The City of New Orleans part 1

The City of New Orleans part 1 – US Rail Journeys Series 2 Episode 8

The first part – Departure from Union Station, Chicago

The City of New Orleans part 1 starts as I board the train in Chicago Union Station. We leave on time.

After a short distance the train stops. We then reverse. The train stops again. We learn that a set of points have failed. After some manoeuvres we get going again. By now we are running late.

It is dark outside and the lights of Chicago are magnificent. The total journey on the City of New Orleans is advertised as taking 19 hours – click here for more details. Long distance passenger trains in the US often run late because freight trains take priority. We already know that the last part of our journey will be by bus because of the flooding.  That will lengthen the journey.

The Café Lounge opens and we cross the Chicago River. Those wishing to dine are called to the Dining Car.

Our route through the night:

The schedule for our train takes us through a number of stations in Illinois and then south through Kentucky. When I wake in the morning we should be in Memphis Tennessee.

I go to bed. It appears that the train is now running very late.

I awake in the middle of the night to find the lights flashing on and off. The train is stopped. I finally get to sleep again. I wake at 6 a.m. to find that we’ve reached Carbondale. We are now 4½ hours late and still in Illinois!

The train is going no further:

We hear that the train has broken down and can go no further. The issue is that the electrical supply to the carriages has failed. This means no air conditioning or rest rooms (toilets).

We are offered a choice of either return on the Saluki train the way we came or continue by ‘Rail Replacement’ bus. We still have 625 miles to go until New Orleans.

Carbondale station:

I have to proceed towards New Orleans, no matter what time I arrive. I decide to wait for the Rail Replacement bus. It is a beautiful morning. I is also April 1st!

As I enter the station building I see a sign saying that guns aren’t allowed. There is another saying no soliciting ….

The photographs that accompany the words:

Please click on a thumbnail to open the gallery:

Next up:

I hope that you’ve enjoyed this podcast. Please join me in two weeks for the next episode where I take the Rail Replacement Bus for the journey south.

Links:

To visit the Amtrak website please follow this link.

You can also listen to this podcast on iTunes/Apple Podcasts, Castbox, Deezer, Podchaser, Spotify and Stitcher.

Music:

AKM Music has licensed the theme, Steam Railway, for use in this podcast.

Audioblocks has licensed Chicago Blues and Railroad Blues both by Bobby Cole for use as incidental music in this episode.

© The MrT Podcast Studio 2019 – 2020

The Southwest Chief part 6

The Southwest Chief part 6 – US Rail Journeys Series 2 Episode 7

The first part – From Mendota into Union Station, Chicago

The Southwest Chief part 6 starts as I interview two fellow travellers in the Observation car. The observation car is a very sociable area on an Amtrak long distance train.

As we progress towards Chicago the weather brightens. The total journey on the Southwest Chief is advertised as taking 40+ hours – click  here for more details.  Long distance passenger trains in the US often run late because freight trains take priority.

The old railway buildings at Mendota are now a rail museum. There is a steam engine by the platform. The platform is short, the sleeper passengers are first. Then the train has to pull forward, across a level crossing,  for the coach passengers.  This means that a long traffic queue builds up!

There are many grain silos by the side of the track in this part of Illinois. One of the silos in Mendota has a corn-cob painted on it.

Through farmland to Naperville:

The arable farms are large in this part of Illinois, they stretch into the far distance.

The next stop is Naperville. This is the last stop before Chicago’s Union Station. The station first opened in 1910 and is used by Amtrak’s Southwest Chief, the California Zephyr, the Carl Sandburg and the Illinois Zephyr. It is also used by over 20,000 Metra passengers each week.

About 30 minutes later we reach the magnificent Union Station.

theWit – my hotel in Chicago:

I stay the night at theWit, a DoubleTree hotel from Hilton. This hotel is spectacular and centrally located. I have a lovely room, the breakfast is  fantastic and the staff…..

The staff at this hotel are fantastic and really helpful. I made a good choice booking here. I shall return on my next trip. (Sadly delayed by Covid 19).

The Museum of Science and Industry:

I only scratch the surface of this brilliant museum. I visit the gallery reserved for U 505. It is an amazing story and brings the Second World War Battle of the Atlantic to life for visitors.

I then  find myself in the Transport gallery. This is home to an amazing model railway. It recreates the highlights of the Empire Builder  route. Listen to US Rail Journeys, Series 1, for my journey on this route.

The photographs that accompany the words:

Please click on a thumbnail to open the gallery:

Next up:

If you’ve enjoyed this podcast. Please join me in two weeks for the next episode where I join the City of New Orleans for a journey to Carbondale.

