Inaugural Train Of The Amtrak
Texas Eagle/California Service
(Amtrak Route #21 - Locomotive #21 !!!)
This page contains my collection of experiences, photos, events and
thoughts while riding Amtrak's Inaugural Train of the
Texas Eagle/California Service.
Above is a map of the route taken by the Inaugural Train
of the Amtrak Texas Eagle/California Service.
Click here for a larger copy of the map.
This journey was a reunion of many of the people that participated
in the Tri-State Rail Meeting that took place last year. That meeting
focused on the Amtrak Texas Eagle route that had just been narrowly
saved from Amtrak's route reductions. This was the first time I had seen
any of those people since that meeting. I also met many people in person
who, until now, I had only communicated with through e-mail.
While in Chicago, I also got to visit with Jeff Kocar, President of the
Amtrak Historical Society
and Vince McGraw, WebAuthor of the Amtrak Intercity
and the Amtrak Technical Training web sites. I had not seen either of
these people for many months.
I also had a chance to introduce these two individuals to each other
which may turn out productive for each of our endeavors. This journey
also gave me the opportunity to visit the Intercity Crew Ready Room
and meet a number of new Amtrak people both in Chicago and on the train.
This rail travel experience was totally different than any previous rail
journey I have ever taken. For one, it was certainly the longest train
that I have ever been on! This was also the first inaugural trip that I
have ever taken. I have never been on a train with so much fanfare and so
many VIPs, not to mention the frequent entertainment in both lounge cars
by various musicians. I don't think I have ever boarded an Amtrak
long-distance train on which there was anyone else riding that I knew.
On this train, there were dozens and dozens of people who I had either
met before, communicated by e-mail, or knew by reputation, writings,
or position in the rail community!
I do have to apologize for what you, and I, thought would be almost
live updates direct from the inaugural Texas Eagle/California Service
train. Instead, there was only one update from the train. That was
in Malvern, Arkansas, shortly after we had returned to the actual route
of the Texas Eagle after taking a 5 hour detour around a derailed freight
train. That update was only possible thanks to Sam Love who loaned me
his cellular phone that was operational.
I tested all the equipment and the feasibility of doing live updates of
photos and text on my rail journey out to Chicago on the Southwest Chief.
For those of you that followed my updates, you know that photos and
travelogue updates were being posted like clockwork right from the train.
Thus, I knew the technology would work. Unfortunately, I did not realize
that something triggered the software in the cellular network to flag
my phone as possibly having been cloned. Thus, my cell phone service
was disconnected probably before I even boarded the Texas Eagle! Since
I had problems on previous journeys using my cell phone between Illinois
and Texas due to a lack of working agreements between cellular providers,
I just assumed that was the problem. I figured that service would resume
in Texas just as it had on previous trips. It did not.
My Nextel cellular phone was working in Texas. I could not upload
data using the Nextel cellular phone because Nextel does not yet
support modem connections over their network. However, I could call
up Air Touch on my Nextel phone to try to find out the problem with
my Air Touch cellular service on my other cell phone that does support
modem connections. Their answer was they believed that my
phone had been cloned. I don't believe this to be the case and I will
explain why later. After I gave them enough data to prove that I was
the rightful owner of the phone, they issued me a new cellular phone
number and walked me through setting my phone to this new number.
Normally they said it would take 24 hours to activate the phone since
I was roaming, but they would try to have the service activated by
I don't know exactly how the fraud detection software works, but I
believe there are a number of criteria that are used to make a "guess"
that a phone number has been cloned. Once a phone number is identified
as having possibly been cloned, that phone number is shut down across
the nation! An obvious criteria would be when two phones with the same
phone number attempt to place a call at the same time, or segments of each
call from the same cellular number
overlap. That would mean that two cell phones had the same phone number.
That strongly points to one being a clone. I think they must have
other criteria. For example, a cellular phone could be flagged as having
been cloned if two calls originate from the same cellular number, one
from Los Angeles and one from New York, within one hour of each other.
Since we have not yet invented a way to get from Los Angeles to New
York that fast, it is likely that fraudulent cloning is involved in these
In my case, I don't think anyone has actually cloned my phone number.
I think something in the pattern of traveling across the nation by
train and making phone calls from an odd set of cities that maybe
don't follow a neat set of interstate highways, the cellular computer
system just came to the conclusion that there must be multiple phones
in different locations with the same phone number and shut down my
cellular service. I have another alternative speculation, but this
is just a wild guess. When I am online through my cellular modem and
lose my connection, I will often call right back into the system. It
may be possible that the first call has not been cleared from the
cellular fraud tracking system by the time the second call is placed,
hence making it seem like two calls are in progress at the same time
from the same phone number. I know that people who are disconnected from
voice calls also often redial the call immediately, but modem
connections might be handled differently.
The most logical explanation might be my calling pattern. I almost never
use my Air Touch cellular phone. The only reason I have it is because my
Nextel phone does not handle modem phone calls. I prefer Nextel over
other cellular services because the rates are low, coverage is almost
nationwide, and I never have to pay roaming fees. When I place calls
from outside my local area, the minutes are included in my monthly
400 minute plan. I just pay the long distance charge of about 10 cents
per minute. With Air Touch, calling from outside my home state costs
almost $1 per minute! An hour long call on Nextel would cost me $6
plus take 60 minutes from my monthly 400 minute free allocation. A
60 minute call from out of state on my Air Touch Phone would cost me
almost $60 !!!
