San Antonio 2003

Group Photo - Big Camera 2.jpg

Twenty people boarded Pullman sleeping car Cimarron River and lounge Chouteau Club on the evening of May 8 for a five-day excursion to San Antonio, Texas. The trip was the St. Louis Chapter's third to the Lone Star State, the first being in 2000.

Amtrak required us to send the cars to Chicago to have them put on the Texas Eagle, which was a change from past years. In past years we were able to put them in the train at St. Louis, and the change meant a more rushed boarding process, but thanks to Neva Sprung and Tony Marchiando the passengers were in place and ready to board when the Eagle rolled into St. Louis. We departed St. Louis about an hour late as the passengers enjoyed a welcome aboard party on Chouteau Club before retiring to their accommodations on Cimarron River.

Dawn on Friday found us in southwest Arkansas. The day turned out to be sunny and warm as we traveled through east Texas and arrived mid-afternoon in Fort Worth for the train's servicing stop. Since our cars were directly behind the locomotives we did not make it to the station platform when the train backed in. After some confusion on whether or not they would re-spot the train, passengers were allowed to step off the cars and stretch their legs. Departure from Fort Worth was about two hours late.

An early evening trip through the scenic Brazos and Bosque River valleys closed out the day with arrival in San Antonio at 1:20 a.m. - about 90 minutes late.

The day before our departure from St. Louis, Amtrak informed us that we could not stay at the station in San Antonio - another first since we'd been there the past two trips. Instead, they were sending us to Trans Texas Rail, a passenger car shop located in the former Southern Pacific engine facility about one mile north of the station. They originally told us that the Union Pacific would come and get us early on Saturday morning, but it was 4:20 p.m. before they showed up. Trans Texas Rail was an interesting place to stay and we had all the services we needed. The only disadvantage was that we had to take taxis to get to downtown and back.

Two days in San Antonio were spent visiting the regular tourist sites like the Alamo, the River Walk, several Missions and the market while others visited friends in the area. Of course one of the best things to do in San Antonio is visit some of the many restaurants. Everyone enjoyed their stay.

The Union Pacific came to pick us up at Trans Texas Rail about 12:30 a.m. on Monday. Power for the local was two ex-Southern Pacific GP60s - 6,000 horsepower for two passenger cars. They left us on the west end of the depot where we stayed until the northbound Eagle was ready for departure at 8:00 a.m. The Amtrak people in San Antonio put our two cars on the rear of the train.

On the northbound trip through the Texas hill country we experienced some pretty strong thunderstorms with dark skies, thunder and heavy rain. North of Temple the weather cleared and by the time we arrived at Fort Worth the sun was shining. Upon arrival in Fort Worth we heard on the radio that they were going to move our cars to the front of the train, so we spent most of the service stop being moved from the rear to the front. Nonetheless, our departure from Fort Worth was pretty much on time.

We remained on time into Arkansas but somewhere between Arkadelphia and Poplar Bluff, Missouri we lost three and a half hours. This gave us a daylight trip through the southern Missouri Ozarks and put us into St. Louis around 1:30 p.m. The passengers quickly unloaded and the cars continued to Chicago on the Eagle.

Despite the curves thrown at us by Amtrak the trip was very enjoyable. Reduction of the consist of the Texas Eagle to cut the motive power to one locomotive, as well as not being able to stay in San Antonio problem means that this was the last time we would be able to take the San Antonio trip. Rising costs are making the ticket price unaffordable. Those who have been on the three trips would agree that San Antonio is a great destination for private cars. We appreciate car owners Tony Marchiando and Dan Maguire and give them our thanks for making the trip possible.

Aboard Chouteau Club to San Antonio 5-9-03.jpg
Aboard Chouteau Club to San Antonio
Photo by Rick Sprung
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Lunch Time - Doc, Joe and Fred
Photo by Rick Sprung
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Marshall Texas
Photo by David Graham
Cim River  Chouteau Club at Ft Worth 5-9-03.jpg
Cimarron River and Chouteau Club at Ft Worth
Photo by Rick Sprung
Donna Kraatz Checking the GPS on Chouteau Club.jpg
Donna Kraatz Checking the GPS on Chouteau Club
Photo by Rick Sprung
Fred Blank in the Vestibule of Chouteau Club 5-12-03.jpg
Fred Blank in the Vestibule of Chouteau Club
Photo by Rick Sprung
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Cars at San Antonio Sat
Photo by David Graham
Cars at Trans Texas Rail - San Antonio 5-10-03.jpg
Cars at Trans Texas Rail - San Antonio
Photo by Rick Sprung

San Antonio River Walk
Photo by Rick Sprung
Lloyd Kraatz in Chouteau Club 5-12-03.jpg
Lloyd Kraatz in Chouteau Club
Photo by Rick Sprung
Lunch Time for Cherie 5-9-03.jpg
Lunch Time for Cherie
Photo by Rick Sprung
Playing Cards on Chouteau Club 5-12-03.jpg
Playing Cards on Chouteau Club
Photo by Rick Sprung
Chouteau Club in Chicago 5-14-03.jpg
Chouteau Club in Chicago
after the trip
Photo by Rick Sprung

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