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Acela to DC, Tour the Mall, Capitol Limited #29

Adventurers in the Appalachia

My First trip on the Southwest Chief going to the 2018 NRHS Convention in Cumberland, Maryland

Chapter Eighteen

Acela Train to Washington, DC

Tour of Washington National Mall

 Capitol Limited to Cumberland

 August 6, 2018



Robin Bowers

Text and Photos by Author

The author retains all rights. No reproductions are allowed without the author's consent.

Comments are appreciated

    We checked out of the Rodeway Inn and stopped at McDonald's for breakfast. As it was Monday morning, we stayed off Interstate 95 and took surface streets straight into Wilmington. We pulled up in front of the Amtrak station, took our luggage out of the car and while Bob, Elizabeth and I waited, Chris went into Enterprise and gave them back the car keys. They emailed him the receipt and rental car No. 2 was done. We went into the station and found four seats together and waited for our Acela Express Train 2107. Elizabeth went and picked up her and Bob's Acela tickets while Chris and I sat waiting. That is when I noticed that the stem on my watch was missing and it was just purchased a month before the start of this trip. Good thing I bought a replacement warranty. About 8:10 AM, we decided to walk up onto the platform and take some train action pictures.

The platforms at the Wilmington are on the second floor of the station, bisecting the building. See my story of Thursday 8/2/2018 for more information and pictures. This is the view looking east.

SEPTA Train 2617.

SEPTA Train 2610.

Amtrak Regional Train 172.

Amtrak Regional 172 sat in Wilmington for about twelve minutes until it's scheduled departure time of 8:45 AM.

    Acela Express 2107 arrives at Wilmington twenty-three minutes late. We boarded the train and walked through two cars until we found a table which was empty and we took it. We sat down and decided to take pictures of each other on the Acela Express.

    The interior of our Acela Express car. The ride on the Acela Express is superior to the Amfleet cars. The overhead bins allowed us to fit our luggage in, the seats were very comfortable and the windows were extremely clean, but I really like the automatic door opening between cars. Something they should put on all Amtrak cars.

A trio of happy Acela train riders with Elizabeth behind the camera.

Chesapeake Bay.

I have lost count of how many times I've been through or near this station lately.

    We passed the BMI station from where I boarded my first Acela train for a ride to DC. The ticket agent told me that there was a earlier train to Washington and cheaper than the ticket I wanted to buy. Yes, you are correct but I wanted to ride Acela even for this short distance. So today's ride was somewhat longer than that first one. On that trip I was returning home from Annapolis with my first cross country train trip by taking the Acela to DC and then the Capitol Limited to Chicago and then boarded the California Zephyr including a great trip through the Rockies. We arrived seventeen minutes late but we did not mind because it had been a very good Acela Express trip.

Food Court in Union Station.

    While Chris wanted to spend his layover time in the Club Acela, Bob, Elizabeth and myself wanted to see the town. As this was the first time visit for Bob and Elizabeth and I had a grand total of half dozen visits I was the de facto tour guide and the first item on their list was to ride DC Streetcar. First job was to check our luggage and luckily there was a baggage check at the station for a small fee. Although we had an Acela ticket it was not valid at the Acela lounge for checking our bags.

DC Streetcar began operation on the H/Benning Line some 144 years after the streetcar first came to H Street operating with a horse-drawn car in 1872.

Inside streetcar.

DC Streetcar is currently free to ride from Union Station to Oklahoma Avenue.

End of line at Oklahoma Ave/Benning Rd. with car turn around.

We re-boarded at the end of the line and rode back to Union Station where we explored and looked around this grand building.

The Great Hall.


Elizabeth happy to be in the Nation's Capital.

Colonnades in front of station building.

View from Union Station.


Columbus Circle.

    Wanting to utilize our limited time on this visit to the best, I suggested we take the DC Circulator National Mall Service. The bus route circulates the mall with stops at Memorials and Museums. The Mall is a big place with a mile between the Capital and Washington Monument so a lot of walking between Memorials and Museums which are not close by each other.

bus map

We boarded the bus across the street from Columbus Circle to take a tour. Then it was decided as it was time to stop for lunch and I suggested going to the food court at my favorite museum on the Mall, National Museum of American History (America's Attic). 

