August 19, 2011

2 A Birthday Train Trip....

..taking the train around the USA for my 70th birthday. Part 2

Taking the train isn’t just riding the cars for us, it’s also visiting historic railway stations. The history of the railroads is reflected in their stations and also in the modern reuse of these structures.

Our “California Spanish” Santa Fe Depot, built in 1915, has successfully transited the long era when taking the train was out of “style.” Today I can catch one of many trolley’s headed south to the border, Santee and the stadium to the East or catch another line east through the barrio and La Mesa. I can hop on the colorful Coaster up to Oceanside, or I can catch an Amtrak train north to anywhere.

In the early morning lights, everything seems golden. I’m always filled with gratitude that the station is still with us. The same with the 1939 LA Union Station. It too sank deep into disrepair. Although Amtrak took over the existing passenger routes, few traveled on their tired cars.

Today the station is a vital hub for LA transportation. Amtrak’s trains now travel much more frequently on far newer equipment, the MetroRail uses the station as do busses and light rail. The foresight of restoring and modernizing this grand structure has repeatedly paid off for the city as it recovers from the wall to wall smog of the 1950’s and 1960’s.

There are many small and fascinating stations between Los Angeles and Portland, our next stop. The city of Portland was just finishing up a transportation center attached to their marvelous 1885 Van Brunt & Howe designed red train station when we were there last. Portland got their Union Station placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.

Coming from comfortable “Spanish” style architecture, I was absolutely fascinated by the whimsical yet formal architecture of this train station. With our cameras firmly gripped in our hands, we photographed everything we could see of it.

In Portland, Hotel reservations have been made. DA says that G made a good choice. I’m lining up dinner with our nephew and niece now, and we plan on lunch with DA and family the next day. Plans are sometimes very good things as arriving on doorsteps with no forewarning doesn’t make it in our greyer years.

The timing of our trip? I’m looking forward to arriving up here the end of September. Once around the US, and we will be home again the first part of October. We will be photographing many more stations after Portland.


  1. I still love going to Grand Central in New York, though I have been there literally hundreds of times. Even the station in New Haven has a certain comfort about it. I hope that, someday, you'll get to see them all.

  2. David and I have been admiring your photos of train travel and are green with envy. I am old enough to have traveled through some of these stations when they were still functioning with the old railways.

    How wonderful that these stations have been recycled and preserved. Hopefully, you will get to see Grand Central Station in NYC and our Union Station here in the DC metro area. Both are architectural gems.


  3. Such a glorious adventure! You deserve this!

  4. What a cool way to celebrate a milestone year. Fine photos.

  5. I am so glad to read about the popularity of train travel. On the east coast all we hear is how Amtrak is suffering budget-wise and how subsidies are not a solution.

  6. Such beautiful pictures already started! Forgive my ignorance: have you left already? Or plan to leave soon?

  7. I just love these train posts. My dad and and grandpa were railroaders and trains were literally our bread and butter!

  8. This is so neat, Mage! Your photos are really fabulous! I love traveling along with you two! I can't wait till you get to Chicago.

  9. IF you get to NYC, PLEASE let me know . . . in fact, get me info with enough lead time so that i for sure and mebbe bowsprite too can meet you!! i took the "autotrain" this summer from florida to DC. . . .


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