At Minot North Dakota, Michael and
Particia Duffy boarded the train and
found their way to the Ocean View car. Michael Duffy, an
Business Professor at Minot State University, immediately started
narrating the scenery for me. First I found out about the Gassman
Coulee trestle which we cruised over 3 miles west of Minot.
was able to grab a shot in which the trestle is barely visible.
The church group of teenagers boarded
the Empire Builder at Minot. Soon they were led into Ocean View
and Mr. Gunn spoke to them for several minutes somewhere west of
Stanley, North Dakota. He said that he has been "with Amtrak for
two years, but I've been in the railroad business for 40 years.
In fact there are those people who say I couldn't get a job if I
weren't working on the railroad. Probably true and I'm not sure
I'd want one if I didn't work on the railroad. Amtrak is a lot of
fun. We operate over 22,000 route miles. We operate hundreds of
trains a day. We run long distance and corridor trains.
This is, as the Lutheran group heard me say on the platform, one of my
two favorite trains. I won't say what my other favorite train is,
because then all my other Amtrak employees would be after me as to why
I don't like this train or that train. This is certainly a train
that I think highly of. This train is a train I rode when there
were steam engines, believe it or not. I rode it even before this
dome car was built. I'm actually quite old as you can tell.
I'll be 67." Marc Magliari, Chicago Amtrak spokesman, visible
just to the left of Mr. Gunn chimed in a comment to which Mr. Gunn said
" Yeah, young at heart. Anyway, you're going to be the future for
Amtrak You're young and you're going to be riding trains,
hopefully. I hope you enjoy your trip You are all going
where...Seattle? Right? Yeah, ok, and you're coming back by
train? Ah, that's good....I'm really glad you're here. And,
just take a look at this car, which is a very historic car. This
car is fifty something years old." Again, Marc chimed in
"1955." "1955, this car was built. So, it's basically a
fifty year old car. And the Beech Grove behind us, which you're
going in to look at, is a thirty year old car. That was in a
wreck and rebuilt in our own shops into what we call an office car for
use on events like this. So, go down and look at the Beech Grove,
in small groups, since it would get sort of crowded if you all went in
at once. We're glad you're here! Thanks"
area around mostly to the south of Minot is the Coteau Prairie which
was cut by glaciers and we noticed a lot of standing water.
Dakota is known for the fewest diversity of flora of all 50
However, the Coteau Prairie is along the North American flyway and is
paradise for ornithologists and regular bird watchers. The area
has white tail deer, pronghorn antelope, some moose, coyotes, some red
wolf, fox, penned in buffalo, and the occassional mountain lion.
area was invaded in the 1700 and 1800's by the French and Mr. Duffy
said that if Lewis and Clark had tried to visit this area, the French
would have kicked them out! We roared past a ghost town, then a
Minuteman III missle silo. We searched for a control center which
oversees 12 silos, but did not spot the building. Michael said to
on the lookout for an alkalai lake, but the recent rains obscured it
from our view.
Next stop Willoughby, er, make that
Williston, North Dakota. Phil Jackson was busy at this time and
was not present, though he may have come back by now.
Page 5 of Amtrak 75th Anniversary