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Most scenic parts of Amtrak routes traversed during the night?

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MARC Rider

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Northeast Regional 66 and 67 going over the Hell Gate Bridge. You get a great view of the Manhattan skyline all lit up. But the scenic views of Long Island Sound between New Haven and Westerly are all in the dark.
 

railiner

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Northeast Regional 66 and 67 going over the Hell Gate Bridge. You get a great view of the Manhattan skyline all lit up. But the scenic views of Long Island Sound between New Haven and Westerly are all in the dark.
Lots of other trains on the same route in daylignt.
 

Seaboard92

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I think one of the best sections I've done in daylight that is normally after dark is Huntington, WV to Cincinnati, OH in the Ohio River Valley. I am lucky my life has allowed me to see many scenic stretches of track that are often hard to see. I rode a deadhead move of the real New River Train in daylight down the Ohio River Valley in daylight it was amazing.

The Empire Builder by far has a lot of potential to be a scenic route. But the times aren't exactly right. When I rode it in February I was amazed by the Cascades which were after dark by the time we left Stevens Pass. And the area near Sandpoint is amazing too.
 

Seaboard92

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I also agree the best way to ride the Coast Starlight is northbound. You are guaranteed to get the coast in daylight, and the Cascades. You might miss the Puget Sound however but that will soon go away.

Southbound can give you an amazing sunset if you make it to the coast in time. But that is not a guarantee. Both directions have their highlights.
 

Willbridge

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If you include former trains, the Pioneer traversed some beautiful scenery overnite...one rarely seen segment is along the Bear River Canyon, near the Cutler Dam and reservoir, between Ogden and Pocatello....
Thanks to a burnt-out headlight on one of my Train 26 trips I enjoyed seeing this in daylight.
 

Willbridge

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I think one of the best sections I've done in daylight that is normally after dark is Huntington, WV to Cincinnati, OH in the Ohio River Valley. I am lucky my life has allowed me to see many scenic stretches of track that are often hard to see. I rode a deadhead move of the real New River Train in daylight down the Ohio River Valley in daylight it was amazing.

The Empire Builder by far has a lot of potential to be a scenic route. But the times aren't exactly right. When I rode it in February I was amazed by the Cascades which were after dark by the time we left Stevens Pass. And the area near Sandpoint is amazing too.
I looked at a couple of old timetables and the Glacier Park scenery scheduling problem on the Builder is due to running via Grand Forks. However, if it weren't for that extra time, assuming Chicago connections are mandated, less of the Cascades would be seen on 7/8 and less of the Columbia on 27/28.

The only real solution would be to add the Western Star to the route!
 

Bob Dylan

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The East Bound #2 Sunset Ltd. rolls through the Swamps of Louisiana and crosses the Mississippi River on the Huey Long Bridge in the dark.(while the Westbound #1 leaves in the AM allowing one to see this famous Bridge and River in Daylight)
 

railiner

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Why is that, are they changing the routing?
 

Wolverine72

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My favorite scene so far is the Zephyr westbound to Glenwood out of Denver on a nice sunny morning after a fresh snowfall. The red rocks covered in snow then along the Colorado River. Just gorgeous!
 

jruff001

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Thank you. I had forgotten about that.
 

Siegmund

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Lots of people chiming in about Sandpoint and Glacier, but the whole area in between is fine scenery, and much of the Kootenai River segment is not visible from the highway. You need #7 to be 12 hours late, not just 8, next time :)

People said "bring back the Western Star" - ironically, both the Builder AND the Western Star got to see more of the ID-MT scenery pre-Amtrak than they do now. The 1970 timetable has the Builder on a 1pm departure from Chicago, 325pm East Glacier, 835pm Libby; the Western Star 634 east glacier, 1135am libby, 215pm spokane. (Eastbound only the Western Star got service.)

I live within walking distance of what was a flagstop for the Western Star until 1970 :(

Amtrak's NCH had the same problem. There were years that it departed Chicago as early as 930am westbound, and still ran out of daylight by Missoula in summer and Butte in winter. Not that the scenery in central Montana was bad...but just like the Builder, the NCH would have been beautiful in daylight all the way across western MT and ID.

I was always puzzled that for all the different schedules they tried for these trains, Amtrak never did run them ~8 hours apart (either running one overnight Chicago-Minneapolis or one semi-early in the morning and the other semi-late in the afternoon).

One other addition to the list seeing Mt. Shasta from the Coast Starlight - it is possible, in the early-morning half-light, on an on-time 14, but being a little bit late helps. Also the Dunsmuir to Redding stretch has some lovely canyon and alongside-a-reservoir running that is in darkness both ways.
 