Links:

To visit the Amtrak website please follow this link.

You can find out more about my home in Chicago – theWit here.

The Museum of Science and Industry is here.

You can also listen to this podcast on iTunes/Apple Podcasts, Castbox, Deezer, Podchaser, Spotify and Stitcher.

Music:

AKM Music has licensed the theme, Steam Railway, for use in this podcast.

Audioblocks has licensed Chicago Blues by Bobby Cole for use as incidental music in this episode.

© The MrT Podcast Studio 2019 – 2020

The Southwest Chief part 5

The Southwest Chief part 5 – US Rail Journeys Series 2 Episode 6

From La Plata, Missouri to Princeton, Illinois

The Southwest Chief part 5 starts as we  pass wet and muddy farms and cross flooded level crossings. As we approach La Plata in Missouri the train is still running late. This morning, sadly, there is no sun – just rain and flooding. The total journey is advertised as taking 40+ hours – click  here for more details.  Long distance passenger trains in the US often run late because freight trains take priority.

After leaving La Plata we pass flooded land where we can’t see where the river ends and land begins. There is an awful lot of floodwater here. Luckily another passenger is on hand to tell us why.

Fort Madison and the toll bridge:

We reach the station at Fort Madison and have a chance to stretch our legs. There is even floodwater in parts of the town as we go past. After two miles we reach the mile long Fort Madison toll bridge. The bridge takes us from Iowa to Illinois. The top layer of the bridge is for vehicles and the lower one for trains.

The bridge, used by 100 trains a day, was built in 1927.  It swings open, up to 5 times a day, to let river traffic through – click here to see it open. The ‘swing’ section is 525 feet long (160 metres).

The Mississippi really is vast!

Onward into Illinois:

As we travel through Illinois the sky starts to lighten. Here and there a touch of blue and yellow. There is a short stop at Galesburg and then we continue on to Princeton.

If you’ve enjoyed this podcast. Please join me in two weeks for the next episode where I complete my journey to Chicago.

Please click on a thumbnail to open the gallery:

 

To visit the Amtrak website please follow this link.

You can also listen to this podcast on iTunes/Apple Podcasts, Deezer, Podchaser, Spotify and Stitcher.

Music:

AKM Music has licensed the theme, Steam Railway, for use in this podcast.

Audioblocks has licensed Country Train Ride by Michael Nicholas & Carl Carter for use as incidental music in this episode.

© The MrT Podcast Studio 2019 – 2020

The Southwest Chief part 4

The Southwest Chief part 4 – US Rail Journeys Series 2 Episode 5

From Raton to nearing La Plata

The Southwest Chief part 4 starts as we approach Raton. The train is running late as we reach Raton. It is dusk and we are seeing the last of the sun. The total journey is advertised as taking 40+ hours – click  here for more details.  There are frequent delays to long distance passenger trains as freight takes priority so they are often late.

After leaving Raton (pronounced ‘Ratone’) we pass through the Raton Tunnel. The tunnel is at the highest part of the pass at 7,588 feet (2,323 m) above sea level. As we leave the tunnel we cross in to Colorado.

The Southwest Chief is usually the only train to use this section of line. There is one ‘Chief’ each way each day. Freight trains use a by-pass route with easier gradients.

I have an enjoyable dinner. I then talk to two teachers who like to travel by train. They find it less stressful and love the scenery.

I get up in the morning to flooding by the side of the tracks. Very different weather to the day before! We travel through rain and floods for the rest of the journey.

If you’ve enjoyed this podcast please join me in two weeks for the next episode where I continue my journey to Chicago.

Please click on a thumbnail to open the gallery:

 

To visit the Amtrak website please follow this link.

You can also listen to this podcast on iTunes/Apple Podcasts, Deezer, Podchaser, Spotify and Stitcher.

Music:

AKM Music has licensed the theme, Steam Railway, for use in this podcast.

Audioblocks has licensed Railroad Blues by Bobby Cole and Country Train Ride by Michael Nicholas & Carl Carter for use as incidental music in this episode.

© The MrT Podcast Studio 2019 – 2020

The Southwest Chief part 3

The Southwest Chief part 3 – US Rail Journeys Series 2 Episode 4

From Albuquerque to Las Vegas, New Mexico

The Southwest Chief part 3 starts as we leave Albuquerque. We stopped in Albuquerque for enough time for everyone to have a decent ‘air’ break. It is a beautiful day as we return to the desert. The total journey is advertised as taking 40+ hours – click  here for more details.  There are frequent delays to long distance passenger trains as freight takes priority so they are often late.

