• Fifty Years of Amtrak: Your best memories

  • Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.
Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.

Moderators: GirlOnTheTrain, mtuandrew, Tadman

  by jonnhrr
Wow it's hard to pick one.

1980 my first trip with my new bride who also loves trains (that's why I married her!) from Paoli PA to Altoona and back same day on the Pennsylvanian with a friendly crew. Must have been September or early October as I remember having a radio with us with the volume turned down, listening to the Phillies play the Houston Astros in the NLCS for the chance to face the Royals in the World Series.

The following year the Montrealer to its namesake city to connect with VIA's Atlantic then RDC connection to Sydney NS. Coach on the way up; we were wiser on the way back and managed to get a sleeper.

Probably my favorite trip was a 1985 company trip to Davenport IA to deal with a problem with one of our computer systems. I had flown out one way as I didn't know when I'd be returning. Once the problems were resolved I decided to treat myself and return on the Broadway. It didn't start out well - the flight I was on was canceled due to equipment issues but I was able to scramble and get the last seat to ORD on a competing airline. Got to Chicago in time to board a roomette in a Heritage 10-6 sleeper. Sipping a glass of wine as we raced through the Chicago suburbs. A glimpse of the doomed Amtrak commuter train at Valparaiso. At that time the Broadway was combined with the Capitol Limited as far as Pittsburgh and also had a dome in the consist, so had the unique experience riding the dome across Indiana. Dinner in the diner, nothing could be finer, then in the morning a nice breakfast with all the trimmings as we cruised through Western PA. The spectacular view of Horseshoe curve.

Not as many trips in later years, a few on the corridor such as 2 BOS - NYP on the Acela. A couple of years ago we went to Chicago on the Lake Shore Limited to visit my son who was out there at the time. First experience in the Viewliner, nice. Dining car wasn't what it used to be but OK. Attendant on the Boston sleeper was outstanding.
  by scratchyX1
I remember going to philly from BWI by metroliner when I was 13. We were able to stand at the backdoor, and watch the countryside woosh by.
Also an event in the 80s where there was a test trip of LRC from union station to landover and back. Anyone recall what that would have been?
  by FatNoah
I've got a few...
  • First "real" train trip from Plattsburgh to Montreal and back with my grandfather in the 80's
  • Acela trip back to Boston after getting engaged in NYC. Train was full with no seats together, but about 15 people offered seats for us to sit together.
  • Wine & Cheese with Gene Shallit on the Lake Shore Limited as we departed Chicago. He must have been a regular, because he greeted EVERY SINGLE Amtrak person by name, from the conductors to the baggage handlers in Albany when he detrained.
  • Unknowingly scheduling a trip from Orlando to Boston that arrived in DC on Obama's first inauguration day. Coach and cafe were basically a rolling party (in a good way) for the whole trip
  • Taking my son on his first big-boy train ride from BOS to PVD and back. He was soooo excited.
  by Greg Moore
I never ran into him on the LSL, but yes, many have commented over the years about meeting him o the LSL.
  by umtrr-author
I'll contribute: A family trip from NYC to Boston and back on the Turbotrain. Yes, that one! I was a young teen then. Once we found out it was possible to ride in the "dome" at the front of the train we spent the rest of the trip there. Nixon resigned the presidency the night before we headed back and Gerald Ford became President while we were in Rhode Island. We briefly detrained at Providence so that we could say we set foot in Rhode Island.
  by rohr turbo
I've had many great trips. Some that come to mind:

Talking my way into a cab ride on my beloved Turboliner as we exceeded 100 mph between ALB and SDY through a snowstorm, early 80s.

Football charter New Haven to Boston for The Game 1982. Gigantic milk crates full of Bloody Marys in the luggage racks insured we were all well-lubricated and singing our lungs out upon arrival.

CZ then Capitol Ltd from Pacific to Atlantic coasts, summer '83 . Three nights in coach, but I didn't care. Donner Pass, panoramic lightning storms crossing Nevada in new Sightseer Lounge, fresh trout onboarded in Colorado for the diner, midnight ride in a Heritage dome. A great trip.

Loaner ICE train Wash-NYP before boarding QE2 for my honeymoon.

Two vacations via Superliner family bedroom with our 4 kids : LA then Anaheim(Disney) and Whitefish (Yellowstone).
  by Gilbert B Norman
Volks, I got to ride all too many of the "Great Trains" such as the Super, Century, City of LA, Broadway, Panama, Merchants Limited during the '50's and '60's to have too many fond memories of "Amtrak @ 50". I guess I'm sort of like as was DPM on that point.

