Amtrak Southwest Chief Route Guide - This is the older Amtrak Southwest Chief Route Guide which has a lot more details about the sights along the route than the newer version that is currently given out onboard. Follow the trail of pioneers to scenic wonders and fun!
The following uses RAILsearch.com to search just rail related websites:
This is the older Amtrak Southwest Chief Route Guide which has a lot more
details about the sights along the route than the newer version that is
currently given out onboard. Follow the trail of pioneers to scenic
wonders and fun!
Chicago * Kansas City *Albuquerque
Flagstaff * Los Angeles
The Southwest Chief follows a route ages older than railroading.
First the earliest Indians discovered its twists, turns,
and passes, then Spanish conquistadors and fur trappers.
By the time it was officially called the Santa Fe Trail, caravans
of pack mules and wagon teams, prairie schooners and
stagecoaches were lumbering over it daily, carting people and
goods between the Missouri River and the Rockies. California's
GoldRush brought thousands more westward and the Santa Fe Trail
extended all the way to the Coast.
The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway ultimately
became the iron link between the Midwest and Los Angeles.
And today, following the same track, Amtrak's Southwest Chief
crosses eight states and 2,245 miles.
This guide is written from west to east, noting how many
minutes past the previous Amtrak station you can expect to see
a particular sight and whether you should look right or left. The
first time reference tells you how far that point is from the next
Amtrak station to the west, and the second time, how far it is to
the next Amtrak stop to the east. If you're traveling westward,
just begin at Chicago or your point of origin and read the entries
in reverse order. Remember to look left when we've indicated
to look right, and right when we've indicated to look left.
Note that all AMTRAK STATIONS are indicated in capital
letters to set them apart from towns and regions through which
the Southwest Chief travels but makes no stop. Use this guide
along with an Amtrak timetable to determine station times. All
times in this guide are approximate.
You're traveling on-board Amtrak's® Superliner® train --
the Southwest Chief. On this route, you'll be traveling between
Los Angeles and Chicago, following one of the most
historic and scenic routes in the nation -- the old Santa Fe Trail.
While on board, you'll be experiencing the utmost in train
travel, along with some of the same wonders first glimpsed by
the early settlers as they made their way west to seek their
Amtrak and your crew are proud to host you on board.
We'll do everything we can 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 Fun Starts Here!
The Southwest Chief features on-board activities the whole
family will enjoy. Listen for announcments of the specific time
and location of activities, and most of all -- have fun!
Movies in the Sightseer Lounge Car, including features for
children during summer months, will be shown.
On-board Indian Country Tour Guides from the Inter-Tribal
Indian Ceremonial Association of Gallup, New Mexico -- the
"Indian Capital of the World," your guide will ride with the train
between Gallup and Albuquerque, New Mexico. This expert will
point out scenic highlights and discuss regional history, culture
and folklore. Come to the Lounge Car and hear all about the
fascinating country you're traveling through.
Chiefs Round-Up. Join fellow passengers in the Lounge Car
for drinks and complimentary snacks. Enjoy chips, salsa and
guacamole along with a Southwest Chief specialty.
Stretch Your Legs. The Southwest Chief stops in Albuquerque
so the train can be serviced, refueled and washed. This is your
opportunity to inspect crafts and souvenirs sold at the station
by Indian traders from nearby pueblos. Please do not leave
the station platform area, and return to the train as soon as
the departure announcement is made.
Meet the Crew That Makes the Magic Happen!
The Conductor is in charge of all crew members and is responsible
for the collection of tickets and the safe operation of the train.
The Chief of On-Board Services supervises the on-board
service crew, and oversees the quality of service.
Enjoy On-Board Accommodations
That Pamper and Please!
Roomy Coach Seats. Your Coach Attendant will see to
your needs. Since your seat is assigned for the length of
your journey, please do not change without first consulting
a crew member.
Private Sleeping Compartments. Your Sleeping Car Attendant
will prepare your room for daytime or nighttime use, provide
wake-up calls, and bring the morning paper and beverages.
Individual speakers bring you recorded music on Channels 2
or 3, and train announcments on Channels 1 and 2. Simply
turn the channel selector near the reading light. First Class passengers
recieve complimentary meals in the Dining Car.
Dining Car Service. The Dining Car features complete meals in
a comfortable setting. Major credit cards are accepted. Enjoy a
sit-down meal in a restaurant-style setting with your choice of
entrees, desserts and beverages. Tablecloths, china, flowers
and the American Countryside all make dining a unique
experience. Consult your sample menu for selections and
prices. Sorry, there is no smoking in the Dining Car. A crew
member will contact you if dinner reservations are necessary.
