Amtrak Celebrates 40 Years of Travel Across America

Amtrak is celebrating it’s 40Th anniversary of being America’s Railroad during all of 2011. The major kick-off of the celebration takes place in Washington D.C. on National Train Day on May 7, 2011.

Amtrak has been providing intercity and high-speed passenger rail service across the nation for 40 years. The anniversary is being marked by several commemorative occasions, which will take place throughout the year.

On January 30, 2011, the first four of locomotives with historic paint schemes was launched in Chicago, Illinois. The four locomotives will be in regular service, offering transportation across the nation.

A 40Th anniversary “exhibit train” will debut at National Train Day in Washington D.C. on May 7, 2011. The special train will travel across America for a one year period. The train will have two locomotives, painted with the historic paint scheme and renovated baggage cars containing exhibits about the history of Amtrak. There will be no charge to tour the train, so watch for the special train to come to your town.
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Rail travel in America is of historic significance and continues to be significant today. My husband and I took a rail honeymoon across the country. The leisurely honeymoon trip, originated in Chicago and traveled to the west coast and back.

The trip across to the west coast on Amtrak was leisurely and enjoyable. We hired a sleeper car, which had a private rest room and shower. There was a small table next to the window, where we could sit and watch the scenery as we buzzed by. When we wanted to get out of the small room, we were free to join the general passenger area, where we socialized with fellow travelers. We enjoyed the dome care with windows that allowed a great view of the countryside as we passed by.

We had our meals in the restaurant car, where we were always seated with another couple, due to space constraints. We enjoyed some pleasant visits with fellow travelers while dining. The food was surprisingly good during this trip, but in subsequent train trips the food was not as good. Alas, the food service changed, which I thought was a shame.

The train traveled from Chicago, through Wisconsin, Minnesota and North Dakota, across large expanses of wilderness. We made our fist stop in Seattle, Washington for a night and resumed the journey to San Francisco, California the next day. It was during this stretch that we saw scenery that I thought was just magical. We were in the mountains, looking down into the snowbank, as the snow fell. It is hard to describe, but it was a wonderful scene that sticks in my mind.

The return trip was on the California Zephyr, traveling thourugh the great Rocky Mountains and the Colorado River Valley. On the trip back, we traveled through Reno, Denver, St. Louis, Missouri and back to Chicago.We stopped in the Reno/Lake Tahoe area for a few days. It was from the train that I first saw Glenwood Springs, Colorado, a historic Old West town that captivated me, but we were not scheduled to stop there so we passed through on the way back to Chicago.

It was a pleasant trip and we got to see a good portion of the country. Train travel requires more time than airplane travel. According to information on the Amtrak website, the trip from Chicago to Seattle is 46 hours.

Rail travel is a great way to see the country. Amtrak is celebrating 40 years of providing transportation to travelers in America.