Thus, when I take a rail trip, I'll suddenly make several expensive
calls from all over the country in contrast to my usual calling pattern
where I hardly use the phone at all. Maybe that is the reason the fraud
detection software is identifying my Air Touch Cellular phone number as
possibly having been cloned.
I don't know if this is the source of
the problem, but I'm willing to bet that the shutdown has more to do
with the anti-cloning software mistaking my calling pattern or use
than having to do with someone actually having cloned my phone number.
I have had similar problems to this in the past, but it has been so
long, I didn't think these problems would still occur.
The information age is here with the possibility of a live feed of
photos and text from a moving train, but I guess we can not rely on
Air Touch Cellular to provide this capability. Air Touch Cellular
is a "wire channel" carrier and belongs to that network or cellular
companies. I don't know if the "non-wire" cellular carriers would be
any more reliable, but I guess that is worth a try. The "non-wire"
company in my area is "L.A.Cellular". What I would really like is
for Nextel to complete their nationwide network and sell the new
phones with modem capability that they are working on!
It is now 1:12 A.M. Central Time. Even if the train is a couple of
hours late arriving into Los Angeles, it doesn't seem worth the expense of
uploading via the cellular modem just to have the photos posted a few hours
earlier. So, in worst case, all the photos and the travelogue below will
have been posted to the web sometime on Monday, February 9, 1998, from
my office, rather than from the train.
Here is the travelogue that I have typed as events unfolded on this rail
On this web page you will find almost live coverage of the
inaugural run of the Amtrak Texas Eagle/California Service Train!
Photos and text are uploaded using my video camera, Snappy video capture,
notebook computer and cellular modem. The frequency of posting updates will
depend on the quality of cellular service along the route and finding time
to upload during dwell time when communication is the most stable.
You can bring up a full size photo of any image on this page by
clicking on it.
All photos were taken "live" while on this rail journey
unless otherwise noted. "Stock photos" that have been posted from
previous rail journeys are indicated in the text directly below those
Texarkana artist Luphelia Middlebrook's award-wining painting, "A Life
of Inspiration" has been boarded and is on display in the VIP Sightseer
Lounge Car. It will remain on display in that lounge until the train
returns to Chicago from Los Angeles. The painting is being handled and
accompanied by Ms. Carol Collins-Miles of the Scott Joplin Support Group,
Inc. Ms Collins-Miles is also coordinating a ragtime singing group of
on-board entertainment, with group members boarding in St. Louis and
Texarkana. On-board entertainment will continue all the way to
Los Angeles plus several movies will be shown during the day in the
Lounge Cars with a special midnight movie.
Although many dignitaries and Amtrak officials will travel the full
route to arrive in San Antonio at 1:22 a.m., on Sunday, Feb. 8, and
Los Angeles on Monday, Feb. 9, several officials will board and
disembark at various points along the way.
FRI 10:30 AM CT 02/06/98 Chicago IL
I left my hotel room at about 10:05 AM and took a taxi to Chicago Union
Station. Immediately apon arrival I placed my suitcase in a storage
locker. Even though they let Sleeping Car passengers leave their luggage
in the Metropolitan Lounge, I don't like to leave my luggage anywhere
that I can't keep an eye on it and others have access to it.
I then went to Biff's, a restaurant in the main level of the station
where Jeff Kocar, president of the Amtrak Historical Society would be
meeting with Mike Rolcik and myself. I was hardly there for 10 minutes
when Jeff showed up, also early. He told me that Mike got snowed in
and wouldn't be able to make the inaugural Texas Eagle/California
I didn't have any plans, but Jeff Kocar needed to deliver some
materials to Susan Rooney, Vice President of the Amtrak Historical
Society and in charge of Associate Services. Susan is also an Amtrak
Car Attendant and would be working in the Diner on this Inaugural
Texas Eagle/California Service train! He asked if I wanted to
take a walk down to the Crew Ready Room. I have been through the
Amtrak Chicago Car Shops before, but I had never been to the crew
ready room and thought this might be an interesting experience.
The other people that had been planning on meeting us were Ray Dunbar
of the Texas Eagle Marketing Group and Gene Poon of Rail Travel News.
Ray wouldn't get into the airport until 11:30 A.M. and I did't know
what time Gene Poon would arrive. Thus, I thought there might be
plenty of time to take a walk down to the crew ready room.
I had forgotten just how far the Car Shops and Crew area is from
Union Station! We went out to the platforms and then over to the
road that leads out of the station, under the post office, and into
the yard. Last time I went this way was in an electric cart, and it
seemed like a long way even when riding it!