We pass through the suburbs of Albuquerque as we leave the city. We pass scrapyards, industrial sites and housing. A few of the houses have solar panels. I would have expected everyone to have solar panels because there is so much sun.

We pass through unforgiving desert. There are many amazing rock formations. In the distance there are snow capped mountains. In some places there is a fence beside the line to keep the cattle from straying.

The train has a short stop at Lamy. The town has a population of 218 (2010 census) by serves as the station for Santa Fe, 18 miles up the road.

We pass a river and go through an area with trees breaking into leaf. We then go back to the desert. The train climbs steadily as we travel onward. We then stop for over an hour as we wait for the westbound Southwest Chief to pass.

Our journey takes us past Starvation Peak. We then descend, through long S bends, towards Las Vegas. The New Mexico Las Vegas!

If you’ve enjoyed this podcast please join me in two weeks for the next episode where I continue my journey to Chicago.

Please click on a thumbnail to open the gallery:

 

To visit the Amtrak website please follow this link.

You can also listen to this podcast on iTunes/Apple Podcasts, Deezer, Podchaser, Spotify and Stitcher.

Music:

AKM Music has licensed the theme, Steam Railway, for use in this podcast.

© The MrT Podcast Studio 2019 – 2020

The Southwest Chief part 2

The Southwest Chief part 2 – US Rail Journeys Series 2 Episode 3

From San Bernardino to Albuquerque

The Southwest Chief part 2 starts as we leave San Bernardino. Night has fallen and I retire to my Roomette to sleep. The total journey is advertised as taking 40+ hours – click  here for more details.  There are frequent delays to long distance passenger trains as freight takes priority so they are often late.

I awoke a couple of times during the night but soon got back to sleep. Whilst I slept we passed through a number of stations where the only train that stops is in the middle of the night!

I awoke to a beautiful morning with the High Desert bathed in amazing colours as the sun rose. We soon saw that the desert was very unforgiving. The desert is hot and arid with many amazing rock formations. In the distance there were snow capped mountains.

The episode ends with our stop, on a beautiful morning,  in Albuquerque in New Mexico. This is the first opportunity in many hours for an ‘air’ break for many of the passengers.

If you’ve enjoyed this podcast please join me in two weeks for the next episode where I continue my journey to Chicago.

Please click on a thumbnail to open the gallery:

 

To visit the Amtrak website please follow this link.

You can also listen to this podcast on iTunes/Apple Podcasts, Deezer, Spotify and Stitcher.

Music:

AKM Music has licensed the theme, Steam Railway, for use in this podcast.

© The MrT Podcast Studio 2019 – 2020

The Southwest Chief part 1

The Southwest Chief part 1 – US Rail Journeys Series 2 Episode 2

I spend some time investigating the history of Los Angeles Union Station in the Southwest Chief part 1 . This magnificent building was the last of the Union stations to be built. Find out more about Union station here.

I then went to my platform to board the Southwest Chief for the 2,265 mile journey to Chicago. The journey is advertised as taking 40+ hours – click  here for more details.. There are frequent delays to long distance passenger trains as freight takes priority.

I arrive on the platform in time to see the Southwest Chief reversing into the station. All around me commuters are rushing for their local trains home to enjoy the beautiful evening.

Although the train was late arriving at the platform we departed on time. We travel through Fullerton and on to San Bernadino in this episode. We listen the announcements about dinner as we travel through a beautiful evening.

If you’ve enjoyed this podcast please join me in two weeks for the next episode where I continue my journey to Chicago.

Please click on a thumbnail to open the gallery:

 

To visit the Amtrak website please follow this link.

You can also listen to this podcast on iTunes/Apple Podcasts, Deezer, Spotify and Stitcher.

Music:

AKM Music has licensed the theme, Steam Railway, for use in this podcast.

Audioblocks.com has licensed California Sun Instrumental Mix (by Bobby Cole) and Surfari (by G Mosby, E Wilson & B Gagnon) for use as incidental music in this podcast.

© The MrT Podcast Studio 2019 – 2020

From London to LA

From London to LA – US Rail Journeys Series 2 Episode 1

I travelled from Heathrow to Los Angeles in From London to LA. I flew with British Airways from their flagship Terminal 5 on a Boeing 787 ‘Dreamliner’. The flight to took nearly 11 1/2 hours. Find out more about flying with BA here.

I took the FlyAway bus from the airport to Union Station in downtown Los Angeles. This bus service runs at regular intervals throughout the day and night. Click here to find out more about this service.

I stayed in the DoubleTree in downtown Los Angeles before starting on the first leg of my train travel. The hotel is located three blocks from Union Station.

