Galesburg. The freight would follow us into town.

The Emerson lasted until we had departed Galesburg so next up was the two CD's of Cheap Trick "Live at Budakon" which should last until nearly Chicago.

Myself right before we crossed of the former C&NW line to St Louis.

At Princeton, the CB&Q Caboose 13593 is on display east of the station. I went to the lounge car until they closed it at Naperville.

The table end of the Sightseer Lounge Car.

The viewing area of the car with a group who did not follow the directions to leave.

In this newly rebuilt lounge car are the new tables with the Amtrak emblem on it and cup holder. We pulled straight into Chicago Union Station arriving at 3:50 PM {3:20 PM}, ending an excellent restful Amtrak trip to Chicago.

Chicago 1 7/13/2006

I checked into the Metropolitan Lounge and stored my bags. I went upstairs to the Food Court to Gold Coast for a Char Dog. That was followed by a stop at Metra to get a Union Pacific West Line schedule for the trip to Elburn which I would take during the layover in Chicago on my return trip home. I reclaimed my bags, had an orange juice and waited for Train 30 to board.

Capitol Limited 30 7/13/2006

We all walked out of the back door of the lounge to Platform 20 where I boarded the Capitol Limited to Pittsburgh. I detrained for a picture of our train, then walked the length of the train to get the consist. This edition had P42DC's 199 and 193, Baggage 1127, Transition 39018 {rooms sold}, Sleepers 32050 and 32031, Diner 38055, Lounge 33014 with Coaches 34063, 34117 and 31043. My Sleeping Car Attendant was Mr. Kinney and I had Room 2 in one of the rebuilds and had a new bathroom layout. At 5:30 PM, they called me in for dinner. I enjoyed a Pork Chop and Sweet Temptation chocolate cake. For this meal, I was joined by Paul and Lillian.

A damaged cabbaged unit in Chicago.

Lake Michigan.

Steel plant engine.

Another steel plant engine coming out of the building.

Some EJ&E engines in their Gary Yard. I settled into my room listening to Prince's "The Hits". The train sped up then slowed down, thereby losing time, so it would be interesting to see how much time we lose when we reached South Bend.

My sleeper is a rebuilt so here are some views of the upstairs bathroom. A South Shore Train zoomed by westbound as we neared South Bend. We arrived at South Bend at 9:17 PM {8:03 PM} and I made up my room for the night. There was a medical emergency in the second coach which delayed our departure. I went to bed wondering what time I would be getting to Pittsburgh.

7/14/2006 Mr. Kinney woke me up at 5:10 AM on Wednesday morning, twenty minutes from Pittsburgh as the train made up some time during the night. I packed up, took my bags downstairs and enjoyed an orange juice before we arrived at Pittsburgh at 5:33 AM {4:00 AM}. I detrained and walked to the front of the station and waited for Chris Parker to pick me up.

The Drive to Cumberland 7/14/2006

At 6:45 AM, Chris pulled up to the Amtrak station in a Chevy HHR and we loaded my bags. We then made our escape from Pittsburgh. We were delayed because there was a no left turn sign at the station exit. The no left turn prevented us from easily getting to the freeway, so we had to find another longer way out of town. The good news was that we saw a lot of Pittsburgh on the way to the US 22 Freeway. We took the Pennsylvanian Turnpike for $5.50 to Bedford.

We drove the road east before we stopped at a Sheetz gas station for some snacks. Once off the turnpike, we turned south on US 220 to Cumberland for our first new train trip of this journey, the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad.