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Walter Zulig's report on the 2022 NRHS Convention

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  • Member since
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Walter Zulig's report on the 2022 NRHS Convention
Posted by daveklepper on Wednesday, June 15, 2022 9:17 AM

This is copyrighted material used Here by Permission

Posting the photos in proper order may take some time with editing.  Should be done by tomorrow morning

NRHS 2022 Convention at Knotts Berry Farm

And what happened thereafter.

An Official Trip Report

©2022-Walter E. Zullig Jr.

 

                  

This year’s NRHS Convention is based at Knotts Berry Farm in Buena Park, CA, near Fullerton. I’ve started this report on board Amtrak #49 enroute to Chicago where after a few hours I’ll board #3, the Southwest Chief.

 

Train 49 arrived Croton-Harmon on time with its usual consist of 2 coaches, dining car, 2 Viewliner sleepers and a baggage car. In recent weeks it has operated from NY to Albany with two locomotives and today we had a P32 in the lead followed by a P42. The windows were a little dirty but aside from that everything was in working order. Don’t they have a car washer at Sunnyside anymore?

 

At 5:30 I went into the diner for early dinner as wanted to walk around at Albany. The menu was about the same as my last trip on this train but the car now has a crew of two—chef and waiter—so the service was good. I had the salmon which was a large portion and good. A friendly couple from Sandusky, Ohio, joined me. They had taken the Capitol to Washington where they spent a few days before heading to New York. They had a roomette on #30 which is quite small for two people so enjoyed a bedroom on #49.

 

Train #449 from Boston was in the station when we reached Albany and with its 2 units attached. Soon they were taken to the maintenance area and I went out for photos. The two units on the NY section stayed coupled to the cars for quite some time but after 20 minutes two P-42’s backed down on to the Boston cars and the NY engines were removed. There seemed to be little activity for about 15 minutes. Anyway the train finally was put together for what I thought would be an on time departure at 7:05 pm. Meanwhile a train from NY arrived across the platform and after discharging a large number of passengers gave two toots and headed to the maintenance area. So we would be there awhile longer and finally departed at 7:18. The Schenectady stop was between 7:40 and 7:43 and shortly thereafter reached Hoffmans where the freight line from Selkirk joins us. We continued moving at track speed whistling for grade crossings on through the night.

 

The attendant arrived at 9:45 pm as promised to make up the bed and I turned in just as we reached Syracuse at 10 pm. Slept reasonably well although parts of the ride were rough especially when crossing over from one track to another at high speed. The dispatchers seemed to do a lot of crossing us over during daylight as well to route us around numerous freight trains. I woke up about 7:15, got dressed, and entered the diner just as we were reaching Brian, Ohio, nearly an hour late. So we must have stopped for freight trains during the night as seemed to be running at track speed (79 mph) whenever I was awake. Had the omelet for breakfast, joined by a nice lady from Hannover, NH, who was enroute to Granby, CO. She enjoys traveling by train and wishes she could have connected at Springfield from the Vermonter but it reaches there after #449 has departed. So she drove to Albany and boarded there.

 

During the morning we passed countless freight trains. To my surprise we didn’t encounter any delays in the area 30 miles east of Chicago as often happens. Kept moving at track speed for a time along the South Shore and later past several steel mills and the huge Ameristar casino, soon followed by an even larger one. Today the NS dispatchers took good care of us. We moved at good speed through the area where I’ve been seriously delayed by freight trains on past trips and reached Chicago Union Station at 10:30 (10:14).  After putting my suitcase in the luggage room in the Amtrak lounge I found Steve Abrams, a friend who is with CTA and we set off for a ride on the Orange Line to Midway Airport with photo stops on the return trip. Once back at the Loop we had lunch at the famous Lou Mitchell’s Restaurant and then returned to Union Station.