Nevertheless reiterating my earlier post; first ride; MILW (Amtrak) #7 Empire Builder CHI-MKE; A-day.

Most recent: #52 (26 JAN 20 - day Kobe Bryant was killed) SFA-LOR
  by matthewsaggie
First Amtrak trip was May of 1971. Amtrak was about 10 days old and I was traveling home from college in Texas (A&M) after exams. Boarded Texas Chief in Ft. Worth to Houston. Dinner in Hi-level diner was amazing. Arrived at the old Union Station in Houston (now a part of their baseball park) and found a nearby hotel. Next day took the Sunset to NOL. Full diner and lounge. Both these trains were standard ATSF and SP trains and the only indication that Amtrak even existed were white "Tracks are Back" buttons the conductors had on. Otherwise it could have been April 1971 for all you knew. In NOL stayed in a very cheap non-AC hotel above a bar on Canal Street. Bar was open till 3 AM and was loud so little sleep and NOL was the hottest place I had ever been and I was from Texas! (It's not the heat its the humidity as they like to say). Rode the Charles Street Line several times out to the end just for the breeze through the windows. NOL was a learning experience for this sheltered 18 year old. Beer flowed freely and I learned that pasties could spin in both directions at once, but I digress.

Have had dozens of great Amtrak trips since then, but this was the most memorable. Come to think about it, it could have been 50 years ago today. Don't remember the exact date.
  by John_Perkowski
My own memory is being an undergrad at UC Santa Barbara, hopping the Coast Starlight in Santa Barbara at Thanksgiving near, and getting off at LAUPT. The ex Santa Fe coaches had great seats, the home built SP domes were fantastic, and more than once I had dinner in the diner.

I remember one of the waiters telling me he was glad he could work for a railroad with good dining, he had been laid off from SP in the Automat era.
  by Gilbert B Norman
Colonel, this memory was pre-Amtrak and should have been included over here, but yours riding the Starlight SBA-LAX brought it back.

I can recall October 1968, driving from Hill AFB to Evanston to have "Dinner in the Diner" aboard #103 City of LA. Imagine sitting in the Dome having a steak Amtrak never knew and a Pinot Noir vintnered exclusively for UP through Weber Canyon at dusk, then riding #6 back from Ogden to Evanston and thence the drive back to the barracks.

Stateside R&R I call it.

And finally, all paid for using my Rail Travel Card.
  by jonnhrr
Just thought of another one. My boys' first trip on Amtrak. We were living in the Philadelphia area at the time. Rode from Ardmore out to Lancaster on the Keystone service, then turned around and rode back on the "Big Apple" a Harrisburg to New York train that was at the time the only train on the Harrisburg line that ran with an electric, an AEM-7. They are now in their thirties but they still remember that trip.

  by Aerie
This is kind of a silly one. I remember that one of the first national system timetables had a great error in it. In addition to the normal way trains are listed, showing all the stops and times in a column, this timetable had a "quick reference" section showing selected city to city times. For example, all New York to Philadelphia trains would be listed with just the departure and arrival times for those two cities, and not the routing or intermediate stops. The error was in the listing for Los Angeles to San Diego. In the early days, Amtrak only operated 2 or 3 through trains daily on this route, but the timetable in question also listed a connection....via....Kansas City!
  by Gilbert B Norman
Mr. Aerie as I recall. that was the Nov 14-71 - the first "Amtrak identity" where Amtrak-era routes such as MKE-STL were inaugurated.

Now that Amtrak has discontinued printed timetables, at least the "details" tab shows the intermediate stops the train makes. This was "copycatted" from what European railways do.

Now back to MKE-STL; seems as though GM&O engine crews thought to handle their train from Track 19 to 28 (run through tracks) felt they were entitled to a Day's Pay for that additional 500 yds. Since it wasn't on my road, I have no idea how those claims were adjudicated - hopefully the trash barrel.

What I do know is that no MILW Engine Crew tried same nonsense. No doubt, it X'd someone's mind, but hopefully a Local Chairman "got wind" and "nipped it".
  by ExCon90
On that point, were the GM&O crews required to qualify on the additional footage? :wink:
  by Gilbert B Norman
CUS Rules; PRR signaling - can't speak for today.

Safe to say they were qualified to handle the train. Just some stunt some of the boys dreamed up at a Bar. Not my road, so I have no idea how far they were progressed up the appellate chain. Hopefully no further than the Time Revisor's desk.