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.


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.


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

Author: Tim D

In the early 1970s Mr Timothy & his Phonograph was a popular mobile disco around Leeds University and Tim was known as MrT. Tim also spent 9 years broadcasting a weekly programme on Hospital Radio in Wakefield. He worked for more than 40 years for large industrial organisations and spent his last 15 years in global commercial management roles. Following retirement he started making podcasts in 2017.