 

The Chicago Amlounge is very nice and on two levels. However it had virtually nothing to offer, just chips and some canned water that I don’t like. The lounge in the Moynihan Hall in NY has sandwiches, salads and numerous other excellent items.   The boarding announcement for Train #3 came at 2:15 for the long walk from the lounge to Track 26 at the far end of the station. Another long distance train had just arrived across the platform so there was some confusion among the arriving and departing riders. The coaches were on the rear followed by the sightseer lounge, dining car, two sleepers and the locomotives. Lucky for me—my car was right behind the engines so I could listen to the horn blowing all night!

 

We were off to a smooth on time start at 2:50 pm. Once the conductor had scanned the ticket I headed to the sightseer lounge car to enjoy a Bloody Mary along with the scenery. Once past Aurora we ran through flat farm country where one could see for miles. The dispatchers had been threading us around suburban and freight trains and were doing a good job of keeping us on time. However we started encountering an endless number of freights and ended up about an hour late by Galesburg. At 6 pm I was called for my dinner reservation. The entire dining car was used and presented a very attractive appearance. I was seated with a lady from near Pittsburgh who had taken the Capitol Ltd to Chicago and soon joined by a young lady from Australia. She travels to the USA often and enjoys taking a cross country train trip each time. According to her our trains are far better than those in Australia. Anyway we had a lively conversation. I had the flat iron steak which was excellent. The meals are now cooked on board and consist of an appetizer, 4 choices for a main course, and 3 for desert. Overall quite good. The waiter offered each of us second drinks on the house as he said he was so happy to see strangers seated together once again and having such a good time. Our little group had spent 1 ½ hours at the table, almost like the good old days. The new menus and communal seating just became effective recently.

 

Shortly after LaPlata, MO, we stopped and the power was turned off. The problem was a leaking air hose between two coaches; the conductors had to walk the train, locate the problem and fix it. That stop cost us about a 25 minute delay; a BNSF freight stopped alongside to see if they could assist. My estimate was that we would be 1 ½ hours late at Kansas City.

 

I was off to sleep before Kansas City. About 3:30 am I was awakened by some rather strong lateral motion that actually moved me in the bed. We were running fast on what seemed to be jointed rail with many rough spots. I first thought we were on the “passenger only” section near Raton Pass but that was a long way off. Back to sleep after listening to countless “14-L” signals during the night, mostly for country roads with no traffic. Woke up again as we entered Dodge City, now on smooth track. The station there dates to 1898 but was closed at this hour and the 15 boarding passengers had to walk around a fence to reach the platform. My first trip over this line was my 1976 USA Railpass trip in coach and I recalled a McDonalds called “Boot Hill” a short distance from the station. The arches are still there but with a new facility sans the name.

 

Breakfast was excellent and reminded me of the good old days. I enjoyed OJ, coffee, scrambled eggs with Swiss cheese and bacon with a couple from Chicago heading to LA. The husband used to work for Amtrak and Metra and we had a few mutual friends at both organizations. The train was about an hour late at Lamar, CO, after which we ran through more open country with some cattle ranches. There is a scheduled 15 minute stop at La Junta during which I detrained for photos. The former Santa Fe line to Denver branches off here, after which except for a coal operation several miles west of Trinidad, the line is “passenger only” until a point near Albuquerque. Obviously work has been done on that line as the ride was smooth with some welded rail. Near Raton Tunnel a sign proclaims the location to be 7500+ feet high, the highest point on the former Santa Fe. I had a delicious Caesar Salad for lunch before we reached Raton Pass.

 

Raton was a photo stop as was Alb several hours later. At ABQ the train is inspected, windows washed by hand, engines fueled and crew changed. I was able to photograph some Rail Runner equipment a few tracks over. One of their few Sunday trains was due to leave about the time of our late departure so we were held for it a few miles down the line.  I then walked through the 2 coaches  which were quite full and the last of which was hot, to take up a position inside the rear door to photograph BNSF freight trains which were passing on a 10 minute headway. The conductor came a few times in an attempt to fix the AC; excused himself and said he hoped I got some good photos. BNSF seems to be running more trains than ever, mostly with containers. For a time they were running long freights on a 10 minute headway, something I once observed at Belin, NM.

