Amtrak Pioneer Route Guide
Route #25 & #26
(discontinued in 1997)
The Amtrak Pioneer Trains #25 & #26 were discontinued in 1997. This Route Guide has been
posted here as a historic tribute to this route and as encouragement that this route may
someday be revived. There are a number of reasons to believe that the revival of the Pioneer
in the future is not totally impossible. Amtrak's expanding express shipping business may
create a demand for a revival of this route. Some people have been pushing for Amtrak to
create a new in-land route between Los Angeles and Seattle via Las Vegas-NV, Salt Lake City-UT,
Ogden-UT and Boise-ID by combining the discontinued segments of the Pioneer and the Desert
Wind. The Olympics in Salt Lake City are quickly approaching and this in-land "North South
Route" would be ideal for bringing participants from both the north and the south to this
major international event. We'll just have to wait and see what the future will hold. In the
meantime, read the old route guide of the Pioneer and you will understand why so many people
wish to see the revival of this passenger rail route.
BOISE*OGDEN*SALT LAKE CITY
THE FUN STARTS HERE!
You're traveling on board Amtrak's Superliner
train-the Pioneer. While on board, you'll be experiencing the
utmost in train travel,and some of our country's most spectacular
and well-known scenery: the Rockies and Blue Mountains; the snow-capped
volcanoes and breathtaking Columbia River Gorge of the Northwest;
and the exciting golden sunsets of the West. Amtark 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 Pioneer 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
Join fellow passengers in the Lounge Car
for drinks and complimentary snacks,and don't forget to ask about
usually conducted in the Dining Car. Small prizes will be awarded.
Listen for annoucements for time and location.
STRETCH YOUR LEGS.
The Pioneer stops in Denver so the train
can be serviced,refueled and washed. This is your opportunity
to do some sightseeing in Denver. Please return to the station
platform area well in advance of the scheduled train departure
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 length of you journey,please do not change without first consulting
a crew member.
DINING CAR SERVICE.
The Dining Car features complete meals in
a comfortable setting. Major credit cards are accepted. Sorry,there
is no smoking in the Dining Car. A crew memeber 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
permitted only on lower level.
Street Station is only blocks away from the busy harbor and piers
which make Seattle a gateway to the Orient and Alaska. The tall,white
Smith Tower was the tallest building west of the Mississippi up
until the 1950s. The Space Needle,built for the 1962 World's Fair,is
north of downtown and can be seen as the train leaves the city.
Adjacent to the station is the King Dome,home of the Seattle Seahawks
BOEING FIELD (7 MIN./42
MIN.) On the right is the home of
the famous family of Boeing jetliners. This historic airport is
still used for private aircraft and for Boeing test flights. The
original Boeing plant,noe the Museum of Flight,can be seen across
KENT (16 MIN./33 MIN.)
Long Acres Racetrack is on the left near
Kent. Local vineyards have helped make Washington State the nation's
second leading grape producer.
AUBURN (28 MIN./25 MIN.)
The Auburn Power Plant is powered by water
coming down from Lake Bonnie and Lake Taps. The train crosses
the Green River at this point
PUYALLUP (40 MIN./12 MIN.)
This is the home of the Western Washington
Fair. The town pronouced "Pew-OWL-up" is named for an
Indian tribe. The train crosses the Puyallup Indian Reservation
along the Puyallup River
called "City of Destiny" becuase of the sawmills and
lumder all along McCarver street. Today the dock is the last reminder
of the "Lumber Capital of the World." The largest blue
round building on the left is the Tacoma Dome,a convention center
and general auditorium. Beyond the city,the train follows the
Pudget Sound,to the right which was formed by prehistoric glacier
movement,causing the water to be very deep. A geological fault
runs through the straits of the Pudget Sound, causing earthquakes
in the area. The Olympic Mountains rise from the far side of Pudget
OLYMPIA-LACEY Juat outside of town,the train crosses the Nesqually
River. The delta for the river,on the right protective haven for
beavers,eagles,ducks,geese,shellfish and oysters. Olympia is the
capital of Washington State.
NAPAVINE (12 MIN./35 MIN.)
