Amtrak's 1993 Sunset Limited Route Guide
*SAN ANTONIO*HOUSTON*NEW ORLEANS*MOBILE
You're traveling on board Amtrak's Southern
Transcontinental Superliner train-the Sunset Limited. On this
premier coast-to-coast route,you'll be traveling between Los Angeles
and Miami,through the great cities of the American South-Jacksonville,Mobile,New
Orleans-and the Southwestern cities of Houston, San Antonio, El
Paso, Tucson, and Phoenix. While on board, you'll be experiencing
the utmost in train travel,along with some of the country's most
famous and infamous sights: Supersation Mountains,site of the
legendary Lost Dutchman Mine;Langtry,headquarters of "Judge"
FUN STARTS HERE!
Bean; the Rio Grande Valley; Indian strongholds,ruins and reservations;
rock formations and mountain ranges; Texas oil fields and blue
bayous-and the mighty Mississippi. You'll pass Biloxi's commercial
fishing fleet, Mobile's large harbor and the many small resorts
along America's Rivera-the Gulf Coast. Amtrak and your crew are
proud to host you on board. We'll do everything we can do to ensure
you enjoy your trip. If you have any questions please don't hesitate
to ask your Attendant or On-Board Service Chief.
The Sunset Limited features on-board
activities the whole family will enjoy. Listen for announcements
of the specific time and location of activities,and most of all-have
MOVIES in the "See Level" Lounge Car,including
features for children during summer months,will be shown.
HOSPITALITY HOUR. Join
fellow passengers in the Lounge Car for drinks and Complimentary
snacks,and don't forget to ask about regional specialties.
GAMES are usually conducted in the Dining Car. Small
prizes will be awarded. Listen for announcements for time and
LOS ANGELES Pueblo de Nuestra Senora de la Reina de Los
Angeles,now known simply as Los Angeles,was founded 12 years after
Fr.Junipero Serra set out in 1769 to establish a chain of missions
stretching up the coast of California.
The Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal sits astride the route
connecting the missions-El Camino Real,the "Royal Road."
The station is a fitting blend of Spanish and Art Deco styles-reflecting
both Los Angeles' earliest heritage
and the modernistic tradition that helped transform the area into
the megopolis we see today. Across from the station is Olvera
Street,a colorful historic district that marks the site of the
original village on the Los Angeles River.
As we leave the station we cross the Los Angeles River.
CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITY
AT LOS ANGELES(10 MIN./34 MIN.) Visible
on the left. Next, our train travels up the center strip of the
San Bernardino Freeway (Interstate 10).
EL MONTE (20 MIN./23MIN.) Leaving the freeway at Temple City,we cross
the Rio Hondo (also concrete-lined) and we pass El Monte Airport
on the left. El Monte is named for Mount Wilson,rising 5,700-ft.
high to the north. East of El Monte,
we cross the usually-dry San Gabriel River.
POMONA Named in 1875 for the Roman goddess of fruit,
the name is just as apt today, with the important agricultural
department at California State Polytechnic College to your left.
Pomona boasts two Amtrak stations. The Sunset Limited stops at
During the night, the train also stops
in INDIO. The train crosses the Colorado River just
west of YUMA at the border between California and Arizona.
Note: The time change occurs here during the winter. When east-bound
from October to April, set your watch ahead one hour before arriving.
When west-bound, set your watch back one hour as you depart. Depending
on what time of year you are traveling, there may also be a time
change during the night. Arizona is in the Mountain time zone,
but does not observe daylight savings time. The rest of the year
it is on the same time. November through March, Arizona is one
hour ahead of California time. The rest of the year it is on the
same time as California.
The train follows the Gila River which
forms the northern boundary of the Gadsden Purchase in a nearly-straight
path across the Sanoran
HASSAYAMPA RIVER (2:16
Min./45 Min.) We cross the river
8 miles west of Buckeye. Legend claims anyone drinking it waters
will never tell the truth again.
PHOENIX The capital of Arizona,Phoenix was built on
the ruins of the ancient Hohokam Indian culture which thrived
here from B.C. until the 15th-century. The Hohokam tamed the desert
with sophisticated irrigation systems,the ruins of which
early white settlers uncovered and actually restored to use in
the 1860's. Fulfillment of these settlers' prophecy that the city
would rise like the legendary bird for which it is named came
in 1911 with the completion of the Roosevelt Dam
of the Salt River,75 miles to the north.
SKY HARBOR INTERNATIONAL
AIRPORT (10 MIN./4 MIN.) is on
TEMPE After we cross the Salt River,we pass through
the Arizona State University campus. The red roofed,carousel-like
building is the University's Music Hall,designed by Frank Lloyd
(10 Min./43 Min.) To the distant
left, you see the Superstition Mountains, the legendary site of
the Lost Dutchman Mine. There is where German prospector Jacob
Waltz worked a fabulous silver vein, never again located after
his death. (30
Min./15 Min.) Bi-planes, used
by "crop dusters," can be seen parked on the left. The
surrounding cotton fields are the source of famed "pima"
COOLIDGE We cross the GILA RIVER here. To the right,
on the GILA INDIAN RESERVATION,is the Casa Grande Ruins National
Monument, the remains of a 4-story Hohokam Indian communal dwelling
over 600 years old.
