Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak photography’

One Morning in Grand Rapids

March 21, 2017

It is a Saturday morning in June 1995 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. A crowd has gathered on the platform of the Amtrak station to await the arrival of the Pere Maquette, which originates here and travels to Chicago.

The equipment had laid overnight in a nearby CSX yard and is shown deadheading into the station.

The train is led by an F40PH, which will not be working much longer at Amtrak in providing motive power.

This moment came amid Amtrak’s last major route restructuring era. In April 1995 some trains, including the Detroit-Toledo, Ohio, leg of the Lake Cities had been discontinued. Amtrak wanted to terminate its Chicago-Detroit trains in Detroit rather than Pontiac, but the cost of that proved to be too high.

More cuts and route changes would follow in September. At the time, the Pere Marquette did not offer food and beverage service.

Since this image was made, Amtrak has begun using a new station in Grand Rapids.

At the Throttle of the Last WB National Limited

March 14, 2017

Conrail engineer Russell Smith awaits a highball in Indianapolis aboard Amtrak’s last westbound National Limited.

Smith has his left hand on the throttle of of F40PH No. 310 as it barrels along toward Terre Haute.

Looking over the engineer’s shoulder as Amtrak No. 31 rolls over the former New York Central mainline west of Indianapolis for the final time as a scheduled train.

It is Oct. 1, 1979, and Amtrak train No. 31 has arrived early into Indianapolis. This is a crew change point and for the final time the engineer and fireman will board the head end of the National Limited to take it west, working as far as St. Louis. Both are Conrail employees.

Tomorrow, the National Limited will be no more. It’s last trips departed from their endpoint cities on Sept. 30 and were allowed to continue to their destinations.

I got permission from the engineer to ride in the cab of F40PH No. 310 as far as Terre Haute, Indiana.

All of these photographs were made using Kodak Tri-X film. The images were scanned from the negatives.

That Seventies Look

March 13, 2017

If you rode Amtrak in its early years this is what you would have seen. The interiors of its passenger cars received blue carpet that extended up the sides to window level.

The seats were blue with head rest covers in paisley print. From an appearance standpoint, it was a scheme of cool colors and I don’t mean cool as in hip or popular.

By the late 1970s Amtrak had switched to an earth colors look emphasizing browns rather than blues.

The early Amtrak appearance continues to live at railroad museums and on tourist trains that use former Amtrak passenger cars.

Such is the case with this coach, which at the time this image was made on Oct. 16, 2005, was owned by the Bluewater Michigan chapter of the National Railway Historical Society and used on its excursions.

This high-capacity coach was built in 1947 by the Budd Company for the Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac where it had roster number 856. It became Amtrak No. 5220 and later No. 6031 before being retired by Amtrak in October 1981.

What Made the Coast Starlight Unique

March 10, 2017

In the Superliner era of Amtrak, the western long distant trains have all looked alike and offered pretty much the same service.

Over the years there have been a few tweaks, such as varying menu fare in the dining car by route, but otherwise there are no significant differences among the trains.

One exception has been the Los Angeles-Seattle Coast Starlight. During the 1990s a product line manager for Amtrak had former Santa Fe cars remodeled into the Pacific Parlour Cars that became the train’s signature service for sleeper class passengers.

In June 1999 I was at the Amtrak station in Sacramento, California, waiting for a excursion train to arrive that was being operated for members of the National Railway Historical Society. NRHS was holding its annual convention in Sacramento.

But the first order of business was the arrival of the southbound Coast Starlight. A few of us were standing near a doorway to the Pacific Parloir Car and we asked an Amtrak employee if we could go inside and take a look.

Sacramento is a service stop for Nos. 11 and 14 so we knew we had time. “Sure, come on up,” was the response.

So I got a glimpse inside something that made the Coast Starlight unique.

One Morning in Crawfordsville, Indiana

March 6, 2017
Amtrak train No. 851 approaches the Crawfordsville station in August 2011.

Amtrak train No. 851 approaches the Crawfordsville station in August 2011.

When I lived in Indiana between 1983 and 1991, Amtrak’s Hoosier State was a part of my life for periodic day trips from Indianapolis to Chicago.

I actually preferred to ride the Cardinal because it had a full-service dining car and slumber coaches, which offered a reasonable fare for a return trip to Indy.

But the Cardinal only ran three days a week so more often than not I wound up going to Chicago on the Hoosier State.

After leaving Indiana for Pennsylvania and, later, Ohio, I rarely saw the Hoosier State again.

I followed its story from afar, including how it was discontinued in 1995 only to be brought back because operating a hospital train to and from Beech Grove shops in suburban Indianapolis didn’t work out so well.

In August 2011 I was on my way to Illinois. I stayed overnight in Indianapolis and got up early the next morning to get to Crawfordsville before No. 851 did.

The sun wasn’t yet above the tree line when the Hoosier State arrived, but there was enough light to document the coming and going of the train.

Since making these images, the Hoosier State has had a rough ride at times with the latest development being the takeover of the train by Iowa Pacific Holdings in July 2015.

IP won high marks for its on-board service, but the Indiana Department of Transportation declined IP’s request for more money.

So IP pulled out and Amtrak has resumed operation of the Hoosier State. Actually, Amtrak was never completely out of the picture with Nos. 850 and 851 because it provided the operating crews and handled relationships with the host railroads.

So now what was the usual state of affairs in Crawfordsville is back again. Here is a look back at a morning not too long ago when the Hoosier State came calling.

A typical Amshack that is so typical in smaller cities served by Amtrak.

A typical Amshack that is so typical in smaller cities served by Amtrak.

The old Monon station is no longer used by Amtrak.

The old Monon station is no longer used by Amtrak.

