The Inter-American in Springfield

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It is a cloudy day in March 1977. The long, bitter winter has finally receded and operations at Amtrak have returned to normal after several trains were annulled for a few weeks due to a shortage of workable equipment.

I’m in Springfield, Illinois, where I lived for two years in the middle 1970s. I’ve returned to visit friends and made a mental note to take my new camera to the Amtrak station to photograph the Inter-American, which arrived in late morning southbound.

At the time, the I-A operated between Chicago and Lardeo, Texas, three days a week although it was a daily operation between Chicago and Fort Worth, Texas.

The I-A, which today is known as the Texas Eagle, has an interesting history that included fights with Missouri Pacific over dispatching and train speeds, and a struggle with a Texas congressman over his desire to see the I-A interchange cars with the Mexican Railways.

Eventually Amtrak worked out its differences with MoPac, but the interchange with the Aztec Eagle never came to be. In time, the route was shortened to Chicago-San Antonio.

At the time that I made this photograph of No. 21 in Springfield, the Inter-American was in the midst of the aforementioned disputes and it had only been about a month since it had resumed operating the length of its route after being canceled south of St. Louis during the harsh winter of 1977 that sidelined a third of Amtrak’s long-distance fleet assigned to Chicago-based trains.

And it had been less than five months since the northern terminus of the I-A had been extended to Chicago from St. Louis.

Nos. 21 and 22 were operating with a pair of SDP40F locomotives, although by the time I saw the I-A in June 1977, the motive power assignment has been reduced to one locomotive.

The SDP40F locomotives and steam-heated equipment would not last much longer. On August 8, 1977, the consist was reduced to two Amfleet coaches and a cafe car. Equipment assignments such as this would become a thing of the past.

 

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