The highest point on the route between Seattle
and Portland is at Napavine. There is a 1% grade from here to
Chehalis. From this spot on a clear day,Mt. Rainier,Mt. Helens
and Mt. Adams can be seen to the left of the train.
Winlock claims to be the "Egg Capital
of the World." On the right side of the train,the town proudly
displays a large "egg" as a monument to its egg production.
VADER(25 MIN./ 23 MIN.)
The train passes along the Olequa Creek
through Vader,a ghost town that was once a logging center in the
late 1800s. Out side of the deserted town,passengers can see three
small waterfalls on the right side of the track.
WOODLAND (20 MIN./20 MIN.)
The train crosses the Lewis River, which
originates at Lake Merwin. Notice the house boats in this area.
The Saliahan Vineyards to the east grow European wine grapes.
The cilmate is very much like the moderate maritime temperatures
of North Europe.
LAKE VANCOUVER (33 MIN./5
MIN.) The marshy bottom lands on
the right side of the train are part of the banks of Lake Vancouver.
beautiful "City of Roses" is Oregon's only metropolitan
area. Known for its parks,fountains and gardens,Portland also
features several jazz festivals and, of course,the Portland Rose
Festival. Portland Union Station was built on what was known as
Couch Lake before the lake was filled in the and the building
was constructed on pilings in 1890. Here, the Pioneer changes
railroads,the Burlington Northern tracks go north to Seattle and
the Union Pacific Railroad extends east to Salt Lake City. East
of Portland Station,the train crosses over the Willamette River
via the Steel Bridge.
TROUTDALE (25 MIN./29 MIN.) Filbert orchards
and a new bridge across the Columbia are on the left. Portland's
light rail trransit system can be seen along the highway to the
right. East of here, the train begins its dramatic journey on
the banks of the Columbia River.
BRIDAL VEIL (30 MIN./42
on the right,next to the Lewis and Clark State Park. An array
of waterfalls covers the mountainside like a white veil.
STARVATION CREEK (38 MIN./37
MIN.) Look for a very narrow canyon
on the right called Starvation Creek. It extends back for ten
miles and sunlight never light its floor.
"BRIDGE OF THE GODS"
(51 MIN./26 MIN.) The intricate silver
girders of the bridge on the left are on the site of a legendary
natural bridge used by the Indians. It was supposedly destroyed
by the eruption of two nearby volcanoes.
WYETH (1:05 MIN./20 MIN.)
This is said to be the windiest place in
Oregon. The packaging of fruits and berries which are picked in
the nearby orchards goes on as late as October.
THE CASCADE MOUNTAINS (1:10
MIN./5 MIN.) to the left resembling
an Indian on his back. A logging flume on the Washington State
side was the last active lumber waterway in use in America. It
transported cut lumber from Viphoe through the White Salmon River
Canyon. The flume was used in a "Lassie" film set in
HOOD RIVER The Hood,the Columbia and the White Salmon River
meet at this point. The towns of White Salmon and Bingen,across
the Columbia,is served by Amtrak's Empire Builder route,which
can be seen along the oppisite bank of the river. In
this area are the Gifford Pinchot National Forest,to the north,and
the Multnomah National Forest,to the south. World Class windsurfing
competition is held here every year.
(15MIN./15MIN.) Asmall island to
the left has a grey grave stone that honors a white tarder. He
is buried among his Indian friends in the Memaloose Island Burial
Grounds. Across the river is a series of five sets of tunnels
within a one-and-ahalf-mile distance,near the town of Lyle. The
white peak of 12,276 ft. Mt.Adams is in the distance.
ROWENA CREST Unusual rock formations can be seen along a scenic
9-mile highway from Mosier to Rowena in the mountains on the right.
Notice the cherry orchards on the left side just before the train
enters Mosier. Rowena Crest is a high viewpoint on the mountain
on the left side of the train.
THE DALLES The Army Corps of Engineers constructed a major
river project,The Dalles Dam,one of the ten most powerful hydroelectric
generators in the world. A tuor of the facility includes a ride
on a small train that is part of the dam. The town of Dalles has
a cherry plant on the left of the train,and on the right is the
tall red church steeple of old St.Peter's, thre local Catholic
Church with stained glass windows donated by pioneer families.
