Tag Archives: Amtrak

Charger Night View

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This nocturnal photo dates from my adventure to Los Angeles last year to document the movement of vintage dome Silver Splendor. (Now Conway Scenic Railroad’s Rhonda Lee).

Amtrak’s Southwest Chief was being readied to depart from the Los Angeles Union Passenger Station when I made this view from the dutch-door of the dome using my old Lumix LX7.

The Siemens Charger was the focus of this image; but the ambient artificial light is what makes the photo interesting. Sort of a  Star Wars‘ evil empire glow’.

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Using the Amtrak App to Save Time

I was having dinner last night at Palmer’s Steaming Tender. I wanted to photograph Amtrak’s eastward Lake Shore Limited and hoped only to invest the minimum amount of time away from my meal.

I brought up Amtrak’s App on my iPhone and clicked the ‘status’ icon, then entered ‘Springfield’ in the slot for ‘station’ and under ‘train number’ I entered ‘448’ (the number for the Boston section of the Lake Shore Limited.

The first time I did this, it estimated 448 departing about 4 minutes late. So I checked again in ten minutes. By that time 448 had departed Springfield about 7 minutes late.

I then switched to the asm.transitdocs.com site that offers a ‘live map’ of Amtrak and VIA Rail trains across the continent, and clicked the window for 448. Among the features of this app is that it will show you the actual speed of the train at the time of its last update. The program updates about every five minutes.

I learned that about four minutes after departing Springfield Station 448 was traveling just under 60 mph (it’s maximum allowed speed on the Boston & Albany to Palmer).

From experience, I know that it takes 448 about 18 minutes to reach Palmer from Springfield if nothing unusual occurs. So 15 minutes after its Springfield-departure, I excused myself from dinner and casually walked to my preferred location near the diamond at the westend of the station.

I waited about 30 seconds and the train passed.

This was the photo I exposed using my Lumix LX7.

Amtrak 448 at Palmer, Massachusetts on August 25, 2019.

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Busy Afternoon at Palmer, August 22, 2019.

Yesterday I met fellow photographer Mike Gardner at the Steaming Tender restaurant in the old Palmer Union Station for lunch.

I had iced tea and the Reuben.

Except for the New England Central switching all was quiet for the first couple of hours.

Just after 2 pm, I said “Let’s head outside, I have a feeling it’s all about to happen.”

Luck, intuition or experience, call it what you like.

At first the trains didn’t favor the light. A New England Central local crossed the diamond northbound. CSX B740 was working deep in the old Boston & Albany yard. The Mass-Central came down from Ware long-hood first. Then everything stalled.

“I’ll bet everything is waiting for the Lake Shore.”

At 3pm Amtrak 449, the westward Lake Shore Limited appeared at the east end of the long tangent on the old Boston & Albany. On queue Mike announced, ‘Headlight!’

I made a series of photos of enthusiasts on the old station platform rolling the train by.

After the Lake Shore, the illusion of a lull continued, and most everyone else got bored and left. CSX B740 had pulled up and was poised waiting for signal. Mike and I decided to hold on. And sure enough 15 minutes behind the Lake Shore was a westward CSX freight—Q427.

After this passed, B740 pulled ahead through CP83 and then reverse back into the yard, meanwhile the Mass-Central was getting ready to head back north again.

All in all in was a very successful day in Palmer. But the keys to our success were timing and patience. If you left after the Lake Shore rolled west, you missed most of the show.

Amtrak 449 westbound.
CSX Q427.
CSX B740.
Massachusetts Central 1751 with interchange traffic.

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Vermonter passes West Northfield Grave Yard.

On our rambles on Friday July 5, 2019, we paused at the trackside grave yard in West Northfield, Massachusetts (railroad south of the junction at East Northfield), to roll by Amtrak 54, the northward Vermonter.

I was giving my cousin Stella a tour of New England curiosities, sights, and infrastructure.

We’d hoped to catch New England Central’s northward 611, a train that we spotted a few minutes earlier, but we ran out of time before it crossed the Connecticut Bridge (located less than a mile from this spot on NECR’s line that runs between Palmer and East Northfield.)