The DoubleTree has the lovely Japanese Kyoto rooftop garden. The Kyoto Garden is based on an ancient Japanese garden in Tokyo built for the 16th century samurai lord Kiyomasa Kato. The original was an oasis from the discord of Tokyo, this is an escape from downtown Los Angeles. Click here to find out more about this hotel.

If you’ve enjoyed this podcast please join me in two weeks for the next episode where I will start my journey to Chicago.

Please click on a thumbnail to open the gallery:

 

To visit the Amtrak website please follow this link.

You can also listen to this podcast on iTunes/Apple Podcasts, Deezer, Spotify and Stitcher.

Music:

AKM Music has licensed the theme, Steam Railway, for use in this podcast.

Musopen.org has licensed the version of the Flower Music used in this podcast.

Audioblocks.com has licensed the other incidental music.

© The MrT Podcast Studio 2019 – 2020

US Rail Journeys – From the Sierra Nevada to Richmond, Ca

Series 1 Episode 16

From the Sierra Nevada to Richmond is the last part my journey westwards on the California Zephyr. I left you at the end of the last episode at the top of the Sierra Nevada. Today we come down the mountain and travel through California to Richmond.

The speed limit is 30 mph as the train descends the mountain. We certainly don’t want to be on a ‘runaway train’. At one time there was hydraulic mining, where the topsoil was washed away by water. This was banned because of the damage it caused.

Our first stop is Colfax, named after a US Vice-President. There is a statue of a miner panning for gold at the station. We travel on to Roseville where we pass large rail yards and a wagon repair depot. For more details click here.

Next we reach the State Capital at Sacramento, click here, where we pass the locomotive works. We then pass through Davis and Martinez before we reach the end of my journey at Richmond.

I hope you have enjoyed the series. There will be a second series of US Rail Journeys in the Autumn (Fall). In series two I will travel on the Southwest Chief, the City of New Orleans and the Sunset Limited.

Click on a ‘thumbnail’ to open the gallery for the journey from Across the Sierra Nevada to the Donner Pass.

My thanks go to the passengers and crew on our journey from Chicago to the Bay Area, aboard the California Zephyr, for their tolerance of the man waving the microphone. It truly is a magnificent journey.

Want more information?

Full definition copies of the photographs taken by MrT are available on Flickr. In addition a selection are on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

This podcast is also available through iTunes (Apple podcasts), Spotify and Stitcher as well as this website.

Steam Railway is used as the theme music under licence from AKM Music.

© The MrT Podcast Studio 2017 to 2019

US Rail Journeys – Across the Sierra Nevada to the Donner Pass

Series 1 Episode 15

Across the Sierra Nevada to the Donner Pass continues my journey westwards on the California Zephyr. I left you at the end of the last episode as we started the climb across the Sierra Nevada. Today we continue the climb, through spectacular scenery, to the Donner Pass.

Building the route required complex engineering because there were so many challenges. The train’s first stop in California is at Truckee, a town of around 16,000 people.

The train goes round many very tight curves as it climbs the Sierra Nevada towards Donner Lake and the Donner pass. Donner Lake and the Donner Pass are spectacular.

This episode ends with us high up in the Sierra Nevada. There is a very long drop to the river valley below.

I’ll tell you about the last part of the journey to the Bay Area in the final episode of US Rail Journeys in two weeks time.

Click on a ‘thumbnail’ to open the gallery for the journey from Across the Sierra Nevada to the Donner Pass.

My thanks go to the passengers and crew on our journey from Chicago to the Bay Area, aboard the California Zephyr, for their tolerance of the man waving the microphone. It truly is a magnificent journey.

Full definition copies of the photographs taken by MrT are available on Flickr. In addition a selection are on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

The music Steam Railway is used under licence from AKM Music.

This podcast is also available through iTunes (Apple podcasts), Spotify and Stitcher as well as this website.

© The MrT Podcast Studio 2017 to 2019

US Rail Journeys – From the middle of nowhere in Wyoming to Reno

Series 1 Episode 14

In  episode fourteen I travel on the California Zephyr from The Middle of Nowhere in Wyoming to Reno. We continue along the diversion to Salt Lake City and then, having rejoined the usual route, on to Reno .

The route takes us through some pretty desolate desert. I certainly wouldn’t like to get stranded out there!

The train passes through the desert communities of Elko, Winnemucca and Lovelock  on our journey through Nevada. All the time going westward, much faster than the wagon trains of old.

As we approach Reno there are more roads, cars and business parks. A sign of ‘civilisation’ approaching fast. The stop at Reno was long enough for us to get off. I noticed that the sleepers in Reno station are concrete; most in the US are still wood.

