Las Vegas - Chicago with the Amtrak

(1985)

In the autumn of 1985, Carola and me were in Las Vegas at the end of a vacation and had a return flight from Chicago. We planned to use the train for going to Chicago. To buy the tickets, we entered the Union Plaza Hotel at the end of this street. The railroad station was located in the first floor at the rear side of the hotel. The price was $222 for the first person and $111 for the second in a car with sleeper seats at that time. For us Europeans it was hard to believe that a big city like Las Vegas had only one train departure per day in each direction.

In the early evening we entered the Amtrak Superliner car. It was soon getting dark. The seats were comfortable enough to find sleep for some hours. We awoke in the early morning when we had reached Salt Lake City.

After our train was now coupled together with the trains from Seattle and San Francisco, we continued the journey through the mountains of Utah. They were covered with the first snow of this year.

In the afternoon, many people took a place in the observation car while the train entered the Rocky mountains, the most spectacular part of the journey,

The train moved very slowly, sometimes with less than 50 km/h in narrow curves through the canyon of the Colorado river.

Finally, before we entered the Moffett Tunnel, one almost could have jumped across the Colorado river. It was about 10 p.m. and dark, when we arrived in Denver at the eastern side of the mountains.

We passed endless cornfields during the next morning. They were not interesting enough to keep us awake, we had not slept so well in our seats in the night before.

Not far from Chicago, we were surprised for a moment when we crossed the Mississippi river. A look at the map helped to understand this feature. In the afternoon, Chicago station came into sight with the Sears Tower touching the clouds.

A bridge across the tracks in front of Chicago Central Station was a good place for observing the mixture of different trains leaving station. This Burlington Northern E8 is part of the history of diesel locomotives. It dates back to the 1950's and was still pulling local trains.

Two years later we waited for the Amtrak train near Winter Park in the Rocky mountains. However, we had to learn that it was not very unusual that the passenger train was more than one hour late. It was interesting to observe otters hunting in the water while we were waiting. We ended after two hours with this photo of a Rio Grande freight train, and the Amtrak passenger train had not come yet.

For more information on the Amtrak trains of today, chose http://www.amtrak.com . I have pictures of historic cars in the pages about Gold Coast Railroad Museum .

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