Look for wheat and lumber barges on the river.
The Maryhill Museum of Art is a mansion
on a ledge about halfway up the mountain of the Washington side.
It was originally a Quaker settlement on 20,000 acres until Sam
Hill built a home there. It was dedicated as an art museum by
the Queen of Romania. The train crosses over the nearby Deschutes
River. On a clear day,Mt.Hood may be visible. This volcanic mountain,thirty
miles to the southwest,rises to 11,235 feet.
Across the Columbia River on the Washington
side is a sculpture built by Sam Hill,son-in-law of railroad tycoon
Jim Hill. Located on a ledge halfway up the mountain, it is a
memorial to soliders killed in World War I,a cement replica of
England's Stone henge. The Biggs Bridge crosses the Columbia River
with a road leading to Yakima,Washington.
JOHN DAY DAM (24MIN./1:10MIN.) Electric power of the Northwest is generated
by the John Day Dam, one of many hydroelectric plants along the
Columbia River which produce more then one third of the nation's
electric power. The lock system can be seen across the river on
the left. The dam is named after a famous western hunter and trapper,John
Day. The train crosses the John Day River,which can be seen on
BOARDMAN (55MIN./30MIN.) The smoke stack
in the distance on the right,which is part of the Boardman coal-fired
generating plant,is 13 miles to the southwest. It burns 315 tons
of coal every hour. The coal is shipped 1,200 miles to this plant.
COLUMBIA RIVER (55MIN./30MIN.) Boardman is the eastern
end of the train's 130 miles journey along the south bank of the
Columbia River. The river travels over 1,210 miles on its way
from British Columbia to the Pacific.
The small mounds on the left are muniyions
bunkers with ammunition buried in neat rows for as far as the
eye can see. This is the Umatilla Army Ordnance Depot. Look for
an occasional antelope here in the Umatilla National Wildlife
HINKLE-HERMISTON is a frieght yard and railroad stop. It is also
home for potato processing plant on the right that makes potato
chips and french fires.
PENDLETON produces a wide variety of manufactured goods
and agricultural products. The rich soil in the Pendleton area
yields exceptional wheat,green peas,potatos,apples,and cherries.
The Oregon forest provide more than enough raw material for a
diverse lumber industry. The Pendleton Woolen Mills on the left
side of the train create world famous garments from the local
sheep herds. The McKennon Station Flour Mills and Grain Growers
Processing Plant on the left is the largest in the Northwest.
Pendleton also host an annual roundup and western Ho!parade on
the rodeo grounds to the left. East of Pendleton ,the train follows
the famous Oregon Trail through the Blue Mountains.
GIBBON (35MIN./1:40MIN.) This town is in the
Umatilla River Valley,which empties into the Columbia River Valley
and then onto the Oregon Coast. Its name comes from General John
Gibbon,commander of the Iron Brigade of the Union Army of the
Potomac. The Umatilla Indian Reservation,which the train crosses
in this area,extends all the way from Pendleton to Huron. This
is sheep and farm country,but also watch for herds of elk in this
MEACHAM (1:40MIN./60MIN.) The tree-covered
ridge on the right was a route for pioneers on their way west
to Pendleton. These rollinghills with trees in narrow valleys
are inhabited by elk, deer, bears, mountain lions and rattlesnakes.
The train crosses Meacham Creek over two high bridges. This river
is a favorite fishing area for rainbow trout and steelhead.
KAMELA (1:51MIN./48MIN.) The summit
of the climb over the Blue Mounatins is at Kamela,4,205 feet above
sea level. This is a watershed point. The train's ascent up the
Kamela Mounatin is a steep 2.2% grade. This is the toughest climben
route from Portland. There is a snow marker on the left and a
lookout tower near the top of the mountain on the right.
THE GRANDE RONDE VALLEY
French Canadian fur traders in this area
during the 1820s were insipired by "the great circle"
of this valley,and they named it appropriatley. This fertile region
is approximately 25 mile across and is served as a truce area
for native Indian tribes. It was also a welcome stopover for pioneers
who came west over the Oregon Trail and began a settlement here
in 1861. This was where the first plow was put into Oregon soil.