This episode ends with us back in the countryside as we reach the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. Learn more about the Sierra Nevada here.

I’ll tell you more about the route across the Sierra Nevada, built with amazing engineering skill, as we travel on the California Zephyr in the next episode of US Rail Journeys in two weeks time.

Click on any of the ‘thumbnails’ below to open the photograph gallery covering the journey from The Middle of Nowhere in Wyoming to Reno.

My thanks go to the passengers and crew on our journey from Chicago to the Bay Area, aboard the California Zephyr, for their tolerance of the man waving the microphone. It truly is a magnificent journey.

Full definition copies of the photographs taken by MrT are available on Flickr. In addition a selection are on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

The music Steam Railway is used under licence from AKM Music.

This podcast is also available through iTunes (Apple podcasts), Spotify and Stitcher as well as this website.

© The MrT Podcast Studio 2017 to 2019

US Rail Journeys – Across Wyoming to Rawlins – S1 Ep.13

In  episode thirteen I travel on the California Zephyr from north of Denver, Colorado,  then along our diversion across Wyoming to Rawlins, an oil town in Carbon County.

The diversion is to allow engineering work on the California Zephyr’s normal route. We are travelling along the historic Overland route last regularly used by a passenger train over 20 years ago. The Amtrak Pioneer. The Pioneer ran for nearly 20 years from June 1977 until May 1997.

Although we stopped many times on our journey none of the stops were in a station, so we had no air break for many hours.

We passed through Greeley where the former Union Pacific Rail Depot which closed when the Pioneer service ceased in 1997. Find out more about the history of this station by clicking this link.

We then crossed the desolation of Wyoming passing through Laramie in the early afternoon – click this link for more details. We have left the arable farming area and now we only see cattle; and in many places there is nothing!

As the afternoon progresses we come into a belt of the first snow of the winter. Considering that this is early October I imagine that it can be pretty cold in mid-winter. In the desolation there are some wind farms, I imagine that the winds can be fierce here.

This episode ends as we reach Rawlins in Wyoming’s Carbon County (more details here) and our locomotives are refuelled. The station first opened in 1901 and finally closed in 1997.

I’ll tell you more about the journey as we travel from Rawlins to Reno on the California Zephyr in the next episode of US Rail Journeys in two weeks time.

Click on any of the ‘thumbnails’ below to open the photograph gallery.

My thanks go to the passengers and crew on our journey from Chicago to the Bay Area, aboard the California Zephyr, for their tolerance of the man waving the microphone. It truly is a magnificent journey.

Full definition copies of the photographs taken by MrT are available on Flickr. In addition a selection are on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

The music Steam Railway is used under licence from AKM Music.

This podcast is also available through iTunes (Apple podcasts), Spotify and Stitcher as well as this website.

© The MrT Podcast Studio 2017 to 2019

US Rail Journeys – Mount Pleasant through Denver on the California Zephyr – S1 Ep.12

In  episode twelve I travel on the California Zephyr from Mount Pleasant, Iowa, through Denver and then northwards to our diversion through Wyoming.  The diversion is because there is engineering work on the normal route between Denver and Salt Lake City. The diversion takes us along the historic Overland route. The last regular passenger service to use this route was the Amtrak Pioneer. The Pioneer ran for nearly 20 years from June 1977 until May 1997.

We travelled from Burlington through the late afternoon towards Mount Pleasant in Iowa where the station opened in 1912. Over 13,700 passengers used Mount Pleasant station in 2017.

We then stopped at Ottumwa where the station canopy lacks any glass. Ottumwa is the fictional home of Radar O’Reilly from M*A*S*H. 12,200 passengers used the station in 2017. The Rock Island Line services used to stop here.

It was dark when we reached Osceola, 80 miles on from Ottumwa. Osceola saw 16,000 passengers in 2016. A further 33 miles took us to Creston. The station at Creston is like a small industrial unit. It was built in 1969 and was used by just over 3,800 passengers in 2016.

We reached Omaha after another 108 miles and crossing the state line between Iowa and Nebraska. After a short air break we set off into the night. I slept whilst the train travelled through Lincoln, Hastings, Holdredge, McCook and Fort Morgan stations on the way to Denver.

We reached Denver after breakfast. The train spent over 40 minutes in Denver and this gave me the opportunity to look round the station. Denver Union Station was rebuilt in 1914. The platform area was rebuilt again between 2014 – 2014 and is very modern.

We left Denver going north to the diversion route which took us non-stop across Wyoming. I say ‘non-stop’ because we didn’t stop at any stations between Denver and Salt Lake City. The journey out of Denver, however, was more stop than go for the first few hours and give us a scenic tour of Denver’s scrap yards.

