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Day and Night on the Southwest Chief

Adventurers in the Appalachia

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

Chapter Twenty-five

 Last Day and Night on the Southwest Chief

Early morning arrival at home tomorrow

 August 13, 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

    My day started somewhere near Lamar, CO when after my morning ablution I proceeded to have breakfast of eggs and bacon with coffee and orange juice. After the meal it wasn't long before we stopped in La Junta, which is a fresh air break and a crew change point.

Our sleeper 32117 next to dining car.

    La Junta - This was once la junta - the junction- where the main and southern routes of the old Santa Fe Trail divided. Bent's Fort, a major trading post, was just to the east. In 1875, with the arrival of the Santa Fe Railroad, La Junta (HUN-ta) became a major hub on the route, and the hoot of the locomotive replaced the rumble of wagon wheels. La Junta also is a major cattle and produce shipping center for the lower Arkansas Valley.

    La Junta is still a junction, but the term now refers to the numerous state and federal highways that converge in the town. One of these, US 50, is part of the scenic and historic Santa Fe Trail route that continues on as US 350 heading southwest out of La Junta.

View of  train looking toward end.

View looking forward to the locomotives.

Amtrak station.

This old locomotive, Santa Fe #1024 2-6-2 (and tinder car) are located on the northeast side of La Junta, looking down on the main east-west route, US 50 through this historic town.

The train left La Junta for Trinidad.

The toilets went out in our car as usual and we wouldn't be having them until Albuquerque. At noon we went to the dining car and I had an Angus burger which was very good. The rest of the afternoon was spent watching and enjoying the scenery and countryside of Colorado and New Mexico.

    The train stopped at Las Vegas home of the Castaneda Hotel, a Fred Harvey hotel located along the Southwest Chief line. The hotel opened in 1898 and closed in 1948. In 2014 it was purchased by Allen Affeldt and Tina Mion, the owners of La Posada Hotel in Winslow Arizona. I hope to stay at both in the future. After Las Vegas, the train did the Chappelle "S" curves.

Baltimore and Ohio Moonlight Dome at the end of our train.

Going around the Chappelle S curves.

Semaphores working on the route.

Near the Glorieta Pass, NM. The train climbed and conquered Glorieta Pass then went through Canyoncito and did not meet a train there.

I-25 near the Glorieta Pass.

 The train went through Apache Canyon then met the eastbound Southwest Chief at Lamy.  We took the siding to get to the station to do our station work after the eastbound train left.


Santa Fe Southern cars at Lamy, NM.

When it was operating, Santa Fe Southern Railway connected Lamy to Santa Fe, a town not on the main line of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe.

Countryside outside Lamy.

After Lamy we rolled the miles to our next servicing stop of Albuquerque in an hour and ten minutes. Neither the internet nor the toilets were working which was a major problem for us.


A tribute to the 8th Duke of Alburquerque of Spain - and somewhere along the way the first "r" got dropped.

These bi-level commuter cars, built by Bombardier, are the same design as Metrolink's cars in Los Angeles.


New Mexico's Rail Runner train.

For more information on this private dome car, click here.


Vendors selling handmade items. A long tradition here at the Albuquerque Station.


I bought a great money clip with two buffalo nickles attached with a shiny finish on it. While here, a broken mirror was replaced on lead engine that hit a tree branch.

The train left Albuquerque on time and ran out to Dalies where they are adding a new track for the BNSF mainline from Belen and we slowly made our way on to the mainline there. Chris and I had a 7:00 PM dinner reservation tonight so we had dinner near Gallup where I stopped taking photos of the landscape.

I-40 in background near Gallup, NM.

    Upon reaching Flagstaff  we took a long fresh air break on this delightful summer evening. Later Chris made up the room for our final night of this incredible trip and I was wondering where the time went as it seemed to go fast looking back now.

Tuesday August 14, 2018

    I was up early and went to the Dining Car for my final meal of the trip, pancakes and bacon as the train stopped in Barstow. Breakfast is served early and for limited time on approach to Los Angeles. The train stopped in Victorville then started the climb over Cajon Pass on a very beautiful August early morning. There were plenty of trains climbing on the Cajon Pass heading east. The train stopped in San Bernardino then on to Riverside and made the final sprint to Fullerton and Chris and I detrained for the second to the last time.

    Roadblocks were thrown at us beginning at Fullerton. First the north elevator on the bridge was not working so we had to drag our luggage up the stairs, then they were working on the south Metrolink vending machine but happily they finished in time for us to buy our tickets for the train home. At the Santa Ana station, Chris called for a taxi to take us the short ride to his house. Nearing Chris' house I figured we were home free, but no. No way!  When he went to open his front door, the lock would not work. Chris had locked up the house completely and I had left my car and house keys inside as I saw no reason to carry them around for three weeks. His door locks were battery operated and had died while he was away. His emergency key was next door at the neighbor's but they weren't at home to help. He had no choice but to call a locksmith. After waiting for the locksmith to arrive and then about an hour to get the den door open I was able to retrieve my keys and drive home.

    And so, dear reader, this ends the story of Adventurers in Appalachia. I would like to give thanks to the staff and crew of the Cumberland Rails 2018 NRHS Convention. It was an excellent convention as always, which we have come to expect year after year. Special thanks to Bob and Elizabeth for their friendly companionship. A big thanks goes to Steve Grande at for his travel assistance on our trip. And my wonderment of Chris for planning and putting together the jigsaw pieces of the many adventures and the new things we experienced. It was fun.

Thanks for reading.
Text and Photos by Author

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

Comments appreciated at ....