The 27th Annual
AAPRCO Convention Trains
The Northern Parks
September 15-16, 2004. Private Party Car
Pony Express operated from Los Angeles to Portland, OR.
On arrival at Oakland Jack London Square The Pony was joined
by Dome Obs Silver Solarium and ex CN tourist sleeper
obs Burrard. At Portland we were coupled up to 4-4-2 sleeper
Yosemite Falls (ex SP Golden Mission) and PV Virginia
City the car once owned by Lucius Beebe and Charles Clegg.
On Friday the 17th we left for Spokane, WA on Train #28, the
Portland-Spokane section of the Empire Builder where we joined
Private Car Jane Marie (converted from an ex Rock Island
coach) and sleeper obs Vista Canyon (ex Santa Fe blunt
end sleeper obs.) The seven cars, all belonging to members of
AAPRCO (American Association of Private Railroad Car Owners)
then operated as the AAPRCO Western Convention Train with Amtrak
locomotive #92 providing the power. We travelled from Spokane
to Whitefish, MT on Saturday, September 18. Upon arrival several
passengers availed themselves of the opportunity to take a bus
tour of Glacier National Park.
Inside jokes abound aboard the Pony
Sunset – Whitefish, Montana
Western Convention Train parked at Whitefish, Montana
On Sunday, the 19th, we travelled from Whitefish
to Shelby along the BNSF’s Hi Line Subdivision (ex-Great Northern)
skirting the southern edge of Glacier National Park. Wildlife
was abundant and included Grizzly Bears and Bald Eagles. From
Shelby the train took the freight only Laurel Subdivision to
Great Falls where we spent the night.
East of Whitefish along the Flathead River
Grizzly Bear Cubs
Rainy Great Falls
On Monday, the 20th we travelled from
Great Falls to Mossmain Junction on the Laurel Subdivision where
we joined the tracks of Montana Rail Link (ex Northern Pacific).
We then travelled over MRL to Livingston. Again we saw lots of
wildlife including Elk, Antelope, Fox and Eagles. It was a very
restful journey through remote range lands. We spent the rest
of the 20th all of the 21st in Livingston. Passengers who desired
were able to tour Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks
on the 21st.
On Tuesday, 22nd. The 18 cars of the Eastern
Convention train and the 7 cars of the Western Train were combined
into one 25 car passenger train with Amtrak locomotives 121,
204 and 92. We travelled from Livingston to Missoula via Bozeman
Pass, Helena and Mullen Pass.
Climbing Bozeman Pass
Along the Missouri River
Milwaukee Road crossing of the Missouri River
Approaching Mullan Pass
Greenhorn Trestle Mullan Pass
After our arrival and switching in Missoula
on Wednesday, September
22 we held a car party for convention attendees and invited guests.
The Pony became a popular gathering place.
Car Party on the Pony Express
Friday, September 24, 2004 convention attendees
rode a special MRL and Montana Rockies Rail Tours train from
Missoula to Hamilton and return. While in Hamilton we were treated
to a delicious BBQ lunch and a special tour of the Daly Mansion.
Private cars Pony Express and Silver Solarium were included as
part of the special train. The return trip featured FP-9A PPCX
6304 (ex VIA 6304, ne WP-806A) in its two tone gray livery as
the lead locomotive.
Saturday morning, September 25th., the Pony
and ex VIA F9-A 6304 were made part of the regular Montana Rockies
Daylight train for movement to Sandpoint, Idaho in preparation
for the Montana Daylight Steam Excursion with locomotive #4449
Oct 10-12 and 15-17.
Sunday, September 26 the combined convention
trains ran to Sandpoint, Idaho. There they were split back into
two trains. The Eastern Train headed for Whitefish, MT and Western
Train continued on to Spokane. Once in Spokane the special ended
and the 6 remaining Western cars were held for pickup by the
westbound Portland Section of the Empire Builder, Train #27.
Along the Clark Fork River west of Missoula
Aboard Private Car Virginia City – a member
of the Eastern Train says farewell to members of the Western
Train as we approach Sandpoint, Idaho
Lake Pend Oreille
Approaching Sandpoint on the platform of Private
Car Virginia City
Leaving the Pony as we depart Sandpoint
Monday, September 27 our Private Cars were
picked up by the Portland Section of the Westbound Empire Builder,
Train #27. We departed Spokane on time at 2:45am and arrived
in Portland on time at 10:10am. Three cars, the Jane Marie, Vista
Canyon and Burrard were staged to be picked up by the Coast Starlight
later in the day. The other three cars, Yosemite Falls, Virginia
City and Silver Solarium were place on track one and hooked up
to shore power.
6 PV’s on the rear of a 4 car Empire Builder
along the Columbia River
Say goodbye to the first three cars as they
leave Portland on the rear of the Southbound
Coast Starlight, Train #11
Tuesday, September 28 we see a 1950’s portrait
of Portland Union Station. Yosemite Falls, Virginia City and
Silver Solarium are on Track 1 while the Puget Sound and Sierra
Hotel are on Track 3. These two domes arrived on Monday’s Northbound
Starlight and are positioned to depart for Chicago on this day’s
Empire Builder. The three cars from the Western Train are set
to depart later on the Southbound Coast Starlight. An unfortunate
mishap caused a brake problem on the Virginia City so it didn’t
leave this day. Yosemite Falls and Silver Solarium ran as far
as San Jose where they were taken off.