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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Keith Kaiser of WDRB 41 Television in Louisville, Kentucky visited the Spirit of St. Louis near Lannan Park for the morning show. In this fourth and final segment, he is aboard the Dearing with Borden Black.
Keith Kaiser of WDRB 41 Television in Louisville, Kentucky visited the Spirit of St. Louis near Lannan Park for the morning show. In this second segment, he is aboard the Dearing with Taylor Johnson and Borden Black.
Keith Kaiser of WDRB 41 Television in Louisville, Kentucky visited the Spirit of St. Louis near Lannan Park for the morning show. In this first segment, he is aboard the Sierra Hotel with Bob Donnelly.