Spectacular Sightseer Lounge Car. Enjoy the magnificent
scenery from our large picture windows, and don't forget the
sandwiches, snacks and beverages available for purchase at the
Cafe Bar. You can also purchase souvenir playing cards, post
cards and blankets. Lounge Car hours are generally from 6 a.m.
to 12 midnight. Smoking is permitted only in designated areas.
Scenic Photo Tips
SCENIC SPOTS: Your train passes many beautiful and interesting
sights. The "camera" symbol on your Route Guide Map
marks the best spots, so have your camera ready!
OUTSIDE SHOTS: Medium-speed films (ASA 64 or higher) are
recommended for shooting scenery through the train windows.
If you shutter speed is adjustable and light conditions permit,
set it at a higher speed (1/125 or 1/250 sec.) for the clearest
results. Hold your lens close to the window to eliminate glare
INSIDE SHOTS: Flash is recommended. To avoid glare and
reflections, do not point flash directly at the windows.
* Los Angeles *
metropolis of Los Angeles began
in 1781 as El Pueblo de Nuestra
Senora de la Reina de Los Angeles.
Today, the village's original site
is marked by the historical park of
Olivera Street, lined with brightly
colored Mexican shops and old
buildings. Across the street is the
Los Angeles Union Passenger
Terminal, called the "last of the
great stations to be built in the
U.S." A magnificent combination
of Spanish and Art Deco styling, with
stucco facade, tile roof and inlaid
wood ceiling, the station is often
used as a set for television shows
(Steve's Note: The holodeck bar scene of the Star Treck movie: "First Contact"
was filmed in the restored section of the Los Angeles Union Station. As you
enter the station through the main front doors from the street, you can see
this area on your left. You are not allowed to enter this area, but you can
stand by the door and view the beautifully restored ticket counter, waiting
room, glass windows and chandelers. This created the perfect atmosphere that
was needed to create the early 1920s scene for the Star Trek movie.
"Oh God, Book Two" and numerous other moves have filmed scenes in this
station, both because of the attractive motif of the station and because of
it being locally convenient to Hollywood.)
(Steve's Note: I have replaced the section of Amtrak's old Southwest Chief
Route Guide between Los Angeles and San Bernardino with a section from an
Amtrak Route Guide of a train that covers the same route. The old Amtrak
Southwest Chief Route Guide described the scenery through Pasadena where
the Southwest Chief no longer operates.)
Los Angeles River Just east of the station, and to the left, the
train follows the river which now "flows" through a concrete channel built
as a flood control project. The usually-dry river is familiar as the site
of countless Hollywood and TV chase scenes. Between here and Fullerton, the
train passes through the industry and suburbs of southern Los Angeles
Redondo Junction (8 Min/25 Min) Amtrak's coach yards and a
roundhouse for Amtrak engines appear on the right. This is home base for
several of Amtrak's famous Superliner trains. Here, the train crosses the
Los Angeles River.
Santa Fe Springs (30 Min/5 Min) Discovery of oil here at the
turn-of-the-century rapidly transformed this former agricultural region into
a center for oil production. Look for oil wells and derricks on both sides
of the train.
FULLERTON is the Southwest Chief's stop for populous, suburban Orange
County, as well as the transfer point for Amtrak's San Diego trains. Nearby
are some of California's most famous tourist attractions, including
Disneyland, Knott's Berry Farm and the Movieland Wax Museum. Note that there
are two handsomely restored railroad depots on the left: the Amtrak station
and, just west of it, the former Union Pacific depot which was moved to this
site to serve as a restaurant.
Yorba Linda (5 Min/65 Min) was the birthplace of ex-president
Richard M. Nixon.
Santa Ana Canyon Here the train winds through the canyon formed by
the Santa Ana River, to the right. Prado Dam, at the head of the canyon,
was built for flood control.
Corona (55 Min/15 Min) Grand Boulevard, which encircled Corona,
was famous as the site of races by racing great Barney Oldfield. In a 1913
race, he achieved speeds of up to 75 mph!
Riverside (60 Min/10 Min) In 1873, a cutting from a Brazilian orange
tree yielded the first tree of California's famous navel orange crop. Thus,
Riverside became a cener of the citrus industry. Today, it is amidst the
booming suburban expansion extending east from Los Angeles.
inland European settlement, San Bernardino
blends its heritages of
Spanish missionaries and Mormon
settlers with modern-day prosperity.