I made these views using my FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm lens.

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Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited in the 1980s.

Amtrak 448 approaching milepost 84 in Monson, Massachusetts. March 1986.

On March 16, 1986, I hiked west of milepost 84 on Conrail’s Boston & Albany route to photograph Amtrak train 448, the eastward Lake Shore Limited(Boston section).

This was just a few months before Conrail single tracked the line between Springfield and Palmer, Massachusetts.

I was keen to document the Boston & Albany’s line that passed through the northern reaches of my home town, Monson, Massachusetts, in the railroad’s traditional directional double track configuration.

This lone image is part of my much more extensive project to document the Boston & Albany route on film.

I exposed the photo on 120 roll film using my father’s Rollei Model T. In May 2019, I scanned the negatives using an Epson V750 flatbed scanner. For presentation here, I adjusted contrast and exposure using Lightroom.

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My Amtrak Photos on Flicker


I recently opened a Flicker account under the name: briansolomonauthor.

Among the various albums is one devoted to Amtrak. This features a very modest selection from the tens of thousands of images I’ve made of Amtrak trains during my travels since the 1970s.

Even if you do not have a Flicker account you should be able to enjoy my Amtrak photographs.

This is a work in progress I hope to post new selections on a regular basis.

Click the following link to go directly to my Amtrak Flicker page:

https://www.flickr.com/gp/163833022@N05/sEJb24

In addition to Amtrak images are more than a dozen other rail albums with lots of wonderful images.

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Amtrak Heritage Locomotive and the Waterfall.

Exposed using my FujiFilm X-T1 with 27mm pancake lens.


Yesterday, Saturday May 24, 2019, I re-visited West Warren, Massachusetts to photograph Amtrak 449 (Boston section Lake Shore Limited) with the old mills and mill dam along the Quaboag River.

I was delighted to find that the scruffy trees and brush that had grown up on the north-side of the line had been cleared away, opening up a vista that I haven’t seen in more than 15 years.

Also, Amtrak was running about 40 minutes late, which combined with a thin layer of cloud to diffuse the afternoon sun, allow for a satisfying view on the north side of the tracks.

Locomotive 145 wearing 1980s-era ‘heritage paint’ was in the lead.

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Amtrak’s Vermonter passes West Northfield.


In late April, Mike Gardner and I made visit to the old graveyard at West Northfield, Massachusetts (south of the junction at East Northfield on the old Boston & Maine), to photograph Amtrak 56 (the Vermonter) on its way to St Albans, Vermont.

Light cloud softened the afternoon sun, which was slightly back-lit at this location for a northward train. To make the most of the old stones and put the entire train in the picture, I opted for my 12mm Zeiss Touit lens.

I made minor adjustments to the RAW file in Lightroom to present better contrast in the JPG image presented here.

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Tracking the Light EXTRA: Lake Shore Limited with P42 number 156 heritage paint.

It’s the elusive ‘bloody nose’, again.

In late 2017, I got lucky and caught this heritage locomotive on several occasions, after years of it eluding me entirely.

This afternoon (April 24, 2019), thanks to a tip from my friend Paul Goewey, I caught old 156 again, albeit second unit out, on today’s westward Amtrak Lake Shore Limited (Boston section), train 449.

The view is from the bridge over the railroad and Quaboag River at West Warren, Massachusetts.

Photos exposed using my FujiFilm XT1 with 27mm pancake lens set to the Velvia color profile. Files exported from the camera as JPGs and scaled using Lightroom for internet presentation. No adjustments to contrast, color or exposure.

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Classic Chrome: Amtrak F40s at New London, Connecticut.

On March 24, 1997, Mike Gardner and I spent the afternoon photographing around New London, Connecticut. This was shortly before Amtrak began electrification.

I made this view of a pair of F40PHs leading train 175 west of the New London station.

Who would have thought the omnipresent Amtrak F40 would be the subject of a classic photo?

