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My Travelogue:


Empire Builder Travelogue: June 12th-14th 2002.

Before I begin my trip log I wanted to give the reader a little history of trains and myself. I have always loved trains and have loved to ride them. I currently have (as of 2002) 56 Trips on Amtrak. One thing I have developed is the great intrigue by a train running behind schedule. It makes my trip so much more fun for multiple reasons. For instance, it gives you more overall time on the train and allows you to see different parts of the country in daylight that you might otherwise not see in the daylight if the train stuck to the schedule.

June 12th 2002-Chicago, IL

I woke up this morning after a rough night. I was so excited about my trip I did not end up falling asleep until around 3:00am. We left our hotel and took a cab to Chicago Union Station. They started the boarding of our train #7, the Westbound Empire Builder at 1:25pm. After the elderly people boarded, the call for the sleepers was made. We were room 1, located at the top of the stairs, as these were the two-story superliner equipment. I was pleasantly surprised that our sleeper consisted of the new superliner 2 equipment. I took out my stopwatch and status book and started the timing process. #7 was scheduled to depart at 2:10pm, and I grew excited as 2:11 came and went. At 2:15, I heard "highball 7" over my scanner, and we were off for Milwaukee and points west.

The quick jaunt down to Glenview, IL was uneventful. We arrived at 2:37pm, 8 Minutes late. We were about to depart when I heard over my scanner that we needed "cart for the baggage". We waited in the station for several minutes until the baggage was retrieved. We departed at 2:48pm, 14 minutes late.

The trip to Milwaukee was quick. We arrived at 4:03pm, 13 minutes late. The rest of the run up to Winona, WI was quite uneventful, except for the occasional "yellow flag" for slow orders.

Columbus, WI: 21 minutes late.

Portage, WI: 23 minutes late.

Wisconsin Dells, WI: 24 minutes late.

Tomah, WI: 30 minutes late.

La Crosse, WI: 29 minutes late.

Winona, WI: 32 minutes late.

A short distance after Winona, WI we received an "Approach" (yellow over red signals) over the scanner. I heard the clank of the train as it went over a switch and began to slow . We eventually slowed substantially, and finally came to a complete stop. After about a 30 minute stop, the lights of an oncoming freight became visible. The reason for the train taking the siding was now explained. This stop resulted in a 9:46pm Arrival into Red Wing, MN, 1 hour late.

We arrived 46 minutes late into Saint Paul, MN. I stepped out to grab some nice photographs here (see photo section on the main page). After setting out the extra coach car, #7 departed Saint Paul at 12:10am, 55 minutes.

Staples, MN: 58 minutes late.

Detroit Lakes, MN: 1 hour, 3 minutes late.

Fargo, ND: Sleeping..........................

Grand Forks, ND: Sleeping....................................

Devils Lake, ND: Sleeping..................................

When I awoke the next morning, I found vast grasslands. Trees still littered the landscape from here to there. We arrived into Rugby, ND at 8:43am, 1 hour and 15 minutes late. Unfortunately for me and people who enjoy the train running behind schedule, this would be the latest behind schedule we would run the entire trip. The plethora of padding allowed for many make up opportunities.

Minot, ND: 48 minutes late.

Stanley, ND: 51 minutes late.

Williston, ND: 46 minutes late.

Shortly after departing for Williston, ND, the passenger will begin to feel the real effects of the Great Plains. On both sides of the train, brown grasslands stretched for as far as the eye could see. Little ponds, along with cattle littered the landscape for hundreds of miles.

Wolf Point, ND: 52 minutes late.

Glasgow, MT: 53 minutes late.

Malta, MT: 1 hour, 1 minute late.

We arrived into Havre, MT 32 minutes late (due to the large amount of padding in the schedule, as this was a service stop). The scenery here was much the same and as I stepped off the train, I looked down the tracks and wondered what big changes could be instore for #7. We departed Havre, MT at 4:19pm, 36 minutes late.

The run between Havre, MT and Shelby, MT is one of the most scenic of the trip. Far in the distance, the majestic Rockies cast their shadows across the never-ending plains in a spectacular fashion. The rider can see them all around the train. We quickly arrive and depart at Shelby, MT, running 41 minutes behind schedule. During the summer months, the Empire Builder does not stop at Browning, MT. It serves as a good marker point for the climb up into the Rockies. Directly in front of the train, the mountains beckon us, as if asking for a challenge. Because we are traveling west, we enter the Rockies at the summit of Marias, Pass and work down.

The train races into the Rockies and leaves the plains in the distance. Almost immediately the scenery change becomes evident. From dry and brown, to wet and green. The route from Glacier Park, MT all the way down to the bottom of the pass at Essex, MT is by far the most fantastic scenery of the trip. The train clings to the side of the mountains as it winds it's way down the valley.

Cut Bank, MT: 40 minutes late.

Glacier Park, MT: 36 minutes late.

West Glacier, MT: 26 minutes late.

We arrived into Whitefish, MT 33 minutes late. I knew that because we had made up so much time, that by the time we reached Spokane, WA early the next morning that we would be running on time (much to my dismay).

Libby, MT: 29 minutes late.

Sandpoint, ID: 26 minutes late.

Shortly after departing Sandpoint, ID at 12:15am, I began to feel the effects of the time change at work. I decided to try and distract myself from this intense feeling of tiredness, but was disappointed when all I could see were trees pressed nearly up to the train. This is the majority of the scenery for the rest of the trip.

I feel asleep soon after:

Spokane, WA: Sleeping..................................

Ephrata, WA: Sleeping................................

Wenatchee, WA: On Time

As I awoke the next morning, my worst fears were confirmed as we arrived into Wenatchee, WA running right on schedule. Due to the Cascade mountain range, the 125 miles between Wenatchee and Everett, WA take about 3 hours. This part of the route consists of numerous twists and turns all leading to the longest tunnel in the United States, which is appropriately named Cascade tunnel. After waiting on a siding for a fellow Amtrak, we arrived into Everett, WA 15 minutes behind schedule. But I refused to let myself get excited, as unless your train is running more than about 35 minutes late, you will arrive into Seattle, WA on time. The remainder of the trip was breathtaking as we traveled feet from the shores of Puget Sound. We arrived into Edmonds, WA 14 minutes late, and after a 15 minute wate for the southbound Coast Starlight; we pulled into Seattle 3 minutes early, at 10:17am on June 14th, 2002.

For Picture of this trip, see June 2002 Amtrak Empire Builder Photographs


These Travelogues are copyright of Todds Amtrak Photos, 2003 and may not be recopied or reused without express written consent from me.

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