All aboard for Chicago and all intermediate stops.

All aboard for Chicago and all intermediate stops.

And away it goes to its next stop in Lafayette.

And away it goes to its next stop in Lafayette.

A ;l;ast look at the train, which has two cars being ferried from Beech Grove to Chicago.

A ;l;ast look at the train, which has two cars being ferried from Beech Grove to Chicago.

Passing Trains in Mattoon

March 3, 2017

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A northbound Canadian National manifest freight passes the former Illinois Central station in Mattoon, Illinois, as a tardy Illini arrives from Chicago. The CN freight had been working in the Mattoon  yard and with No. 393 in the passing siding the freight has a highball to head out on the single track at North Mattoon.

Generations of Motive Power

February 20, 2017

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Amtrak train No. 4 is departing from the station in Naperville, Illinois, and is about to cross over to the center track for the run into Chicago.

I made this image of the motive power consist because I found it interesting how there are three distinct locomotives represented.

On the point is a P40DC locomotive with the fading stripes that are original to those units, but which proved to be short lived on Amtrak.

In the middle is a P32-8 wearing its striking and original livery that proved to be unique to these locomotives.

And the third unit is an F40PH in the Phase III livery. At the time, F40s were still commonplace, but starting to fade from the roster.

Pre-Dawn At Cattlettsburg Station

February 15, 2017

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The baggage cart at this Amtrak station might appear to be an anachronism or it simply provides historical contrast between two distinct eras.

In Amtrak timetables this was known as Tri-State Station. It was built in 1975 to serve the Chicago-Norfolk, Virginia, Mountaineer, which operated combined with the Chicago-Washington James Whitcomb Riley west of Chesapeake & Ohio’s Russell Yard near Ashland, Kentucky

Located in the Kentucky town of Cattlettsburg, this was a staffed station that would later become the western terminus of the Hilltopper, a train that operated to and from Washington, D.C.

Tri-State station would draw passengers from Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia. It replaced the stop in Ashland, five miles away.

The Hilltopper was discontinued on Oct. 1, 1979, but Tri-State Station continued to serve the Cardinal until March 11, 1998, when Nos. 50/51 resumed stopping in Ashland.

About a decade earlier the station had been renamed in Amtrak timetables as Cattlettsburg.

I only visited Tri-State Station once, but it was a quite memorable experience.

I had disembarked from the Cardinal around 10 p.m. and had a 7.5 hour layover until boarding the Hilltopper for its final eastbound run.

I didn’t get much, if any, sleep in the station during the night. Fortunately, there were a couple of guys to talk with, one of whom said he worked for Amtrak, who also were there to ride the last Hilltopper.

We also talked with the station agent, who locked the station’s front door during the night to keep out undesirables.

No. 66 was scheduled to depart from Tri-State Station at 5:33 a.m. I didn’t record what time it arrived from Russell Yard, where the equipment laid over during the night, but I must have made this image around 5 a.m.

It is hand held and the platform lights caused a color shift on the slide film I was using.

Few people boarded the Hilltopper that morning. The crew was C&O employees who would take the train a short distance to Kenova, West Virginia, where No. 66 would get onto the Norfolk & Western and get an N&W crew.

The conductor didn’t collect tickets or even wear an Amtrak uniform.

In March 1998, the C&O freight station in Ashland was renovated and became a multimodal facility known as the Ashland Transportation Center. It is used by Amtrak, local city buses and Greyhound.

Recent photographs posted online show the former Tri-State Station still exists, but is no longer used. Also still in existence is the C&O depot in Cattlettsburg, which is owned by the city and used as a visitor’s center.

The C&O depot was added to the Register of Historic Places in 2012.

It seems doubtful that the Amtrak station will ever be added to the Register even though in its own way it is historic as a monument to management thinking in the 1970s when modular stations were what Amtrak created.

Those stations were functional, but little else.

Last EB Hilltopper in Roanoke

February 14, 2017

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Amtrak will make a comeback in Roanoke, Virginia, some time within the next year or so.

There have been numerous passenger trains in the Virginia city in recent years, but they have been excursions pulled by Norfolk & Western J Class No. 611.

Amtrak served Roanoke between March 5, 1975, and Sept. 30, 1979.

Service initially was provided by the Chicago-Norfolk, Virginia, Mountaineer, which operated combined with the James Whitcomb Riley west of the Chesapeake & Ohio’s Russell Yard near Ashland, Kentucky.

Under pressure from West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd, Amtrak divorced the Mountaineer and Riley on April 24, 1977.

The Mountaineer became an independent train that operated between Cattlettsburg, Kentucky, and Washington, D.C., and was renamed the Hilltopper.

Low patronage made the Hilltopper an easy target to be discontinued during the 1979 Amtrak route restructuring. It made its final trips on Sept. 30.

The eastbound Hilltopper had three passenger cars tacked on the rear for part of its journey.

The cars, owned by the Roanoke Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society, were removed at Roanoke.

Not Much Longer to Wait

February 13, 2017

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It is a Monday night at Amtrak’s Midway Station in St. Paul, Minnesota. I waiting for the Chicago-bound North Star to arrive and in the meantime the Seattle-bound North Coast Hiawatha is in the station.

A conductor stands by a vestibule looking for boarding passengers. It is ritual that he won’t be performing much longer for this train. In less than two weeks, Nos. 17 and 18 are slated to be discontinued as part of a massive Amtrak route restructuring.

A court order will keep the North Coast Hiawatha running for a few more days, but it will eventually succumb and intercity rail passenger service on the former Northern Pacific route will end.

The Empire Builder will continue to operate between Chicago and Seattle, but the “North Coast Hi” will be history.

This image was scanned from a slide and made on Sept. 24, 1979.