Once we got to the Crew Ready Room, I saw a number of the Amtrak staff
people that would be on our train. Jeff introduced me to Susan Rooney
and also to Shelia Ready. Shelia Ready is a key member of the Texas
Eagle Product Line team and appears to be the #1 person in charge of
this inaugural Texas Eagle/California Service Train. I had
heard of Shelia Ready and she had heard of me, but this is the first
time we have actually met each other. Shelia asked for my car and room
number and then looked up who my Car Attendant would be. She said
that she would pass on the word and make sure he knew to take good
care of me! I gave her my business car and another to pass on to my
We then went over to the Amtrak Car Shops and hunted down Vince McGraw
in the Technical Training Center. Vince produces the web pages for
Amtrak Intercity (
www.amtrakintercity.com) which is hosted at TrainWeb. I introduced
Jeff Kocar and Vince McGraw to each other. With some of the historical
materials that Jeff has about Amtrak and the pages that Vince is
creating for each route in Amtrak Intercity, it looks like that
meeting may result in some good source material for both Amtrak Intercity
We left as it was getting near the time for the arrival of the northbound
Texas Eagle. We left the Car Shop building on a second floor exit that
leads out to a flybridge over the yard. The photos below were taken from
In the first photo you can see many Amtrak consists that
are being prepared prior to departure. I believe the train with the
engines facing forward is a California Zephyr. The train immediately to
the right of it without any engines is the Inaugural
Texas Eagle/California Service Train! After that train there is
another train in the yard. The skyline of Chicago is in the background.
The second and third photos are additional shots of the Amtrak yard.
You can see there are Amtrak locomotives directly under the flybridge
in the second photo.
The photos below are of the Inaugural Texas Eagle/California Service
train in the yard prior to being pulled down into the station. This is one
long train! As we walked along it we first met my Car Attendant getting my
car ready. Then we met Susan Rooney again getting things ready in the
Below are more photos from the Amtrak Chicago Yard area. The first is the
Amtrak tower. The second photo was taken under the post office next to
the station as we walked back to the station. Mail Cars that Amtrak
carries are loaded and unloaded at this facility.
When I returned to the Metropolitan Lounge in Chicago, Ray Dunbar had
arrived. He was wearing one of the "Texas Eagle/California Service"
buttons that you see displayed at the top of this page. Bill Eldridge
had arranged to have these made and he gave Ray one to pass on to me.
There would be plenty of these buttons for everyone, but not until
Bill Eldridge boarded the train in Little Rock. In the meantime,
everyone that saw the few people that did have buttons wanted to know
where to get one!
FRI 06:30 PM CT 02/06/98 Chicago IL - Ch 54 160.920
The above pictures were taken in the VIP Sightseer Lounge Car.
The Texas Eagle/California Service train is expected to carry a
lot of Lone Star Beer from Texas to California and hense this banner
of support. Unfortunately, someone spelled Amtrak with a "C"!
FRI 07:25 PM CT 02/06/98 Joilet IL - Ch 78 161.280
In the morning I had received a copy of the Sleeping Car manifests,
but since I didn't have a printer with me, I had to copy it down to
paper by hand. I just had a feeling that this information would come
in useful once I boarded the train to find various people that I wanted
Once I was on the train, it certainly did prove useful! Not just for
me, but for many people. Most people who came to this event were
planning on meeting other people they knew, but did not know where to
find them. Also, there were a lot of people that we thought might be
on this inaugural run but weren't sure they would be onboard. The
manifest was very useful for that and many of the inaugural celebrants
kept borrowing the manifest from me to find who might be on board that
There were quite a few Amtrak employees, VIPs, and others well known
in the rail travel community onboard this inaugural run of the Amtrak
Texas Eagle/California Service train. I have listed some of
those people below. If I wasn't sure of a close approximation to their
title or position, then I have left it out. If you know of additional
people that were on-board or can help me out with titles of any of the
following, then please send me that information via e-mail to me at:
Amtrak people included (listed alphabetically):
- Lee Bullock, President of Amtrkak Intercity
- John Chatas, Director of Product Marketing
- Don Cushine, General Manager of the Western Business Group
- Rob Dellinger, Government Affairs Officer
- Ed Ellis, Vice President, Mail & Express
- Tom Greco, Musician during the route (not Amtrak employee)
- Griff Hubbard, Agent from Longview, Texas
- Jesse Padilla, Agent from Austin, Texas
- Sheila Ready, Service Manager, Texas Eagle Product Line
- Joy Smith, Texas Eagle Product Line Director
- Camille Thomas, Customer Relations, Amtrak Intercity
Debbie Hare, Director of Amtrak Intercity Media Relations,
was scheduled to be onboard but was not able to make this event due to
Others well known in the rail travel community (listed alphabetically):
- Bob Johnston, Staff Writer, Trains Magazine
- H.B. "Tex" Owens
- Jack Martin, President of NARP
- Gene Poon, Rail Travel News writer
- Ed Von Nordeck
Government Representatives: (listed alphabetically)
- Celia Boswell, Mayor of Mineola
- Gaylon Butler, City Councilman from Longview, Texas
- Diane Delisi, State Senator from Texas
- Tony Hennes, Assistant City Manager or Temple, Texas
- Audrey Kariel, Mayor of Marshall, Texas
- Jim McAlister, City Manager of Arkadelphia, Arkansas
- David McWhorter, Mayor of Longview
- Don Melton, Transportation Liaison, Arkansas Governor's Office
- J.R. Rogers, Mayor of Walnut Ridge, Arkansas
- Helen Selig, Mayor of Hot Springs, Arkansas
Other people who have volunteered their time to save and expand the
Texas Eagle who were onboard included the following:
- Will Bozeman
- Trave Burgess, long time NARP board member from St. Louis
- Ray Dunbar
- Bill Eldridge, Vice President of Arkansas Rail
- Tim Geeslin, Tarrant Association of Railroad Passengers
- John Mills, retired Amtrak official & lifetime Eagle advocate
- Dan Monaghan, Mobility Dallas
- Bill Pollard, Chairman, Texas Eagle Marketing & Advisory Group
- John Radovich
- Fred Springer, owner of private rail car Vista Canyon
- John Weeks, Mobility Dallas
- Barry Williams, former NARP Assistant Director for over a decade
FRI 07:59 PM CT 02/06/98 Dwight IL - Ch 78 161.280
Ray Dunbar brought a whole big overstuffed suitcase of
"Texas Eagle/California Service" T-Shirts and sold them on the train.
