A Trip on the ‘Grand Canyon Limited’ Steam Special

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Routes shown:

The Lakeshore Limited (Buffalo, NY – Chicago, IL) -1st leg of trip
The Empire Builder (Chicago, IL – Portland, OR) -2nd leg of trip
The Coast Starlight (Portland, OR – Los Angeles, CA) -3rd leg of trip
The Grand Canyon Limited (Los Angeles, CA – Williams, AZ) -4th leg of trip
The Grand Canyon Railway (Williams, AZ – Grand Canyon, AZ) -5th leg of trip
The Southwest Chief (Williams, AZ – Chicago, IL) -6th leg of trip
Plus return trip on the Lakeshore Limited (Chicago, IL – Buffalo, NY) -7th leg of trip

The Lakeshore Limited (Buffalo, NY – Chicago, IL):

The ‘Lakeshore Limited‘ is Amtrak’s overnight train connecting Buffalo (Depew), NY with Chicago, IL. The train actually runs all the way from New York City to Chicago via Buffalo & Cleveland. The train is Amtrak’s modern-day replacement for the famous all-pullman ‘Twentieth Century Limited’ inaugurated by the New York Central on June 15, 1902.

Modern equipment consists of Amfleet coaches & lounges and Viewliner diners & sleepers with bedrooms & roomette accommodations. Motive power consists of General Electric 4,250 horsepower P42DC diesel locomotives.

Highlights of the trip include the beautiful shores of Lake Erie, the vast industrial steelmaking complexes near Gary, IN, and splendid views of the Chicago skyline.

If you enjoy fine dining & comfortable accommodations on memorable a trip to or from the Windy City, then you’ll enjoy a ride on Amtrak’s Lakeshore Limited.

The Empire Builder (Chicago, IL – Portland, OR):

The ‘Empire Builder‘ is a Chicago to Seattle & Portland passenger train initially operated by the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy (CB&Q), Great Northern (GN) & Spokane, Portland & Seattle (SP&S) railways & inaugurated with streamlined equipment on February 23, 1947. The train has been operated by Amtrak since 1971 and for the most part runs on the original route except for the eastern portion which now runs on former Milwaukee Road trackage through Wisconsin & Minnesota instead of on the CB&Q. The train splits into 2 sections enroute from Chicago, with one section running to Seattle & the other to Portland.

Modern equipment on Amtrak’s Empire Builder now consists of Superliner sleeping cars with bedroom & roomette accommodations, dining cars, the Sightseer lounge car with large panoramic windows, and coach cars. Motive power consists of General Electric 4,250 horsepower P42DC diesel locomotives.

The route of the Empire Builder is full of scenic delights, running from the sprawling metropolis of Chicago, through Milwaukee, past the red sandstone canyon of the Wisconsin Dells, crossing the mighty Mississippi River at LaCrosse, past Sugar Loaf Mountain at Winona, through St. Paul-Minneapolis, through the Badlands of North Dakota, over the spectacular Cut Bank trestle, into the front range of the Rockies & over Marias Pass at Glacier Park, MT, past the famous Izaak Walton Inn at Essex, to the pretty mountain-locked resort town of Whitefish, on to Spokane, WA, where the train is split into sections, then travelling through the spectacular Columbia River Gorge with views of towering Mount Hood and on to the West Coast port of Portland, OR.

If you enjoy spectacular scenery, fantastic dining, superb accommodations & impeccable service, then you’ll enjoy a ride on Amtrak’s Empire Builder.

The Coast Starlight (Portland, OR – Los Angeles, CA):

The ‘Coast Starlight‘ is Amtrak’s overnight train connecting Portland, OR with Los Angeles, CA. The train actually runs all the way from Seattle to Los Angeles via Portland on the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) & Union Pacific railroads and began operating in 1971. The Coast Starlight is Amtrak’s premiere train with service complimenting both the dining experience & the scenery.

Modern equipment on the Coast Starlight consists of Superliner sleeping cars with bedroom & roomette accommodations, dining cars, the Sightseer lounge car with large panoramic windows, the Pacific Parlour car with free wi-fi plus wine-tasting events, an arcade car and coach cars. Motive power consists of General Electric 4,250 horsepower P42DC and 3,200 horespower P32BWH diesel locomotives.

The route of the Coast Starlight is a very scenic one. As the train departs Portland, the “City of Roses”, it passes alongside the Willamette river & falls at Oregon City, through Eugene, into the Cascade mountains & over Willamette Pass, on to Klamath Falls, then Sacramento, CA, passing through Oakland with the train running down the street through Jack London Square, then San Jose-capital of Silicone Valley, crossing the Cuesta Grade at Paso Robles, on to the mission town of San Luis Obispo, along the Pacific Coast at Santa Barbera and on to Los Angeles – the “City of Angels”. In Los Angeles station there are car rental connections to take you to the Super 8 Motel on Sunset Boulevard where you can also take the Starline Tours and experience their LA Movie Star homes and Beaches tour.

Spectacular scenery, fine dining, superb accommodations & top-notch service are sure to delight on Amtrak’s Coast Starlight.

The Grand Canyon Limited (Los Angeles, CA – Williams, AZ):

On may 14-15, 2012, a steam-powered excursion train known as the ‘Grand Canyon Limited‘ operated over a portion of the former Santa Fe Railway (now Burlington Northern Santa Fe [BNSF] and Arizona & California [A&C] railroads) on a 2-day journey from Los Angeles, CA to Williams, AZ. This was a special train of chartered cars to celebrate the State of Arizona’s Centennial in 2012. The train ran on the regular BNSF transcon route from Los Angeles, CA, to Cadiz where it ran henceforth on rare-mileage trackage, first on the Arizona & California Railroad to Parker, AZ, where an overnight stop-over was made (passengers could either overnight in a hotel or in one of the sleeping cars) then proceeding on to Matthie where the train switched onto the BNSF “Peavine” line to Williams.

