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To TrainFestival 2009

by Chris Guenzler

Last year the first notice for TrainFestival 2009 in Owosso, Michigan was announced and it was an event that I wanted to go to. It would be the largest gathering of steam engines in years and would give me a chance to ride behind some new steam engines. When tickets went on sale I got both of the day long trips behind the NKP 756 and Pere Marquette 1225 and an hourly trip behind the Little River 110. Once I had tickets we booked me to Flint on Amtrak and Bob Cox set up the motel reservation there. I could also cover the Huckleberry Railroad in Flint and the Saginaw Railroad in that town. Then the trip fell apart. Bob found out he couldn't go and I suggested to Steve Grande we find someone else to cover the table. Matt Melzer said he would but then all the tables were already booked. I E-mailed the group putting on the event and they got us a table. Matt and I would now be able to go and use the room reservations in Flint that Bob had made. Randy would also be coming to help at the table. I gave Matt my itinerary and we stayed in contact throughout the days until we both left for the event. I relaxed after that fantastic Colorado Trip and started getting the pages ready for the stories on a round trip to San Diego behind a Cascade Service Engine the day before the trip. My car stopped working about a long block from the house so I pushed my Geo Metro home and would worry about it when I finally get home after the NRHS Convention in Duluth. The morning of the this trip I rode down to San Juan Capistrano and back then packed and relaxed until it was time to be taken to the Santa Ana Train Station. There I stopped by and saw Marti, my excellent night time Amtrak agent, before taking the elevators and bridge to Track 1 to wait for my train to LAUPT.

Surfliner 583 7/20/2009

The Surfliner came into Santa Ana right on time and I boarded the lower level of Pacific Business Class for my trip to Los Angeles. At Anaheim we met Surfliner 582 with the low level set with the Great Dome running to San Diego for the night. That set is being used to expand the Surfliner consists during the Del Mar Race Season. The train ran to Fullerton before sprinting the final distance to LAUPT where it arrived early. I walked over to Track 11 to wait for the Southwest Chief to Chicago.

At 6:07 PM the train backed into LAUPT.

Southwest Chief 4 7/20/2009 

The Southwest Chief backed into LAUPT with Engines 172 and 40, Baggage 1242, Transition 39031, Sleepers 32098 New Jersey and 32033, Diner 38062, Lounge 33019 and Coaches 34075, 34026 and 31003. I boarded the 32033 Sleeper in Room 5 with Jesse as my Sleeping Car Attendant.

I always put up the front page of my web site on the room window so people can learn about who I am. Dave Arthur, that most wonderful conductor, is again working the train to Kingman. The Southwest Chief left LAUPT on time and headed east to our first stop at Fullerton. My first DVD of the Trip was Queen Live.

The unspoiled and scenic Los Angeles River. At 7:00 PM I went to the Dining Car seated with some people from Meyersdale, Penn and I had the Braised Flat Iron Bordelaise and Oreo Dessert. Before Riverside I was back in my room and the sky caught my eye.

The clouds over the San Bernardino Mountains before our Riverside stop. Next would be the fresh air break at San Bernardino. I watched the end of the Queen DVD as the train climbed Cajon Pass in the darkness of the night. I stayed up to Summit then made up my room for the night and went to bed.


I woke up west of Winslow but had to wait for the Dining Car to open at 6:30 AM. I was seated with a teacher from Los Angeles going to Memphisand a lady who lives in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. I learned that the Hilltop House that I stayed at during my first cross country Amtrak trip back in 1990 has been closed for remodeling. I had French Toast and pork sausage patties. After breakfast we sat in Joseph City for fifteen minutes due to freight train congestion.

Arizona view. I watched the two set Chris Guenzler Million Mile DVD's.

Buttes off to the southeast in Arizona.

Coming into New Mexico.

Later after Grants this view of a mesa.