I bought one and told Ray that I'd buy a couple more if he still had
any left after selling them to everyone else that wanted one on the
train. Ray was getting requests right and left for these T-Shirts!
Because the train was so long, he had to make many trips just about
the entire length of the train to restock and bring T-Shirts to people
as he ran out.
FRI 08:17 PM CT 02/06/98 Pontiac IL - Ch 78 161.280
FRI 08:50 PM CT 02/06/98 Bloomington-Normal IL - Ch 78 161.280
FRI 09:25 PM CT 02/06/98 Lincoln IL - Ch 78 161.280
FRI 10:02 PM CT 02/06/98 Springfield IL - Ch 78 161.280
FRI 10:42 PM CT 02/06/98 Carlinville IL - Ch 78 161.280
FRI 11:13 PM CT 02/06/98 Alton IL - Ch 78 161.280
In every room and in the VIP Sightseer Lounge Car were 1998 Calendars
from the Western Business Group. This group features the Great Trains
of the West including: The Empire Builder, The California Zephyr,
The Southwest Chief, and The Texas Eagle. Each calendar has
a cover letter from Don Cushine, General Manager of the Western Business
SAT 12:25 AM CT 02/07/98 St. Louis MO - Ch 26 160.500
SAT 01:04 AM CT 02/07/98 St. Louis MO - Ch 24 160.470
SAT 05:40 AM CT 02/07/98 Somewhere in Missouri - Ch 27 160.515
Just before I went to bed at about 2:30 A.M., I heard a request over the
radio that Tom Mulligan call the Dispatcher over a cell phone. Tom
Mulligan is the UP liaison. The word also came across that
Sheila Ready would know where to find Tom Mulligan on the train.
I didn't think too much of this. I thought maybe we weren't getting the
priority that we should be getting from the UP and that some phone calls
were needed to keep obtain the cooperation of the UP to keep us moving
UP Detector Mile Post 216 - No Defects - Axle Count 80 - Train Speed 72 MPH - Ch 27 160.515
Unfortunately, it turned out to be much more serious than that.
Gene Poon was kind enough to slip a note under my door at 4:10 AM.
Evidently a freight had derailed at Bald Knob. To get around this
derailment the plan was as follows:
Poplar Bluff to Dexter (using up front locos)
Dexter to Pine Bluff via SSW
Pine Bluff to Little Rock
At 5:18 A.M., Gene slipped an updated plan under my door:
UP to Bald Knob
UP to SSW
SSW to Pine Bluff
UP to LRK
Estimated delay: 3 to 4 hours!
They are talking about having to put the engines on the back end of
the train and having to run the train backwards down as far as
Little Rock, Arkansas. That is a dilemma that they are trying to figure
out at the moment. We have a box car at the rear of the train. If they
put the engines on the other end of the train, then they won't be able
to provide electrical power (i.e., heat and lights) to the passenger
cars. Plus, they also need the air hose connected between the engines
and thus, they are going to have to either also move the box car
around to the front end of the train or leave it behind and arrange
for it to complete its journey later.
I woke up about 5:30 AM and typed the above information into the
computer. Here is the first proposal to handle the problem to avoid
putting the engines at the other end of the train:
Turn train at Wynne and then go down to Bald Knob or Fair Oaks.
There is an east wye and west wye where they could turn the train
around twice and get it going back in the right direction again leaving
the engines on the front of the train.
SAT 05:00 AM CT 02/07/98 Poplar Bluff MO - Ch 26 160.500
SAT 06:06 AM CT 02/07/98 Walnut Ridge AR - Ch 26 160.500
We just stopped to pick up the mayor. However, I'm not sure if we
are at Poplar Bluff, Walnut Ridge, or Little Rock! If we have not
yet hit the detour that we are suppose to take and we are still on
schedule for now, then the schedule says that we would be in Walnut
Ridge at 6:06 AM when we stopped. I'll post an update as soon as
I find out just where we are.
The next plan that was relayed at 5:59 A.M. calls for a set of
locomotives waiting for us at Bald Knob which will pull us to
Fair Oaks around the wye. Then we would be in the right direction to
go to Pine Bluffs with our locomotives in the lead. I guess whether
or not this solution is implemented depends on the ability to get
other locomotives down to Bald Knob in time that can pull our long
UP Detector Mile Post 248 - No Defects - Axle Count 80 - Train Speed 72 MPH - Ch 27 160.515
Turns out that we were right on schedule right up to Walnut Ridge.