PICACHO PEAK STAT
PARK SAGUARO FOREST (10 Min./35 Min.) Visible
on the right, the forest is home to monumental cacti as tall as
40-ft. Arizona's state flower, the saguaro's roots can store up
to 2,000 gallons of water. Other cactus species that can be seen
along our route include the barrel cactus, the slender-branched
ocotillo, the tree-like cholla and the sword-leafed yucca.
PICACHO PASS (10 MIN./35
MIN.) The Picacho Mountains are
on our left. 3,382-ft. Picacho Peak is on the right. This area
was the scene of the only Union-Confederate battle fought in Arizona.
PIMA AIR PARK (32
MIN./29 MIN.) In the distance
on the right. Here,used jetliners are refurbished for resale.
To the left are the Little Owl Head Mountains. Ahead on the left
are the Tortolita Mountains.
TUCSON Founded in 1776 as a Spanish supply station
for nearby Mission San Xavier del Bac. Today, Tucson is a city
of over 300,000,the second-largest in Arizona. It is built on
the banks of the Santa Cruz River,subterranean except in the rainy
season. Tucson is located in a broad valley,surrounded by mountains;the
Santa Catalinas on the north,the Rincons on the east,Santa Ritas
on the south and the Tucsons on the west. As we leave the station,the
stadium of the University of Arizona
is on the left.
DAVIS MONTHAN AIR
FORCE BASE 912 Min./1:10 Min.) Along
the eastern edge of the base is a vast aircraft "boneyard"
where the dry desert climate helps preserve hundreds of military
planes, such as B-52 bombers, in storage. Near the tracks, the
Pima Air Museum displays historic aircraft, from World War II
bombers to Constellation airlines. Between Tucson and Benson,
we traverse a series of arroyos (canyons) as we wind through the
Santa Rita, Empire, Rincon and Whetstone Mountains along the Pantano Wash.
VAIL (40 Min./ 45
Min.) East and west-bound trains
travel separate tracks in this area, crossing at the High Bridge.
Just east of the bridge is Durant Castle, a private home modeled
after a European castle. Beyond the saddle in the Rincon Mountains
on the left are the Colossal Caves (1:05 Min./15 Min.) To
the left is a strangely eclectic "town"-actually a string
of film sets used for shows like Little House on the Prairie and
Highway to Heaven.
BENSON A stop for the old Butterfield Stage as early
in 1860. When the railroad arrived in 1880, it became the shipping
point for the mines around Tombstone, 25 miles to the south, and
the site of the "Gunfight at OK Corral." The first explorer
of this region, in 1539, was the black Moroccan, Esteban, the
first non-native to set foot in what now the United States. Glimpsing
the sun gleaming on the straw roofs of distant Zuni pueblos, Esteban
mistakenly reported them to Coronado as cities of gold, setting
off Coronado's lengthy search for the "Seven Cities of Cibola,"
an expedition responsible for the Southwest. East of Benson, we
cross the San Pedro River.
DRAGOON (21 MIN./1:34
MIN.) The Dragoon Mountains,visible
on the right,were once the base for the Apache chief Cochise,who
led the Chiricahua band against the U.S. Cavalry in the Southwest
Indian Wars from 1861 to 1872,when Arizona lands were finally
granted to the Apache tribe.
WILCOX PLAYA (42
MIN./1:08 MIN.) East of Cochise,this
acient dry lakebed is the site of frequent mirages. In the Sulphur
Hills on the right is a distinctive rock formation called DOS
CABEZEAS (two heads) (25 MIN./58 MIN.) named for Cochise and his
ally, Indian Agent, Thomas Jeffords.
STATE LINE (1:30 MIN./25MIN.)
Set your watch forward if you are traveling eastward between April
and October (back one hour if traveling westward). We now pass
through the PELONCILLO MOUNTAINS, an important region for mining
copper, silver and gold.
COCHISE'S FACE (1:25
Min./20 Min.) Cochise Mountain,
tallest peak of the Chiricahua Mountains on the right, resembles
the Chef's silhouette looking upwards.
STEINS (1:30 Min./20
Min.) Site of the last great
battle between Cochise and the U.S. Calvary. Adobe ruins of a
Stop on the right. The stage
line ran 2,800 miles the one-way fare for the 55-day journey between
St. Louis and San Francisco was a then-astronomical $150.
LORDSBURG Nestled between the Burro Mountains and the
Pyramid Mountains to the south. Lordsburg is an important trade
center for southwest New Mexico.
(25 Min./ 25 Min.) Halfway between
Lordsburg and Deming, we cross the Divide at an elevation of 4,587
ft. the lowest railroad crossing of the Divide in the U.S. Waters
east of the Divide flow into the Atlantic, to its west, into the
DEMING is home to the world's only duck races, held
here each August. At the crest of the Cookes and Florida Mountain
Ranges, is the stop for the resort areas to the north around Silver
City. The Deming Luna Mimbres museum holds artifacts of the 1000
year old Mimbres Indian civilization and more recent relics of
the Old West. South of town is Rock Hound State Park, famed for
its rock formations.