I’ll tell you more about the journey across Wyoming on the California Zephyr in the next episode of US Rail Journeys in two weeks time.

Click on any of the ‘thumbnails’ below to open the photograph gallery.

My thanks go to the passengers and crew on our journey from Chicago to the Bay Area, aboard the California Zephyr, for their tolerance of the man waving the microphone. It truly is a magnificent journey.

Full definition copies of the photographs taken by MrT are available on Flickr. In addition a selection are on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

The music Steam Railway is used under licence from AKM Music.

This podcast is also available through iTunes (Apple podcasts), Spotify and Stitcher as well as this website.

© The MrT Podcast Studio 2017 to 2019

US Rail Journeys – Chicago to Burlington on the California Zephyr – S1 Ep.11

In the eleventh episode I travel from Chicago to Burlington on the California Zephyr. The episode starts at the historic Drake Hotel in Chicago where I stayed for a night. After a restful night I took a taxi to Union Station for the start of my journey on the California Zephyr.

Our journey takes us from Chicago, across Big Muddy and on to Burlington. This is the first part of the journey on the California Zephyr travelling from Chicago to the Bay Area.

Our first stop after leaving Chicago is at Naperville station. Nearly 50,000 Amtrak passengers travelling on the California Zephyr, Amtrak’s Southwest Chief, Illinois Zephyr and Carl Sandeberg used the station in 2014. In addition Metra commuter services also call at the station.

Our journey from Chicago to Burlington on the California Zephyr continues to Princeton, which was used by nearly 36,000 passengers in 2014. We then stopped at Galesburg where there is a Railroad Museum. The station was used by over 100,000 passengers in 2017.

Our final stop in this episode, shortly after crossing the Mississippi, is Burlington, Iowa. The station was built in 1944 and is very much in the mid-century modern aesthetic style. Nearly 9,250 passengers used the station in 2016.

I’ll tell you more about the journey on the California Zephyr in the next episode of US Rail Journeys in two weeks time.

Click on any of the ‘thumbnails’ below to open the photograph gallery.

I thank the passengers and crew on our journey from Chicago to the Bay Area, aboard the California Zephyr, for their tolerance of the man waving the microphone. It truly is a magnificent journey.

Full definition copies of the photographs taken by MrT are available on Flickr. In addition a selection are on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Steam Railway is used for the theme music, under licence from AKM Music.

This podcast is also available through iTunes (Apple podcasts), Spotify and Stitcher besides this website.

© The MrT Podcast Studio 2017 to 2019

US Rail Journeys – Milwaukee to Chicago – S1 Ep.10

We travel from Milwaukee to Chicago in the tenth episode of US Rail Journeys. This is the last part of our journey on the Empire Builder as the train travels along the  Milwaukee Road.

Originally a plank road for horses and carts Milwaukee Road became the name given to the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad.

The first stop after leaving Milwaukee is at Glenview station which opened in 1995. The Empire Builder, Amtrak’s Hiawatha Service and Metra commuter services use the station. Passengers who want to travel from Glenview to either Chicago or Milwaukee may not use the Empire Builder. They must use the other, more frequent, services.

After Glenview the next stop on this short leg of our journey is Chicago Union Station. This magnificent station opened in 1925 and stands on the west side of the Chicago River. The station is the fourth busiest in the US, and the busiest outside New York. Nearly 3.4 million Amtrak passengers plus around 130,000 Metra commuter passengers a day used the station in 2017. To find out more about the station follow this link to the Union Station website or this link to the Wikipedia entry. The station is a major hub for Amtrak long distance services.

I said ‘goodbye’ to the Empire Builder and took a taxi to my hotel. After 22 hours in Chicago I’d be leaving on the California Zephyr. I’ll start to tell you about that journey in the next episode of US Rail Journeys in two weeks time.

Click on any of the ‘thumbnails’ below to open the photograph gallery.

I thank the passengers and crew on our journey from Portland to Chicago, aboard the Empire Builder, for their tolerance of the man waving the microphone. It truly is a magnificent journey.

Full definition copies of the photographs taken by MrT are available on Flickr. In addition a selection are on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Steam Railway is used for the theme music under licence from AKM Music.

This podcast is also available through iTunes (Apple podcasts), Spotify and Stitcher besides this website.

© The MrT Podcast Studio 2017 to 2019

US Rail Journeys – Red Wing to Milwaukee – S1 Ep.9

In the ninth episode of US Rail Journeys we journey on the Empire Builder from Red Wing to Milwaukee. For much of our journey we are on the Milwaukee Road. The Milwaukee Road was the name often given to the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad.