LA GRANDE The original town was established in 1862 on
high ground at the southwestern edge of the Grande Ronde Valley.
The Oregon Railroad and Navigation Company line ws extended through
this area in 1884,and the town moved two miles to re-establish
itself on the railroad. La Grande's economy is based largely on
agriculture and the wood products industry. It is the home of
Eastern Oregon State College and the major shipping point for
produce from the Grande Ronde Valley. The La Grande airport is
on the left. Well-preserved Victorian homes are within five blocks
of the Amtrak Depot and the stately City Hall,listed on the National
Register of Historic Places,is on the right.
This small community in the Grande Ronde
Valley has its own sawmill,railroad and dairy. A ring of trees
on the left,planted by the pioneers,was used by the early settlers
for shearing thier sheep,keeping the animals and the wool inside
the trees. The Hot Lake Resort is on the right. A geothermal hot
springs can be seen on the left.Catherine Creek runs down through
the valley with the beautiful Mt.Prominence,6,725 ft.,on the left
in the background.
NORTH POWDER (35MIN./21MIN.) Lumber yards dominate the small town North Powder.
The train crosses Wolf Creek. The train runs near the Powder River
with the Blue Mountains to the right and the Wallowa Mountains
to the left. Long white plastic mounds near barns and framhouses
is a small community with a hot artesian
raduim spring located on the left in several buildings with green
roofs surrounded by scrub willows.
BAKER CITY became a boom town in 1861,when gold was discovered
nearby. Today,several ghost towns located in the nearby hills
are reminders of Baker's gold past. Baker was named after Colonel
Edward Baker,a senator and close friend of Abraham Lincoln. The
white building in the middle of town is the Hotel Antler,built
in 1912,on the left. Ranchers and farmers profit from the sale
of cattle,lumber and wheat. The Wallowa Mountains and the Eagle
Cap Wilderness Area are on the left and Elkhorn Ridge and Wallowa
Forest on the right,just outside of Baker.
The train climbs Encina Pass,with a summit
at 3,998 feet. Horeshoe curves on the east side of the pass,just
outside of Durkee,allow passengers to see the entire length of
the train. The Oregon/Portland Cement Company has a large limestone
plant that can be seen on both sides of the train.
TIME CHANGE:Set your watch ahead one hour going east,as the
train enters Mounatin time in Idaho. Going west,set it back one
hour for Pacific time entering Oregon.
FAREWELL BEND There is a stretch of unusual sand dunes on the
right. Sand fences were built to protect the tracks from being
covered by the sifting dunes. The mountains at Farewell Bend rise
to a hieght of nearly 1,000 ft. above the train. The beautiful
Snake River winds its way through the rugged terrain.
Baseball great Harmon Killebrew ,of the
Minnesota Twins.was born in Payette. The train also crosses the
Snake River several times in this section,switching from Oregon
to Idaho and back again.
Fruit growers and cattle ranchers
throughout eastern Oregon ship their products from Ontario.
*OREGON/IDAHO STATE LINE*
NAMPA The Shoshone
Chief Nampuh (Big Foot) inspired the nameing of this frontier
town. In 1903,a fired destroyed the business district on the very
day town's water mains were being replaced. Today,Nampa fruit
and potatoes are national favorites. The surrounding region is
very nearly desert.
BOISE This is the capital of Idaho. The Boise Cascade
Company,Morrison Knudsen and several national lumber and paper
corporations are based in this budding capital city. The beautiful
Capitol Building can be seen on the left down Boise's main street,Capitol
Boulevard. Note the well-preserved station and landscape grounds
on the left.
SHOSHONE is near Sun
Valley,a winter resort developed by the Union Pacific Railroad.
Ernest Hemingway had a summer home here.
POCATELLO is named after Chief Pocatello,who helped railroaders
build a line throough this territory. Today it is the home of
the phosphate industry and Idaho State University.
The Pioneer crosses the Idaho/Utah State Line during the night.
called "Ogden's Hole" and named for Peter Skene Ogden,one
of the mountain men who came looking for beaver in 1825. Mormons
arrived at Salt Lake in 1847 ans established a Mormon town there.