(5 Min./1:15 Min.) These loom
close to the tracks on the right. Beyond them are the Three Sisters
Mountains. Cookes Peak 8,408-ft., can be seen on the left. Also,
look for Window Peak, a hole through a ridge in the Floridas at
7,300-ft. The barren lands between here and El Paso were visited
by Pancho Villa and his band in 1916, attacking the border town
EXTINCT VOLCANO (35
MIN./37MIN.) The flat-top mountain
close to the train on the right is an extinct volcano. Ancient
lava flows extend nearly to trackside. Rattlesnakes thrive here
on the warmth of the lava beds. North of this area was the site
of the infamous Lincoln County Wars, which culminated with the
killing of Billy the Kid by Pat Garrett at Mesilla.
RIO GRANDE VALLEY
(60 Min./15 Min.) To the left,
bordered by elegant homes and condominiums, the Santa Theresa
Golf Course was designed by Lee Trevino. This area is called the
Upper Valley, through which the Rio Grande River narrows before
becoming the border between Texas and Mexico on its way from Colorado
to the Gulf of Mexico.
(1:05 MIN./10 MIN.) In the mountains
across the valley, look for the red image of a Thunderbird, a
creature from Indian legend. Atop the mountain are three TV transmitters.
(1:10 MIN./10 MIN.) A white post,30
ft. from the tracks on the right,marks our closest approach to
RIO GRANDE RIVER (1:15
Min./11 Min.) As we cross the
river, we leave New Mexico, the "Land of Enchantment,"
and enter Texas, the "Lone Star State." To our right
the crucifixion-topped peak of SIERRA DE CRISTO REY marks the
meeting of Texas, New Mexico and Mexico. The 331/2-ft. statue,
which stands on a 9-ft. base atop the 4,576-ft. mountain, is also
called the "Christ of the Rockies." Each October, thousands
of pilgrims climb four miles to the summit in celebration of the
"Feast of Cristo Rey" (Christ the King).
(1:16 MIN./5 MIN.) The Southwestern Portland Cement Company is
now on our left, and on our right is the Asarco mineral refinery.
UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS
AT EL PASO (1:22 Min./ 3 Min.) On
the left, the University's "sun Bowl" stadium is carved
into the hill. On the right, above the palisades of the Rio Grande,
is Cuidad Juarez, in Mexico's Chihuahua State.
EL PASO Surrounded by the Franklin Mountains, El Paso
is named for the ancient pass created here by the Rio Grande,
"El Paso del Rio del Norte." The handsomely restored
railroad station was built in 1904-5. Designed by the Chicago
firm of Daniel H. Burnham, which also designed Washington's Union
Station, The El Paso station is listed in the National Registry
of Historic Places. From El Paso to Orange,the next 941 miles
will be spent in Texas. An old saw of Texas travelers goes"Sun
is set,here we are in Texas yet!" Leaving the station,the
sweeping shell on the right surronds the Civic Auditorium and
YSLETA (30 Min./2:55
Min.) Site of the oldest surviving
identifiable ethnic group in Texas, the Tigua Indians of Ysleta
del Sur Pueblo. The second-oldest continuously-used church in
the U.S. (1682) is also here.
FABENS (46 Min./2:44
Min.) A handsome mission-style
church is on the right. To the left is a cotton ginning and bundling
facility. just outside Fabens, the Mexican cemetery on the left
features colorful decorations on the graves. The Finlay Mountains
are on our left and Quitman Mountains are ahead.
SIERRA BLANCA (1:35
MIN./1:55 MIN.) Site of the only
adobe courthouse still in use in Texas. 6,970-ft. Sierra Blanca
Peak,to the northwest,appears lighter than the surrounding mountains
because of its soapstone content.
HOT WELLS (1:52 MIN./1:38
MIN.) Ruins of an old adobe school
are on the left. On the right, the EAGLE MOUNTAINS. Open-pit soapstone
mining is common in the area north of here.
NOTE: TIME ZONE CHANGE
(2:04 Min./1:26 Min.) Near Van
Horn (visible in the distance on our left) set your watch ahead
one hour (westbound, set watches back). We now join Highway 90,
which will be our companion for the next 24 hours.
VALENTINE (2:35 Min./55
Min.) Mt. Livermore rises 8,332
ft. on the left. To its left is Bear Mountain. A little farther
along, the twin domes of McDonald
Observatory, in the Davis Mountains,
are on the left. After the Civil War, a Black regiment of calvary
troops was stationed at nearby Ft. Davis to keep the peace among
the Apaches. (2:55
Min./35 Min.) The old wooden windmill on
the right was the location for filming the oil well scene in the
MARFA (3:05 MIN./25
MIN.) The Presido County Courthouse,built
of native stone in 1886,is the domed building on the left. Just
west of town on the right are adobe walls surrounding a former
camp for World War 2 German POW's.
MARFA GHOST LIGHTS
(3:10 Min./18 Min.) On the right
is the area of desert where unexplained sightings of mysterious
lights have been claimed almost continuously since 1938. Ahead
and to the right is Cathedral Mountain, 6,860-ft.