The first stop in this episode is at Winona where 17,500 passengers used the station in 2017.  This is followed by La Crosse where a Frenchman first noticed Native Americans playing a game where they caught a ball in a net attached to a stick – see the original Lacrosse.

Next we pass through Tomah where the station was used by 13,800 passengers in 2017. After this we stop at Wisconsin Dells, another small station along the way. Passengers joining the train here must buy their tickets from the conductor as, apart from the janitor, it is an unstaffed station.

The countryside is very different from yesterday. The river is vast but the fields are much smaller and the towns much closer together.

Portage is next, another small station seeing less than 10,000 passengers in 2017. Shortly after leaving Portage we reach Columbus, Wisconsin. Another small station it, along with Portage, serves the Madison Metropolitan area.

Our final stop in this episode is at Milwaukee station. This station is served by the Empire Builder and also Amtrak’s Hiawatha Service in addition to local trains and numerous bus routes. The modern station was rebuilt in 2007.

Passengers can disembark for an ‘air break’ in Milwaukee before the train sets off on the next leg towards Chicago.

Click on any of the ‘thumbnails’ below to open the photograph gallery.

Join us in two weeks for the next episode where our traveller completes his journey from Portland to Chicago aboard the Empire Builder.

Full size copies of the photographs taken by MrT are available from Flickr, Facebook and some through Instagram.

The theme music Steam Railway is used under licence from AKM Music.

In addition to this website the podcasts are also available through iTunes (Apple podcasts), Spotify and Stitcher.

© The MrT Podcast Studio 2017 to 2018

US Rail Journeys – Havre to Red Wing – S1 Ep8

In the eighth episode of US Rail Journeys our traveller continues his journey on the Empire Builder from Havre to Red Wing by the majestic Mississippi.

The first stop in this episode is at Havre in Montana.  Passengers can take an ‘air break’ here. Whilst at the station our traveller views Great Northern loco 2584. This S2 4-8-4 locomotive ran on oil and was in service from 1930 to 1957. The S2 class pulled the Oriental Limited and Empire Builder trains. Find out more about the S2 class here.

Whilst in Havre a long freight train passes through the station. The trucks are loaded with containers two high. I hope they don’t find any low tunnels! More about Havre Station here.

Our journey continues across mile upon mile of grain fields. The prairie really is vast. It is mainly flat but occasionally you can see hills in the distance. The journey continues past the occasional farmstead and we frequently see grain silos.

The scenery changes as we reach the Milk River with trees along the riverbank. The train passes through Malta and on to Glasgow. After leaving Glasgow we pass large grain silos beside the tracks. The grain is loaded in to trains from these silos before being taken away.

The journey continues through Montana with the train passing through Wolf Point, past derelict cars at the bottom of some gardens. The route passes close to the historic Fort Union Trading Post (more here) around 25 miles from our next stop at Williston in North Dakota.

After our stop in Williston the night draws in. Overnight we pass through a string of stations before arriving at Union Station, St Paul, in the morning (details here). The station serves the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul.

After leaving St. Paul we soon meet the mighty Mississippi which we travel alongside for the rest of this episode.

The episode concludes during the morning when the Empire Builder reaches Red Wing for a short stop where the carriages stop across the level crossing.

Click on any of the ‘thumbnails’ below to open the photograph gallery.

Join us in two weeks for the next episode where our traveller continues his journey from Portland to Chicago aboard the Empire Builder.

Full size copies of the photographs taken by MrT are available from Flickr, Facebook and some through Instagram.

The theme music Steam Railway is used under licence from AKM Music.

In addition to this website the podcasts are also available through iTunes (Apple podcasts), Spotify and Stitcher.

© The MrT Podcast Studio 2017 to 2018

US Rail Journeys – From Pasco to Shelby – S1 Ep7

In the seventh episode of US Rail Journeys our traveller continues his journey on the Empire Builder from Pasco to Shelby.

It is dark when the train stops at Pasco. Our traveller joins the other passengers on the platform for an ‘air break’. This gives him a chance to look at the night sky.

The journey continues into the night. The train stops at Spokane (more details here) and waits for the section of the train that comes from Seattle. Once both parts of the train have been joined the train continues East. Our traveller is in the very last carriage.

About an hour after leaving Spokane the train reaches Sandpoint, the only Amtrak station in Idaho. The station first opened in 1916 (more details here).