Brigham Young chose this area be cause of its isolation and excellent
soil. An annual celebration,held throughtout the week of July
24, is highlighted by Ogden Pioneer Days Rodeo,parades and "All
Faces West",an outdoor drama which tells the story of the
Mormon migration to Utah. Snow Basin,18 miles from Ogden on the
east slope of Mount Ogden,offer winter and summer recreation.
Salt Lake City is 35 miles south. At Amtrak's Ogden station,passengers
may transfer to connecting motorcoach service to Salt Lake City.
*SALT LAKE CITY*
SALT LAKE CITY The wide streets of Salt Lake City lead downtown
to Mormon monuments including Temple Square,the Seagull Monument,the
six towers of the Mormon Temple,which are visible from the station,and
the Beehive House. The headquarters for the Church of Jesus Christ
of Latter-day Saints is located here as well as a world renowned
genealogical research facility. The prosperous Salt Lake Valley
has one of the prettiest natural settings in North America. Today
it is home for a growing electronics industry. Most of Utah's
rivers,which have no outlet to the sea,are part of the largest
area of interior drainage in the U.S. and are used to provide
irrigation for thousands of acres of farmland that otherwise would
WEBER RIVER begins in the Uinta Range and flows through
the Wasatch Mountains into Great Salt Lake. The train travels
through the beautiful Weber Canyon and over the state line between
Utah and Wyoming.
a trading center,tourist stopping point and a cattle and sheep
raising area. Ft.Bridger State Museum,36 miles east,is located
in a restored fort named for Jim Bridger,scout and explorer. An
annual rodeo is held here on Labor day weekend.
GREEN RIVER is the home of Sweetwater County Museum and
is located near Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area. The Green
River is boadered by sandstone cliffs;the most prominent one,Castle
Rock,rises 1,000 feet above the river. Mormons cut a pass at Tollgate
Rock and charged a toll of those who passed. Brigham Young is
said to have delivered a sermon from Pulpit Rock. Wildflowers
are numerous along the rivers,especially red Indian Paintbrush,the
state flower. The Green River played an important in the exploration
of the West. Early trappers met annual at the Green River Rendezvous
were it is joined by Sandy Creek. John Wesley Powell traveled
down the Green River by boat starting here in 1869 and again in
ROCK SPRINGS The streets of Rock Springs make intricate bends
and turns because they were built anywhere that suited the builder's
taste. Underlying this sheep raising area are some of the greatest
bituminous coal reserves west of Mississippi River.
a farming and ranching area. "Rawlins Red" pigment from
local paint mines was used for the Brooklyn Bridge,2,000 miles
away. In 1878,vigiantes hung one train robber and sent warning
notes to 24 other desperadoes;24 tickets were sold the next morning
at the Rawlins railroad depot.
NORTH PLATTE RIVER (20MIN./20MIN.)
Our route crosses the river 21 miles east
of Rawlins and passes north of the Medicine Bow National Forest,a
national range for thousands of deer,elk and antelope,with choice
hunting in the fall and trout fishing in season. We cross the
Continental Divide twice;once in Rawlins and again 22 miles west
was named for the legendary French-Canadian trapper,Jacques La
Ramie,who worked in what became southwest Wyoming in approximately
1820 and was killed by Indians somewhere along the river the bears
his name. Laramie is a town with a colorful past. Jack McCall
was arrested in Laramie on August 30,1876 for shooting Wild Bill
Hickock in the back of the head in a Deadwood,South Dakota saloon.
One year later, Jesse James was lodged in the Laramie jail as
a suspect in a nearby stagecoach holdup. Humorist Bill Nye,a Famous
lecturer "Boomerang". a Laramie hardware store where
Nye used to sit and spin yarns was the site of his "Den of
the Forty Lairs". Laramie is located near Snowy Range,one
of the West's most beautiful recreation areas. Leaving Laramie,the
train ascends Sherman Hill;the Sherman Mountains,between Laramie
and Cheyenne,are unusually rocky ridges eroded into distinct and
SHERMAN (25MIN./25MIN.) At an elevation of 8,013 feet above sea level,this
is the highest point on the Amtrak route,and was named for General
William Techumseh Sherman,the tallest general in the U.S. Army.