PAISANO PASS (3:15
MIN./15 MIN.) Paisano Pass,the
summit of our route through the Del Norte Mountains,at 5,074-ft.,is
the highest elevation reached by the Sunset Limited. Colorful
canyonlands mark our approach to Alpine.
ALPINE We pause briefly at this Spanish-style station.
Alpine is a popular stop for tourists heading to Big Bend National
Park 80 miles to the south. Mitre Peak, 6,100 feet, is to the
left. The large "SR" on the hill to our left marks Sul
Ross State University. East of town, the rodeo grounds are visible
on the left.
Between Alpine and Marathon (30 Min./1:10 Min.)
we pass between Altvda Mountain
(6,860 feet) on the left and Mount Ord (6,814 feet) on the right
as we travel through the Glass and Del Norte Mountains. Pronghorn
antelope and mule deer are both plentiful in this area. Watch
also for javalina (wild pigs) and long-eared jackrabbits.
WARWICK FLAT (35 Min./1:05
Min.) The great Comanche War Trail, which stretched 1,000 miles from Chihuahua to
upper Texas, crossed here.
HAYMOND (45 MIN./60
MIN.) A onetime cow camp, now
a ghost town of two buildings and a cemetery on the left. The
dramatic rock cuts are features of the Marathon Uplift, a geological
formation of paleolithic shale and limestone.
(1:35 Min./5 Min.)
An Apache Indian cave and cooking
mound are visible on the left. The large gravel barriers that
can be seen periodically on both sides of the tracks are for flood
control. This area is the western limit of viable sheep and goat
ranching in Texas, due to the abundance west of here of puma,
bobcats, coyote and eagles.
SANDERSON West of the station, the brick ruins of the
Sanderson Wool Commission reflect the area's long association
with sheep ranching. Early cattle and sheepmen, carousing in the
town's saloons, gave it a "wild and wooly" reputation.
DRYDEN (15 MIN./2:09
MIN.) Remanats can be seen of
a 6-ft. high,3-ft.thick wall built by the 33rd Infantry as protection
from Pancho Villa's marauders. Between 1919 and 1921, Dryden was
home of the 90th Aero Squadron which patrolled the Texas-Mexico
LANGTRY (1:10 Min./1:14
Min.) This was the headquarters
of the legendary "Judge" Roy Bean. A trader and saloon-keeper,
Bean also dispensed frontier justice as the self-styled "Law
West of the Pecos." Enamored of the famous actress Lily Langtry,
Bean changed the town's name from Vinegarone to Langtry in her
honor. On the eastern edge of town, gargoyle- like rock formations
protrude from the narrow walls of Eagle Rock Canyon (1:12 Min./1:11 Min.). Near here, 2 miles west of the Pecos River, the
last spike on the Southern Pacific's Sunset route was driven on
January 12, 1883, completing the second transcontinental railroad.
LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE
BASE is on our right. East of
Del Rio,we cross irrigated flatlands,then leave the Rio Grande
Valley to climb through the Anacacho Mountains.
SAN ANTONIO America's tenth largest city,San Antonio is known
as the "Mission City." Franciscan Missionaries built
their first mission here in 1718,eventually adding four others
that ring the city. The most famous of these is San Antonio de
Valero, more widely known as the Alamo. The station's mission-style
exterior echoes the Alamo's distinctive silhouette while its interior
boasts a gilt and polychromed barrel-vault ceiling and broad black
marble staircase. San Antonio's Spanish/Mexican heritage is evident
everywhere,most charming lay along the Peseo del Rio,the beautifully
restored,arcade-lined walk beside the San Antonio River. Nearby
La Villita is the oldest,most thoroughly Spanish part of city,while
the King William district preserves the 19th century Victorian
homes of prosperous German settlers. Prominent on the downtown
sky line is the 750-ft. Tower of the Americans, built for the
1968 HemisFair. Here through cars transfer between the Sunset
Limited Amtrak's Texas Eagle to and from Dallas, St. Louis and
ROSENBURG AND RICHMOND
(3:50 MIN./1:05 MIN.) These twin
towns were notorious centers for gambling and vice in the 20s
and 30s. A historic log building and the old red brick courthouse
are on the left. WE cross the BRAZOS RIVER just east of Richmond.
HOUSTON We arrive at the small modern Washington Street
Station,near Buffalo Bayou,headwaters of the 50-mile ship channel
connecting Houston with the Gulf port of Galveston. To our right,the
modern glass towers of downtown include the nearly-touching, twin
chisel-shaped black towers of the Pennzoil Building and the brown,many-spired
Allied Bank Building. A branch of the Texas Eagle also serves
Houston providing Superliner service to Dallas, St. Louis and
SAN JACINTO RIVER
(35 MIN./1:05 MIN.) A few miles
south of our crossing is the San Jacinto Battleground Historic
Park,dominated by the 570-ft. San Jacinto Monument,visible in
the distance on the right. Texas was an independent republic for
10 years following Santa Ana's defeat here,joining the U.S. in
TRINITY RIVER (50
MIN./50 MIN.) We cross the river
just before Liberty.
ORANGE (40 MIN./40
MIN.) We cross the Sabine River
between TEXAS AND LOUISIANA. Cypress swamps dominate the scenery,and
alligators can sometimes be seen out sunning themselves.