 

Washing the windows at ABQ

After departure from ABQ I headed to the diner for dinner. This time I had the salmon—a huge portion along with a salad and dessert. You have no idea how happy the crew is to have the regular food service back. The “Anderson version” was a horror for them as well as for the passengers. Breakfast in the morning would run from 5 to 6 am which was OK for me as I would detrain at Fullerton with a scheduled arrival time of 6:54 am.

 

Because of the need for an early rise I turned in just as we departed Winslow, Arizona, at about 8:15. Did drop off to sleep but awoke during the stop at Kingman around 12:30. Then off again but got up at 4:30 am in order to catch breakfast. I reached the diner about 5:05 to find 4 other passengers on hand. This time it was scrambled eggs with sausages and a croissant together with coffee. Was seated with the lady from Australia and a lady who boarded at Albuquerque enroute to Santa Barbara. Since we were an hour, 10 minutes late at Barstow she was nervous about her Coast Starlight connection. I told her she should make it “unless something else happens between here and LA.” [It did.]

 

After breakfast the sun was out and I adjourned to the sightseer lounge car to enjoy the ride through Cajon Pass, passing several familiar spots where I had photographed in the past. Someday I’d like to rent a 4-wheel drive and spend a day on some of the rugged dirt roads in the area to access really great photo spots. I noted the several miles of razor wire fencing remains in place along the BNSF-UP line at Summit. But I didn’t see the rent-a-cops who had been there in the past. The fencing, spotlights and rent-a-cops were a reaction to a westbound freight runaway believed caused by a vandal who closed an angle cock on a train stopped at Summit for a signal.

 

After the scenic ride through the San Gabriel Mountains we reached San Bernardino which has greatly changed since my last visit here several years ago. The two Metrolink stub end platforms are still there but several new platforms have been built in front of the depot, accessed from a new overhead bridge. Departure from San Bernardino was at 7:01 (5:42) with Fullerton ETA of 7:55. But it was not to be. About 3 miles out of San Berdoo we stopped and were told a Metrolink train that was in front of us had hit and killed a trespasser. That involves a wait for the coroner, police interviews, etc., which can take hours. The conductors gradually informed everyone of the “progress”, adding that it’s beyond our control and we have no choice but to wait it out. Based on that I made a few calls advising that I’ll be “a little late” for an 8:30 am meeting.

 

After some time we were authorized to operate as far as the Riverside station. Once there I suggested to the conductor that it would be a safe place to allow the passengers to detrain for leg stretching or whatever else such as taking photos. So I got off and was able to photograph two Metrolink trains and three BNSF freights. One conductor had a “B&M type” hat along with a strong Boston accent. For a time he had worked in the Boston commuter service while Amtrak ran it. After 45 minutes at Riverside we were cleared to move on to Fullerton where we arrived about 2 ½ hours late.  One of the convention staff members drove me to the hotel where I joined the Advisory Council meeting in progress. After lunch we had the Board meeting during which I briefed the group on the plans for next year’s convention in South Florida.

 

Tuesday, May 17 was the day to visit a museum in San Diego. We had 2 buses and a “chase car” that brought supplies and could assist in any unusual occurrence. I wanted to ride light rail, especially the long extension of the Blue Line to UT so I rode the “chase car” which dropped me at Union Station. There I boarded a southbound train to 12th & Imperial where I purchased my senior daypass on a tap card, after which I started exploring. The first part of the Blue Line extension is on a long cement elevated structure. I stopped off at several stations along the way, eventually reaching the UTC terminal.

Inbound train on Blue Line extension much of which is on elevated structure.

 

Then rode back to Old Town where I used the Green Line to the El Cajon Transit Center, returning to Arnele to catch the Orange Line to 12th and imperial. There I boarded a Green Line train for the ride back to the downtown Santa Fe station, arriving there at 2:43, 2 minutes  ahead of the agreed upon meeting time for Train #583 with a 3:03 pm departure.