The original line was built via Ames Monument and the elevation
was 8,242 feet,but in 1901 the route was relocated to eliminate
the Dale Creek Bridge and to reduce grades. Until the track was
constructed "around the hill" in 1953,via Harriman,Sherman
was a very important station,as all trains had helper locomotives
and it was the point where helpers were turned. In addition,stockyard
facilities were located here.
for a train dispatcher on the Union Pacific,this station is important
in the fact that the railroad cut-off toward Denver diverges at
this point. This is the location of the Amtrak station for Cheyenne,passengers
may transfer to connecting motorcoach service to Cheyenne.
capital of Wyoming,was named for a tribe of plains Indians who,with
the Arapahos and Sioux,once inhabited this area. Cheyenne's main
attraction in 1867 were quick money and cheap liquor. Described
as "Hell on Wheels",the town was home to professional
gunmen,soldiers,promoters,trainmen,gamblers,and confidence men.
It was the scene of vigilante law and wars between cattlemen and
sheepmen. Today Cheyenne reamains a headquarters for sheep and
cattle interests. Its former spirit is revived annually during
Cheyenne Frontier Days,held the last week in July, and one of
our largest rodeos. Cheyenne is also located near the Snowy Range,a
beautiful section of fishing streams and lakes. We cross the Wyoming/Colorado
an outgrowth of Union Colony,a cooperative community of New Yorkers
conceived by and named for Horace Greeley and founded in 1870
by his agriculture editor,Nathan C.Meeker. Temperance was the
colony's first rule. When a would-be businessman set up a sod
hut saloon on the edge of town one Sunday,the congregation moved
to confer with the proprietor. A fire mysteriously started and
the saloon was destroyed. Today Greeley is a rich agriculturarl
area and producer of items as diverse as office desks and fishing
rods. It is also the home of the Colorado State College.
skyline is notched with impressive array of modern buildings,many
built by the energy industry. Historic Larimer Square is only
a few blocks away from the train station. The 24K gold-domed state
capitol contains the entire world's supply of Colorado Onyx,and
the 13th step leading to the capitol is one mile high above sea
level. Denver is nestled up against the foothills of the Rockies
on the barren High Plains. The trading posts of mountain men and
occasional ranch were the only settlements in the Denver area
until the 1850s. It was not until the Russell party found gold
in paying quantities in Cherry Creek in 1857 that the gold rush
was on and Denver was born. With "Pike's Peak or Bust"
painted on thier wagons,100,000 emigrants had cross the plains
to Denver by the end of 1859. The fabulous Leadsville silver strikewas
made in 1875. When gold was discovered in even more fantastic
amounts at Cripple Creek in 1890,Denver was was the center of
one of the one of the richest mining regions in the world. Denver
is the connecting station where the Pioneer jions the California
Zephyr from San Fransico and the Desert Wind from Los Angeles.
At Denver the train leaves the Union Pacific Railroad to the west
and travels on the Burlington Northern Railroad east to Chicago.
Denver is a refueling and service stop for the train. Passengers
are invited to detrain,stretch thier legs and explore the Denver
COMMERCE CITY (20MIN./1:05MIN.)
On the northeastern edge of Denver,the train
passes through Commerce City. This industrial suburb of Denver
has the nation's largest sheep market. It also has a number of
sugar beet factories and cattle yards which line the tracks.
During the night the train stops at FT.MORGAN.
the Colorado/Nebraska State Line (45min./1:10min.) change your
watch between Mountain and Central,one hour later if going east,one
hour earlier if going west.
During the night,the train stops at MCCOOK,HOLDREGE and HASTINGS.
400-ft.,14-story,ten million dollar state capitol building,the
"Tower of the Plains",dominates this city,on the right.
The golden dome has a statue at the top which is not of a University
of Nebraska football coach,as many suggest,but the symbolic "Sower".
The state fair grounds are to the left. The University of Nebraska
campus and stadium are visible from the train,on the right,just
east of the station.
PLATTE RIVER Along the historic Platte River,the Mormons traveled
the north bank for several hundred miles in thier quest for the
holy land. The Pony Express and Oregon Trail followed its south
a Missouri River crossing for west-bound pioneers. Ohama has always
been a large transportation center,supporting as many as nine
railroads. The Union Stockyards were established here in 1884.
