40th Annual AAPRCO Convention


The time has finally arrived!

On 09/14/2017 the AAPRCO annual convention begins with its special train, The Green Mountain Flyer, departing from Rensselaer, NY.  This year’s train has 18 cars and will be touring central NY with the final destination of Burlington, VT.

We will be departing Rensselaer, NY at 0730 (7:30AM) and head west to Schenectady, NY and then onto Utica, NY.  At Utica the train will move onto the Adirondack Scenic Railroad and travel to Thendara, NY.  The train will turn at Thendara and after a short layover will return to Utica where it will tie up for the night.

On 09/15/2017 we will be departing Utica at 0400 (4:00AM) to Schenectady, NY onto the Norfolk Southern Line and heads towards Binghamton, NY on the former D&H track.  After Binghamton we will go to Corning, NY and finally to Geneva, NY where will stop for the night.

On 09/16/2017 will be a “mini-excursion” with the entire train going to Solvay, NY and back to Geneva on the Finger Lakes Railway (known for their NYC themed locomotives).

On 09/17/2017 we depart Geneva at 0400 (4:00AM) and retrace our route back through Corning, Binghamton, Schenectady, and Rensselaer.  There is a crew change at Rensselaer and the train will head to Springfield, MA.  We move onto the Vermont Rail System at Bellows Falls, VT and finally to Rutland, VT for the night.

On 09/18/2017 is a short travel day starting at 0900 (9:00AM) out of Rutland to our final destination of Burlington, VT.

There are three days of convention activities and then the train will depart Burlington on 09/22/2017 0230 (2:30AM) back to Rensselaer arriving late in the evening.

As always, if you are out photographing or viewing the train please stay safe and don’t trespass.

I also want to give a special thank you to the Amtrak staff at Rensselaer.  They were all exceptionally friendly and helpful in getting our train ready.  I was thinking maybe there was something in the water that makes them so happy but on second thought I’m sure it’s just having all these dome cars and heavy weights in their yard.

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2017 Convention Keynote Speaker Announced


The 40th Annual Convention Keynote Speaker will be the President and CEO of Amtrak, Wick Moorman!

Wick Moorman, President & CEO of Amtrak

This very special guest will be exclusively speaking to AAPRCO members and convention goers at the 2017 AAPRCO Convention.

He will be speaking on Tuesday September 19, 2017 at the Hilton Burlington, Burlington Vermont.

You must be an AAPRCO member to register for the convention.   The dues for an associate member is only $90.

Don’t forget there be a convention special train, The Green Mountain Flyer will several great stops and rare mileage.   Don’t miss out!

2017 AAPRCO Convention Update

The Hilton Burlington will host the 2017 AAPRCO Convention from September 18th – 22nd.

Hilton Burlington
60 Battery Street
Burlington, Vermont 05401

As usual, the Convention Committee has selected a great venue for the convention.  The Hilton Burlington sits near beautiful Burlington Bay

It is recommended that if you plan to stay in the convention hotel to make reservations in advance as the fall season in Vermont is a tourist season and it could sell out.

Outside view of the Hilton Burlington.

Lobby of the Hilton Burlington.


Outdoor amenity at the Hilton Burlington with a view of Burlington Bay.


Room with a view!



See you at the Convention!





City of Spokane – 2016 Convention Special

AAPRCO has completed running its special train running between Denver, CO to Spokane, WA for the annual convention.  I was able to join the train on September 14th when the train laid over in Missoula, MT.  It was my first venture on a AAPRCO special and I thoroughly enjoyed my experience.  I had accommodations on the LA Rail car Pacific Sands which was paired with the Tioga Pass, which is also part of the LA Rail group.

The Pacific Sands at Missoula, MT
The Pacific Sands at Missoula, MT.
The Tioga Pass at Missoula, MT.
The Tioga Pass with the Burrard at Missoula, MT.

On Sunday evening, September 15th, I managed to capture a rather stunning photo of the sunset that silhouetted part of the 21 car train in the Montana Rail Link Missoula Yard.

The sun sets on the AAPRCO 2016 Convention Special: City of Spokane.
The sun sets on the AAPRCO 2016 Convention Special: City of Spokane.  The Wisconsin is the car in the foreground.

On September 19th the train departed the Missoula yard bound for Spokane with a scheduled stop in Sandpoint, ID.  One of the highlights of this segment is when the train crossed over Lake Pend Oreille (pronounced pond-er-ray) on the 4,769 foot trestle on the BNSF.

