This video was recorded Sunday July 15 2012 from Amtrak Lincoln Service business class. I started with closeups of the Illinois State Capital in Springfield IL. Then I just kept pointing the camera out the window and recording what goes by. For those of you who haven’t traveled on Amtrak leaving Springfield this gives you an idea of the neighborhoods riders travel through leaving town. I’m not sure it can be seen in the video – but there is a father and son hanging out by the tracks waving at Amtrak passengers as they go by. I don’t think I had the camera angled down enough to catch them. Before that you will see a semi parked behind a large multi story residential building ( Lincoln Tower Apartments ). Inside the semi trailer is at least two cars.
As the Lincoln Service passes the old Sear’s warehouse you see a large Amoco sign in less than great shape. Of course not as large as the world’s largest Amoco sign in St. Louis – where this train is heading. Several other old beat up signs are also on that lot.
Just a bit after that we come across the part of town were you find D’arcy’s Pint. Then as the train starts to pick up speed the fun part begins. The couple behind us had been chatting away ever since we left Springfield. As we came upon the monstrosity known as Scheel’s they were dumbfounded. At one point I heard the lady very seriously suggest that this building might be a church. I can sort of give her that one – it was Sunday – it’s a very large building in the middle of nowhere with a bunch of cars in the parking lot – but most churches don’t have a name brand plastered all over them in several places. After using her trusty phone with Internet access she got her answer. Scheel’s is basically Cabela’s. Both seemed sort of shocked that another company offered a similar shopping experience as Cabela’s. We used to stop at Cabela’s in South Dakota on the way out to Seattle each year ( store locations Mitchell, SD multiple times, passed by Rapid City, SD store when it first opened and on the way to Lake Tahoe is 2004 Billings, MT ). You can hear the couple in the background but not exactly what they are saying.
As we passed Scheel’s and the farm land that has been and will continue to be turned into shopping centers and subdivisions – you just barely hear the Lincoln Home Trails & Rails volunteer giving an audio presentation. Unfortunately the speaker wasn’t working in business class. So none of us riding there could hear the presenter. It’s not unusual for speakers not to work on Amtrak trains – business class hardly ever has a working PA system.
After Scheel’s we start to follow right along side the Interurban Bike Trail. The train will follow the bike path from Springfield all the way to downtown Chatham IL. Unfortunately you won’t be able to see much of the trail. What you get for most of this portion of the video is trees blurring. We do get a break at the Woodside Road intersection. Then again when we get to the Lake Springfield bridge. The next break in the trees will be for a few seconds and a quick glance of the Piper Glen Golf Course.
Once past the golf course the next break of tree visions comes as we pass over the Plummer Boulevard bridge in Chatham IL. You can view several town homes and apartments to the side of the bridge. Just down from there is Route 4, shopping centers and other businesses. We live only a few long blocks away from this bridge.
We are now on our way to downtown Chatham. The video ends after we pass the Chatham Illinois Railroad Museum. Chatham doesn’t offer an Amtrak E-ticket station. Only Carlinville offers this option – do to it having a college. Amtrak only stops there when it knows it has passengers to board at that location. It’d be nice to have this option in Chatham.
I’d love to say all the Amtrak employees that day were focused on customer service. Our female conductor was. Her coworker serving customers in the snack car didn’t seem to be as happy working. When we entered the car heading to business class he didn’t acknowledge us. At no time did he come back into BC to ask us if we wanted a newspaper or to explain about our free beverage etc. Some Amtrak employees only do this in St. Louis and Chicago. While others will do this at all stops that have multiple business class passengers boarding.
When we made a purchase on top of our free beverage he was less than friendly. We had to wait for him to even realize we were there as he sat at his seat in the lounge. I did hear him interact with other customers. He seemed much friendlier to those he served from regular class seating.
The snack car attendant & female conductor dropped the ball once we reached the station in St. Louis. I’ll cover that in another article.
The “church lady” really would have been confused and freaked out if she had seen this I bet.
Here is what the Scheel’s area looked like during reconstruction of the bike trail do to road redesign to allow for development – destruction of more farm land and natural spaces.
The Lincoln Service has a Trails & Rails program operating from St. Louis, Missouri to Springfield, Illinois and is operated by staff and volunteers of the Jefferson Expansion National Memorial. Another program is operated by the Lincoln Home National Historic Site from Springfield, IL and Chicago, IL.