Coast Starlight #11--Any other pointers?

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OBS Chief
Jun 5, 2012
Well, just a little over 2 weeks until the big train ride!! I have a question. My parents are in Room C, and I am in Roomette 2--both our rooms are on the same side of the sleeper. On what side of the train will we be on heading south to LA? We want to see Mount Shasta ( and also perhaps the trestle repaired miraculously by the "Trestle Angels.") . We will be passing through that area around midnight, but we're hoping to get moonlight to illuminate Mount Shasta. We could go to the Sightseer Lounge, but the lights will be on, making it difficult to see and take pictures due to the glare.

I've pretty much gone over all the questions and suggestions for this trip. Are there any other pointers I should know about? I plan to have a special "Train Talk" tomorrow with my parents.


Sep 4, 2016
Orcas Island, Washington
You never know what side you'll be on until the train pulls into the station! You either get a view of Mount Shasta or the coast. I always love my travels on the Coast Starlight, no matter which side I'm on!


Jul 22, 2009
Washington State
No way to know. Superliner sleepers are designed to run either end forward and do. It depends on how the car was oriented when it was switched into the consist. At least a couple of times I've been on it in recent years, the sleepers in the same consist were oriented in opposite directions (coupled roomette end to roomette end).

While the ocean is on the right side, the best view of the crossing of the Oregon Cascades is on the left, as is coming down Cuesta and the Goldtree Horseshoe.

Enjoy the run along the Puget Sound just past Tacoma. The Point Defiance Bypass should be going into service in just a matter of weeks now, and that stretch will be bypassed for an inland run close to Interstate 5. After the Point Defiance Bypass goes into service, there will no passenger trains on the route along the Sound around Point Defiance, including passing under the Tacoma Narrows Bridges.

Only other pointer is be prepared to get woken up in Sacramento. They have really intense white LED lights on the platform there that are just the right height to shine into the upper level rooms. The relatively thin curtains now in use don't really stop them.
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Mar 6, 2007
Re inside light glare ...

Make or buy a collapsible rubber lens hood contraption that fits over your lens at the small end (you could attach it to a regular screw-on sun shade if you are making it, or however you attach things to your camera) and seals against the window on the big end. Make sure it is big enough that it doesn't show in the photo you take, especially if you are thinking of wide angle shots. I mention wide angle because that is often your best bet for a view that comes up suddenly and you don't really have time to frame it.

If you are shooting from your room, just close the curtain and stick your head under it, kind of like those old-time photographers had to do.

For a moonlit shot from a moving train, suggest experimenting with someone else driving a car to see what you can do, both camera settings and angle of shot relative to your motion. Someone here might know the train speed on that stretch, it isn't any of that 79 mph business, probably closer to 30. Hopefully you won't have so much smoke by then so you'll actually get light from the moon. Of course any sunrises or sunsets will be spectacular and lengthy if the smoke is bad.

Another place to shoot is standing in the vestibule, window closed of course but you'll have access to both sides.

I think the south side of Mt. Shasta is the most beautiful but I'm probably prejudiced because that is the side that hovers above the highway whenever I drive north to Chico on a clear day.