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The Trip home from the Million Amtrak Mile Trip Part 1

by Chris Guenzler

Depot Inn & Suites 4/10/2008

I woke up and after showering, checked my e-mail and sure enough Tom Anderson had sent me the pictures needed to finish that Million Amtrak Mile Story. Jeff Hartmann went to the Red Rooster for his breakfast while I got donuts from the Inn's Lobby. I added the pictures then my excellent proof reader Winston Walker did his thing and we posted the stuff on my web site. I packed up my stuff and after finding my Daylight Hat, it was time to check out of the Depot Inn & Suites. On a very wet morning Maria drove Jeff and I to the La Plata Amtrak Station to wait for the eastbound Southwest Chief to Galesburg.

Southwest Chief 4 4/10/2008

The Southwest Chief pulled into La Plata on this rainy morning almost on time with a Sounder engine returning to Seattle the long way via Chicago as the Coast Starlight Route is still closed. Jeff and I boarded the first coach taking seats 5 and 6 for our short trip to Galesburg.

Saying goodbye to La Plata and the Depot Inn & Suites as the train passed the Chris Guenzler Million Mile Lookout Point. The rain had flooded many fields as we made our way east on a dark rainy late morning. We crossed the Des Moines River and Jeff entered the state of Iowa for his first time. Nearing Fort Madison Jeff got his first view of the Mississippi River. At Fort Madison he jumped off for a moment to step his feet down in Iowa.

Back on the move again we passed the Norfolk Southern engines on BNSF power sets before we headed into Fort Madison. I pointed out the town railroad station in this town before we stopped for a barge crossing at Santa Fe Bridge.

Back on the move again we went by the Kingsley Inn, an excellent hotel in Fort Madison, before heading to the Santa Fe Bridge and our crossing of the Mississippi River.

The Southwest Chief heads out across the Mississippi River and soon crossed into Illinois. The train made good time and soon the Southwest Chief was taking the Cameron Connection from the old Santa Fe to the old CB&Q which we took into Galesburg. We detrained to the wind and the rain.

Galesburg 4/10/2008

After walking through the rain with my stuff and getting it into the dryness of the station, I caught the Southwest Chief leaving Galesburg through the rain to Chicago. One of us would wait with our bags while the other one could go off and do something. Jeff went first to the Landmark Cafe then visited the Depot Hobby Shop. I watched the bags, made cell phone calls and caught a few BNSF coal trains passing through the station.

First a BNSF coal train went by the station.

Behind him a few minutes later another eastbound BNSF coal train. Jeff returned so it was my turn to go outside and look around.

CB&Q 4-6-4 3006

View of the display train.

RPO Car.

CB&Q 2645 Pullman Sleeper Meath. I then visited the Depot Hobby Shop.

The luggage we both watched during our stay in Galesburg.

A BNSF eastbound passed though the Galesburg Station.

A BNSF westbound next passed through the Galesburg Station. Ellen had Jackie Chan on so that killed twenty minutes and I put together this story since we left La Plata this morning. Now I would just wait for the California Zephyr to arrive into Galesburg.

California Zephyr 5 4/10/2008

Our train came into Galesburg with Engines 4 and 159, Baggage 1203, Transition 39043, Sleepers 32012 and 32073 California, Diner 38064, Lounge 33008 with Coaches 34057, 31008 and 34098. Jeff and I had Room 20 in the Transition Sleeper. We made our way out to Cameron where Jeff started his new mileage right before we went under the former Santa Fe tracks that we had been on this morning heading east. Soon we were dropping down to the Mississippi River Floodplain and out across it.

One of the lakes before we reached the swing drawbridge across the Mississippi River.

Crossing the Mississippi River from Illinois into Iowa.

The California Zephyr came off the Mississippi River Bridge to its first station of Burlington, Iowa.

CB&Q 4-6-4 3003 as we left Burlington, Iowa. We passed the eastbound California Zephyr just west of Burlington. In no time we were soon at our next station stop of Mount Pleasant.

