Thursday, January 30, 2014

Amtrak: The Empire Builder

This coming Monday we plan to climb on this historic train in Seattle and ride it all the way to Milwaukee with Tom and Ellyn.

We were lucky to have engineered (get it?) transfer of a bunch of airline points from United through the former Continental and then to Amtrak, allowing us free meals and bedroom accommodations for same number of points as for a flight in economy.

We learn from Wikipedia that the Empire Builder is Amtrak's busiest route, that it was started by the Great Northern Railway in 1929, and that it was named after James J. Hill.

Hill, known as the Empire Builder, was the Canadian born American railway executive who reorganized several failing lines into the Great Northern and extended it to the Pacific.

The Great Northern was finally allowed to merge with Northern Pacific in 1970 (its first of four attempts was made in 1896) and became the Burlington Northern Railway. In 1995 it merged with the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway to become the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway. In the meantime, of course, Amtrak took over passenger service in 1971.

Enough of history... we're looking forward to this winter trip and it doesn't bother us at all that the train often runs late. We'll post progress reports along the way.

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