Exposed on Kodachrome using a Nikon N90S with 80-200mm AF zoom lens.


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TRAINS Podcast—Conversations with Brian Solomon: Interview with Brian Schmidt and Angela Pusztai-Pasternak


Amtrak’s Empire Builder blitzes Brookfield, Wisconsin on a snow Monday evening during my visit to Kalmbach.

Check out my most recent TRAINS Podcast—Conversations with Brian Solomon, where I engage in a lively spontaneous discussion with Trains Magazine editors Angela Pusztai-Pasternak. We talk about Amtrak, Norfolk Southern, CSX and other topics, often taking unexpected tangents.

We recorded this on my recent visit to Wisconsin.

To go directly this episode:

For a general finding aid for my Pod Casts see:

http://trn.trains.com/photos-videos/2018/09/conversations-with-brian-solomon

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Amtrak 490 Crosses the Connecticut River.

While the New CT Rail trains tend to capture most of attention on the Springfield-New Haven route (now branded as the ‘Hartford Line’), Amtrak continues to run its shuttles and through trains on the same route.

I made this view last week of Amtrak 490 working northward to Springfield, Massachusetts as it crossed the Connecticut River between Windsor Locks and Warehouse Point.

I like the distant vantage point, using a telephoto lens to feature the small train on the big bridge.

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Another View: New Haven Railroad’s Stone Arch Bridge at Windsor, Connecticut.


Sunday, I featured a photo of Connecticut Southern’s southward road freight crossing the old New haven Railroad bridge over the Farmington River at Windsor.

Today’s photo is of the same structure, but in the morning from the east side.

Amtrak train 147 at Windsor, Connecticut. Exposed with a FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm lens.

This classic bridge is easily accessible with good parking, which makes it a nice place to catch trains on the Springfield-Hartford-New Haven Line (now marketed by CT Rail as the ‘Hartford Line’).

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Amtrak Veterans Cabbage: Panned at Night.


The other evening at the modern Amtrak station in Sturtevant, Wisconsin, Trains Magazine’s Brian Schmidt and I set up to photograph Hiawatha Corridor trains during their station stops.

The southward train arrived first, and featured one of the former F40PH diesels, now a cab-control/baggage car in the lead. These are colloquially known as ‘cabbages’, and this one was painted to honor American veterans.

Working with my FujiFilm XT1 and 27mm lens, I set the camera to ISO 6400 and panned the train as it arrived to allow for the effect of motion.

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Empire Builder, Bloody Nose and a Snow Squall.


Friday afternoon January 18, 2019, Trains Magazine’s Brian Schmidt and I visited Duplainville, Wisconsin to catch Amtrak’s westward Empire builder, train number 7, as it split the signals in a snow squall.

Amtrak P42 50 leads train number 7 west at Duplainville, Wisconsin.

I was delighted to see that the Milwaukee Road-vintage searchlight signals that I remember from my days in Wisconsin (now more than two decades ago) are still active.

The third locomotive in the Builder’s consist was the elusive Amtrak 156, ‘the bloody nose’—so named for its wearing of the 1970s-era Amtrak paint scheme.

I exposed these views using my FujiFilm X-T1 with 90mm f2.0 telephoto. White balance set to ‘daylight’.

Local photographers had gathered for Amtrak’s daily passing.


Amtrak 156 is one of several ‘heritage’ locomotives wearing paint schemes from years gone by..

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Amtrak—30thStreet Station Philadelphia: Seven Lumix Views.

I had almost an hour at 30thStreet Station, Philadelphia while waiting for Amtrak 94 from Washington.

This magnificent former Pennsylvania Railroad Station offers a mix of classical and modern railroading.

Wandering with my ‘new’ Lumix LX7, I made this selection of hand-held digital photographs.

Of special interest was the old Solari board used to display arrival and departure information. This was under repair/adjustment. I’ve heard that it may be soon retired.

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Amtrak Turbo Train—Rochester.

In November 1986, I exposed this view on a free roll of Kodak T-max 100 supplied to me by Kodak.

At the time, I was a student at the Rochester Institute of Technology learning about photography.