2016 AAPRCO City of Spokane crosses lake Pend Oreille. Jesse Tinsley photo.
2016 AAPRCO City of Spokane crosses Lake Pend Oreille.  Jesse Tinsley photo.

During this segment I was also able to take a few minutes and speak with the Pacific Sands owner, Doug Spinn, and he gave me a little insight about car ownership and operations.   I was curious about LA Rail and he explained that it was four car owners with a total of five cars that have combined their resources to operate the cars more efficiently.  The marketing multiplier has been very successful for them.

I asked Doug how long had been a car owner and he answered that he had bought the Pacific Sands in 2003 and was able to start running it in 2004.  The car itself was Amtrak approved when made the purchased, but it needed improvements and some upgrades.  He primarily worked on the car himself and said that he had to keep his focus on one small part at a time and not be overwhelmed by the overall project.

I next asked what his favorite part of being a car owner was.  “It’s a love-hate relationship sometimes.  When you’re riding the car you don’t want to be anywhere else and when you’re parked working on a project, you wonder what you’re doing sometimes.  The best part is meeting the people and have them ride the car.  When you know that you made their vacation or trip memorable, it’s a great feeling.”

Naturally, I then asked what he least favorite part was.  He answered, “Mechanical failures can be very stressful.  You try to get everything right for a trip but Murphy’s Law will still pop-up.  You just have to work through it.”

I have to agree with Doug.  The people have been a great part of this trip.  I joined the train as a last minute arrangement and was brought into a car of total strangers.  However, we are all there for the same thing and I found the other passengers and staff to be exceptionally friendly and welcoming.  The City of Spokane ends its journey but the people will continue and come back for another one.  The AAPRCO convention activities will fill up the rest of the week before the cars return to their home terminals or travel to their next destination.

While the train was in Spokane it was unfortunately not be open to the public for tours or rides.  Membership with AAPRCO and and convention registration are required in order to ride on the special and attend the car parties during the convention.

I would also like to thank all the car owners for their hospitality during the car parties and the staff that supported this train.  It was an amazing experience and I’m looking forward to the next one.

We are also on Facebook and YouTube.


The 2015 Spirit of St. Louis – Thanks to one and all!

Monday, October 5th, 2015 was the last day aboard the Spirit of St. Louis as the convention train headed home from St. Louis to Chicago.

The Spirit of St. Louis leaving West Quincy, MO heading for Chicago.

The Spirit of St. Louis passes Downers Grove, IL en route to Chicago along the former CB&Q.

The video above shows the 2015 AAPRCO Convention train, the Spirit of St. Louis arriving into Chicago.

Thanks to everyone who shared images and video from along the way. Also a thanks to everyone who made the trip possible including the host railroads, Amtrak, the AAPRCO staff, the individual private car owners and the passengers who rode the train. You all made this happen. From those of us who could not be there in person, everyone of you deserves our thanks!


Spirit of St. Louis, the road to Louisville, Kentucky


The Spirit of St. Louis, seen crossing the trestle at Salvisa on its way west toward Louisville. Photo courtesy Gage O’Dell.

Tuesday, September 29th saw the Spirit of St. Louis travel from Cincinnati, Ohio to Louisville, Kentucky. There were many brave individuals out in the rain long the way. Captions and images courtesy Gage O’Dell, who was one of them.


NS 951 crosses the RJ Corman Diamond in Shelbyville in the pouring rain with a pair of Amtrak P42DCs leading 20 passenger cars on the AAPRCO St Louis Convention Charter.

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Amtrak Phase I heritage leads NS 951, the AAPRCO St Louis Convention Charter, through the Southern Searchlights at Avenstoke.


Amtrak 156, the Phase I heritage unit, leads NS 951 through the searchlights at Salvisa.


On a gloomy and grey day, a pair of Amtrak P42DCs lead the AAPRCO St Louis Convention Charter through the tight confines of Harrodsburg.


A shot that will never be duplicated ever again. NS 951, the AAPRCO Saint Louis Convention passenger train, rolls under the Southern searchlights at Delaplain on a gloomy and rainy fall day with the Amtrak Phase I heritage unit leading.

The searchlights expiration date looms in the next couple weeks as the Rogers Gap extension project nears completion. As well as rare mileage of Amtrak power on the CNO&TP. Only once, if not just a handful of times, has Amtrak power ever led on this line, and that was back in the 1980s when they ran a test train down the Central Division for a potential passenger route that only went as far as the testing.


For the first time in well over 30 years, a pair of Amtrak GEs lead a passenger train on the Norfolk Southern Central Division as they take the AAPRCO Saint Louis Convention Charter across the Ohio River Bridge and into the state of Kentucky.