I had never seen this butte before on any of my trips on this route. The train made its way into Albuquerque early and we would have almost an hour there today. I went outside for only a few minutes as it was the hottest it had ever been here during a layover. Back in my room, I put on my DVD of "Randy Rhoads, Six String God" which I was watching as the Southwest Chief departed Albuquerque on time. When that was done, it was nap time that lasted to Fox on the east slope of Glorieta Pass. The next DVD was U2 "Zoo TV Live from Sydney".

Since Las Vegas we were running on red signals for some reason and we finally about before Onanya get a yellow signal so we picked up the pace until we came to another red signal. The U2 finished right before 5:00 PM and I went to the Dining Car for dinner. I had the Braised Flat Iron Bordelaise and Oreo Dessert with a couple on a North American Rail Pass whose husband was raised on Valencia Street in my neighborhood in Santa Ana.

The stormy skies to the east of Raton. I took a fresh air break at cool and stormy Raton then watched my DVD of Jethro Tull "Live at Montreux 2003" as the train crossed Raton Pass then down to Trinidad.

Two interesting views looking at the mesas south of the train on the way to La Junta. The train got stopped by a flash flood warning about twenty minutes before La Junta our next station stop. The train then proceeded into La Junta where we stopped during a driving rainstorm. I managed to get on-line and cleared out my E-mail before the train left La Junta over an hour late into the night. I made up my room and called it a night.


I woke up at 6:30 AM finding the train closing in on Lawrence, KS and went to the Dining Car for French Toast and pork sausage patties eating while we stopped there.

The Kansas River. The rate of speed was slow for the first few miles as we made our way to the BNSF Argentine Yard Fueling Pads. I put on my CD of Billy Squire "Greatest Hits" at the fuel pads before we proceeded into Kansas City Union Station, our next fresh air stop. We left Kansas City and got a mile east before we returned for a passenger in the coach who had a medical emergency. We left Kansas City for good at 9:25 AM {7:45 AM}. I worked on the next Orange County Railway Historical Society program for the September Meeting almost the whole way to La Plata.

The Chris Guenzler Million Mile Lookout Point in La Plata is still waiting to have the deck put in around the outside of it. I had lunch in the Dining Car seated with a gentleman and a couple whose husband works in the Amtrak Call Center in Philadelphia on his ten year trip. They did the Capitol Limited, Empire Builder, Coast Starlight, the Southwest Chief and tonight the Capitol Limited. I had an Angus Beef Burger and Chocolate Ice Cream for dessert.

After lunch the Des Moines River as we entered Iowa and a fresh air stop at Fort Madison.

The Santa Fe Bridge at Fort Madison as we crossed it into Illinois. I continued working on the stories then east of Galesburg, I timed the program and it all fits in my time frame as we passed through two major thunderstorms on our way into the Windy City of Chicago. The train paused in Naperville before it ran the last miles towards Chicago Union Station. The Southwest Chief arrived into Chicago Union Station at 4:44 pm {3:15 PM} or 1 hour and 24 minutes late. I detrained and walked to get a Hiawatha Schedule before buying my Metra ticket for Morton Grove.

To the Best Western Morton Grove Inn 7/22/2009

I got on Metra 2137 that left CUS at 5:15 PM and in half an hour I was getting off in Morton Grove. I walked towards the motel location but ended up in St. Paul Woods. Something told me this wasn't the right place. I called Carole Walker, my excellent Travel Agent at Buena Vista Travel in Los Alamitos, CA. She got me the phone number and when I called the motel they said "You should have gotten off at the Golf Metra Station". I'm getting too old for this. I walked back to the Metra Station and saw a headlight coming. I asked a passenger if this train stops at Golf and she said "yes". I boarded Metra 2141 for the one stop trip to Golf. Once there, the passengers pointed me in the right direction towards the Best Western. I walked there sweating as I went. I arrived at the Best Western Morton Grove Inn and checked in getting a taxi cab company phone number. If all goes right in the morning, I will pay for the ride back to the Golf Metra Station. After a few phone calls, I had Popeye Chicken for dinner then relaxed for the rest of the evening.