The Empire Builder then reaches Libby in Montana in time to be greeted by the early risers! Nearly 5,100 passengers used the station in 2017. (More details here). By the time our traveller is up and dressed the train has reached the relatively busy Whitefish station (57,000 passengers in 2017). Whitefish is the busiest station between the Pacific Ocean and St Paul, Minnesota.

The next station, only 23 miles further on, is West Glacier which was used by 5,000 passengers in 2014; this is followed, forty minutes later, by the ‘request stop’ at Essex station. The local population is less than 50 and most visitors are going to the Isaak Walton Inn (more details here).

Our next stop is at East Glacier Park, open from April to October, for visitors to the Glacier National Park (more details here). We then pass through Browning station, only open in the winter, on our way to Cut Bank, reached nearly an hour later. Cut Bank is home to a large BNSF freight yard which has a number of ‘grain elevators’.

The episode concludes in the late morning when the Empire Builder reaches Shelby where we get the opportunity to stretch our legs and breathe fresh Montana air.

Click on any of the ‘thumbnails’ below to open the photograph gallery.

Join us in two weeks for the next episode where our traveller continues his journey from Portland to Chicago aboard the Empire Builder.

Full size copies of the photographs taken by MrT are available from Flickr, Facebook and some through Instagram.

The theme music Steam Railway is used under licence from AKM Music.

In addition to this website the podcasts are also available through iTunes (Apple podcasts), Spotify and Stitcher.

© The MrT Podcast Studio 2017 to 2018

US Rail Journeys – From Portland to Pasco – S1 Ep6

Our traveller boards the Empire Builder for the journey from Portland to Chicago. The sixth episode of US Rail Journeys describes the part of the journey from Portland to Pasco.

After leaving his hotel he travels to Portland Union station. When he gets to the station he waits in the Metropolitan Lounge for the train to be ready for boarding. It is a grey, wet day as the train leaves Portland. Very quickly our traveller has travelled from Oregon to Washington State.

During the first afternoon / evening the Empire Builder reaches the Columbia River and follows its path for many miles.

The first station after Portland is Vancouver – Washington, not Canada! The station first opened in 1908. The station is a unique, two sided station, because it is shaped in a Y (wye). For more information click here.

The next stop is at the unstaffed Bingen – White Salmon station which opened in 1992. For more information click here. This if followed by Wishram, an important gateway to the Columbia River. In 2017 it was used by 1,577 passengers. For more information click here.

This episode closes with our traveller reaching Pasco station which serves the ‘Tri cities’ of Kennewick, Richland and Pasco. Opened 20 years ago in 1998 it was used by 24,245 passengers in 2017. For more information  click here.

Click on any of the ‘thumbnails’ below to open the photograph gallery..

Join us at the end of next week for the next episode where our traveller continues his journey from Portland to Chicago aboard the Empire Builder.

Full size copies of the photographs taken by MrT are available from Flickr, Facebook and some through Instagram.

The music Steam Railway is used under licence from AKM Music.

The musical excerpt from The Chrysanthemum by Scott Joplin, played by Gerlutz, is rights free from the Musopen library.

In addition to this website the podcasts are available through Spotify and Stitcher.

© The MrT Podcast Studio 2017 to 2018

US Rail Journeys – In Portland – Series 1 Episode 5

The fifth episode of US Rail Journeys is spent in the city of Portland, Oregon, where our traveller spends two days seeing the sights of this beautiful city.

He takes a Pink Line tour around this relaxed city. The high-point, quite literally, of the tour is Washington Park where the tour ‘trolley’ takes visitors through this beautiful park. The park is over 410 acres on a steeply wooded hillside and the height varies from 200 feet above sea level to 870.

The tour leaves the park and heads for the Willamette River front where the first thing our traveller sees is the Steel Bridge. The bridge was opened in 1912 and is a  double-deck, vertical lift bridge. The lower deck carries railway, bicycle and pedestrian traffic, whilst the upper deck carries road traffic.

Our traveller then passes the riverside station for the Portland Aerial Tram and also the modern Tilikum Crossing bridge. Access to the bridge is restricted to public transport, bicycles and pedestrians.

At the end of the tour our traveller has an interesting talk with the Pink Line driver about working as a tour guide.

Join us at the end of next week for the next episode where our traveller sets out on his journey from Portland to Chicago aboard the Empire Builder.

Full size copies of the photographs taken by MrT are available from Flickr, Facebook and some through Instagram.

The music Steam Railway is used under licence from AKM Music.

Musical excerpt by Oregon based Pink Martini used with permission.

Excerpt from the Richard Berry composition Louie Louie which provided a hit for the Portland based band the Kingsmen in the 1960s.

© The MrT Podcast Studio 2017 to 2018