    At stop # four, we left the bus and entered museum through the Madison Drive doors. On the other side of the building is the Constitution entrance which I usually have entered before.
Upon entering you are greeted by a big banner. I have seen several different big flags displayed here.


    On display in center courtyard, from there we went to the cafeteria for lunch. We each picked our selection at the different cuisine stops then after paying we found an empty table. This is a large room with lots of seating as it is popular with the school groups on tours. Bob, Elizabeth and I were very happy with our selections as there many temping selections. My selection was the Navajo Taco Chili and a chocolate milk then topped off with a chocolate dipped strawberry for a little evil. Always had a good meal here and two other good places to visit are the lunch room in the basement of the Supreme Court building and the top floor of the Library of Congress James Madison building. Dine with a view of the Potomac River and the Navy Yard.  


After our lunch break we decided to tour a wing in this museum. With a common interest in trains it was off to the see transportation displays. 

Tucker '49.

Southern Railroad 1401.

A reminder of our late train rider friend, Ken Ruben.

Chris and I were here last Monday 7/30.


Gotta love their displays here.

A real Julia Child kitchen.

We now agreed to continue our bus tour and left the museum.

Outside the museum at the bus stop.

We boarded the next bus and headed towards the Washington Monument then south on 15th Street to the Tidal Basin with a quick look at the Jefferson Memorial and then by the Korean War Veterans Memorial which is a must-see a night with its eerie cold lighting effects.

    Statues at the end of Memorial Bridge over the Potomac River leading to Arlington Cemetery. It reminds me of some bridges in Europe with their gold statues. After passing here we went around the back of the Lincoln Memorial, past the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and then onto Constitution Avenue and into notorious DC rush hour traffic. It was stop and go as we crawled to The Ellipse and caught a glimpse of the White House. The traffic was so speedy that I was beginning to worry about getting back to Union Station on time. At 15th Street we turned south going pass the Washington Monument, turning east on Jefferson Drive where the traffic thinned and it looked like we would be on time at Union Station. At the U.S.Capital, we turned north and then northeast to the Union Station.

West side of Capital where the Presidential Inaugural is held.

    When we arrived back at Columbus Circle, the dark clouds opened up and dropped their heavenly waters. We had a good old cats and dogs down pour. We hesitated to leave the bus, but then it was a mad dash to the terminal. A little wet for sure but no major problems but the old guys needed a stop to catch a breath after that mad dash. By the time we reached the baggage check, all was dry then we waited for the arrival of Capitol Limited, our ride to Cumberland, MD and the National Railway Historic Society (NRHS) annual convention.

    We had reserved seats on the lower level on this Superliner but that wasn't such a good choice for this trip. Several of our adult seatmates had diapers that were way past a change and several more had had last took a bath at the beginning of the year. I asked the conductor if he could burn some incense and he agreed there was a scent about so he said to go upstairs and find a seat. I walked upstairs and then to the lounge car to have a seat looking out the panoramic windows watching the passing scenery. From the worst seat to the best seat. Looking out the window is the best part of a train ride. Shortly Bob joined me and we spent the rest of the trip here in this car.    


MP 16, our first stop at 4:52pm.

MP 74 at 6:20pm, Martinsburg, West Virginia.

    At Cumberland we arrived a hour and eight minutes late. We walked off the train, very glad to finally be here and then ran into John Goodman, Dan Meyer and Dawn Holmberg, all of the NRHS, who kindly took our luggage to the convention hotel in their car while we walked over which was just across the tracks. There was a nasty, dirty dark underpass to use but most of us just waited for the train to leave the station. Our room was track side on the second floor so we would be able to see plenty of CSX action in Cumberland, while the Alkire's room was on the street side of the hotel. We then called it a fairly early night since we had a big day tomorrow.

Thanks for reading.

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Text and Photos by Author

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