 

 An Amtrak agent was upset because our group was blocking the gate needed for baggage, etc. This soon was resolved and boarding began for the 3:03 departure with a consist of “Surfliner” cars. Since I had no lunch I headed to the Market Café for a sandwich. The menu is quite different from the East Coast trains and the prices seemed more reasonable. As we moved along I noted numerous homeless encampments, especially under bridges and of course the Pacific Ocean on the left side at many locations. I was surprised to note we passed the Del Mar station without stopping; it has been replaced by a modern station at Solona Beach, further north. Arrival at Fullerton was on time at 5:20.

Metrolink train at Fullerton station.

 

Wednesday, May 18th was our day at the Southern California (formerly Orange Empire) Railway Museum. It was a trip by bus in both directions with each bus group following a somewhat different itinerary at the museum. This was my first visit to the museum which covers a large area.  Formed in 1956 by 14 young railfans who were watching the “red cars” and the yellow cars of Los Angeles Railway making repeated “last runs”, the group was determined to preserve the history of these operations. The museum is said to have more than 200 streetcars and railway vehicles, mostly from Southern California. Among the points of interest were Pacific Electric “Big Red Cars”, a Sacramento Northern electric loco, a San Diego PCC, a LA PCC and countless other items. We rode a main line train, a main line trolley and the loop line trolley and visited several carbarns including one that is not usually open to visitors.  Return to the hotel was about 6 pm.

 

PE “big red car” #418 at So. Cal Ry. Museum. Ex CPR Montreal car on left.

 

We were off to an early start the following morning, May 19th. NRHS had arranged added attraction available to three groups of 20 each. I was one of the hosts on the 9 am tour. Before starting we were told that Knotts was going to treat each group to a ride on a historic train, something that had not been advertised. I met with the group at 8:45 and a hotel representative led us on to the park grounds. There we saw many of the attractions being prepared for the park’s 10am opening but the main attraction was ex D&RGW engine #340 being prepared for service. We soon boarded the train which took us to a servicing location about halfway around the train’s loop. After viewing the sights there the train returned us to the main station where we visited some additional attractions and left the park about 9:50 am to board our buses to the Nethercutt Museum in Sylmar, CA.

 

Ex D&RGW #340 @ Knotts Berry Farm.

Our first stop was at a park for a picnic lunch as no food or beverages are allowed in the Nethercutt. Once there we saw the reason for that. The museum houses a huge collection of autos, musical instruments and a CPR Royal Hudson with a 1912 Pullman car. Our tour of the automobile section started with the Antique era, 1890’s to 1915. This was followed by the Vintage era, 1916-1924. Many of the autos were from long gone manufacturers such as Duesenberg. Next came the Classic era (1925-1944), followed by the Post-War era, 1945-1970’s. Each of these autos was immaculate and is driven at least once a year.  The autos labeled as “Classic Era” really were the higher priced cars made during those years. Regular cars during those years sold for $400 to $1200 whereas real Classic cars went for between $2000 and $20000. The next stop was a mezzanine which housed a large collection of appliances such as hood ornaments.

  

Partial view of the autos on display at Nethercutt Museum.

 

We then were taken to the Music Room which contains an incredible collection of automated instruments including pianos, Nickelodeons, music boxes and the feature attraction: The Mighty Wurlitzer, obtained from a theater in Denver. It is in the center of the room surrounded with pipes. When played the sound and vibrations are incredible. Next it was outdoors to see CPR Royal Hudson #2839 and a 1912 Pullman car “California.” The locomotive was built by Montreal Locomotive Works in 1937 and pulled the Royal Train for the 1939 visit to Canada of King George VI and his wife.

 

  

The Mighty Wurlitzer.

CPR Royal Hudson #2839 and Pullman car “California.”