Where other students focused on perfume bottles and what not, I was more interested in capturing the scene on the old Water Level Route.

Amtrak’s morning departure from Rochester made for a good subject to test the free roll of film.

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New Haven on New Years Eve—It Ain’t Pretty, but it’s busy!


Many years ago, my old pal T.S. Hoover and I would make a project of photographing the old New Haven Railroad during the holiday season.

This past New Years Eve (December 31 2018), I maintained this tradition, although that wasn’t my intent!

I was transferring from Amtrak 405 from Springfield to Amtrak 195 from Boston. Let’s just say the Boston train wasn’t holding to the advertised and I had ample time to wander around and make photographs of the passing action.

New Haven isn’t pretty,  high level platforms combined with a plethora of poles, catenary masts, catenary, signs, garbage, stray wires and other visual clutter hasn’t improved this classic setting, but there’s a great variety of equipment on the move.

Shoreline East lurking on left, CT Rail Hartford Line on right; FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm lens.
CT Rail Hartford Line train. Lumix LX7 photo.
Shoreline East train with a former Amtrak P40 at the back departs eastward for Old Saybrook. FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm lens.

Metro North M8s on left, old M2s on the right. FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm lens..

No GG1s, RDCs, FL9s, E8s or other relics that made this a fascinating place when I was a teenager. For that matter there weren’t any E60s, AEM-7s, F40s or SPV-2000s either.

Boston-bound Acela Express. Lumix LX7 photo.

Boston-bound Acela Express. FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm lens.
FujiFilm XT1 with 90mm lens.

And finally, train 195! Hooray! Lumix LX7 photo.

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Lumix LX-‘Mark3’ with Low Sun.


Back in October 2018, I reported how my old Lumix LX7 suffered a failure owning to being drowned two days in a row.

Later I reported how I resuscitated the camera by leaving it in a zip lock bag with rice for four days in an effort to dry it out.

For two months the camera struggled on.

In the mean time my old friend Ken Buck offered to sell me his rarely used LX7.

Last week I took him up on the offer, as my original LX7 had finally reached the end of its usefulness.

The other day, I put the ‘new’ Lumix LX7 to the test and made these photos of Amtrak 57, the Saturday southward Vermonter making its station stop at Windsor Locks, Connecticut.

Low sun is a key to dramatic railway photos, and shortly before the train arrived, the clouds parted.

This is now my third Lumix LX-series camera. My first was a LX3, that I used from October 2009 to April 2014; my second was the ‘Zombie Lumix’ previously described.  Long live my third Lumix!

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Amtrak Sunset at Beaumont, Texas.

Sunset Sunsets Part 3.

This was a long stop with a crew change; the New Orleans crew exchanged for a crew to take the train to San Antonio.

I had about ten minutes to wander around and make photos before we were westward bound again.

These views were exposed digitally using my FujiFilm XT1 with Zeiss Touit lens.

What amazed me was how quickly the sun sets in Texas in December. Not long after the train was underway again, I noticed the sky was completely dark.

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Amtrak at Lafayette, Louisiana—Monday December 17, 2018.


Traveling on Amtrak’s Sunset Limited on our way from New Orleans to Houston, the train made a long station stop at Lafayette, Louisiana.

Well it was long enough for me to get out for a few minutes and expose a few photos.

It was 22 years and 11 months ago that I gave a lecture in Lafayette. That was my last visit here, and it seems like a lifetime ago.

Photos were exposed with my FujiFilm XT1 with 12mm Zeiss Touit lens, adjusted in Lightroom for contrast and saturation.

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Six Sunset (Limited) Views: New Orleans and Mississippi River.

Departing New Orleans, I settled in Amtrak’s glass-lined observation lounge.

Here I made photos as we navigated the maze of trackage on both sides of the massive Huey P. Long bridge over the Mississippi River.

More Sunset (Limited) views to follow on Tracking the Light.

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A Dozen Views from the Crescent.

Exploring the train, gazing out at the rolling panorama and nipping off for moments during station stops allows for snapshots of our journey.

