Showing posts from November, 2009


In my many years away from home, travel by train has always held an excitement as part of the holiday journey. In November, thoughts turn to Thanksgiving and the end of autumn weather. Cool nights and warm days give way while the colors of foliage drift from their lofty perches to a sea of browns on the ground. A Thanksgiving trip many years ago brings back memories of a speeding California Zephyr under the care of three Genesis locomotives, number 1 running point. It was a cool day in 1997 and the low southern sun gave the train an unparalleled look at a beautiful sight occurring to our southwest. It glistened as far as the eye could see on the distant, and flat, Illinois horizon. West of Sandwich, the train kicked those fallen leaves into the orange sky of the November sunset as old line-side poles flipped by outside the Zephyr's windows. The train ran a losing race that day, into the low and setting sun. Just one memory of Thanksgiving travels from times past. Passenger

The Romance

It’s almost midnight in Pittsburgh this brisk November evening in 1996. My breath hangs in the air as I step out of a cab and walk quickly into Penn Station. The single escalator is moving the wrong direction so I take the stairs up to the old platforms. A lonely Amtrak diesel, number 310, is idled peacefully on a spur, retired for the night. As I wait on the platforms of Pittsburgh’s Penn Station I stare eastward, looking for the late Capitol Limited. Snowflakes slowly drift down through holes in the old train shed. The Capitol pulls into the station one hour late lead by a new Genesis locomotive. 838 is its number and it leads a set of double-decked Superliner cars on an 800 mile sprint from the nation’s capital to the capital of the heartland. The stop in Pittsburgh is just one of many scheduled throughout the night before arrival in Chicago. The Capitol is nothing like an airplane or bus. You never meet the engineer, reasons for delays are guarded se