The first McDonald's hamburger stand
opened here over 50 years ago (hamburgers
were 5 cents each). Before selling their
business to Ray Kroc, the McDonald brothers
pioneered many elements of today's fast food
San Bernardino is also a citrus center
and host of the annual National
Orange Show. Note the ivy-covered
Moorish-style station on the right.
Mt. San Gorgonio, the tallest mountain in
Southern California at 11,502 feet,
is visible to the right.
East of San Bernardino, the train
ascends Cajon Pass. Meaning "Box
Canyon" in Spanish, Cajon Pass is
the boundary formed by the
San Andreas Fault between the
San Gabriel and San Bernardino Mountains.
Here the train climbs
2,743 feet in 25 miles, twisting and
turning to 3,811 feet above sea
Mojave Desert Once past the
summit of the pass, the train enters
high desert country. On the desert,
with temperatures often the hottest
in the country, a person can only
last two days. The train follows the
route of the Mojave "River," filled in
spots with quicksand. Joshua trees
line the tracks.
During the night, the train stops
at BARSTOW and NEEDLES in
California. It crosses into Arizona
over the Colorado River at the
headwaters of Lake Havasu.
Time change (12 Min./51 Min.)
Arizona is in the Mountain Time
Zone, but does not observe
Daylight Savings Time. November
through April, set your watch forward
one hour if you are traveling
eastward. If you are traveling
westward, set your watch back one
hour. May through October, Arizona
is on the same time as California.
During the night, the train also
stops at KINGMAN, Arizona.
Coconino National Forest, encompassing
one of the largest stands
of Ponderosa Pine in the country.
On a hill to your left is the Lowell
Observatory where astronomer
Clyde Tombaugh discovered the
planet Pluto in 1930.
* Flagstaff *
FLAGSTAFF The town's first settlers
stripped a pine tree to make a flagstaff
and from that the town got its
name. About 7,000 feet above the sea
level and surrounded by lush
hillsides of pine trees, Flagstaff is
the station for the Grand Canyon.
Amtrak offers tours not only to the
Canyon, but also to Monument
Valley, Oak Creek Canyon, and the
Painted Desert. Bus connections at
the Amtrak station serve the Grand
Canyon, the Grand Canyon Railroad
San Francisco Peaks Rising north
of Flagstaff to about 12,000 feet.
Visible to the left of the train are
Humphrey's Peaks at 12,670 feet
and St. Agassiz at 12,340 feet.
Canyon Padre (29 Min./27 Min.)
This is the first of many canyons
that cut through this high, dry
Canyon Diablo (32 Min./24 Min.)
We begin our journey through the
Navajo reservations, a vast territory
extending through Arizona, New Mexico,
Colorado, and Utah. On
your left are stone ruins and a
trading post. And everywhere are
scenes staight out of your favorite
westerns, complete with horses,
cattle, cowboys, and wide open
spaces. You cross the canyon on
a 544-ft. high stell bridge.
WINSLOW 20,000 years ago, a
meteor struck 23 miles west of
here, formed a crater 600 feet deep
and 4,000 feet wide, and gave
Winslow its nickname, "Meteor City".
Today the city is a major
trading post for Navajo and Hopi Indians.
Its pink stucco and tile-roofed
station is a good example
of Spanish style architecture.
Little Colorado River (18 Min./79 Min.)
We begin following the
river here to Holbrook. The river
itself continues into the Colorado
River at the Grand Canyon. The
huge electric power station on your
left generates electricity for much of
the Southwest as far as California,
and uses 100 hopper cars of coal a
day, each containing 100 tons of
coal for a total of almost 4 million
tons of coal a year.
Holbrook (26 Min./71 Min.)
On your right, be sure to see
magnificent striped sandstone
outcroppings, just a hint of the
beauty of the nearby Painted Desert
and Petrified Forest. Largely plains
interrupted by sudden mesas and
buttes, this area permits mile-long
vistas. Holbrook is a trading town
for Navajo, Hopi and Apache
Indians, and includes outlets for the
Hash House Cattle Company. On
your left is the restored Blevins
House where Marshall Owens shot
(66 Min./33 Min.) Look for dazzling
sandstone formations -- cliffs with
broad stripes of red and yellow,
shaped by the wind into spires or
hollowed out into cave-like pockets.
On your left is an adobe-style
Indian trading post.
Time change (80 Min./19 Min.)