Onto Flint via Milwaukee 7/23/2009 Metra 2103 7/22/2009

I was up early on Day 5300 of my Sobriety and after a light breakfast I checked E-mail when my taxi cab to take me to the Golf Station showed up. It was a quick trip and down the tracks I saw a headlight of Metra 2103 coming my way. I boarded this train for the quick three minute trip to Glenview where I detrained. I would get to watch the Metra morning commuter rush on the Metra Milwaukee Road North Line.


Metra 2116 stopped at Glenview heading for Chicago.

Metra 2118 went through Glenview without stopping.

Metra 2105 stopped heading to Fox Lake.

Metra 2120 stopped in Glenview.

Metra 2122 did not stop at Glenview.

Metra 2107 stopped in Glenview heading to Fox Lake.

Metra 2124 stopped in Glenview.


Metra 2126 stopped at Glenview. I started looking down the tracks for my Amtrak train to Milwaukee

Hiawatha Service 331 7/23/2009

The train came into Glenview a few minutes late. It had a consist of Engine 167, Amfleet Coach 82584, Horizon Coaches 54557, 54555, 54572 and 54501, Amfleet Coach 82660 and Cabbage Car 90029. That one is the ex F-40PH 229 that used to be in San Diegan Service. I just sat back and enjoyed a ride since I had covered this line plenty of times. The new stop for me was the Milwaukee Airport Station before we arrived into Milwaukee. I called SAUSD about the job application I filled out last night for an Autism Position with the school district. Now we wait and see. I went on-line in the Milwaukee Amtrak Station and cleared out the E-mail again.

Hiawatha Service 331 7/23/2009

Two lines into one out of Door One to board the same train set back to Chicago. More relaxing and watching the countryside pass by outside my window on the way back to the Windy City of Chicago. The train ran back on time and I detrained to the Chicago Metropolitan Lounge and stored my luggage. I went back on-line and checked things until it was time to get my Gold Coast Char Dogs as my linner today. I was on-line most of the time in the lounge before meeting some people going to TrainFestival 2009 and talk with them until the crazy boarding in Chicago and walking out to the train.

Blue Water 364 7/23/2009

The train consisted of Engine 128. Horizon Coaches 54802, 54557 and 54532, Amfleet Cafe/Business 48177 and Engine 27. This sold out train left Chicago on time,

Disney Engine 157 at the Chicago Amtrak Yard before the rains started, I put on my DVD of "Led Zeppelin Live" and enjoyed the band as the train escaped Chicago and headed into Indiana and then Michigan.

Lake Michigan.

US Steel.

The forme rMissabe Railroad engines at the former EJ&E Yard both now part of Canadian National. By Niles, Michigan we were only 5 minutes late as the train headed to Dowaglac, our next station stop, on Amtrak High Speed Michigan Line. The train then ran to Kalamazoo and then onto Battle Creek where we switched onto the Canadian Nation ex Grand Trunk before we got there. Battle Creek is a crew change point.

The Blue Water at Battle Creek.

The view ahead where we turn off the Detroit Mainline and head northeast on the ex Grand Trunk to our next stop at East Lansing. I next put on my CD of Metallica "Death Magnetic" as the train rolled the miles ahead. The train came to a sudden stop when kids were playing on the tracks and luckily we did not hit any of them. So much for an on time trip. Now we got stopped by a pair of westbound Canadian National freight trains. The train finally headed to East Lansing now well over an hour late. I have been in contact with Matt and we came up with a plan if the rental car place isn't open tonight for the morning. East Lansing was departed at 10:52 {9:29 PM}. The train took a major hit as the car in front of us took forever to get off. The train headed next to Durand and then onto Flint arriving there at 11:47 {10:40 PM}. Matt picked me up and took me to the Super 8 in Flint for the rest of the night.