We had even arrived into Poplar Ridge 10 minutes early! They did decide
to take the train to detour at Bald Knob and take the train to Wynne.
There, they backed it into a wye and turned around and headed back
down the same track to Fair Oaks. We are there right now and switching
onto the SSW Cotton Belt to head south to Pine Bluff. There we will
switch again to head over to Little Rock and get back onto our
normal route. The detour from Bald Knob to Wynne and then back to Fair
Oaks was estimated at about 1.5 hours. Going from Fair Oaks down to
Pine Bluff is estimated at another 1.5 hours, and going from Pine Bluff
back to our original route at Little Rock will take at least another
hour. Thus, we are looking at a 4 to 5 hour delay before arriving
into Little Rock, the first city of festivities!
One of my biggest frustrations on this trip has been trying to get
a cellular connection. All I could get in St. Louis was "The number
you have dialed is not correct. Please check the number and dial again."
Every number I tried gave the same message. All I could conclude from
that is that Air Touch Cellular does not have a reciprocal agreement
with the cellular company in this area. Further south all I could get
is: "Your cellular service has been temporarily disconnected." Then
they gave me an 800 number to call for help. I called it and found
out what I expected, that this cellular company has no reciprocal
agreement with Air Touch. They said I could call Air Touch and get a
temporary agreement set up, but as far as I know, I might be out of
their territory by the time that all gets worked out!
In the first frame above you can see the front of the train as we round
the curve at Bald Knob to start our detour to head east toward Fair Oaks
and Wynne, Arkansas. In the second frame you can see a caboose sitting in
If you click on the first frame above and look at the full size photo,
you can see a railroad worker manually throwing the switch at Wynne to
complete the operation of wye-ing the train. In the second frame above you
can see our train coming out of the wye and heading west back to Fair Oaks
In the first frame above, we are about to turn left in Fair Oaks and travel
around the opposite side of this body of water. In the second frame, you
can see the front end of our train starting around that curve to head south
onto the Cotton Belt towards Pine Bluff, Arkansas. In the third frame
above you can see the back end of our train and get some idea of just how
long this train is! Keep in mind, I am in a Sleeping Car that is already
behind the 3 engines, a baggage car and a transition sleeper! The cars in
this third frame are just the cars in the remainder of the train that are
far enough back around the curve to come into view! In about the middle
of that frame you can see a car with large windows. That is the VIP Lounge.
Each time I went to that car from my Sleeping Car, I had to go through
two more sleeping cars, three more coach cars, the regular lounge car, the
Dining Car, a VIP Sleeping Car and then finally into this VIP Lounge Car!
- Poplar Bluff, AZ
- Bald Knob, AZ
- Fair Oaks, AZ
- Y at Wynne, AZ
- Fair Oaks, AZ
- Pine Bluff, AZ (11:45 AM CT Ch 14 160.320)
- Little Rock, AR
While I was down in the VIP Sightseer Lounge this morning, I was
given a CD of "Just A Few Rags" performed by Jan Hamilton Douglas
along with a description brochure about the music and the performer.
I also picked up a copy of the Premiere Issue of the Empire Builder
Magazine. They were in a big stack in the smoking Coach Car and in
the back of every seat.
SAT 02:00 PM CT 02/07/98 Little Rock AR - Ch 42 160.470
Banner Breaking Ceremony
Bill Eldridge boarded the train at this station along with the rest
of the "Texas Eagle/California Service" buttons. The next time I
headed down to the VIP Lounge Car, I was surprised to see just about
everyone in the Coach Cars wearing one!
SAT 02:52 PM CT 02/07/98 Malvern AR - Ch 27 160.515
At this point you can thank Sam Love for use of his cellular phone!
While mine was still not functional in this part of the country, his
was working and he let me borrow it so that I could upload the first
edition of this travelogue.
SAT 03:21 PM CT 02/07/98 Arkadelphia AR - Ch 27 160.515
of Amtrak Express Shipping
leads the group in singing!
The entire group in the VIP Lounge Car sung railroad songs and other songs
lead by Ed Ellis on the guitar as can be seen in the above frames.
Entertainment was continuous for most of Saturday evening and Sunday
morning. Bill Pollard of ArkRail, the Arkansas Rail Passenger Association
is seen in the center of the first frame. Bill played a significant
role in helping to organize support for the Texas Eagle and kept us all
informed as this inaugural event developed.
Complimentary champagne, wine and beer were served along with party trays,
hot cheese dip and other treats from time to time downstairs in the VIP
Sightseer Lounge Car. The right frame above is a photo taken upstairs in
the VIP Sightseer Lounge Car.
SAT 04:48 PM CT 02/07/98 Texarkana AR/TX - Ch 27 160.515
Banner Breaking Ceremony
The man on the right in the first frame above is Bill Eldridge of ArkRail,
the Arkansas Rail Passenger Association
Bill brought over 500 Texas Eagle/California Service buttons with
him when he boarded the train in Little Rock and gave them out to almost
every passenger on the train! He was also responsible for creating the
"Don't Mess With The Texas Eagle" T-Shirt that was available at the
Tri-State Rail Meeting last year. I think he had some available for sale
on this train also.
