It is almost high noon in June 1977 in Springfield, Illinois. I’m standing near the Illinois Central Gulf tracks (former Gulf, Mobile & Ohio) tracks awaiting the arrival of Amtrak’s westbound Inter-American from Chicago to Laredo, Texas.
I don’t recall if No. 21 was late or on time, but even if the former, it was not excessively tardy.
Leading No. 21 was SDP40F No. 613. I made a single photograph of it sitting in the station with its train.
The image isn’t that good, a product of harsh light, improper exposure and the fact that I scanned it from a color negative that is almost 40 years old.
I wanted to photograph the Inter-American because it still ran with SDP40F locomotives and those have always been a favorite of mine.
The engineer of the train spotted me and waved. On impulse I asked him if I could come up into the cab.
He said “yes” and up I went and got the other three images you see with this post.
I would later learn that the engineer was Dean Elliot and that he is now deceased. He was a railroader’s railroader and I can only imagine the stories he would have had to tell about life on the road.
But there was no time for that. I only had enough time to grab a few shots before the conductor gave No. 21 a highball to leave Springfield. I thanked the crew and climbed down.
And off they went to St. Louis where a Missouri Pacific crew would take over to pilot the Inter-American on its continuing journey to Laredo.
Today, Nos. 21 and 22 are named the Texas Eagle and operate between Chicago and San Antonio.
Tags: 1970s era Amtrak, Amtrak, Amtrak in 1970s, Amtrak in Springfield Illinois, Amtrak locomotives, Amtrak motive power, Amtrak SDP40F locomotives, Amtrak SDP40F No. 613, Amtrak stations, Amtrak's Inter-American, Amtrak's Texas Eagle, Gulf Mobile & Ohio Railroad, Illinois Central Gulf, Springfield Illinois