RAYNE (59 MIN./14
MIN.) "Frog Capital of the
World," Rayne is the site of frog jumpimg contests at their
annual Frog Festival.
ATCHFALAYA RIVER (51
MIN./33 MIN.) Rimmed by dikes
on both sides,the river is 200-ft. deep at this crossing.
MORGAN CITY (51 MIN./30
MIN.) Named for Charles Morgan,
who built this portion of the railroad,then called Morgan's Louisiana
and Texas Railroad and Steamship Company.
(35 MIN./30 MIN.) As we come
alongside the levees,vast grain-loading facilities are visible
all along the river's banks.
THE SUPERDOME (1:35
MIN./1 MIN.) On our left outside
the station,the Superdome,large enough to hold four Astrodomes,is
home of the New Orleans Saints and frequent host of Super Bowl
NEW ORLEANS A thriving gulf and river port,New Orleans preserves
the flavor of the Old South,with a distinctly French accent. It
is famed for its filagee wrought iron balconies Vieux Carre (French
Quarter) festival Mardi Gras celebrations that herald the beginning
of Lent. New Orleans is not only known as a festival city in itself,but
as the gateway to America's Rivera-the Gulf Coast. This coastal
area is a potpourri of Spanish and French,Cajun and Creole, Jazz
and Dixieland. It is rich varied ethnic origins and cultural diversity,and
is noted for tasty gumbos,magnificent old plantations,paddlewheel
steamboats,and plentiful fields of cotton and sugar cane.The Sunset
Limited stops in the modern Union Passengers Terminal. Upon leaving
the station,the Superdome can once again be seen on the right.
You'll also see the Rosedale Cemetery with its above-ground tombs,a
phenomena unique to New Orleans because of its high water table.
Next you'll notice a NASA space center to your right,followed
a couple miles later by Lake Borgne. For the next 20 minutes,
you'll traverse the Honey Island Swamp which is filled with 'gators,wild
boar and other native creatures. You'll catch your last glimpse
of the New Orleans skyline to the right. About 10 minutes into
the swamp,there's a red green and yellow tiled walkway to your
right.Keep a watch for it if you're traveling westward-it leads
to an old gambling house that was a favorite haunt of Louisiana
politicians. You also want to keep an eye out for alligators sunning
themselves on logs. The large body of water to the left is Lake
Catherine,and Lake Pontchartrain can be seen beyond it.
BAY ST. LOUIS Bay St. Louis offers a view of the beautiful
bay from the only bluff on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, where seagulls,
pelicans and the great blue heron can be seen feeding on the bay's
bounty. Bay St. Louis provides plenty of outdoor recreational
activities including camping at nearby Buccaneer State Park.
Old Town Bay St. Louis is an antique
center and art colony, where fine antiques, indoor flea markets,
book galleries, and unique gift shops abound on historic Main
Street. When traveling this area during daylight hours, take special
notice of the lovely magnolias, bald cypresses, azaleas and live
oaks found in Bay St. Louis. The live oaks, in particular, are
majestic trees that grow up to 50 feet tall. The heaviest of all
oaks, these trees were once used for ship building. In fact, famous
Live Oak vessels include the Constitution, nicknamed "Old
Ironside" due to the strength of its live oak construction.
Leaving here, the train crosses over St. Louis Bay. US 90 is to
the left, and the Gulf of Mexico is to the right.
PASS CHRISTIAN (10
MIN./17 MIN.) Affectionately
known as the "Pass," Pass Christian dates its history
back to 1699, and is the site of the oldest Yacht Club in the
GULFPORT Gulfport is Mississippi's largest seaport and
is the center point of her beaches, located halfway between New
Orleans and Mobile. Gulfport is the home of the Marine Life Oceanarium.
The premier sailing waters are protected
by a ring of outer islands, including Ship Islands. At the northwest
end of this island lies only natural deep-water harbor along the
entire length of the Mississippi Sound. Fort Massachusetts, one
of the last masonry coastal fortifications to be built in the
US, now stands here.
Ship Island is part of the Gulf Islands
National Seashore, a park that stretches over 150 miles east to
Santa Rosa Island of Florida. The park encompasses a variety of
habitats from fresh water marshes to ocean beaches, with attractions
ranging from an experimental tree farm begun John Quincy Adams,
to arms of the sea where saltwater and freshwater mingle. This
commingling of water has created some of the richest fishing grounds
in the world, because both shellfish and fin fish thrive in the
The park is the gateway to the Barrier
Islands, whose brilliant white stand beaches are famous worldwide.
Barrier Islands are special places which appear permanent, but
are, in fact, continually changing and moving west parallel to
the mainland. These islands are now home to a variety of birds
that came close to extinction, including the Brown Pelican. In
fact, it was the dredging of channels in and around these islands
that set the stage for the 1993 nationwide best-selling novel,
"The Pelican Brief" by John Grisham.
BILOXI On the way to Biloxi is Beauvoir, the last home
of Confederate President Jefferson Davis. Not too far away is
the Old Biloxi Lighthouse, a 65 foot-tall cast-iron structure
which was built in 1848 and painted black after the assassination
of Abraham Lincoln. It is the the only lighthouse in the U.S.
that stands in the middle of a four-lane hgihway. In Biloxi, you'll
pass many shrimp boats, the mainstay of this port's commercial
fishing fleet. In fact, you would see some shrimp factories to
your right were it light.
