Advice sought on rail travel in the US

Check into upgrading to Sleeper. It comes with free first-class meals and though food in coach is horrendous. (Microwave and chips err crisps)
Fees for multiples are quite reasonable. You pay for the room with the first person, it seems.
If you have some time in Chi, I can show you around..... Finalize your timetable, try to be here over the week end, and I can set something up. It early May or June, there is a good bourse in DuPage.

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Since you're coming to KC, you'll see the restored Union Station - it is glorious, the ceiling in the main lobby will take your breath away. The Amtrak station has (finally) been relocated there, so if you arrange your time, you should have a chance to explore the station. They have (also finally) opened an exhibit on railroad history, and you can see the Kansas City Southern F7 as well as several pieces of Milwaukee Road varnish that the city has purchased for display - at least, these should be on display if you're arriving later this year.
Website:
http://www.unionstation.org /
Be sure and take a walk across the front - there's a sign explaining a piece of the station's history - in 1933, Frank Nash, a gangster, was killed in a hail of submachine gun bullets in a botched rescue attempt (although the most recent analysis indicates that there is a strong possibility that at least one of the attending agents was killed by friendly fire as they attempted to defend themselves). The "bullet holes" in the exterior of the station are somewhat suspect - forensic attempts to match the damage show that these are unlikely to have been caused by gunfire. Still, an interesting story and worth the effort to see the site.
Depending on how your time is organized, you can walk or drive up the hill to the Liberty Memorial - Kansas City's World War One memorial. Extensive museum collections, and an unmatched view of the city.
Website:
http://www.libertymemorialmuseum.org/index.aspx
I have taken the Southwest Chief from Kansas City to Raton, New Mexico and back. I thoroughly enjoyed the ride, but as has already been mentioned here, if you are schedule bound you are unlikely to be happy. If, on the other hand, you are on your own schedule, and won't get frustrated with delays, you'll see a wonderful landscape. I second that the sleepers or deluxe sleepers are well worth the money - if you're treating this as a vacation, that is.
Chris Kansas City
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Chris Thanks It won't be my first time in KC. I was there in 2002 If my girlfriend of the time hadn't been there I'd probably still be sat at the big window that looks out across the tracks in the Science center. There was a huge double stack container train going past at the time, totally awesome. It may still be going past now, it was a long train. The station is very impressive and quite beautiful. I look forward to seeing the new exhibits. One of the other things I saw while I was there was the steamship "Arabia" that was pretty cool. Did the Nelson Atkins and the childhood museum near UMKC too. I missed getting a Kansas City steak as GF was a Vegan. I hope to correct that this time, if you know a good place for steak let me know.
I was planning to try and take in Meteor Crater in Arizona so only need to go as far as Flagstaff I'm looking forward to seeing that part of the country which I only know from John Ford westerns. Thanks again
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Sounds like you know the place well. I kicked myself for forgetting the Arabia - it's an incredible exhibit, as you mention. The thing I like the most about it was that it was the project of one family - the pictures of them up to their knees in water, digging in the cornfields in winter bring real pain to mind for those of us that live on the high plains. :)
If you're looking for a good steak, "Jess and Jims" in Martin City is always a safe bet. It's quite a way south of the metro, but worth the drive if you have the time. Also, there's a barbeque place in Martin City called "The Smokestack" that's also a little bit of heaven on earth.
If you come south, be sure and stop at Show Me Trains in Grandview (not far out of the way if you go to Martin City) - it's a great store, fantastic selection, and the owner, Charlie, one of the nicest people you'll ever meet. The store is a block from the tracks of the Kansas City Southern, so odds are you'll see some prototype action there - often they park their work trains on the sidings there, so you may get to see some unusual stuff. The UP runs through Martin City, so you might have a train or two with your steak.
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Les Pickstock wrote:

The Illinois RR Museum is 50 miles NW of downtown Chicago....
An all day visit of the 8 huge barns is tiring....
However during Spring/Easter, They may be open on Weekends
or NOT at all.... Summer is open every day with 1 mile trolley
loop run on weekdays.. Four trains run on Weekends on the 5 mile
straight track..... Special Weekends have 6 to 8 trains running...
Cost is $6 to $9 per day for unlimited train rides too.
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Dennis Mayer wrote:

I 'second' the vote for the Science and Industry Museum and the IRM.
The IRM is perhaps 45 miles from Chicago, and is the largest private railroad museum in the USA. Most railfans could easlily send a whole day there. The emphasis is on Trolleys and Interurbans, but they have LOTS of 'mainline' railroad equipment too. The collection includes several operable steam locos (2-10-0, Shay, 2-6-2, etc.), lots of 'stuffed' ones (including a N&W Y3 2-8+8-2), many Diesels (most runnable), and a few electrics (including a CSS&SB "Little Joe" and a PRR GG-1). Many things operate. They have special weekends when certin types of equipment are run.
Visit their website for more info <http://www.irm.org/ .
Dan Mitchell ===========
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Les Pickstock wrote:

We took the 30 day US and Canada trip a few years ago. The stuff we saw is shown on our website at:
http://www.intergate.com/~lard
To summarize, ViaRail has better service than Amtrak, and Pennsylvania is a railroad buff's paradise. The one thing we missed was the Canadian Railroad Museum south of Montreal. It was closed for construction. I heard it was well worth a visit.
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You're out of the summer season so traveling via the pass will be a lot easier. I do believe that the pass is basically like an airline nonreservation ticket so you may be bumped from some trains even in this season. Easter is the start of the tourist season on the railroads so it may be likely that you'll have to wait for the next rrain (usually the next day) if you get bumped or there is no space. Amtrak tends to be run as the poorboy of the transportation system here in the states. Do be prompt when going for meals on the train as the diner does tend to close prompty. Otherwise, enjoy the trips no matter how long they may take and be prepared to have delays hold you up. Also, don't forget to ride the EL for some commuter fun and take a ride up on the push-pull trains going north as they are a blast sitting up by the engineer. They are probably the only way that you're going to see what it is like riding in a loco when the train is being pushed.
-- Why do penguins walk so far to get to their nesting grounds?
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Les Pickstock wrote:

For AMTRAK Superliner rides, bring along a Garmin GPS with a US
basemap.... You can anticipate the 'next city' distance by
using the find command.... You must be riding in the SuperDome
Car (freebe) for GPS to function. GPS measures accurate speed too.... Max SuperLiner speeds are 79 MPH or 91 MPH out West. In the mountains
speeds can be 30 MPH....
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There's the Illinois Railway Museum in Union, IL. It's a reasonable distance north west of Chicago. Look at their website to see if it interests you: http://www.irm.org /
--
Bill Kaiser
snipped-for-privacy@mtholyoke.edu
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