Equipment consisted of many privately owned rail cars including: ‘Caritas’ – an ex-Frisco sleeper lounge car; ‘Gordon Zimmerman’ – an ex-Union Pacific baggage car; ‘Overland Trail’ an ex-Southern Pacific lounge car; an Amtrak Horizon cafe car; ‘Royal Gorge’ – an ex-Rio Grande lounge car; ‘Tolani’ – an ex-Santa Fe coach; ‘Silver Splendour’ – an ex Chicago, Burlington & Quincy dome-lounge-diner; ‘Scenic View’ – an ex-Santa Fe full length dome car; ‘Palm Leaf’ – an ex-Santa Fe sleeping car; ‘Pacific Sands’ – an ex-Union Pacific sleeping car; ‘Plaza Santa Fe’ – an ex-Santa Fe dome-lounge car; ‘Silver Rapids’ – an ex-Pennsylvania Railroad sleeping car; ‘Silver Lariat’ – an ex-Chicago, Burlington & Quincy dome chair car; ‘Silver Solarium’ – an ex-Western Pacific dome-sleeper-lounge-observation car.

Motive power consisted of ex-Santa Fe 4-8-4 type steam locomotive #3751, built by Baldwin Locomotive works in 1927, with a tractive effort of 71,719 lbs. She was the first locomotive to bring a passenger train into Los Angeles Union Station on may 7, 1939. When phased out by diesels, she lay on display in a park for 28 years before being restored & put back into excursion train service by the San Bernardino Railroad Historical Society in 1991. Also included in the locomotive consist were 2 Amtrak P42DC diesels to provide electrical power to the cars & for backup.

The route of the Grand Canyon Limited was a scenic one, with the train departing the beautiful Los Angeles Union Station, crossing the Los Angeles River at the Redondo Junction flyover, past the beautiful mission-style station at San Bernardino, over the Cajon Pass and through Sullivan’s Curve, through the Mojave desert past old route 66 & in sight of Death Valley, on to Cadiz where the train departed the BNSF transcon and was routed onto the A&C, crossing the Colorado River into Parker, AZ, where the train tied up for the night, then on to Bouse where the train made a photo-runby, past desert cacti & mountains at Aguila, and on to Matthie where the train switched onto the BNSF “Peavine” line through Congress & Skull Valley before reaching Williams, AZ.

The service & scenery on the Grand Canyon Limited were second to none, the dining & beverages superb, all while being able to enjoy the special treat of a long-distance mainline steam excursion.

As mentioned above, this was a specially chartered train. Passengers wishing to travel from Los Angeles, CA, to Williams, AZ may do so on Amtrak’s Southwest Chief.

The Grand Canyon Railway (Williams, AZ – Grand Canyon, AZ):

The Grand Canyon Railway is a short-line tourist railway which began operation on sept 17, 1989 on a former Santa Fe branch line from Williams, AZ, to the Grand Canyon Village.

Equipment consists of ex-Boston & Maine coach cars, ex-Northern Pacific & Great Northern dome cars, and an ex-Atlantic Coast Line open-end observation car. Motive power consists of ex-Amtrak F40PH 3,000 hp diesels. Also, ex-Chicago, Burlington & Quincy 2-8-2 type steam locomotive #4960 is used on the occasional steam excursion.

The round-trip run from Williams is a pretty one with the train proceeding north up a steep grade to Apex before reaching the Grand Canyon Village at the south rim of the Canyon. Enroute entertainment in the form of musicians & a mock-train robbery is provided, as well as snacks & beverages. Upon arrival, one can walk from the station to the South rim of the Grand Canyon for some truly awe-inspiring vistas.

The Grand Canyon was formed by the Colorado River and is 277 miles long, up to 18 miles wide & about 5,000 ft deep. It is truly a sight to behold -one of the 7 wonders of the world – and the Grand Canyon Railway offers a fun & exciting way to get there.

For passengers connecting to/from Amtrak’s Southwest Chief, Amtrak offers a shuttle service between the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel in Williams (next to the Grand Canyon Railway Depot) and Williams Junction Amtrak station.

The Southwest Chief (Williams Junction, AZ – Chicago, IL):

The ‘Southwest Chief ‘ is Amtrak’s train connecting Williams Junction, AZ with Chicago, IL. The train actually runs all the way from Los Angeles to Chicago via Williams Junction on the Santa Fe, now Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) transcon, and began operating in 1974 as the ‘Southwest Limited’, the name being changed to the ‘Southwest Chief’ in 1984. The train is Amtrak’s modern-day replacement for the famous all-pullman ‘Super Chief’, inaugurated by the Santa Fe on may 12, 1936.

Modern equipment on the Southwest Chief consists of Superliner sleeping cars with bedroom & roomette accommodations, dining cars, the Sightseer lounge car with large panoramic windows, and coach cars. Motive power consists of General Electric 4,250 horsepower P42DC diesel locomotives.

The route of the Southwest Chief is a very scenic one. From Williams Junction the train heads east towards Gallup, NM & over the continental divide, through Albuquerque & on to the railroad junction of Lamy, through Apache Canyon & the Santa Fe National Forest to Las Vegas, NM, through Raton tunnel & Raton Pass in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains & on to Kansas City, NM, crossing the mighty Mississippi River at Fort Madison, IA, and onwards to the Windy City-Chicago.

Spectacular scenery, fine dining, superb accommodations & top-notch service are sure to delight on Amtrak’s Southwest Chief.

Also, for passengers wishing to continue their journey, Amtrak provides service from Chicago, IL to Buffalo, NY & points east on the Lakeshore Limited.

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