On the way into town, you would see
the home of barq's root beer-a famous southern brand originally
bottled in Biloxi. Keesler Air Force Base is also located here,
one of the largest technical training centers in the country.
It boarders the track on the left. Leaving Biloxi, you'll come
to Biloxi Bay. To your right, in the distance, is Deer Island.
Also to your right is a white building that houses the J.L. Scott
Marine Education Center and Aquarium, Mississippi's largest public
aquarium. Its centerpiece is a 42,000-gallon Gulf of Mexico tank.
Thanks to Biloxi's prximity to Ship
Island, it was once the capital of Louisiana. In 1722, the capital
was moved to New Orleans. About a year before this happened, France
wanted to solidly establish Biloxi and so sent marriageable women
to the colony. These girls were called, "femmes de casquette"
because they carried chests with a trousseau.
Lastly, you would see the old train
station, also to the right. We can't leave Biloxi without a note
about Mardi Gras. In 1908, the first official queen was crowned,
"Queen Ixolib," Biloxi spelled backward!
OCEAN SPRINGS (4 MIN./19
MIN.) If it were light, you would
see a white gazebo to your right. This marks Ocean Springs which
was, for a short time, the capital of Louisiana. The Indians called
this area "E-ca-ma-cha-ha," which means the "Holy
Ground." It was here that they came from miles around to
drink the water of the grest Spirit. In the 1800s, the white man
rediscovered these healing waters and made the area famous.
PASCAGOULA Welcome to the most industrial town in Mississippi.
On the way in, you'll cross the Pascagoula River Swamp, one of
the most fertile bird watching areas in the state. Were it light,
you would see the treeline of Petit Bois off to the right in the
distance. Locals call this island "Petty Boy" Next,
you'll come to the Singing River about which several legends have
been told. One recounts the story of Pascaqoula Indian Princess
Anola and her lover, a Biloxi brave, who could not marry because
they were from different tribes. They decided to commit suicide
together and walked into the river singing. Another tale tells
of a mass suicide by a Pascaqoula tribe who knew they were about
to be massacred by the Biloxi Indians. They all chose to hold
hands and sing as they walked into the river to drown. Actually,
scientific studies have been undertaken to find out why the river
"sings." One theory is that the movement of schools
of fish in the river cause a sound like singing. Today, locals
only "hear" the singing upriver because of the heavy
industry in the area. Not only does the river here sing, but two
UFO sightings have been reported in Pascagoula. In 1874, residents
reported a "singular and awe in-spring" light headed
out towards Horn Island. More recently, in 1973, two fisherman
claimed they were taken aboard a UFO and later released! As you
cross this river, you'll see NOAA research facilities on the East
and West banks. To the right is Ingles Shipyard, the largest employer
in the state.
MOBILE Mobile is an old world city, founded by the French
in 1704. entering Mobile, the Mobile International Speedway is
to the right. As you pull into the station, you will see the partially
rebuilt French Fort Conde which was once headquarters for the
entire Louisianna Territory. At the north end of the station,
you'll see the new Mobile Convention Center. Mobile bay is just
to your right-its port is one of the ten largest in the world.
It is the home port of the WWII Battleship USS Albama, saved from
the scrap yard by Albama school children, and is now a national
memorial to all those who fought for our country. Mobile Bay was
also the sight of the fiercest naval battle that Union naval officer
David Farragut issued his classic command, "Damn the Torpedoes.
Full steam ahead!" Congress created the rank of full admiral
for him in 1866.
Amid the modern city and indutrial activity,
you'll find placid Creole and Victorian mansions resorted to past
magnificence. Always a fun loving and gracious people, Mobilians
were the first to celebrate Mardi gras in America. A short distance
from the city are the Bellingrath Gardens and Home-more than women
and children lived at Ft. Pickens with Geronimo. Today, these
forts are part of the Gulf Islands national Seashore Park.
In the early 1870s, development of the
waterfront began in earnest. the harbor was filled with steamboats
and square-riggers from ports all around the world. Vessels discharged
their ballast here, which was hauled and dumped along the shore,
creating 60 acres of land in a few years. Thus, the shoreline
is made up of red granite from Sweden, blue stone from Italy,
broken tile from France, and dredging from the River Thames and
the Scheldes of the Netherlands!.
History can be found at the National
Museum of naval Aviation, where the largest collection of military
aircraft and memorabila is displayed. The history of avaiation
is traced out on a full-scale timeline from 1911 to the Space
Age, and the newly completed west wing features a seven-story
atrium where four Blue Angel Skyhawks soar in permanent diamond
formation. Were it light, you would see the Grand Pensacola train
station. Leaving town, you'll catch many glimpses of Escambia
Bay to your right, which part of the greater Pensacola Bay.
CRESTVIEW boasts a diverse community of people who love
the area and its way of life. The Eglin Air Force Base here is
the largest in the free world, encompassing over 724 square miles.
