PHOTOS and captions by Russ Jackson
On May 25, this writer took Amtrak long distance train, #421 the Texas Eagle-Sunset Limited from Ft. Worth, Texas to Benson, Arizona and returned on #422 leaving Benson on May 30. The commentary will be published in Part 2 in a few days. Here are some photos from that trip:
1. Texas Eagle at Austin
It’s May 25, 2016, and #421 the Texas Eagle is on time at the Austin, Texas Amtrak station, where there is always a large turnover of riders leaving and new ones boarding. Notice the apartment complex on the north side of the tracks in this beautiful state capitol city.
On May 26, on the Sunset Limited after Alpine, Texas, I ordered lunch to be brought by the attendant to my roomette. There is nothing better on Amtrak’s menu than the cheeseburger, with chips, all the trimmings, and a diet Pepsi. Water is available for sleeper passengers, but must be asked for most of the time.
3. Meet with freight
One of the passing tracks between Sierra Blanca and El Paso is at McNary, where the tracks cross under Interstate 10. Which train is moving in this photo? Answer: The UP freight. The westbound Sunset Limited is stopped on the main line while the extra long auto rack train clears the west end. The photo was taken from the rear door of the last car on the passenger train.
4. El Paso station interior
When the Sunset Limited arrives early in El Paso there is time to explore, and we were almost an hour early requiring waiting for “time.” Have you seen the classic interior of the historic 1905 El Paso train station? There is always a large turnover of riders in El Paso.
5. Tracks at Chase Field
To get from the parking garage into Chase Field in Phoenix to watch an Arizona Diamondbacks baseball game one must cross the Union Pacific main line either on the ground or over this bridge. Some day Arizona Rail will have a stop here for trains going from Phoenix to Tucson. Fans can now take the very successful Phoenix light rail which stops on the other side of the ball park.
6. Me at Benson
I’ve always wanted a picture of me in an Amshack, and here I am waiting for the return trip on Amtrak 422, the Sunset Limited/Texas Eagle, at the Benson “station.” The train arrived on time and was on time or early throughout my return trip. (Photo taken by Bob Snow)
7. Sliders at Deming
The Sunset Limited now offers a lunch item for Coach passengers at their seats. On May 30 I convinced the Dining Car reservation taker to see if I could have this special item in my roomette, and he found that I could! It was barbecued chicken sliders!, served with a large chocolate chip cookie and water. Quite tasty, and here it is on the table in my roomette with the Deming, New Mexico “station” seen out the window.
8. Clouds at El Paso
Here we are back at the El Paso Amtrak station again, with the line of passengers waiting to board the train. As a portent of what was to come to Texas heavy clouds were forming, which brought heavy rain to that state for the next 5 days. We were just ahead of the down-pours.
9. Alpine station mural
Alpine, Texas is a destination for riders going to Big Bend National Park, Sul Ross University, Marfa, and all the other tourist places in West Texas. It is an unattended station, but is a crew change location and “smoking” stop for passengers. Inside the old waiting room is this artist’s mural showing what the station would be like if there was an attendant. Next day, home to Ft. Worth ten minutes early!