Below are just a few of many views exposed on the way to New Orleans on Amtrak’s Crescent.

Gainesville, Georgia.

Gainesville, Georgia.
Breakfast in the diner.
Georgia-Alabama border.

Station stop at Anniston, Alabama.

Near Anniston, Alabama.

Rolling south on the old Southern Railway toward Birmingham.

Frisco 2-8-2 displayed near Birmingham, Alabama.

Baldwin switcher near Birmingham.

Birmingham, Alabama.

Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Meridian, Mississippi.

Meridian, Mississippi.

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Amtrak’s Crescent at Birmingham, Alabama.

Well I can tick off this state. December 16, 2018, I made my first ever photo on the ground in Alabama, when I got off the Crescent during its station stop.

Using the rear display extended, I held my FujiFilm XT1 low to the platform for this dynamic angle of Amtrak P42 126 that was leading train 19 southward toward New Orleans.

Ten minutes later I was in the diner and on the roll southward again.

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Washington Union Station in the Rain.


On Saturday evening, December 15, 2018 we had almost 45 minutes to wander around the platform at Washington Union Station as Amtrak changed engines on train 19, the Crescent bound for New Orleans.

Rain, mist and artificial light made for some atmosphere.

I exposed these views hand-held using my FujiFilm XT1 with 27mm pancake lens. 

I’m uploading the photos live from the train at Charlottesville, Virginia for a scheduled posting on Tracking the Light on Sunday morning December 16, 2018.

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Live from Amtrak’s Crescent.

Live from Amtrak’s Crescent.

This evening we boarded Amtrak’s Crescent, train 19,at Wilmington, Delaware. 

Although, dull and about to drizzle, I made this late afternoon photos at the former Pennsylvania Railroad station using my Lumix LX7 and FujiFilm XT1.’

Lumix LX7 photo at Wilmington, Delaware.
Amtrak train 156; Lumix LX7 photo at Wilmington, Delaware.
Amtrak ACS64 651 on train 156; Lumix LX7 photo at Wilmington, Delaware.
Train 161 at Wilmington, Delaware. Lumix LX7 photo.
Wilmington, Delaware. Lumix LX7 photo.
Amtrak’s Crescent at Wilmington. FujiFilm XT-1 with 12mm Zeiss Touit.
Viewliner sleepers on Amtrak’s Crescent at Wilmington. FujiFilm XT-1 with 12mm Zeiss Touit.
Hall of mirrors! FujiFilm XT-1 with 12mm Zeiss Touit. 

I’ve adjusted the camera RAW files in Lightroom to boost color saturation and contrast in an effort to improve the overall appearance of the photos.

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Inky Gloom at Wilmington, Delaware.

Last night a damp inky gloom greeted us as we alighted from Amtrak’s Vermonter at the former Pennsylvania Railroad station at Wilmington, Delaware.

A SEPTA Silverliner V electric multiple unit set sat on the opposite platforms waiting to depart for Philadelphia.

I made several exposures with my Lumix LX7. Working with the RAW files in Lightroom, I maximize the amount of visual information in the photos by lightening shadows and darkening highlights while adjusting contrast and color saturation.

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Engine Change at New Haven.

It’s the ‘blue hour’ at New Haven, Connecticut.

Amtrak’s Vermonter is one of a few trains that still changes engines at New Haven, as result of it running through from non-electrified territory to the north.

In the case of Amtrak 55, the common GE-built P42 diesel (number 192) was exchanged for a Siemens-built ACS-64 high-voltage electric. 

Amtrak added a coach to the front of the train too. A wise move considering how crowded this train is.

Working with my FujiFilm XT1, I set the camera to ISO 1600 and the white balance to ‘auto’, and made some photos from the platform during our 24-minute pause at New Haven Union Station.

Many years ago, my late friend Bob Buck recalled to me a story of a child gazing out the window at the steam, smoke and wires, “Pa, is this hell?” “No son, this is New Haven!”

Video uploaded from my iPhone.

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Posting Live from Amtrak Train 55!