SAT 06:00 PM CT 02/07/98 Marshall TX - Ch 24 160.515
Banner Breaking Ceremony
SAT 06:38 PM CT 02/07/98 Longview TX - Ch 27 160.515
Banner Breaking Ceremony
Kilgore Community College "Rangerettes" will be at the station.
SAT 08:00 PM CT 02/07/98 Mineola TX - Ch 27 160.515
Banner Breaking Ceremony
SAT 09:16 PM CT 02/07/98 Dallas TX - Ch 27 160.515
Banner Breaking Ceremony
SAT 09:29 PM CT 02/07/98 Dallas TX - Ch 27 160.515
Texas Eagle In Dallas
Click on the above image to see many more photos of the Texas Eagle and
the Dallas Station. This photo was taken on my previous trip on the Amtrak
Texas Eagle when the announcement was made that there will be a Texas
Eagle for as long as there is an Amtrak. That was the conclusion of a
successful effort by the Texas legislature and many individuals to reverse
Amtrak's decision to eliminate the Texas Eagle.
SAT 10:30 PM CT 02/07/98 Fort Worth TX - Ch 78 161.280
Banner Breaking Ceremony
Brief News Conference at Podium: Forth Worth Mayor Kenneth Barr and
Amtrak Intercity President Lee W. Bullock will speak.
At the press conference, Lee Bullock announced that the Amtrak
Texas Eagle will provide daily service by next year. An item that
I don't think was mentioned at the news conference, but was confirmed
by Lee Bullock is that the through-cars between the Texas Eagle and
Sunset Limited will be resumed before April 1998. This was an item
that Ted Kildeguard of
had noticed when he tried booking a passenger on that train and then
brought to my attention just before I started this rail journey.
The through-cars became a very controversial issue when they were
discontinued by Amtrak. Texas Eagle passengers who boarded north of
San Antonio and planned to continue west were allowed to sleep the
night in their Coach or Sleeping Car accommodations when the train
arrived at 1:32 A.M. However, they then had to get off the train
and switch to the Sunset Limited which would be at 5:35 A.M. when
the Sunset Limited arrived on time.
The difficulty was created because both the Sunset Limited and the
Texas Eagle now carry express cars. It would be very difficult and
time consuming to shuffle all the cars around to put the Texas Eagle
passenger cars with the Sunset Limited passenger cars and the express
cars with the express cars. There are a couple of reasons why the
Texas Eagle passenger cars couldn't just be attached behind the
Sunset Limited express cars. First, there aren't any electrical cables
or air hoses in the express boxcars to provide power to the passenger
cars and vacuum to the toilets. Second, even if they went through the
expensive process of equipping the the boxcars with cables and power,
the passengers in the cars behind the boxcars would be isolated from
the Dining Car and Sightseer Lounge Car and it would be impossible for
the Conductor and other staff to access both those cars and other parts
of the train.
I don't know how this issue has been resolved to restore the
through-cars. Maybe they are just going to bite the bullet and shuffle
all the cars around in the yard so that all the passenger cars will
be together when the combined Sunset Limited/Texas Eagle heads west
from San Antonio and north to Chicago.
SAT 11:32 PM CT 02/07/98 Fort Worth TX - Ch 36 160.650
SAT --:-- PM CT 02/07/98 Cleburne TX - Ch 36 160.650
SUN --:-- AM CT 02/08/98 McGregor TX - Ch 36 160.650
The above photos were taken on my previous rail journey on the
Amtrak Texas Eagle.
SUN --:-- AM CT 02/08/98 Tempie TX - Ch 24 160.470
SUN --:-- AM CT 02/08/98 Taylor TX - Ch 42 160.740
SUN --:-- AM CT 02/08/98 Austin TX - Ch 42 160.740
SUN --:-- AM CT 02/08/98 San Marcos TX - Ch 42 160.740
SUN 07:21 AM CT 02/08/98 San Antonio TX - Ch 42 160.740
Will the real Amtrak San Antonio Station please stand up! If you guessed
the photo on the right, you are correct. The building on the left is the
old passenger depot, but currently is planned to be turned into a saloon.
The building is just a few feet from the platform and is actually closer
to the platform than the "temporary" Amtrak station housed in trailers.
These photos were taken on a previous rail journey through San Antonio on
the Texas Eagle.
I guess turning it into a saloon might be O.K., as long as they are going
to be open from midnight to 6 A.M., during the time the Texas Eagle lays
over in San Antonio before starting its westward segment. However, it
certainly would be nice if at least part of the building could be utilized
as the Amtrak Station.
to visit the web site
for more information about efforts to restore the San Antonio Sunset Depot
as the actual Amtrak Station.
SUN 08:01 AM CT 02/08/98 San Antonio TX - Ch 96 161.550
Conductor Zeb Love (ret.) Of The Love Train!
Zeb Love was the Conductor on the Texas Eagle between Fort Worth
and Texarkana for many years. With his special personality, it
became famous as The Love Train and was a feature of a special
video piece by world known traveler and writer, Charles Kuralt. Conductor
Zeb Love and The Love Train are also mentioned in many railroad
and rail travel books. Zeb retired from the route in December of 1988.