Cross the state line between Arizona
and New Mexico. If you are traveling
eastbound set your watch
ahead one hour. If you are traveling
westbound, set you watch back
GALLUP This is the "Indian Capital
of the World" a meeting place for
Navajo, Hopi, Zuni, Apache and
Acoma Indians, and an excellent
place to acquire Indian-crafted silver
jewelry, baskets, rugs, pottery, and
blankets. Gallup is also the best
stop along the route for side trips to
New Mexico's Four Corners region,
which includes the Southern
Colorado Mountains, Mesa Verde
National Park, the Petrified Forest,
the Painted Desert, ancient cliff
dwellings in Canyon de Chelly and
Canyon del Muerto, and also
Red Cliffs of New Mexico For the
next hour east of Gallup, the train
follows these famous hills, noted for
their changing colors in the bright
desert sun. Legend has it that the
rocks, once gray, got their red color
from the blood of a wounded great
stag as it fled through the hills.
Some of the hills are as high as
7,248 feet. All are spectacular.
Red Rock State Park (6 Min./130 Min.)
Each year, more than
50 tribes gather in the red sandstone
and limestone cliffs on your
left for the Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial,
an all-Indian rodeo and
Pyramid Rock (8 Min./128 Min.)
Behind this aptly-named landmark
and on your left is Church Rock, a
spire-topped rock where Indians say
a jilted Indian maiden jumped to her
death. Also in the Red Rocks are
pre-pueblo Anasazi settlements,
once centers of a prehistoric Indian
Ft. Wingate Army Depot (13 Min./123 Min.)
On your right, you can
see rows of ammunition storage
bunkers constructed to blend into
Continental Divide (27 Min./109 Min.)
At Campbell's Pass we
cross the point along the route
where water flows east to the
Atlantic, west to the Pacific.
Bluewater (42 Min./94 Min.)
Mount Taylor, rising 11,301 feet.
is visible to your left. Named for
President Zachary Taylor, the
mountain is an extinct volcano
that is responsible for the many
lava beds throughout the region.
Grants (51 Min./85 Min.) Once
carrot country, this area became
known for its uranium. Just west of
the city on your left is the Anaconda
Anzac (59 Min./76 Min.) Note the
exposed lava beds on your right.
These "rocks" are a haven for rattlesnakes
because the black lava stays
warm throughout the day and night.
McCartys (63 Min./72 Min.) On
your right is the first of many Indian
pueblos visible along this route, this
one a part of the Acoma Indian Reservation.
On a bluff above the
tracks on your right is a 200-year-old
mission church. Throughout the
pueblo are squat stone homes,
many of which are hundreds of
years old, with traditional beehive-shaped
"homos" -- ovens used for
baking bread -- out in front.
Acomita (67 Min./68 Min.) On
your right, this pueblo is noted for
its adobe-style church. Hundreds of
Acoma Indians live in this agricultural
area. Thirteen miles south is
the "Sky City" of the Acomas, a
pueblo built atop a 365-foot mesa
and used continuously for 850
Laguna Indian Reservation (73 Min./60 Min.)
in this area are Paraje, Laguna (the
youngest and second largest of the
pueblos), and Mesita pueblo on
(81 Min./54 Min.) Note the
gypsum cliffs on your left and
tailings from uranium mines.
Kneeling Nuns (84 Min./50 Min.)
This rock formation, on your left,
and back, appears to be two nuns
praying as they face left towards a
Isleta Indian Reservation (120 Min./13 Min.)
On your right,
the St. Augustine church, established
in 1613, is still in use. Here
adobe-style homes of generations
ago mix with new houses in the
same style, most with "hornos"
in their yards.
Rio Grande River (122 Min./10 Min.)
Eventually flowing into
the Gulf of Mexico, the Rio Grande
crosses the path of the Southwest Chief
here. Note the tamarisk trees
(also called salt cedars), and lavender-topped
bushes that require little
water. On your left is a feed lot filled
* Albuquerque *
Albuquerque This modern city,
known for its successes in nuclear
research and business, dates back
to 1706 when it was founded and
named for the Duke of Alququerque,
the Spanish viceroy who once
ruled the surrounding area known
as "New Spain." Albuquerque celebrates
its past in the restored Old Town,
and celebrates its present
with the renowned October Hot Air
Balloon Festival, when the sky
almost bursts with colorful balloons.
Albuquerque is a service stop for
the Southwest Chief. Here, passengers
have time to stretch their
legs or buy silver and turquoise
jewelry, crafts, and souvenirs sold
on the station platform by
Tiwa Indians from Isleta.
Sandia Mountains To the right of
Albuquerque, these peaks were
named "watermelon" mountains
by the Spanish because they turn
bright red at sunset and the trees on
the side look like seeds. The world's
longest aerial tramway, 2.7 miles,
runs up to Sandia Crest.
Sandia Pueblo (25 Min./52 Min.)