I’m traveling toward Wilmington, Delaware aboard Amtrak Train 55, the southward Vermonter. 

The train is now approaching its station stop at Meriden, Connecticut.

It was announced that from Hartford the train was completely sold out. Thus demonstrating that old adage no one rides trains anymore because they’re too crowded!

I exposed these photos with my FujFilm XT1 fitted with a Zeiss 12mm Touit lens.

As we roll along, the files were downloaded to my MacBook using Image Capture software, scaled for internet using Lightroom, and uploaded via Amtrak’s WiFi to WordPress for presentation on Tracking the Light.

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Views from the Lake Shore Limited at Rochester, New York.

View from Amtrak 48 at Rochester’s new station. 

Heading east on the back of Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited,  I exposed these views from the dutch doors of Silver Splendorat Rochester, New York on its cross country journey.

Photographer, Otto Vondrak caught us at the Rochester station,  a place much changed from my visits here in the 1980s.

A westward CSX local meets Amtrak in Rochester, New York. Lumix LX7 photo.

FujiFilm XT1 photo of a westward CSX local freight.

FujiFilm XT1 photo of a westward CSX local freight.

CSX local at Goodman Street Yard in Rochester. FujiFilm XT1.
Amtrak 48 at Goodman Street Yard, Rochester, New York.

Seeing the ‘new’ Rochester from the windows of the train was a bit surreal.

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Chicago Metra in Transition—November 2018

In recent months, Chicago Metra has been painting its older EMD diesels in a modern livery.

My first experience seeing these old engines in new dress was approaching Chicago Union Station on Amtrak number 4.

I made these views ‘on the fly’ from the dutch door of former Burlington Vista Dome Silver Splendor(nee Silver Buckle) that was rolling over old home rails on the last lap of the run from Los Angeles.

I worked with my FujiFilm XT1 fitted with a 18-135mm zoom lens, which gave me necessary compositional flexibly as the scenes rapidly changed.

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BNSF on the move in Missouri.

Rolling east on Amtrak’s Southwest Chief, I made a variety of photos of BNSF freights from the train as we crossed Missouri on the way from Kansas City to Chicago.

Here we have one view from a Superliner, one from the dutch door of Silver Splendor and one from that car’s panoramic dome.

Over taking an eastward freight as viewed from Silver Splendor’s dome. FujiFilm XT1 photo.

FujiFilm XT1 photo from the dutch door. A BNSF westward stack near Bosworth, Missouri.

Along the Mississippi near Ft Madison, Iowa, the view from an Amtrak Superliner. FujiFilm XT1 photo.

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Kansas City: Amtrak, a Dome and a Streetcar!

I’d never experienced Kansas City by rail before.

This was just a brief visit, a mere layover while Amtrak no4Southwest Chiefchanged crews and dropped off and collected passengers.

I made photos of the car I’d been traveling in: former Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Budd Vista-Dome Silver Splendor (nee: Silver Buckle).

I like the contrast between the 1956-build streamlined dome and the nearly new Siemens Charger diesel-electric.

Kansas City Icon; FujiFilm XT1 photo.

Crew change for No.4 at Kansas City. FujiFIlm XT1 photo.

FujiFilm XT1 photo.

Lumix LX7 photo.

FujiFilm XT1 photo.

FujiFilm XT1 photo.

Old and new: FujiFilm XT1 photo.

FujiFilm XT1 photo.

The modern streetcar was a surprise. I’d forgotten that Kansas City had recently re-adopted this classic form of transport.

Soon we were rolling east toward Chicago!

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Amtrak’s Southwest Chief Sunrise at Argentine, Kansas.

Two weeks ago Amtrak’s Southwest Chief greeted a frosty sunrise at BNSF’s sprawling Argentine Yards, west of Kansas City.

I made these digital photographs from the dome and vestibule of Silver Splendor,the former CB&Q Vista-Dome in which I was traveling cross-country.

A rosy sunrise tints my perspective; it sure made this famous yard look like a neat place.

BNSF westbound at Argentine Yard.

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