His birthday was celebrated on the train and he served as an Honorary
Conductor on this train on his old route from Fort Worth to Texarkana.
Zeb made the announcement over the train-wide intercom that went something
like this: "I'm Zeb Love and I'll be your Conductor from Fort Worth to
Texarkana. You are now riding on The Love Train!" I met him in
person in the Sightseer Lounge Car where he gave me a sticker to put on
my T-Shirt that read in bold blue letters on a reflective silver
background: "I Am Riding The LOVE TRAIN". The words "LOVE TRAIN" were
on the second line with the Amtrak logo between the top and bottom
SUN 11:22 AM CT 02/08/98 Del Rio TX - Ch 96 161.550
Oops! Over the intercom I heard: "Conductor, are you going to double spot
the train? There are some passengers in the VIP section that want to get
off here." This train is so long that the rear cars are out in the dirt
when the front cars are at the platform. For safety, it is customary to
only let passengers get on and off the train on the platform, even if
it requires the train to make more than one stop at the same platform.
Evidently, the Conductor did not hear the intercom announcement as they
"high-balled" out of the station!
For a few minutes, I was wondering if the passengers had been let out
anyway, even though no reply was given by the Conductor over the intercom.
But, I thought too little time had gone by between the intercom announcement
and the train starting for anyone to have gotten off.
In about one or two minutes, another announcement comes over the intercom:
"Conductor, stop the train." That is immediately followed by a radio
announcement from the Conductor to the Engineer to stop the train. We
stopped out in the middle of nowhere and I would thing a good distance
from the station. We stayed here for 6 minutes until 11:28 AM and let
the VIP passenger off, I guess in the middle of nowhere. It is a big
deal to have a train backup especially for that long a distance. I
can only guess that they called a cab to pick up that person at the
nearest cross street to where they dropped them off. Not a good
impression to give a VIP rider who might have been riding Amtrak for
the first time. Hopefully it was someone with a sense of humor and
not someone that might have voting or other significant political input
relative to Amtrak.
Pecos River Bridge
SUN 02:04 PM CT 02/08/98 Sanderson TX (Flag) - Ch 96 161.550
SUN 04:07 PM CT 02/08/98 Alpine TX - Ch 96 161.550
SUN 07:03 PM MT 02/08/98 El Paso TX - Ch 96 161.550
SUN 07:20 PM MT 02/08/98 El Paso TX - Ch 96 161.550
SUN 08:47 PM MT 02/08/98 Deming NM - Ch 96 161.550
SUN ----- PM MT 02/08/98 Lordsburg NM (Flag) - Ch 96 161.550
This is a flag stop. I don't think there was anyone to pick up or
drop of. If there isn't anyone to getting on or off, the train doesn't
SUN 11:29 PM MT 02/08/98 Benson AZ - Ch 96 161.550
MON 12:15 AM MT 02/09/98 Tucson AZ - Ch 14 161.320
MON --:-- AM MT 02/09/98 Yuma AZ - Ch 96 161.550
MON --:-- AM PT 02/09/98 Indio CA
MON 06:35 AM PT 02/09/98 Palm Springs CA
Palm Springs Amtrak Station and Windmill Electric Generators
I spent most of the morning in the VIP Lounge Car. Although breakfast
wasn't served on the train, they did have complimentary bagels, danish,
coffee and juice in the VIP Lounge. Gene Poon, Gary Anderson and I
spent the rest of the morning journey as far as Ontario talking in that
Lounge. People were passing through the lounge car saying their final
good-byes to each other for this trip. Actually, quite a few onboard
would be returning that very night on the "inaugural" eastbound
Texas Eagle/California Service.
MON 08:40 AM PT 02/09/98 Ontario CA
Once past Ontario, we all headed for our rooms to do whatever last
minute packing was needed. We passed Zeb Love in the corridor and
each shook his hand, saying good-bye and wishing each other well.
MON 08:50 AM PT 02/09/98 Pomona CA
Finally, I managed to connect to the network over the cellular modem!
I uploaded this travelogue along with all the smaller size photos.
Rather than use expensive cellular time, I decided to wait until I got
back to my office to upload the larger photos.
MON 9:42 AM PT 02/09/98 Los Angeles CA
Palm Springs Amtrak Station and Windmill Electric Generators
We arrived in Los Angeles with little fanfare. My train would be
leaving at 10:15 AM, so I had to hurry. I didn't know what track it
would be on, so I went down into the main terminal building. From
the board, I could see that all arrivals and departures of Amtrak
San Diegans had been cancelled, but my train showed "on-time" to
depart at 10:15 AM. I just followed a red cap cart that was bringing
people to the only Amtrak train that was about to leave soon. Once
I knew the platform of my train, I then walked to the end of the
terminal and took some video of the Texas Eagle/California Service
lead locomotive, Engine #21! If you don't see stills from that video
posted here yet, it will be posted soon.
My return trip to the Fullerton Santa Fe Depot was uneventful and I
arrived shortly before 11 AM. Before heading home, I went up into
the TrainWeb office in the depot and uploaded all the large photographs.
So, you should now be able to click on any image on this page and
bring up a full-size photograph!
TUE 8:50 AM PT 02/10/98 FOLLOW-UP
Last night I had a chance to stop by the Ontario, California station
to see the eastbound Amtrak Inaugural Texas Eagle/California Service.