In addition to seeing a lovely church
on your right, you can also get the
best view form here of the 10,678-ft.
high Sandia Crest, surrounded by
Cibola National Forest.
San Felipe (36 Min./41 Min.)
Located at the foot of the Black Mesa,
this pueblo is in the San Felipe
Indian Reservation and was
established 500-600 years ago.
Note the "Kiva" (religious council
chamber) beside the Catholic
church, on the left.
Santo Domingo Pueblo (42 Min./35 Min.)
On the Rio Grande, this
1598 town on your left has excellent
examples of traditional beehive-shaped
"hornos", still in use.
Oritz Mountains Look in the distance
to your right, and you can see
these mountains, site of one of the
country's first gold mines, opened
in 1830. The whitish tailings from
the mines are still visible. Scenes
from the movie Superman featuring
Amtrak® were shot along this
stretch of rail line.
Los Cerrillos (58 Min./19 Min.)
This area is so rich in concentrated
minerals, that in one mine were
found two kinds of coal, lead, silver,
turquoise, and gold. Thomas Edison
tried but failed to extract
gold from the river sand you
LAMY In the 19th-century,
Archbishop Jean Baptiste Lamy
received a grant for this town from
the Spanish and served as a missionary
for almost 40 years. The
central character of Willa Cather's
Death Comes for the Archbishop
was based upon Lamy, and the
ruins of his first school are on the
right as you leave town. Note the
Legal Tender Saloon to your left,
containng $250,000 in art and
antiques. Today, the town is known
as the stop for Santa Fe. Shuttle
service between the adobe-style
station and Santa Fe makes
Santa Fe Although the Sante Fe Railway
was originally named for
Santa Fe, its main line never went
there. The terrain was too difficult to
lay the necessary tracks. The capital
of New Mexico, Santa Fe has been
the capital of one region or another
since its foundation in 1610 as
La Villa Real de la Santa Fe de San Francisco de Assisi.
It is the oldest
city in the Southwest and was the
end of the line for the old Santa Fe Trail.
Today, Santa Fe is known
as a cultural haven, home of the
Santa Fe Opera and the Santa Fe
Chamber Music Festival, and as a
residence of prominent artists. In
fact, Santa Fe is said to rank third
worldwide in art sales, behind New York
and Paris. The city is also the
gateway to Taos and other northern
New Mexico year-round recreation areas.
Apache Canyon (5 Min./101 Min.)
The train weaves through a spectacular
granite gorge here, so narrow
the rock is at times just one
foot from the train. This is considered
the oldest strata of the Rockies.
Canoncito (13 Min./92 Min.) From
Lamy to Glorieta, you ascend 1,000
feet in 10 miles through areas of
bright red, dry, creek beds. Called
the Glorieta Pass, this portion of our
route cuts through dry, rock-strewn
hills dotted with juniper, Ponderosa
Pine, scrub oak, pink tamarisk, and
turquoise blooming sage (chamisa).
On your left is the first look at
the Sangre de Cristo Mountains,
meaning "blood of Christ" and
commemorating the suffering of
the early Spanish explorers who
Glorieta (26 Min./79 Min.) On your
left, you can see the Glorieta Baptist
Assembly, a huge retreat center.
During the Civil War, Glorieta was
the site of an unusually westward
battle between Colorado and Texas
volunteers. Texas Confederates
won, but ultimately had to retreat
because Union cavalry, during the
fight, had secretly crossed the
treacherous Sangre de Cristo peaks
at Canoncito to meet and burn a
Confederate supply train. Without
supplies, the Texans were helpless.
Santa Fe National Forest On your
left, this immense forest is known
for its trout fishing, hunting, and
prehistoric Indian ruins. The train
follows the Glorieta Mesa on the
Rowe (31 Min./66 Min.) The
Pecos Indians used to live in the state's
largest pueblo, located in the
shallow bowl of the Glorieta Pass.
Conquered and converted in the
17th-century by Spanish missionaries,
the Pecos built a large
adobe mission in 1617. Its ruins,
the Pecos National Monument, are
across the valley on your left. The
property on which the monument is
located was donated by movie star
Greer Garson and her husband
E.E.Fogelson. The bright pink pillars
that mark the entrance to their
Forked Lightning Ranch can be
seen on the left in the valley.
Pecos River (57 Min./40 Min.) The
old Spanish mission of San Miguel,
built in 1775, is on your right.
S-curve (67 Min./30 Min.) We now
start a huge double S-curve, during
which you can see both ends of the
train as it winds sharply to gain
altitude while crossing the
Starvation Peak (70 Min./25 Min.)
In the early 19th-century, the distinctive
mesa on the right became the last
stand of 30 Spanish settlers who,
according to legend, fought off
attacking Navajos with rocks, but
starved to death when the Indians
surrounded the peak.
Bernal (84 Min./22 Min.) On the
left are ruins of the first stagecoach
relay station on the old
Las Vegas - Santa Fe stage line. Note
Martinez Canyon on the right, between
Bernal and Las Vegas.
LAS VEGAS 10,000 years before
Coronado discovered this area in
1541 and the Spanish named it
the "meadows," Indians occupied
its lands. In 1833, white settlers
formed a town on the west bank
of the river. But, when the railroad
arrived, a rowdier New Town developed
on the east bank, attracting
unsavory folks like Billy the Kid,
until West Bank vigilantes cleaned it
up and cleared it out. That large
building adjacent to the station was
La Castenada, one of many Harvey House
restaurants and hotels built
along the Santa Fe route. The
Harvey House waitresses were
immortalizd in the Judy Garland
movie, The Harvey Girls. This
Harvey House has another claim to
fame. In 1899, Teddy Roosevelt
joined his Rough Riders here for a
reunion. Las Vegas honors the
event with a Routh Riders museum.
Watrous (19 Min./24 Min.) On
your right are the ruins of a
Fort Union oupost. Ft. Union, built in
1851 to guard the Santa Fe Trail
and Cimarron Cut-off, was a supply
fort -- one of the biggest in the Southwest.
The Cut-off was an alternative
route to La Junta, avoiding Raton Pass.
It was easier to cross but
more vulnerable to Indian raids.
Shoemaker Canyon (26 Min./80 Min.)
The train follows and crosses
the Mora River through this area
that was once a major trade route
between plains and Texas Indians.
Wagon Mound (48 Min./58 Min.)
On your right, the butte that looks
like a praire schooner led by horses
served as a major landmark along
the Santa Fe Trail.
Springer (68 Min./36 Min.) Cross
the Cimarron River and start following
the Canadian River. Chances
are, just west of Springer, you'll see
antelope on your right. On the left
in the distance is 12,441-ft. Baldy Peak.
Maxwell (83 Min./21 Min.)
Lucien B. Maxwell, hunter and trapper,
married into the largest land grant
ever awarded in the Western
Hemisphere, stretching 1.75 million
acres from Shoemaker to Starkville.
He named the seat of his famous
empire Cimarron, Spanish for
"wild." His freind Kit Carson came
to live nearby. Today, the area is
the Maxwell Land Grant Wildlife Refuge.
Clifton House Ruins (100 Min./10 Min.)
On your right, you can
see the remains of this layover point
on the old Santa Fe Trail.
RATON A railroad and coal mining
center, Raton is at the base of the
Raton Pass which crosses the
Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Raton
is also the gateway to
Philmont Boy Scout Ranch, a 137,441 acre
national center of the
Boy Scouts of America.
Here the train ascends
175 feet per mile to the highest
point along the route-7,588 feet on
the west end of a half-mile tunnel.
(21 Min./44 Min.) As you emerge
from the tunnel, you'll cross the
state line between New Mexico and
Colorado, marked on your left.
Wootton Ranch (28 Min./37 Min.)
On your left, this ranch belonged
to "Uncle Dick" Wootton who
developed a toll road along the
Santa Fe Trail across the Raton Pass,
a source of income that dried
up in the mid 1800s when the
railroad came. Also visible here is
the original Santa Fe Trail on your
left and Interstate 25 on your right.
Morley (51 Min./21 Min.) On the
hill to your left are the ruins of an
old Spanish mission and the old
Morley coal mine.
Purgatoire River (60 Min./5 Min.)
This tributary of the Arkansas River
is named for Purgatory, its French
pronunciation later twisted by local
folks into the nickname "Picket Wire"
and even "Picket Fence."
TRINIDAD The town's name,
meaning "trinity," is displayed
atop 400-ft. high Simpson's Rest
on the left, named for an old pioneer
buried there. Known for its
coal, Trinidad is also remembered
for a battle fought here between
Spanish settlers and U.S. settlers on
Christmas Day, 1867. Just behind
the city is Fisher's Peak on the right,
a rocky promontory rising almost
10,000 feet. Back and to the left
east of Trinidad are the twin
Spanish Peaks (called "Breasts of
Mother Earth" by the Indians), and
lovely views of the snow-capped
Sangre de Cristo Mountains.
Sunflower Valley (29 Min./55 Min.)
Alfalfa, corn, sugar beets,
and wheat grow here. Further east,
the train crosses the
Comanche National Grassland.
