Both Amtrak Trains 3/4 (Southwest Chief) and 5/6 (California Zephyr) make use of the former CB&Q main main between Galesburg, IL and Chicago and have since the Cameron Connector
was built for the BN/SF merger in 1996. Last year I took a series of photos along this route which comprises the BNSF Mendota and Chicago subdivisions from the rear of Train 6. Due to the time of day, cloud conditions and a few other factors almost all my photos
were compromised to such an extent with backlighting and purple tint that I didn't even bother to post them up anywhere.
This year, for the 10th pat of my cross country trip via the Southwet Chief I had a somewhat uncommon opportunity to turn the tables on the potentially disastrous afternoon lighting and also avoid shooting a duplicate set of photos. Our train happened to not be equipped with a transition sleeper behind the heritage baggage car. As a result there was a forward facing railfan window from the standard type Superliner that overlooked the roof of the baggage car. Now, this isn't a perfect RFW view and for much of any trip with such a view the window will quickly accumulate a thick coating of bug splat and exhaust soot. However in a second lucky turn of events my train encountered a massive line of rain while on the Mentoda Sub and a good hour of blasting the front window with 80mph raindrops managed to clean it of all the dirt and debris.
Therefore for the final leg of the trip between Aurora and Chicago I too photos from the front of the train. Now shooting angles were still an issue with the two engines and baggage car still in the way, but as I was looking to take pics of the surviving searchlight signal bridges the engines and car would not obstruct my view for that purpose.
You can find all the photos from this set here.
If you don't like photos skip to the end for a pretty sweet video of the same material.
I tried a few practice shots approaching Galesburg
where my train passed a westbound BNSF freight waiting for us to clear up at GRAHAM interlocking with C44-9W #4180 in the lead.
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