President Gerald Ford, Henry Fonda, Fred Astaire, Marlon Brando
and Malcom X were born here. Boys Town, a refuge for homeless
and underprivileged boys is west of town.
OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE (10MIN./90MIN.) The Strategic Air
Command has its haedquarters here at Offutt Air Force Base,to
the right of the train,as does the 55th Strategic Reconnaissance
Wing,which conducts global reconnaissance missions. Offutt is
the home of the National Airborne Command Post,used by the President
in times of crisis (look for military versions of the Boeing 747
on the field). This is also the site of the SAC Museum. The train
follows the Missouri,on the left.
MISSOURI RIVER (25MIN./87MIN.) The magnificent Missouri
River was called "mini-souri" by the Indians. Its headwaters
are in Montana where the Gallatin,Jefferson and Madison Rivers
come together. In the 1800s,steamboats plied the Missouri all
the way from Omaha to St.Louis,where it flows into the Mississippi.
Crossing the Missouri,the train also crosses between Nebraska
This homestead of Swedish settlers was also
the home of the famous TV coffe lady,Mrs.Olson. So,the town's
water tower,on the left,is in the shape of a coffee pot.
train crosses the summit of the ridge between the Des Moines and
Missouri River Valleys,the highest point east of the Missouri
on the train's route. The town's depot is now a national landmark.
The tall cement silos of the Farmers Cooperative on the left offer
a ride to the top for a bird's eye-view of Creston.
carved wooden bust of the Seminole chief,Osceola,can be seen to
the right of the train just past I-35,west of the station. Settlers
in the 1800s found the first Delicious apple tree here,thirty
miles to the north.
town rises on terrances above the Des Moines River. It was the
home of General Joseph M.Street, Indian agent, who built a trading
post in 1836. It was also the hometown of the fictional character
"Radar O'Reily" from the television show MASH.
MT.PLEASANT The oldest college west of the Mississippi was
established in 1842 as Iowa Wesleyan College,to the left of the
train. The first American coed,Lucy Kilpatrick, graduated from
there in 1859. The city had the first plank toll roads leading
to Burlinton in 1851. And the first Iowan courthouse was built
here in 1839.
was the site of a Pony Express and stage
BURLINGTON Flint in the nearby Shoquoquon Hills provided
tools and weapons for the Indians,and they considered this area
"neutral ground". Zebulon Pike established a fort here
in 1805,and Abe Lincoln fought here as a captin in the Black Hawk
Wars. Before the first railroad bridge was built in 1868,passengers
and frieght crossed the Mississippi in ferry boats. In winter
they had to brave the ice on foot. In 1887, George Westinghouse
developed the air brake on West Burlington Hill.
This town is where the western hero Marshal
Wyatt Earp was born. Monmouth's industry includes a marketing
center from corn and feeder cattle.
GALESBURG Popcorn was invented in Galesburg by Olmstead
Ferris. This was also the home of Carl Sandburg,writer and historian.
Abe Lincoln and Stephen Douglas debated here at Knox College in
the building with the copper spire to the left of the train. 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.
"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 (25MIN./1:30MIN.) The small industrial
city of Kewanee was settled alongside the Spoon River in 1836
by New Englanders.
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.
This was a transfer station for stagecoaches
in the 1830s. It was also the birthplace of 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,La Grange,Brookfield
and other points. This attractive suburb is a high-tech industrial
center and is known for its Riverwalk,a restored hisstoric village,and
an example of Frank Lloyd Wright's architecture.
CHICAGO is the crossroad of American manufacturing and
distribution,and an important hub of the nation's railroads. The
Sears Tower dominates the massive skyline along with the "Gold
Coast" highrises along Lake Michigan. As the train backs
into Chicago's Union Station,it parallels the Chicago River on
the left,it flow reversed in an engineering triumph in 1880-and
another engineering triumph-Amtrak's modern yards and maintenance
facility,which is the home of the Poineer. The train ends its
2,422-mile run in historic Union Station. Built in 1926,the station
serves over 40 Amtraktrains and 160 commuter trains each weekday.
For information on Amtrak
for photos, travelogues and more info about the Amtrak Pioneer.
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