Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Sunset Limited

Todays travel section in the Daily Telegraph has a good story about traveling by train in the USA.  The journey, from New Orleans to Los Angeles, takes the old Southern Pacific "Sunset Route".  It's a journey we haven't taken, but our other Amtrak experience sounds very similar, the California Zephyr from Salt Lake City to Denver:

California Zephyr at Glenwood Springs, CO

Here is a photo of the actual Sunset Limited arriving in Houston a few years ago:

Sunset Limited
Three locomotives are unusual, by the way!  The Sunset Route passes through San Antonio, providing a glimpse of old Southern Pacific grandeur in the restored station building:

San Antonio SP Railroad Depot

Out in the wilds of West Texas the track forms a single thread of steel between railroad towns, settlements only on the map because of the railroad.  A place to stop for water, perhaps, a place to take on a "helper" to push a heavy train up an incline, and so on.  Today many such settlements are fast becoming ghost towns.

The article comments about the egalitarianism of the dining car and we couldn't agree more.  Tables for four mean that you never dine alone and the company is usually most fascinating.

We have a complete set of high definition Southern Pacific maps and they are available for download on  These were scanned from originals a few years ago and it is feared that there may be very few examples available.  So, if you find yourself planning to travel over the SP system in the future, a few maps could make the journey even more rewarding!