Crestview is located along a section of the "Old Spanish
Trail", a historical trade route from El Paso, Texas, to
Jacksonville, Florida. Crestview is the gateway to Fort Walton
Beach and Destin, located on the Gulf.
DE FUNIAK SPRINGS
(15 MIN./17 MIN.) Magnolia trees
and azalea bushes enhance the deep south charm of De Funiak Springs,
known for its resorted Victorian homes. In the 17th century, this
area was a reowned resort because of its natural springs.
CHIPLEY As you come into Chipley, you'll see the Washington
County Agricultural center to your right, a low white building
with a red roof. Chipley is another town along the Sunset Limited's
route with a history righ in railroad lore. Founded in 1882, Chipley's
development began with the construction of the Louisville &
Nashville Railroad, completed between Tallahassee and Pensacola
in 1883 . The railroads provided a transportation link for the
cotton industry that fueled the economy of this small town. Originally
called Orange, the town became one of the largest naval store
centers in the south. The name of the town was changed to Chipley
in honor of the man who stood at the helm of the historic railway
project -Col. William D. Chipley. Just south are the Panama City
beaches. Leaving Chipley, you'll pass many small towns, and one
hour further than Chipley is where the time changes from Central
to Eastern time.
TALLAHASSEE Florida with a southern accent-that's the capital
city of Tallahassee. This place in the Sunshine State is one of
alligators, azaleas, arrowheads, mastodons, missions, magnolias,
pow-wows, plantations, politics and great pride among Floridians.
Tallahassee touts one of the world's
deepest fresh water springs, Wakulla Springs, where alligators
can be found lazing in the midday sun beneath the branches of
twisted cypress. Many exciting underwwater scenes for the "Tarzan"
movies were filmed here with Johnny Weissmuller and Maureen O'Sullivan.
Outdoor enthusiasts enjoy the adventures of local wildlife areas
including Falling Waters State Park, located southwest of Tallahassee.
Here, vistors can wander through wooded trials past deep caverns
where Indians once settled; camp the pioneer life in canopied
forests; swim in a cool, clear lake; and witness the park's mysterious
waterfall which is said to flow into a bottomless crevasse.
Nearer to Atlanata than to Miami, Tallahassee
more closely resembles its Southern neighbors than it does the
rest of Florida. As you pass through, you'll see Florida State
University's Doak Campbell Stadium to your left in the distance.
At the station, you can see Florida A&M University in top
of a hill to your left. The station itself was a former freight
depot, and is one of the state's oldest surviving stations. Leaving
Tallahassee, the old Florida Capitol Building can be seen from
an overpass above US Highway 27, and a few miles later, cypress
swamps encompass the train. Next, it emerges in the rural community
of Chaires, and farmlands and woodlands dominate the view.
MADISON The city of Madison was founded on May 2, 1838.
In 1874, the Florida Manufaturing Company was founded, and ginned
as many as ten thoudand bales of Sea Island Long Staple Cotton
in one year. A single warehouse is the only remaining building
of the world's largest along staple cotton precessing complex.
In the heart of downtown Madison is the Four Freedoms Park, a
beautifully landscaped city block. It contains a Confederate monument
symbolizing the ideals of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's -
freedom of speech and expression, freedom of worship, freedom
from want, and from fear everywhere in the world.
LAKE CITY Once named Alligator after a Seminole Indian
Chief, Lake City is the hometown of Pat Summerall of football
fame. It is also home of the Florida Sports Hall of Fame. The
Stephen Foster Center on the banks of the famous Suwannee River
and the Suwannee Valley Zoo are located here as well.
You'll see the Suwannee State Park on
both sides of the tracks.
JACKSONVILLE As the "Gateway to Florida" and home
of the Gator Bowl, Jacksonville is the second largest city in
the U.S. geographically. It is also the final stop for the Palmetto
service. The ST.
JOHN'S RIVER (15 MIN./51 MIN.)
is unique because it is one of a few in the world that flows "up,"
from south to north. Jacksonville Naval Air Station is on the
left side. Ahead is the Armed Forces Reserve Center and the Naval
Supply Center. To the south, the train passes Doctor's Inlet and
Black Creek. The Miami sections of the Silver Star and Silver
Meteor uncouple or join here.
GREEN COVE SPRINGS
(38 MIN./27 MIN.) This was once
the spa that former president Grover Cleveland and J.C. Penney
visited often. Following is the SEMINOLE POWER PLANT (55 MIN./10 MIN.) a coal-fired generating facility requiring over
90 coal cars per day to keep it going. The tall hourglass shaped
towers are cooling towers. We cross the St. John's River once
again at Buffalo Bluff.
PALATKA An Indian named meaning "forbidding place,"
this is the closest station to St. Augustine, the oldest European
settlement in the US.
PIERSON (37 MIN./16
MIN.) The "Fern Capital
of the World," grows much of the nations commercial crop.
The special black tents you see protect the plants from frost-bite
DELEOAN SPRINGS (46
MIN./7 MIN.) Named for Florida's
first tourist, Juan Ponce de Leon. Legend says he did find the
fountain of youth and now lives comfortably in Spain.