Willbridge

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.......
One other addition to the list seeing Mt. Shasta from the Coast Starlight - it is possible, in the early-morning half-light, on an on-time 14, but being a little bit late helps. Also the Dunsmuir to Redding stretch has some lovely canyon and alongside-a-reservoir running that is in darkness both ways.
When the SP ran the Shasta Daylight, that whole stretch, including the Cantara Loop, was in daylight. The last 4 to 6 hours of the trip in each direction was in darkness. The dark last stretch was a grind, given that passengers were going to be alighting soon, so couldn't really sleep. As many here know, the overnight Cascade, with pleasant scenery and good connections outlasted the daylight service with dramatic scenery and poor connections to become the Coast Starlight. The same thing evolved on the Chicago - New Orleans route.

[This has been a good discussion as we illustrate some of the pros and cons of long distance train scheduling.]
 

Dakota 400

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The East Bound #2 Sunset Ltd. rolls through the Swamps of Louisiana and crosses the Mississippi River on the Huey Long Bridge in the dark.(while the Westbound #1 leaves in the AM allowing one to see this famous Bridge and River in Daylight)
My trip on the Sunset Limited was Westbound and I agree with that area leaving New Orleans and going into Texas really was interesting country for me to see. It was "different" from other scenic trips I have experienced on Amtrak.
 

Dakota 400

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I like the view of Washington DC, all lit up.
Agree; it's quite a view!

It's my impression that the view is becoming more restricted--at least leaving Union Station headed South--by new building construction. I wonder if anyone else thinks that as well.
 

railiner

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People said "bring back the Western Star" - ironically, both the Builder AND the Western Star got to see more of the ID-MT scenery pre-Amtrak than they do now. The 1970 timetable has the Builder on a 1pm departure from Chicago, 325pm East Glacier, 835pm Libby; the Western Star 634 east glacier, 1135am libby, 215pm spokane. (Eastbound only the Western Star got service.)
Prior to Amtrak, the Empire Builder had the Western Star, and the North Coast Limited had the "Mainstreeter" opposite it....

Back then many of the main routes had multiple schedules, so it was easier to see parts missed on subsequent travel's....
 

JayPea

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Lots of people chiming in about Sandpoint and Glacier, but the whole area in between is fine scenery, and much of the Kootenai River segment is not visible from the highway. You need #7 to be 12 hours late, not just 8, next time :)
I agree wholeheartedly. If you are traveling on #8, your chances of being in daylight are a bit better, especially when the amount of daylight is highest. Three years ago while traveling on 8, we were an hour and 45 minutes late departing Spokane (this was in the middle of May) and we were in daylight by the time we reached Bonners Ferry, ID. So eastbound you don't have to be 8 or 12 hours late to see the scenery. 2 or 3 should do it. 🙂
 

anumberone

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Maybe it's just me, and maybe it's my location in the train, I've cant remember being impressed by any view from the train at night. Including eastbound into Denver late at night, sitting in the lounge car, or especially eastbound LSL into NYC, from a right side roomette.
 

railiner

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Maybe it's just me, and maybe it's my location in the train, I've cant remember being impressed by any view from the train at night. Including eastbound into Denver late at night, sitting in the lounge car, or especially eastbound LSL into NYC, from a right side roomette.
Descending the Front Range at night into Denver can offer a spectacular view beginning at Plainview, of the lights of Arvada and Denver...almost like flying in an airplane. The view is probably best on the left side, as the train is going mostly southward as it winds its way down thru the tunnels and curves, offering sometimes just short glimpses.
As for the Lake Shore...being on the right side gives you a splendid view of the Hudson, the various bridges, and occasional views of the Manhattan skyline until the train goes thru the covered cuts and tunnels.
 

niemi24s

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FWIW, Google Earth has a Sun tool in its View tab that gives the user control over the time, day and month anywhere along a route.

In spite of all the griping about it being dark when on time for those scenic mountain views, I'm in favor of leaving the EB schedule much as it is. The flax in bloom in North Dakota as well as the sunflowers following the sun is eye candy for me. I also find the seemingly endless wheat fields of the Big Sky Country quite mesmerizing.

Sounds crazy, but I developed a real fondness for that area after a four year tour underground at a Minuteman launch site just outside of the neat little town of Bowbells - about 35 miles North of the Amtrak station in Stanley, ND.

To each his own, I guess. <sigh>
 

Willbridge

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Maybe it's just me, and maybe it's my location in the train, I've cant remember being impressed by any view from the train at night. Including eastbound into Denver late at night, sitting in the lounge car, or especially eastbound LSL into NYC, from a right side roomette.
The night view into Denver doesn't work well in the reflective glass topped lounge. I haven;t seen it recently but some conductors would turn off the main lighting in the coaches and passengers would oooh and awww. About once or twice a year Train 5 is so late that it offers the night view, reminiscent of the westbound former D&RGW Prospector.
 

crescent-zephyr

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I rememeber having dinner in the dining car with normal lighting and you could see Denver at night pretty well. I drew a diagram of the big 10 curve on the table to explain to my table mates the track layout we would be going through.

Do I win a train geek award for that? :p
 
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