Only a Few Days Left to Run


To be honest, the quality of this image is not that good. It is quite grainy because I made it with slide film and there wasn’t much light in the concourse area of Chicago Union Station.

Yet the image has historical value because at the time that it was made in September 1979 the Chicago-Seattle North Coast Hiawatha was living on borrowed time.

At the end of the month, a massive Amtrak route restructuring would sweep away the North Coast Hiawatha along with several other trains.

I was in Chicago to ride the North Coast Hiawatha to Seattle before the train was discontinued. I had a coach seat aboard No. 17 to St. Paul, Minnesota, and then switched to a sleeper for the duration of the trip.

I remember it being a very pleasant trip and at times quite scenic. It was still the era of steam-heated equipment, but the motive power was a pair of F40PH locomotives.

To provide steam for the heating and cooling, a steam car was placed behind the engines.

This photograph also reminds me of what Chicago Union Station looked like during the era following its first remodeling by Amtrak.

It was before the current coach lounges were created. The concourse area outside the south gates could be quite cold and drafty in the winter. But it appeared to be modern for its time.

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