• Trips on Amtrak's "Texas Eagle"

  • Tell us where you were and what you saw!
Tell us where you were and what you saw!

Moderator: David Benton

  by fauxcelt
I would like to share two experiences I had riding on the Texas Eagle between Little Rock, Arkansas and San Antonio, Texas during the 1980's.
In 1983 or 1984, I rode the Texas Eagle from Little Rock, Arkansas to San Antonio, Texas to visit with my family. When the train stopped at Fort Worth, Texas for fifteen minutes for refueling and a crew change, it was two hours behind schedule. So I got off the train and found a pay telephone (remember those?) to make a collect call to my father. Since he was supposed to meet the train when it arrived in San Antonio, I needed to warn him that the train was two hours behind schedule. However, when the train arrived in San Antonio, it was only one hour late instead of two. Which meant that my father wasn't at the station when the train arrived and I had to call him to tell him that the train had arrived earlier than expected. I guess the engineer made up that hour somewhere in central Texas between Fort Worth and Austin. I remember standing in the back of the train for a while after the train left Fort Worth and thinking that the train seemed to be going really, really fast. Yes, the train was already behind schedule when it arrived in Little Rock early that morning.

During a similar trip two or three years later, I had a surreal experience somewhere in central Texas between Fort Worth and Austin because they were replacing the ties. The old ties which had been removed were still sitting in several piles on either side of the tracks and the train was going slow through the construction zone. Since it was winter and the days were short, it was already getting dark when the train started through the construction zone. Somehow or for some reason, the old ties which were still piled on either side of the tracks had started burning. I don't know whether or not the fires were accidental or deliberately set to dispose of the old ties but it was surreal to be riding this train which was moving so slowly in the dark with mysterious fires on either side of it.
I thought the railroads disposed of used ties with some method other than burning them alongside the tracks.
  by David Benton
Thanks for the report . I imagine burning the ties would save abit of work but not be enviromentally acceptable . Probably more likely that vandals had set fire to them .
I never got to ride the texas Eagle , though i did stay inSan Antonio , and rode the sunset onweards to New Orleans .
I think just aboout every long distance train has at least an hour padding before the final destination , and that caught me out a few times too .
  by fauxcelt
You're welcome--and so is anyone else who might enjoy reading my report.
It was never explained to the passengers on this particular train why the ties were burning and I didn't think diesel engines (unlike steam engines) were likely to throw off enough sparks to set the old, worn-out ties on fire.
As for what is environmentally acceptable and environmentally unacceptable in Texas, there are times when it seems to me as if Texas is a special case different from our other states. You have to remember that Texas is the only one of the United States which was an independent country for ten years before it voted to join the U.S. At the time, it may have been legal for the railroad to burn the old ties on the spot instead of hauling them away. If I remember correctly, the train was running on the Missouri Pacific tracks at this place.
  by fauxcelt
It was still surreal to be riding this train which was moving so slowly between these mysterious fires while I was in the dining car trying to eat supper.
  by David Benton
I know what you mean , you kinda get that feeling on a train sometimes , like your watching the world glide by but are abit removed from it .almost like watching a movie . .
  by fauxcelt
In September 1982, I was riding on the Texas Eagle from Chicago, Illinois to Little Rock, Arkansas. There was a definite difference in the roughness and/or smoothness of the ride before and after the train arrived at and left St. Louis, Missouri.
I don't remember whose tracks the train used from Chicago to St. Louis but I do remember that the ride was so rough that it was difficult to pour a drink into a glass. I had bought a small bottle of wine in the snack car and taken it back to my seat. I folded the tray down from the seat in front of me and tried to pour the wine into the plastic cup which they gave me for drinking the wine. I should have drank the wine straight out of the bottle instead of trying to pour it into the plastic cup. The ride was so rough that more wine ended up on the tray instead of in the cup.
However, after the train left the station in St. Louis and was running on Missouri Pacific tracks, there was a definite difference. MOPAC had recently installed welded rail and brand new ties. The ride was so smooth that I fell asleep easily despite the fact that I was in a coach seat.
I have ridden Amtrak trains and local commuter trains several times and this ride from Chicago to St. Louis was the roughest and most uncomfortable.