Motive Force!

Always loved trains. I mean, as a matter of public policy, not so much. But if the journey is the destination, there's a lot to be said for a train. And most of it, you've already heard, so I won't bother you with it again just now.

This is the cover of the schedule for the old California Zephyr. I take the Zephyr back and forth between Omaha and Denver. Most of it is overnight, so despite the 9-hour trip, there's surprisingly little time lost. It runs practically the same schedule now as it did 50 years ago, when this schedule was published. The difference is that now, it's run by Amtrak, rather than consortium of private railroads you see at the bottom there.

While it's still The Scenic Way Across America!, they've made some changes that, while I'm sure they improve efficiency, also somewhat mitigate your ability to actually see the scenic. Notice the dome cars, the Vista-Domes! When I took the Canadian across Canada in 1988, they were still using dome cars. Now, Amtrak has upgraded its rolling stock so that all the cars are double-deck. Of course, they still have a lounge car with windows, but no dome car. Which means that you can no longer see...forward out of the train.

This means that while trains are still great to take pictures of, they're not as great for taking picture from anymore. By the time you're able to take a shot perpendicular to the glass, the slew rate is so high you almost have to track it with your camera.

There's no space between the cars, either. On the Canadian, I was able to hang out between the cars and get actual air. Now, there's no platform the stand on. Between that and the lack of forward-looking Vista-Dome! carrage, you can't get that iconic picture of the train from the train. This may seem like nitpicking, but when you're selling nostalgia, too much change tends to kill your product.

None of this means I can't try, though. So, herewith, pictures of, by, from, and about trains.