That exciting Iowa scenery was too much for Jeff as it put him to sleep. At MP 246 the train got stopped by orders from the BNSF Dispatching Center in Fort Worth, Texas because of high winds of 75 MPH ahead of the train from the huge thunderstorms that were causing severe weather. The train stopped only briefly before it continued onward. After another stop, we busted out into a patch of blue skies with sunlight. Jeff and I were then called into the Dining Car for dinner. The next stop would be the hometown of Radar of MASH fame of Ottumwa. I had the Pork Tenderloin along with Chocolate Ice Cream for dessert. After dinner I rode the Lounge Car looking for Alba but it got dark before we got there. A fantastic light show of lightning was provided by nature as the train passed through thunderstorm after thunderstorm as we crossed Southern Iowa. Back in the room, I put on "Pirates of the Caribbean, At World's End" watching the first half of it. I then made up my bed and called it a night.

4/11/2008 I awoke just after the train had left Fort Morgan with snow on the ground and went to the Dining Car for a breakfast of French Toast and Sausage Patties. The train passed Colorado Rail Car plant as we closed in on Denver. After the train was wyed, it backed into Denver Union Station thirty five minutes early. I detrained for some pictures of our CZ.

The California Zephyr resting at Denver. I needed to get new headphones but the gift shop in the station had closed and moved out. I returned to the platform.

The rear of the CZ at Denver. I was asked for some views of the Transition Sleeper by a reader so here is a quick tour.

On the lower level is the Crew Lounge along with bathrooms and a Handicap Room. Like all Superliners there is a stairway in the middle of these cars to the upper level.

Upstairs there are eight crew rooms at the forward end of the car and beyond them is a stairway to the baggage car in this case. A shower is in the middle of the car on the upper level. Eight Standard Bedrooms are for sale in the rear part of the car.

Room 20 the home of Jeff and I on this trip to Sacramento.

Two views of the Conductor's Office across from the restroom and shower in this car. I was working on the story as the California Zephyr left Denver on time and headed to the Rockies.

The old CB&Q turntable as we made our way out of Denver this morning. We went through the Union Pacific's North Yard and headed through Leyden past the Rocky Flat Area to Rocky Siding on a steady climb.

A view of the Big Ten Curve from Rocky Siding.

At Rocky we found a UP coal train waiting in the siding for us to clear. The CZ then started around the Big Ten Curve.

Looking down at that UP coal train we passed at Rocky Siding.

The rear DPU and our route ahead.

The front of that UP coal train at Rocky Siding.

The view towards downtown Denver from the Big Ten Curve.

The route ahead.

The Big Ten Curve from above it at Clay Siding where we went into the siding to let another eastbound UP coal train go by.

That UP coal train at Rocky must be waiting to let that other coal train pass him. The train left Clay and turned into Clay Creek Canyon.

Tunnel 1, the first of 28 we would pass through on the way to the Moffat Tunnel.

That second UP coal train coming off the Big Ten Curve.

The view looking down from Plain Siding.

The CZ getting ready to pass through some of my favorite geology through the tunnel carved out of rock.

Views of South Boulder Canyon as we climbed the grade through the Tunnel District. At Rollins another eastbound UP coal train was in that siding. We reached East Portal but had to wait for another UP eastbound coal train and then for the Moffat Tunnel to vent the gases and exhaust from that last train. After about ten minutes we entered the 6.3 mile Moffat Tunnel.

Self portrait of me inside the Moffat Tunnel.

Two views of the Winter Park Ski Area before the CZ made its way to Fraser where at Tabernash we took the siding to get around a UP freight to our next station stop of Granby where it was snowing.

The Colorado River which we will follow for 238 miles downriver to Utah through all the beautiful canyons along our route. The first major canyon we entered was Byers Canyon.

The train made the trip though Byers Canyon. At Flat Siding there was another eastbound UP coal train in that siding. Next a trip though Gore Canyon during a snow storm.

The trip through a snowy Gore Canyon.

The view at Azure before we traveled through Little Gore Canyon.

The trip though Little Gore Canyon.

A view near Radium before we reached Bond where we dropped off several Union Pacific Train Crews. Next the trip through Red Rock Canyon.

The trip through Red Rock Canyon.

The CZ has reached Dotsero which was the connection to the original line through Tennessee Pass which the Union Pacific has railbanked.

For the next part of the Trip Home Click Here!