RAILFANNING!

The 2007 Rail Trip West

In August and September, 2007, my wife and I took a train trip from Pennsauken, NJ to Whitefish, MT. From there we rented a car, drove through Montana and Wyoming to Colorado, where we rode the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad, then took Amtrak back from Denver to New Jersey. The rail-related parts of the trip:


Our Amtrak ride started here - Trenton, New Jersey. That's our first train, The Pennsylvanian, pulling into the station.

The first leg of our trip took us from Trenton to Philadelphia and on to Pittsburgh, where we changed trains for the Capitol Limited. Here we're crossing the Susquehanna River in central PA.

Here's the tail end of an eastbound coal drag. Note the blackish coal dust haze around the train.

Altoona, PA and its large trackside engine facilities. Whatever happened to the Pennsylvania RR?

A view of our car - the cafe / business class car. The extra space and complementary sodas were well worth the additional twenty bucks!

Horseshoe Curve!

And a bit more of Horseshoe Curve. Must've been impressive when the Pennsy's four-track mainline was still in place.

After waiting in Pittsburgh for a few hours, we boarded the Capitol Limited for Chicago. We had a Superliner roomette - known as a closet in any sort of permanent building. It was comfortable enough after squeezing into the bunks, though.

The next day we passed Gary Indiana and the steel works - for hours and hours!

And then - Chicago. Here's the Sears Tower from our train as we approach the station. From here we took the Empire Builder on to Whitefish Montana.
Grand Forks, North Dakota and the BNSF. We stopped in Minot ND for fuel and supplies. Here's the old depot from the GN days.
And here's the newer Amtrak depot. YUCK! I kinda got a kick out of this - Hundred-plus year old baggage carts being pulled by a late-model John Deere tractor.
And here's Havre Montana, where one of the famous GN S-2s is on permanent display. Unfortunately, most of the rest of the trip, including through Glacier National Park, was in the dark, so no photos. During our drive south through Montana, Wyoming and Colorado we stopped at a variety of railroading locations. Here's the Livingston, MT depot.
This is the real Laurel, Montana yard. A bit larger than my version on the layout! Fromberg, MT, a few miles north of the Wyoming state line, where the CB&Q met the NP (not at Laurel as on my layout). The depot is now a small museum.
Near Cody WY is what's left of the Heart Mountain Interment Camp for Japanese-Americans in WWII. There was a station on the Cody branch, named "Vocation." I'm thinking of adding it to the layout, since it was there during my modeled era. A stark reminder American injustice. Here's a BNSF freight headed towards Cody not far from the Hart Mountain camp.
This old stacked crossing of Alkali Creek is still there, after the highway was changed to a grade crossing to the right some 30+ years ago. We're all the way south near the Dave Johnson Power Plant at Glenrock, where there are a whole string  of these cut block culverts along the long-abandoned grade of the C&NW Cowboy Line. What a great detail these will make on the line to Lander!
It's several days later, and we're in Colorado Springs, Colorado, after returning from our two days riding the Cumbres & Toltec. We decided to go see Van Briggles pottery factory, having no idea it was located in the old stone Colorado Midland roundhouse! This shows a couple of the old stall doorways in the roundhouse. Van Briggle is moving from there, and no one knows what will become of the roundhouse after they leave.
Inside the pottery factory / roundhouse. Not a whole lot of evidence of its steam engine servicing past anymore! We're looking at the Denver station trainboard, waiting for our California Zephyr to take us back to Chicago. There we'll catch the eastbound Capitol Limited, the at Pittsburgh pick up the eastbound Pennsylvanian for Trenton.
At Galesburg, IL, I caught this unexpected sight - a box car still sporting the now-35-plus-years-gone Burlington livery! Also in Galesburg, this memory of better days past - a CB&Q 4-6-4 on permanent display.

Home