It arrived right on time. There were a couple of railfans there to
watch it. It still had the exact same consist and configuration as in the
morning. Locomotive #21 was still in the lead followed by #22 and #23.
All the Sleeping Cars and the 2 Sightseer Lounge Cars were on the train
just as they had been in the morning. The only difference between this
train and the one that left Chicago last Friday was that the 4 last
VIP Coach Cars were gone, thus there were only 3 Coaches instead of 7,
and there were no express or mail cars on this train.
I was wondering if they were going to switch the locomotives around to
put locomotive #22 in the lead of this train on route #22. But, I guess
they didn't think it was worth the trouble of switching everything
around. It was really great having locomotive #21 in the lead of the
the inaugural Texas Eagle/California Service train on route #21.
Once we left San Antonio and headed west, we were officially listed as
train #1, on the Sunset Limited schedule. However, many dispatchers,
conductors, engineers and others on the radio identify the train by the
lead locomotive number rather than the route number. Thus, our train on
route #21 continue to be identified as train #21 rather than train #1
over the radio for most of our travel! This train, however, by the same
convention will also be identified often as being train #21 on its
return journey even though the eastbound route is route #22 (or route #2
for the Amtrak Sunset Limited).
A few people boarded this train in Ontario into the 2130 Missouri
Sleeping Car, the very one that I was in on the westbound journey.
They did a double-spot on the train to let a couple of people off of
one of the VIP Sleeping Cars. This was probably somebody that lived
out in this area that had traveled on the morning Texas Eagle to
Los Angeles, spent the day with the VIPs, and was returning to his
home. That is just my guess.
FRI PT 02/13/98 FOLLOW-UP
I got the final word about my cellular phone problems. It was as I
had suspected, my calling pattern that triggered the fraud detection
software to shut down my service temporarily. Evidently it was the
first set of uploads from Albuquerque that set it off. After a
discussion with Air Touch, they have placed a notation on my account
that should prevent this problem in the future. This is a common
problem for some people that do travel around and they have similar
notations on their accounts to avoid the problem. Unfortunately,
there can be no guarantee that this will solve the problem, but
usually the person that investigates the calls will read the notation
and not shut down the service.
Before my next rail journey, I will be contacting my cellular provider
with my route map. They will make sure that reciprocal agreements are
in place throughout my route wherever they can. I will at least be aware
in advance of the few areas where they might have difficulty providing
cellular service and can plan my uploads around those locations.
- My Name: Steve Grande
- My Car Number: 2130
- My Seat/Accommodation: Standard Bedroom 5
- Train Route: Texas Eagle / California Service
- Train Number: 21
- Direction: South to San Antonio then West to Los Angeles
Consist (car numbers):
The following is the actual consist of the
Inaugural Texas Eagle/California Service Train:
- Locomotive #1: 21 (same # as this southbound inaugural Texas Eagle!)
- Locomotive #2: 22 (same # as the northbound inaugural Texas Eagle!)
- Locomotive #3: 23
- Baggage Car: 1215
- Transition Sleeping Car (Dorm): 39010
- Superliner II Sleeping Car #3 (2132): 32093 Missouri
- Superliner II Sleeping Car #2 (2131): 32071 Arizona
- Superliner II Sleeping Car #1 (2130): 32073 California
- Superliner Coach Car #2 (2111): 34138
- Superliner Coach Car #1 (2110): 31519 Smoking
- Superliner I Sightseer Lounge Car: 33020
- Superliner Dining Car: 38065
- VIP Superliner II Sleeping Car #4 (2133): 32072 Arkansas
- VIP Superliner II Sightseer Lounge Car: 33026
- VIP Superliner II Sleeping Car #5 (2134): 32111 Texas
- The following 4 coaches will turn in San Antonio:
- VIP Superliner Coach #4 (2112): 34061
- VIP Superliner Coach #5 (2113): 34010
- VIP Superliner Coach #6 (2114): 34032
- VIP Superliner Coach #7 (2115): 34131
- Express Car To San Antonio: 71036
- Mail Car To St. Louis: 1718
The VIP Sleeping Cars are the Superliner II Cars "Arkansas" and "Texas"
temporarily borrowed from the Amtrak Coast Starlight for this
event. The last four coaches will be turned at San Antonio and added
to the return Texas Eagle #22 to accommodate the return VIP crowd.
ALL of the Sleeping Cars on this train are Superliner II models. Amtrak
decided to use Sleeping Cars that have the names of the states that the
train passes through. Since only Superliner II Sleeping Cars have names,
they had to use only Superliner II Sleeping Cars!
Although initially listed as an "open" train, it isn't implemented
exactly that way. A sign has been posted between the Dining Car and
the Arkansas Sleeping Car that indicates that only "Invited Guests"
are allowed beyond that point. Since there are a number of "Invited
Guests" booked in the regular revenue sleepers, those of us who booked
travel on this train specifically to be on this inaugural run are
assuming that we are considered "Invited Guests". So far we have not
had any problems with access to the special VIP section of the train.
Please select one of the following:
Live Coverage Page /
TrainWeb Texas Eagle/California Service Page
Texas Eagle Top Page /
Please visit other related pages from this web site: