TrainFood

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BT
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RE: TrainFood 2005/01/21 17:37:18 (permalink)
quote:
Originally posted by chezkatie

BT,

Have you ever taken any train trips in Canada? One wonderful trip that I have taken there was the Polar Bear Express from Cochrane, Ontario to Moosenee on the Hudson River. It was so much fun that I do not remember the food, if any. I do remember having Artic Char at the hotel for dinner that night and it was really outstanding.

Another train trip that I loved was the train from Winnipeg to Churchill (I think it was about 1000 miles). This was a wonderful chance to see lots of roadless land.........unreal and loads of beautiful polar bears. I remember that we were more than happy with all our meals on this expedition.

Oh, then there was the train that we took from Sept Illes, Quebec to Wabush-Labrador City. This train even stopped at fishing lodges where the cooks were waiting for the train so that they could pick up food supplies.

Train trips are a great adventure and I admire the knowledge that you have about them.


Yes. I think we discussed this in another thread, remember? I've taken the Canadian from Vancouver to Toronto and it was a wonderful trip. I did it in winter and the snowy scenery was great (from inside the warm train, anyway). My one complaint is that some of the Canadian stations are too far from the downtown area of the cities they serve. I recall the train stopping in Edmonton, for example, for about an hour and I could see the city off in the distance over the snowy tundra, but it was much too far to do any exploring (if I could get a cab to take me there) and be sure I wouldn't get left by the train.

If I ever make it back, I'd love to do the train to Churchill. But it seems like the ViaRail prices have gone up considerably since my trip about 5 years ago.
#31
BT
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RE: TrainFood 2005/01/21 17:42:52 (permalink)
quote:
Originally posted by zataar

This thread is most enjoyable. I used to take the train to Los Angeles often. The food was very enjoyable. The plates had Kachina designs on them and the dining car was in desert colors. Do you still fill out your own order with a tiny wooden pencil? I always met very interesting people. Most of the time would be spent talking about food and restaurants. The bartenders in the bar cars were always friendly and one even made a whiskey sour and gave it to me at no charge because I'd never had one before. And when finding out that I was from Kansas City they would always asked me if I liked Bryants or Gates the best. Train travel has always appealed to me more than flying.


No. These days, they give you the order form to sign and indicate your car and room number if you are in a sleeper (where the meal is included), but the server takes the actual order.

I don't think AMTRAK gives away much of anything these days. Again, if you were in a sleeper, they used to give you all the free sodas, juices or bottled water you wanted and a daily newspaper. These days, they've eliminated the sodas, they are rationing the bottled water and juice and my train was so late the paper was either "old news" or they just skipped it entirely.
#32
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RE: TrainFood 2005/01/21 17:45:24 (permalink)
quote:
Originally posted by tmiles

As a travel agent in my day job, I sell a little Amtrak. It is as other posters have said, expensive if you do the sleeper car option. If you want to experience a train (vice just get someplace) there are other options such as The American Orient Express, with it's beautiful 50 year old fully restored cars and white tablecloth dining, or the Montana Daylight that gives you great views during the day and stops at a hotel for the night. Trains in Europe or Japan as you often hear are excellent, but the taxpayers support them more than we do for Amtrak. I doubt that congress is willing to support a really great passenger train system in the USA anytime soon.


Don't forget Canada's similar Rocky Mountaineer which also puts you in hotels at night so you don't miss any scenery.
#33
michaelgemmell
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RE: TrainFood 2005/01/21 18:13:54 (permalink)
Zataar, you can buy reproductions of that Santa Fe Mimbreño (sp?) china from the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento. IMHO, it's the best thing to see in our state capital, but you needn't visit in person. You can order it here:

http://www.csrmf.org/store/default.asp?parentid=44
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RE: TrainFood 2005/01/21 18:41:46 (permalink)
I'll second the comments on the Cal State Rail Museum. The dining room scene on Lone Star's post on the first page of this thread shows a scene on the Super Chief, the Flagship of the Santa Fe Streamliner fleet. Well, among the displays at the Museum is one of the beautiful SANTA FE Dining Cars, all set up and ready to welcome the traveling public that would have enjoyed that service 50 years ago (or more).If you want to see what the service looked like, visit that display. It is worth more than a thousand words , for sure.
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RE: TrainFood 2005/01/21 18:44:55 (permalink)
I dont know if this is still true.but last i knew,in Canada there were several trains a day going both east and west accross the country and you could get on and off the train when ever as long as you didnt change rtes--so if you bought coach seats you could stop at a town that looked cool--like Bannf!!! and have lunch and get back on or spend the night at a hotel and get on the train in the am. It was VERY COOL!
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RE: TrainFood 2005/01/21 19:19:38 (permalink)
I have this wonderful book - Dining By Rail (The History and Recipes of America's Golden Age of Railroad Cuisine) by James D. Porterfield. It tells about the history of dining cars on trains and has recipes that each railroad was known for, back when the dining cars were 'loss leaders'.

When my husband was a little boy, he used to travel with his grandparents from NYC to FL and the section about children on trains revives fond memories for him.
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RE: TrainFood 2005/01/21 19:23:55 (permalink)
quote:
Originally posted by michaelgemmell

Zataar, you can buy reproductions of that Santa Fe Mimbre?sp?) china from the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento. IMHO, it's the best thing to see in our state capital, but you needn't visit in person. You can order it here:

http://www.csrmf.org/store/default.asp?parentid=44


Thanks Michael! That is a great site. Those are the dishes I remember. My husband and I took the train from Los Angeles to Oakland and then shuttled to San Francisco in 1979. We had a sleeping car even though it was just a 10 1/2 hour trip. It was great. The ocean on one side, mountains on the other. We took cheese, bread, fruit, chocolate and wine and never made it to the dining car. We did the same thing on the way back to LA. It is one of our best memories.
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RE: TrainFood 2005/01/21 23:31:00 (permalink)
A fun thing to do is to take Amtrak's train and plane. Take the train one way and fly back. We've done it from S.F. (Emeryville) to Vancouver, and to Denver, and to Houston. If you take it both ways you may get stuck overnight on your own at the destination due to delays, like we did when we tried it round trip from S.F. to Salt Lake City and back.
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RE: TrainFood 2005/01/22 02:38:41 (permalink)
quote:
Originally posted by tiki

I dont know if this is still true.but last i knew,in Canada there were several trains a day going both east and west accross the country and you could get on and off the train when ever as long as you didnt change rtes--so if you bought coach seats you could stop at a town that looked cool--like Bannf!!! and have lunch and get back on or spend the night at a hotel and get on the train in the am. It was VERY COOL!


The cross country service is up and running (and ragingly popular)--one train a day. See http://www.viarail.com/trains/en_trai_toja.html . But it doesn't go through Banff. It takes a more northerly route through Jasper National Park and the town of Jasper. While you can certainly buy a coach ticket and get on or off wherever you want, remember that 90+% of Canadians live along the southern edge of the country and those that live in the northern regions this train traverses mostly live in the larger cities it passes through: Vancouver, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Winnipeg and Toronto. There are a few scenic smaller towns along the route in British Columbia and western Alberta, however. And the train stops for several hours in Jasper, by far the "coolest" (in several respects) town along the route, so you can indeed get off, walk around and even have a meal.

By the way, those glorious Santa Fe cars the Mayor and others so love weren't scrapped. Many of them were refurbished and are in use on this route--ViaRail's "Canadian" service.
#40
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RE: TrainFood 2005/01/22 02:40:51 (permalink)
quote:
Originally posted by RubyRose

I have this wonderful book - Dining By Rail (The History and Recipes of America's Golden Age of Railroad Cuisine) by James D. Porterfield.


I've got a copy too.
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RE: TrainFood 2005/01/22 02:44:53 (permalink)
quote:
Originally posted by zataar
My husband and I took the train from Los Angeles to Oakland and then shuttled to San Francisco in 1979. We had a sleeping car even though it was just a 10 1/2 hour trip. It was great. The ocean on one side, mountains on the other. We took cheese, bread, fruit, chocolate and wine and never made it to the dining car. We did the same thing on the way back to LA. It is one of our best memories.


Back then, there was a sleeper that left LA at around 7 in the evening and arrived in Oakland around 7 AM. I used to take it home when I had to go to SoCal on business. Just get on the train in downtown LA, wake up in Oakland after a GREAT night's sleep (I sleep like a rock on trains as long as I can be horizontal), all ready for another day. So much more relaxing than flying!
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RE: TrainFood 2005/01/22 02:51:18 (permalink)
quote:
Originally posted by Peachpie9

I talked to my mother about this train thread, which I love. She told me that before she married my Dad, she traveled by train a lot in her work as a nurse. She said that one time, when she was returning to the Pacific Northwest, her train was hit by an avalanche in Glacier National Park (I wonder if the train actually CAUSED the avalanche?). She remembers that it took almost 48 hours for the rescuers to dig them out. I said it's too bad she wasn't already married to my Dad, because that would have been a pretty romantic thing to happen if you were with the right person. She said, "Hmmmm." I don't know if she blushed. It was dark.

Catherine


On the route through the Sierra, even today the trains go through wooden "snow sheds" in Donner Pass because of the danger of avalanches and the possibility of heavy snows blocking the tracks.

As to the other matter, let other folks have their "mile high club". Adult fun in the sleepers has always been a fantasy of mine--'nuff said ;-) .
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RE: TrainFood 2005/01/22 03:07:18 (permalink)
EMERYVILLE
Few choos chooing on way east or south
Weather damage keeps Amtrak trains idle
- Steve Rubenstein, Chronicle Staff Writer
Saturday, January 22, 2005


Trains, which take their time getting to where they're going even on the best of days, aren't going anywhere now.

Not two of Amtrak's most popular trains serving the Bay Area, anyway. When it comes to many points east or south, you can't get there from here, not on a train track anyway.

"It's quiet,'' said veteran ticket agent John McVeigh, behind the counter of the Emeryville depot. "Not quite pin-drop quiet, but quiet.''

Two weeks ago, a huge boulder tumbled onto the transcontinental line in Colorado, and heavy rains opened a sinkhole and dumped debris on the tracks in Southern California.

That means that the California Zephyr, which normally runs from the Bay Area to Chicago, isn't running between the Bay Area and Denver. And the Coast Starlight, which normally runs from Seattle to Los Angeles, isn't running between the Bay Area and Los Angeles.

The Emeryville depot, hub of Bay Area train service, is more cavernous than ever, full of passengers that aren't there.

Chairs in the waiting room are empty. The coffee bar is shut. The car rental counter is renting only a couple of cars a day. Porters aren't portering. The Mike and Ike candy dispenser (25 cents for a turn of the handle) badly needs refilling. The brochures and posters on the wall advertise unattainable destinations.

Passengers who show up for the trains that are still running -- the Capitol Corridor and San Joaquin short-haul lines -- tend to be businesspeople, laptop computer carriers and back-and-forthers with multi-ride discount tickets.

But the passengers who aren't there -- the starry-eyed souls for whom a cross-country train trip is a joy to be savored -- are a different sort. During the winter, the Zephyr and the Starlight each carry about 1,100 such passengers a day.

"I miss them,'' McVeigh said. "They're the people who are excited when they get aboard, and some of them haven't taken a train since they were kids. They embrace the people who are seeing them off, and those people run down the track and wave as the train is pulling out of the station.

"You don't see those people here now,'' McVeigh said.

Railroad junkies say they cannot recall a time when so much Bay Area and California train service has been shut down. In addition to the Zephyr and Starlight, the popular Pacific Surfliner and Metrolink services in Southern California are also disrupted.

"Usually, trains keep running when bad weather shuts down roads and airports,'' said Alan Miller, executive director of the Train Riders Association of California. "This is the first time when trains are not the savior of the weather problems.''

It's possible to get some places where train service is suspended, but it's not as much fun. Buses are involved. The buses say "Amtrak" on the side of them, but they are still buses. A bus has no dining car with carnations on the tables. A bus has no pillow mint, shoeshine service, whistle, lounge car with big windows and people playing bridge by the bar.

A bus does not go clackety-clack. A bus goes thunk.

A young man named Scott Robinson stepped up to the Emeryville ticket counter and asked McVeigh whether he could get to San Luis Obispo.

"Kind of,'' McVeigh replied.

Instead of taking the splendid Coast Starlight straight through, McVeigh said, Robinson would have to take a Capitol train to San Jose and transfer to a bus for a four-hour bus ride. And that's what he did.

"Is that the best way?'' Robinson asked.

"Yes,'' said McVeigh. "And it's the only way, too.''

It's also possible to get as far east as Reno, by taking a Capitol train to Sacramento and continuing for four hours by bus, or to get to Los Angeles by taking a San Joaquin train to Bakersfield and continuing for three hours by bus.

The Starlight stopped running Jan. 9, and the Zephyr stopped running two days later. Railroad buffs do not understand why it has taken so long to clear train tracks of debris, and murmur of how it's all part of a plot to sink passenger train service in favor of money-making freight trains.

John Bromley, a spokesman for Union Pacific, which owns the tracks that Amtrak trains operate on, said the large boulder that stopped Zephyr service Jan. 11 was removed from the track the next day. The line has been reopened to freight train service since then, with some typical winter delays, he said.

But Sarah Swain, Amtrak spokeswoman, said many of the freight trains that crews abandoned during the storms were still being cleared, and any passenger trains would be hopelessly delayed. "We could operate the service now, but what would be the point?" she asked.

Amtrak says it plans to restore service on the Zephyr sometime next week. But Amtrak is also the outfit that says the Zephyr will arrive in Emeryville every day at 5:09 p.m., and it hardly ever does.

The Starlight is not expected to resume service until Feb. 28, Bromley said, because the tracks it uses have been damaged by mudslides, erosion and sinkholes at several places in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.

Inside the Emeryville station, a few would-be passengers were hanging around one day this week, perhaps because a train station is a worthwhile place even without the trains.

Bill Blatt, a visitor from Ohio, dropped by the station to book a trip on the Zephyr to Reno, only to find out he couldn't. He sat in a chair and gazed at the timetable, which was as close to a trip to Reno as he was going to get.

"Seemed like it would have been a fun little deal, going over the mountains,'' he said. "Last time I took a train was 1954. A train is fun. A plane isn't fun, except for the first time. And now a plane isn't fun at all.''
#44
michaelgemmell
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RE: TrainFood 2005/01/23 16:19:24 (permalink)
Does anyone else remember the Amtrak TV commercial with Colleen Dewhurst saying "It will blow you away"? She was right.
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RE: TrainFood 2005/01/30 09:24:05 (permalink)
quote:
Originally posted by Peachpie9

BT:

I was wondering about the facilities available on trains. Is there a place to work out, like a gym car?

Also, are there facilites for gatherings of six or eight people, to play poker, for example?

Thank you!

Catherine


I haven't really traveled on Amtrak in 9 years. I am sure though it hasn't changed much. There is no gym car, however there is a lounge or snack bar car where you can sit down and play poker, checkers, etc.
#46
BT
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RE: TrainFood 2005/01/30 15:07:40 (permalink)
quote:
Originally posted by wanderingjew

quote:
Originally posted by Peachpie9

BT:

I was wondering about the facilities available on trains. Is there a place to work out, like a gym car?

Also, are there facilites for gatherings of six or eight people, to play poker, for example?

Thank you!

Catherine


I haven't really traveled on Amtrak in 9 years. I am sure though it hasn't changed much. There is no gym car, however there is a lounge or snack bar car where you can sit down and play poker, checkers, etc.


Right. Aside from the passenger cars (regular airline-style seats in coach, compartments in the sleeping cars), there are almost always (1) a dining car ("booth"-style seating for 4 on each side of the isle), and (2) a parlor or lounge car (snacks for sale, movies on a TV-size screen in the evening and plenty of conversation or, if you choose, cards or other games). The only way to "work out"that I know of would be walking the length of the train through all the cars or, when the train makes longer stops (sometimes up to a couple of hours such as the Sunset Limited makes in New Orleans while they change crews and "reprovision" the train), you could go walking of running.
#47
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RE: TrainFood 2005/02/05 14:32:36 (permalink)
What a GREAT topic! I have not been on a cross country train since I was a kid back in the late 50's. My folks took my brother and I to Fort Worth TX from Chicago on the SanteFe Texas Chief. We did not have a lot of money so it was coach all the way.

The few things I remember were waking up at midnight in Kansas CIty where they sat for at least an hour to reconfigure the train. Some cars were removed and were reconfigured onto other engines to head East or West from there. The Chief ended up smaller as it headed South. I remember you had to make sure you got on the right car in Chicago or who knows where you would end up.

They had food carts with snacks, milk, coffee and also a snack car which had pre made sandwiches which were not the greatest in the world but as a kid, who cared. One time we had breakfast in the dining car and I remember how great the service was and the linen table cloths and very well dressed and polite waiters.

The vestibules were where we spent a lot of time as we came into stations. We would open the top of the half door and were able to stick our heads out and feel the warm Southern air in Oklahoma and Texas blowing thru our hair. People near the tracks would wave at us and we would wave back.

The awesome power of the engines and the speeds that they could reach was a thrill for a young boy. This was the epitomy of travel for us vs. my Dad's old Hudson!

I remember one trip where watermellons were in season in Fort Worth. $.01 a lb. for red, $.02 per lb. for sweet yellow center. We talked my dad into getting a BIG yellow one to take back to Chicago with us. My Grandpa packed it into a box and tied rope around it. It had to have weighed 20 pounds. It rode in the overhead all the way back to Chicago and I have always wondered if the train lurched, and it fell off, if it would have gone thru the floor!

Ah, memories!

Don
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RE: TrainFood 2005/02/05 15:49:19 (permalink)

One area of this topic hasn't been addressed yet. We have enjoyed a couple of "Dinner Trains" in various parts of the country. In Fillmore CA there was ( don't know if it is still running?) a dinner train that took us for a nice ride inland from the Ventura area thru the citrus groves to a BBQ dinner, then returned. This was about 12 years back , so the details are a bit foggy, but the ride was quite scenic and the dinner passable.
One that we have done several times with visiting folks from elsewhere...The Old Kentucky Home Dinner Train in Bardstown, KY. This one is a dandy ! Bardstown is the cultural center of the Bourbon producing area of Kentucky, so you can count on some great tasting "Sippin' Whiskey" as an alternative to Wine on the menu. The trip is a 3-4 hour evening tour along a rural rail line. Dinner is served in a tradional dining car on the historic china described by some of you in other posts. The menu varies, but is more the 'full-course dinner' than the lighter travel food. The last time we did this ride a couple of years ago the price was $59 per person, but as an unusual way to bring back the memories that we are reading here, I recommend it to any and all of you.
I have seen a T V production showing a train on Cape Cod, The Hood River RR in Oregon has one, and of course the Napa Valley Wine train in California...but there are many smaller and less know operations in other parts of the country. They are worth a bit of investigation, for sure !
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michaelgemmell
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RE: TrainFood 2005/02/05 16:25:55 (permalink)
A friend will be here Memorial Day weekend, and I'm about to book a Vista-Dome luncheon on the Napa Valley Wine Train if there is space available. She and I did the dinner train out of St. Louis Union Station in 2003. Search online and you'll be flabbergasted at all the excursion and dinner trains, as well as videos about them, Amtrak runs, etc., etc.

Peachpie, I took Amtrak's California Zephyr from its western terminus, Emeryville CA (across the Bay from SF) to my home town of Galesburg IL. If I had left 2 days before Easter, my roommette (smallest accomodation) would have cost $625. I left on Easter Sunday and paid only $311.10, so be flexible, and keep entering different dates in their website. You'll be pleasantly surprized at how much you can save! But, most of all, do this soon. Amtrak will be cutting services again.
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tiki
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RE: TrainFood 2005/02/05 17:27:04 (permalink)
Mt Shasta has a dinner train---absolutely beutiful scenery and and a great meal while watching the sunset!!!

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RE: TrainFood 2005/02/05 19:42:59 (permalink)
I forgot one trip in the 60's. Our Church in Chicago (Medill Ave Lutheran) with many other Lutheran Churches in the US had a big convention for all the teens in Missoula Montana. I suspect that this train started somewhere out East and added 100's of other kids like us in Chicago along the way. All chair cars and they were not the "elite" cars of the day. I think they knew what was in store for them. A 1000+ teens, very little governance from the chaperones that went with.

All I remember were two things: The heat in the cars and the "Box" Lunches they picked up along the way. This was summer time and the train (old cars) did not have air conditioning. The old wooden windows, for safety reasons, never opened up more than 2 inches at best. As we sped across the Dakotas some started to break windows out using the old pedistal ash trays. This really cooled the train down and a great breeze!

We would pull into a city and got our servings of white boxes that had prepared lunches. They were really bad. As we pulled out from the station we threw them out the broken windows to the "bums" along the railroad track. Waving at them as we passed. Someone in the car I was in said "Hey, they all smoke, lets give them ash trays also"! So, out the windows went the trains' ash trays!

Obviously, we were teens and had a great time and the trip was full of fun and enjoyment. I wonder what they ever did with the cars afterwards.

Don
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RE: TrainFood 2005/02/05 19:55:43 (permalink)
During the mid 60's, I would ride the Illinois Central "City of New Orleans" from Chicago to Carbondale, where I attended SIU (Southern Illinois University). During the holidays, going from Carbondale to Chicago, all the SIU students would drink out the club car inventory, plus whatever else they smuggled aboard the train. By the time we reached Champaign/Urbana, which was the home of the U of I (University of Illinois downstate campus), major fights would break out between the drunken SIU students and the sober U of I students. Ah yes, those were the days, when your BAL (blood alcohol level) was higher than your GPA (grade point average).
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RE: TrainFood 2005/02/05 22:39:30 (permalink)
Back in 1965 I rode the train from Statesville NC to Los Angeles to meet my husband. (We were moving to Ca, and he had already driven out). I remember my one-way ticket for traveling coach was $109.00. Money was really tight for us back then, and needless to say I didn't do much eating in the dining car. I had packed some food, but the trip took a little over three days, and my picnic lunch ran out by the second day. I spent the rest of the trip eating the cheapest thing I could find in the snack car when I got hungry, which was a cheese sandwich. If I recall correctly, the cheese sandwiches were a whopping 50 cents, and consisted of a piece of American cheese between two slices of naked white bread. This seemed exhorbitant to a country girl who could go to the local cafe back home and get a hot dog all the way for 15 cents

This trip was long before the days of Amtrak. I took Southern Railway up to Chicago, changing trains many times along the way. Then in Chicago, I got on a Union Pacific express train called City of Los Angeeles, which went the rest of the way. This train had something called an observation car, where you sat up a little higher than in the other cars. The windows were much bigger in this car, and provided you with a great vista of the countryside. I remember at one point we were forced to travel in reverse for about 40 miles for some reason, and I spent the time in this observation car. I also remember waking up at 4 am one morning when were were stopped and looking out the window. There were what looked like millions of neon lights. I asked a porter where we were, and he said Las Vegas.

I was somewhat hungry when I got to LA, but I wouldn't trade that whole ride for anything.
#54
mayor al
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RE: TrainFood 2005/02/06 07:01:54 (permalink)
Skylarone
Before the Santa Fe's El Capitan changed to it's HI-Level cars in the Late 1950's those Dome cars were the place to be to see the U S A. I spent more time in the Dome than in my regular seat on the trips east and west in those years.

The CA Zephyr had 5 dome cars in the normal consist of the train during those years. It was scheduled (as it is now) to make it's run thru the Rockies from Denver to SLC during the day and then thru the Sierra Nevada the following day (westbound)...So you got two days of spectacular scenery in a row. These days they follow the Donner Pass route, but back in the 50's it was the Feather River Canyon route and was an amazing ride in itself.
#55
michaelgemmell
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RE: TrainFood 2005/02/06 18:36:45 (permalink)
Al, of course you're right that the California Zephyr (CZ) uses Donner Pass to cross the Sierras nowadays. In doing some research online, I see that the UP owns the Feather River line, but that line actually has more wintertime problems with mudslides than the Donner Pass line does with snow, which is apparently why the CZ uses Donner despite it being something like 3000 feet higher in elevation. Sooner or later someone will do excursions on the Feather River line, and in the meantime I thoroughly enjoyed the Donner line last April. No shortage of snow then!

We secured reservations for the Napa Valley Wine Train in one of the Vista-Domes for a lunch trip Memorial Day weekend. Vista-Domes were invented for the CZ, and if you Google either term you will get way more info than you want.

Dinner and other excursion trains operate at a clear profit and are increasing, but Amtrak's days seem to me to be numbered. When Amtrak is gone, we will never have long-distance trains again, so, to quote "The Rocky Horror Picture Show's" Frank N. Furter, "Don't Dream It, Be It!" Make those plans for that long train trip sooner rather than later.
#56
mayor al
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RE: TrainFood 2005/02/06 20:13:15 (permalink)
The genealogy of the CZ had it being operated jointly by 3 companies...The CB&Q (Chicago,Burlington & Quincy) handled it from Chicago to Denver. The The DRGW (Denver,Rio Grande Western) hooked on to take it from Denver to Salt Lake City. The final Lap...Salt Lake to Oakland was run by the Western Pacific. After the Amtrak formation in 1971 The CB&Q merged into what became the Burlington Northern and now is the BNSF after merging again with the Santa Fe. Meantime the Southern Pacific bought up both the Western Pacific and the Denver Rio Grande....and then was absorbed into the Union Pacific, so all of the original operating companies of the Zephyr are no longer on the scene in their original condition.
Santa Fe (ATSF) maintained it's identity until the BNSF was created in the mid-90's. Amtrak's S W Chief is the last of those famous Chief/Super Chief trains of the 40's and 50's era. None of the UP City's of L.A.,San Fran.,Portland etc... Trains remain. On the Northern Tier the Empire Builder ties Chicago to the Northwest. On the Southern frontier the Sunset Limited, long the flagship of the Southern Pacific now runs sometimes to New Orleans and sometimes all the way to Jacksonville FL from Los Angeles. There are other famous names still in operation, mainly on the North-South runs east of the Mississippi...But some of the real big-names are gone forever. Names like
The Wabash Cannonball... The Rock Island Line (the Golden State Limited was a favorite of mine-L A to Chicago via El Paso It was an SP-Rock Island venture). The Monon Line, The L&N and B&O still have signs hanging in places near me here in Indiana, as do The Frisco Line , and the Cotton Belt.
While I can cry real tears about the demise of the passenger rail service in this country. I stand in awe of the freight operations. The advent of containerization has brought about an explosion (no pun) in freight hauling. Using L A as an example a single container ship (normal sized not the new Mega ships)can carry about 3500 containers. If 75% of those are moved by rail from the port to points east that means that a ship will fill roughly 13 trains of 100 cars (double stacked containers). L.A. averages about 15 or more container ships a day 7 days a week. That means roughly 200 trains a day are leaving the city for points east and north. There are also trains full of automobiles (going both ways), comodities and crops,fuel, chemicals...the list is almost endless. My point is that there are not an infinite variety of routes to use to haul all this stuff...Leaving L A by rail means one of 4 or 5 routes and deduct the 2 of those that point north and south as being beat out by truck traffic so the three lines heading East carry the most of this stuff. Many European shippers find that the cheapest and quickest route from Asia and the Pacific Rim to Europe is by boat to L A then rail to Norfolk or Baltimore, Charleston or NYC and then back on a ship to Germany or whereever. Many of the container trains have customs seals on them and aren't touched in the U S A .
We can argue the merits of the passenger service forever. I miss it terribly, but the bucks are in the freight!
Now to bring in FOOD... At the 45 milepost of the Cajon Sub of the Santa Fe Line (my old home) there is a sign where the Hesperia Station used to stand. There is a traffic signal on the RR there (a block signal) directly across the road that runs beside the tracks are two food establishments. One is the Mexican place I have described in several other threads. Great homemade Mex. food at cheap prices. Next to it is MIMI's, a cafe that has been there for a generation under several owners. They serve a great breakfast... one of those 3 eggs, grits, 'tater's ham,bacon and sausage etc etc for $5. We love to gather there and chow down while watching the trains roll by. Well we listen to the rail-radios on our scanners so as to tell whan there is something of note to pay attention to in our area. One of the things we love to hear is when the train crew notifies the dispatcher that they are slowing down near Hesperia to inspect "something mechanical" or clear the track of cattle or something dumb like that... What they do is call in to the Mex place or to Mimi's for a dinner order and then stop while one of the two man crew runs to the restaurant to pick up the food and get back aboard. This happens only to the westbound trains that are climbing the east slope of the mountains heading for L A. The eastbound trains are rolling downhill at that point and do 55mph or better as they come thru town...no stopping for them. With the volume of trains mentioned above you can see why the traffic control becomes a big deal if things slow too much.
Watching and listening to the power of this traffic is kind of like the "Sound of Freedom" that comes with the passing of a bunch of jets overhead.
OK I have rambled enough. Sorry if we went astray, but the rails are a magical place and deserve more attention than they get !!
#57
mayor al
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RE: TrainFood 2005/02/06 21:18:38 (permalink)
Peachable, My young friend, Michael is right of course, regarding the dire straits of Amtrak...but we have heard of it's demise for a decade...and due to the political chaos of Pork barrel politics it seems to grasp a last ditch survival fund each year that according to the law will be it's last. So despite the evidence that shows it is breathing it's last.. don't count the Fat Lady Out until she stops singing and turns out the light (so to Speak).