LA JUNTA The name means "junction,"
and that's what this town is,
the junction of the Santa Fe Trail
and the Cimarron Cut-Off. But it's
also the junction of past and present.
Today, known for its cattle,
vegetable and fruit production --
especially Rocky FOrd cantalopue --
La Junta is also the site of ritual
dances performed by the
Koyshare Indian Dancers. On a clear day,
you can see Pike's Peak from here,
100 miles to the north on the left.
And just east of the city is the
most famous trading post of old
Colorado, Bent's Old Fort, where
scout Kit Carson once worked. It
has now been restored. The train
follows the Arkansas River to
Las Animas (17 Min./27 Min.)
This town takes its name from the
Rio de las Animas Perdidas (river
of lost souls), named for a wagon
train of settlers that camped one
night by the river now known as
the Purgatoire. According to legend,
they disappeared by morning,
victims of an Indian attack. Further
east, on the left, is John Martin Reservoir.
The dam, built by the Army Corps of Engineers,
is 2.64 miles long.
LAMAR This is the "Goose Hunting
Capital of the Nation." At the west
end of the station on your right,
note the Madonna of the Trails
statue, one of many erected by
the Daughters of the American
Revolution to commemorate the
"National Old Trainl."
Coolidge (25 Min./50 Min.) Cross
the state line between Colorado
and Kansas, and you change time
zones. If you are traveling eastward,
set your watch forward one hour;
if you are traveling westward, set
your watch back one hour.
GARDEN CITY This town, named
by a passing hobo for the beautiful
garden of its founder's wife (Mrs.
William D. Fulton), also claims the
world's largest free public swimming
pool and the largest buffalo
herd. Garden City is a center for
agribusiness, oil and gas fields,
and beef processing.
DODGE CITY This most famous
of western cities was first a trading
post, then a Civil War fort (Fort Dodge),
then a railroad boom town.
The railroad turned the city into a
major shopping point for all buffalo
by-products, and later for longhorn
steer herded up on dusty cattle
drives from Texas. Here, lawmen
and good guys including Bat Masterson,
Wyatt Earp, Col. George Custer,
Doc Holliday, and vaudevillian
Eddie Foy lived -- and notorious
bad guys died, many sent to
Boot Hill, on your right. Hangman's
Tree still stands, and Front Street,
on the left, has been restored to
look as it did in 1875 when the
town was known as "the wickedest
little city in America." At the station
itself are two sundials marking the
nearby time zone crossing.
During the night, the train stops
in HUTCHINSON, NEWTON,
EMPORIA, TOPEKA, and
(54 Min./6 Min.)
Cross the state line from
Kansas City, Kansas into
Kansas City, Missouri.
* Kansas City *
KANSAS CITY Originally called
Westport Landing, this was the
starting point for the old Santa Fe Trail,
the town where westerners
like Bat Masterson and Wild Bill Hickock
would buy last-minute
provisions before heading west. In
1933, Union Station saw some wild
action of its own. Attempting to
help underworld figure Frank Nash
while he was being moved from
Little Rock to Leavenworth Prison,
attackers killed an FBI man, two city
detectives, a police chief, and Nash
himself in what became known
as "The Union Station Massacre".
Today, together with its sister city
in Kansas, the city is a marketing
and transportation center. It is the
gateway to the Southwest, with
more than 300 parks and perhaps
more fountains than any city
outside Europe. Kansas City has
several well-known shopping complexes,
including Crown Center,
just east of the station on the right.
Sugar Creek (15 Min./85 Min.) This
was once the headquarters of Jesse James,
killed in nearby St. Joseph.
Missouri River (35 Min./60 Min.)
Cross a 135-ft. high steel bridge.
On the left, note remains of
Fort Osage, built in 1808 during the
Osage Indian War.
Bosworth (79 Min./21 Min.) Cross
the Grand River, flanked by pecan trees.
Mendon (89 Min./11 Min.) On the
left is the Swan Lake National Game Reserve.
11,000 acres filled with
ducks and geese that migrate to
Canada. This area is so rich in water
fowl, duck blinds lease from $200 -
$2,000 a year. Missouri hunters
harvest more than 50,000 geese
and 200,000 ducks a year.
Marcelene Walt Disney spent part
ofhis childhood here. The initials he
carved into a school desk are still
legible, as are the hand-cut charcoal
drawings on the northwest wall of
the home he lived in until age six.
A born doodler, Disney showed
great talent even as a child. His
star "doodle," Mickey Mouse,
who turned 60 in 1989, was in fact
created while Disney traveled the
route of the Southwest Chief on
the Santa Fe Railway. Wal Disney
Park is on your left, sporting steam
engine #2435 of the old Santa Fe.