 

When finished at the museum our coach buses returned us to the hotel. Although there were some Convention functions on Friday I had decided to leave that morning and to fly home from Los Angeles on a 9 am flight on Saturday. So I rode Amtrak Train #567 at Fullerton for the 39 minute trip to LA Union Station. Since I first would be covering light rail lines, I checked my suitcase to LA which turned out to be a wise decision. After looking around the station a little I boarded the Gold Line light rail to cover the new extension east of Pasadena to Glendora. I stopped for photos along the way in both directions; after arrival back at Union Station I rode a Purple Line train to Metro/7th to join the Blue Line to Santa Monica. On my last trip to LA this line went only to Culver City so I planned to concentrate on the new extension from there to Santa Monica. I did get several photos at the Santa Monica terminal until WHACK from a homeless person. Knocked unconscious I woke up in the ER at UCLA Medical Center. A police officer called Suzanne to advise her of the situation. There had been several witnesses; supposedly the police attempted to find the perpetrator but he was gone by the time they arrived. 

LRV leaving Santa Monica terminal for downtown. Last photo before attack by homeless individual.

 

So I woke in the ER and soon was admitted to UCLA Medical Center Hospital. As things turned out I had damages in a number of locations but the serious one was a broken bone in my left ankle. While in the hospital two orthopedists put a large plaster cast on my foot to about 4 inches from the knee. I was transferred to the California Rehabilitation Institute on May 25 where I stayed until June 8th. Large room there with a view of Beverly Hills H.S. and construction of a Purple Line extension. The food was good too. After finally getting a determination that surgery wasn’t necessary I started making plans to return.

 

So Craig came out from Cleveland on June 7th and we left early in the AM the following day. Getting a reservation was difficult and the fares were in the stratosphere but we got two “pods” on Delta Flight #562 with a 11:10 departure from LAX and 7:49 arrival at JFK. I was wheeled outside to await the Uber Tesla car Craig had reserved for a somewhat slow, congested ride to LAX. Once there, a wheelchair took me thru security and then to the gate. When boarding was ready the wheelchair took me to the entrance to the aircraft where I was transferred to a narrow chair for a quick ride to our seats. Gate departure was at 11:21; take off at 11:33. Soon the attendant passed out menus from which I ordered lunch which was quite good. Later I enjoyed a glass of chardonnay despite trying to not consume liquids as a bathroom visit would have been difficult! I slept for about 2 hours, watched a movie and soon we were nearing JFK. Landing was about 7:15 and we reached the gate at 7:40. Here we had to wait until everyone else was off and then the wheelchair process was repeated in reverse. Lisa picked us up and took us home to Ossining where we arrived at 9:00 pm. Whew!

 

WEZ

CONSIST: AMTRAK # 49 CRT-CHI May 13-14, 2022:

 

Engines: 711 & 104                     NYP-ALB          

              101 & 109           ALB-CHI

Cars: 62044 – Viewliner sleeper BOS-CHI

        48167 -  Café/Business Class BOS-CHI

       25091 – Amfleet II coach    BOS-CHI

       25113    -    “         “     “       NYP-CHI

       25085    -    “        “       “    NYP-CHI

       68000 – Diner AlbanyNYP-CHI

       62018 – Viewliner Slpr         NYP-CHI  (my car)

       62522 -     “            “         NYP-CHI   Trout River  (new car)

       61047 – Baggage carNYP- CHI

 

CONSIST: AMTRAK #3, Southwest Chief, CHI-FUL May 14-16, 2022:

 

Engines: 184 & 18                       CHI-LAX

Cars: 32083 Sleeper IOWA         CHI-LAX    (my car)

          32034  Sleeper                 CHI-LAX

          38039  Dining car              CHI-LAX

          33047 Sightseeing Lng.     CHI-LAX

          34100 Coach           CHI-LAX

          31029 Bge/Coach              CHI-LAX

 

All cars were Superliners. No baggage car; checked baggage was stored in the underneath baggage compartment in car 31029.                          

         

 

 

 

 

 

Walter Zullig
4:25 PM (3 hours ago)
   
to me
 
Hi, Dave,
 
Feel free to share it but keep the copyright reference.
 
Walter
 
  • Member since
    June 2002
  • 18,948 posts
Posted by daveklepper on Wednesday, June 15, 2022 1:13 PM

All te e;ort's photos are now posted.

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