DELAND The Clyde Beatty Cole Cros. Circus headquarters
is across from the station. DeLand is the home of Stetson University,
Florida's oldest University, named for the famous hat maker. It
is also headquarters of Nautilus Fitness Equipment, as well as
the nearest stop for Daytona Beach.
ST. JOHN'S RIVER (9
MIN./8 MIN.) Again, to the right,
connects Lake Monroe and Lake George.
SANFORD Host of the "Golden Age Games" each
year. It's also the southern terminus for Amtrak's Auto Train
service on the left. Here the St. John's River Broadens and becomes
WINTER PARK The birthplace of the Temple Orange was described
by former president Chester Arthur as "the prettiest place
I have seen in Florida." Left of the station is the Winter
Park Commons, nestled between the tracks and colorful boutiques
of Park Avenue. Hundreds gather in the park every spring for the
annual Winter Park Arts Festival, the oldest and largest outdoor
art show in the country.
ORLANDO The station stop for Walt Disney World. The refurbished
Pullman cars are part of Church Street Station, shops dedicated
to high-spirited good times. Orlando City Hall and the CNA Building
attest to the city's growth. The circus trains and trailers on
the left side of the train belong to the JAMES E.STATES SHOWS (4 MIN./27 MIN.).
KISSIMMEE On the left side is the Chamber of Commerce
building. The colorful plaques in front are the insignias of each
of the continental states. Further down the tracks is Lake Tohopekaliga.
Look for lush orange groves on both sides from here to Aurburndale.
CAMPBELL (9 MIN./50
MIN.) A visit here might be called
an electrifying experience. The town is notorious for the highest
incidence of lightning strikes anywhere in the world.
AURBURNDALE (23 MIN./6
MIN.) Underneath the Minute Maid
tower, the giant Coca-Cola subsidiary "juices" over
100,000 crates of oranges every working day. The Adams Citrus
Growers Company is one of the few private citrus companies left
in the United States. This industrial neighborhood is shared with
WINTER HAVEN The Bordo Citrus Products Cooperative is across
from the station.
WEST LAKE WALES (13
MIN./35 MIN.) Two miles east,
the white obelisk is the landmark for Bok Tower Gardens. The bell
tower houses one of the most famous carillons in the world. The
highest point in the state, this structure contains 53 bells weighing
as little as 17 pounds and as much as 12 tons.
FROSTPROOF (25 MIN./23
MIN.) There are still plenty
of groves here, despite the fact that the city lost its reputation
when freezing destroyed millions of oranges in the winter of 1983.
That year, the "frostproof" line moved farther south.
Stacks of beehives (white boxes) Interspersed between orange groves
are for pollination as well as making honey.
SEBRING The home of the International Grand Prix Racing
Championship, note the race track to the left. Beef is one of
Florida's principal agricultural products, and Sebring is one
the largest cattle producers in the state. LAKE ISTOKPOGA (8 MIN./34 MIN.) peeks through the trees. Orchards and windmills
dot the area around the Kissimmee River.
OKEECHOBEE The dikes to the west border LAKE OKEECHOBEE (8 MIN./59 MIN.). Installed by the Corps of Engineers, the barriers
have protected the town from floods since 1919, after the shallow
lake washed ashore during a hurricane. Rains here give way to
some beautiful rainbows. Okeechobee is in the heart of Florida's
cattle country. FLORIDA
STEEL CORPORATION (32 MIN./35 MIN.)
is on the right.
INDIANTOWN (35 MIN./32
MIN.) Sugar cane is grown a few
miles away. The St. Lucie Canal, which pours into Lake Okeechobee,
is seen on both sides.
UNITED (44 MIN./23
MIN.) The airfield to the right
belongs to the Pratt and Whitney plant located here. Jack Nicklaus,
architect of the local golf course, makes his home in nearby Palm
WEST PALM BEACH The twin towers to the left symbolize the affluence
of Florida's "Gold Coast." Prices can exceed the $1
million mark. The nearby Flagler Museum is the white marble estate,
once the home of the late railroad and oil magnate Henry Morrison
Flagler. West Palm Beach is also where the Atlanta Braves and
Montreal Expos train in the spring. Between here and our final
destination, there are a large number of draw bridges and canals.
DELRAY BEACH The Florida State Tennis Championships are held
here. About three minutes to the south is Boca Raton, where IBM
builds personal computers.
DEERFIELD BEACH At the nearby Pompano Beach Race Track, harness
racers and quarter horses work out on the outdoor track.
FT.LAUDERDALE One of the cities of the Florida "Gold
Coast," known as the "Venice of America." It's
also "where the boys are" during spring break. Nearby
Port Everglades is home port for several of the luxury liners
making up the Florida cruise ship fleet.
HOLLYWOOD The brightly painted water tower is in the heart
of the city. THE
OPA-LOCKA FLEA MARKET (16 MIN./ 15 MIN.)
and HIALEAH RACE
TRACK (21 MIN./10 MIN.) are open
daily to greet patrons.
MIAMI The state's
best known city and the busiest cruise ship port in the world.
Miami has more than 1.8 million residents and 13 million annual
visitors. In "Little Havana" shop signs proclaim "English
Spoken Here." A former refugee colony, 500,000 Cubans now
live or work here each day.
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