oh... Peachie, I didn't mean to infer that it was you singing... oh oh.. I am in for it now! Here is a photo to help keep the memories alive.

The Union Pacific maintains a combination of 1950 class E-9 passenger locomotives and a set of the older passenger cars both coach and Pullman plus the diner and lounge cars. These are used for "business" inspections and P R trips sponsored by company officials. They also have an active Steam locomotive that is used with the same cars at times. Here is a shot of the Special train westbound coming down the Cajon Pass into the L A area in 1998. It is a sight to see where ever it appears. The curve in the photo was the scene of a terrible wreck in 1996 and the memorial and crosses are a mark of rememberance for the two train crewmen who died in that crash.

#58
1bbqboy
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RE: TrainFood 2005/02/06 22:49:23 (permalink)
Peachpie, you should make plans for this summer to take the the Lewis and Clark train from Portland to Astoria and Back. Lindstrom's Bakery in Astoria. Worth the trip by itself. You do it all in one day.
#59
Nancan
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RE: TrainFood 2005/02/07 00:21:16 (permalink)
Road Amtrak starting Saturday afternoon boarded in Portland,Oregon and got to
Memphis,Tennessee Tuesday morning of last week.Traveling alone I had a
roomette type of sleeper which entitled me to all meals and was considered a first class passenger(which was a nice surprise).The food in the dining car as was the entire trip was a fine way to relax.More than once I heard the expression"this is better than a cruse".I took no phone and no internet connection because I need some limbo time.Got a good four days of reading and eating.Had some good conversations with the folks sharing meals.All of the train staff were pro's.
The meals were never rushed.The staff had no problem making me a togo box to take back to my room if I had a cheesecake craving at 3am.All food was fresh and cooked to order.It is totally OK to bring your own in room drinks and ice is always avaiable as is morning coffee made in your car.
Just one thing if you go by train for a trip that lasts more than a few hours you should really want to be on a train.
#60
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