Just east of town, note the Jonathan
apple orchards on the right.
LA PLATA This is the station for
Kirksville, ten miles north, with its
many colleges, including
Northeast Missouri State University.
La Plata Lake is on the right. This area is
popular for deer, turkey, and pheasant
Des Moines River (50 Min./15 Min.)
This is the state line
between Missouri and Iowa. The
train now approaches the great
Nauvoo (60 Min./10 Min.) Across
the river to the right, this city was an
important Mormon settlement, until
the Mormons -- following a vision of
their leader -- suddenly crossed the
ice and left in 1846. Their leader,
Joseph Smith, was killed at the
hands of a mob at the jail in nearby
Carthage. Today, the town is being
restored as a Mormon Memorial.
Here are Concord grape vines
planted by the French 100 years
ago, still bearing fruit.
FT. MADISON The Southwest Chief
travels only 20 miles in Iowa, and
this is its only stop. The city was
named for Fort Madison, built in
1808-9 to protect settlers from
Indian raids and named for
President Madison. The fort was
attacked many times during the
War of 1812, and finally burned by its
own soldiers in 1813 to divert
warring Indians. The settlers made their
escape through a tunnel and
then fled on a boat down the river.
The One Chimney Monument on
the left commemorates the fort.
The city is also site of the annual
Tri-State Rodeo. The Schaefer Eton
plant is on the left, east of the
Mississippi River (5 Min./50 Min.)
Cross the state line between
Iowa and Illinois over the wide
Mississippi River on a 3,347-ft.
long steel bridge. It has the world's
largest double-track, double-decker
swing span. The bridge pivots to
allow river traffic to pass.
GALESBURG Birthplace of poet
Carl Sandburg, this town was planned
and settled by a fundamentalist
group from Oneida, N.Y., and
hosted a Lincoln-Douglas debate in
1858. Olmsted Ferris developed
popcorn to such an art here, he was
invited to give a corn-popping
demonstration to England's Queen
Victoria. The train passes by some
of the best farmlands in the country,
held in families for generations
because it is so fertile. You'll see
many thousands of acres of alfalfa,
soybeans, corn, and wheat fields.
Here, the soil yields 200 bushels of
corn per acre. Rolled bales of hay
doting the rolling hillsides in haying
season each weigh about a ton.
You'll also see large modern corn
dryers, and occassional steeple-top
barns built before bailing came into
practice. The open tops provided
ventilation to prevent fires.
This was also a key station in the
Underground Railroad of the Civil War. Notice, on the left, Burlington's
famous 4-6-4 "Hudson" passenger locomotive used in the 1930s. Galesburg
is the home of the Annual Galesburg Railroad Days.
Galva (20 Min/95 Min) "Bishop's Hill" was a Swedish utopian
society of religious dissidents that settled in Galva until the Civil War.
It is now a historic landmark.
Kewanee (25 Min/90 Min) The small industrial city of Kewanee was
settled alongside the Spoon River in 1836 by New Englanders.
PRINCETON (50 Min/65 Min) One of the founders of the Republican
Party, John Bryant, made his home in Princeton. It was settled by New
Englanders in 1833. It is the "Pig Capital of the World." The small red
and brown A-frame houses in the fields are what the pigs call home.
Aurora (105 Min/10 Min) This was a transfer station for statecoaches
in the 1830s. It was also the birthplace of the Chicago, Burlington and
Quincy Railroad in 1849. Transportation has always played a large role in
Aurora. A large bulldozer factory can be seen to the left.
NAPERVILLE This is the station for Chicago's western suburbs. RTA
commuter trains provide connections to Aurora, LaGrange, Brookfield and
other points. This attractive suburb is a high-tech industrial center and
is known for its Riverwalk, a restored historic village, and an example of
Frank Lloyd Write's architecture.
* Chicago *
CHICAGO As you enter, you'll first
see railyards, power plants, and
refineries, all indications of a
manufacturing giant. Then as you
approach the station, the skyline of
the city itself emerges on the right.
Note the profile of the world's
largest building, the Sears Tower,
110 stories high and just two blocks
east of Union Station. The station,
marble-pillared with impressively
high ceilings, is conveniently close
to office centers in the Loop, wholesale
markets at the Merchandise Mart,
the Mercantile Exchange for
commodities, and exciting shopping
on Michigan Avenue.
For more information on Amtrak
trips call 1-800-USA-RAIL
Service subject to change without notice.
020647 August 1994 (Updates made by Steve Grande, 06/25/97)
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This page last updated: 12/04/2005