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Nostalgia & History > MARCH 25, 1975 - Amtrak's "Mountaineer" begins service

Date: 03/25/05 08:20
MARCH 25, 1975 - Amtrak's "Mountaineer" begins service
Author: throbbingunits

THIRTY years ago today, March 25, 1975, Amtrak's "Mountaineer" began revenue service as a two-year experimental run. It ran between Norfolk, VA, and Chicago, and brought back passenger train service along the route of the N&W between Norfolk and Kenova,WV. The Mountaineer ran combined with the "James Will-it-come Riley" between Chicago and Russell, KY.

The Mountaineer devolved two years later after the experiment was over into what could be considered the worst example of pork-barrel passenger train "service"... The Hilltopper!!!

Your truly rode from Lynchburg to Farmville and back on that first day.
Here is my ticket receipt from the ticket issued in Farmville, VA.

Date: 03/25/05 19:49
Re: MARCH 25, 1975 - Amtrak's "Mountaineer" begins serv
Author: MEKoch

Did you have a bowl of peanut butter soup?

Date: 03/26/05 07:08
Re: MARCH 25, 1975 - Amtrak's "Mountaineer" begins serv
Author: kxdisp

I never rode the Mountaineer. I rode the Hilltopper a couple of times. Great memories. I was only 12 years old when my dad and I took an all day round trip from Williamson WV to Roanoke VA. Loved that F40 running in the 8th notch hauling and Amcafe and an Amcoach.

Date: 03/25/08 09:23
Re: MARCH 25, 1975 - Amtrak's "Mountaineer" begins serv
Author: milkcow

My wife and I rode Catlettsburg Boston and return on one weekend sometime. Drove from northern Ohio in our 73 Pantera with extra fuel "bladder" in trunk (which was right on top of the "mid" engine Windsor 351)--gas shortages.

I think we just spent the day with our college friends in Boston, maybe visiting the Concorde on display at Logan.

We were desperate for a sleeper (for stretching out for sleep (!) leaving Boston (after two nights in Amcoach and the previous night in the car)and the thought of three more nights before a real bed again, but the sleeper on the northeast corridor part of the trip was sold out, as was the coach sections: we were very impressed with the efficient and busy middle of the night NEC trains--only had been riding out of Crestline before.

Two highlights: locally travelling local WV lady with portable TV to try to keep up on soaps, and, as we get east of Roanoke, passing coal cars: her kid presses face against window, says "That's a long coal train, that's a really long coal train, that's a really really really long coal train"

Date: 03/25/09 12:50
Re: MARCH 25, 1975 - Amtrak's "Mountaineer" begins serv
Author: emd_run8

MEKoch Wrote:
> Did you have a bowl of peanut butter soup?
No, but before the amfleet stuff the cars on the train were constantly changing, except we had a dome most of the time. Many different diners, diner/lounges, etc.
The East end (Norfolk to Crewe and Crewe to Roanoke) had great crews, also.
I rode it many Sundays from Suffolk to Petersburg. Schedule allowed for round trip on same day.
Great times and great guys (Reed, Bobby, Hoss, Mr. Johnson, Gerald, Smoke, others), gone.

Date: 03/25/09 16:44
Re: MARCH 25, 1975 - Amtrak's "Mountaineer" begins serv
Author: ghCBNS

Here's the first timetable:

Date: 03/25/10 04:27
Re: MARCH 25, 1975 - Amtrak's "Mountaineer" begins serv
Author: rresor

I never rode the "Mountaineer" east of Russell, KY, but was on the "Riley" many times. The JWR became my favorite train to take from Washington, DC to Chicago (where I was in school 1971 -- 1975. The ride down the C&O of Indiana was always fun, as was the descent of Cheviot Hill prior to the Queensgate re-route.

Out of Chicago, the combined Riley/Mountaineer was an impressive train -- two diners, two lounges, and two domes. The Riley's dome, of course, came off at Charlottesville to go to Newport News, but the ride over Afton Mountain and down to Charlottesville in the dome was one of my most memorable Amtrak experiences.

I'm truly sorry I never rode the Mountaineer. I rode the "Pocahontas" just before Amtrak (it had an ex-Wabash dome at that point) and figured I had the mileage. In 1978, I rode the inaugural trip of 2839 south from Alexandria, VA and took the Hilltopper back to Washington from Lynchburg. That got me some of the N&W east of Lynchburg (where we caught the "Pokey" in 1971), and of course the big trestle at Farmville as well as the connecting track at Petersburg. But the Hilltopper was a miserable little train, although the crew was wonderful -- even opened the rear door so we could get vestible shots of the big bridge.

I finally got the rest of the N&W to Norfolk behind 611 on a Norfolk -- Petersburg RT in the early 1980s.

Date: 03/25/15 16:49
Re: MARCH 25, 1975 - Amtrak's "Mountaineer" begins serv
Author: LocomotionMan

Boy this thread sure brought back some memories.  The only picture I ever took of the JWR was in Washington DC at Union Station while changing trains there.  The JWR was the second train I caught as I began my 2 week, 11,500mile Amtrak USA Railpass odyssey which began in NYC.  My Grandma bought me the railpass for my high school graduation present and am very grateful she did at the time, as I had the opportunity to ride several of the routes that are long gone.  I have fond memories of the scenery along this route. Pardon the quality but it was a grab shot with my Kodak Instamatic 44 camera.   

Date: 03/25/16 18:37
Re: MARCH 25, 1975 - Amtrak's "Mountaineer" begins serv
Author: knotch8

That's a wonderful photo, especially with an Instamatic.  Thanks for posting it.

The overhead walkway to Tracks 27/28 still exists at Washington Union Station, but thery no longer allow you to cross Tracks 26 and 27 to reach the 27/28 platform, as the overhead sign advises.  The lawyers and Safety Department abolished that option long, long ago.  Makes you wonder how we lived through it all those years ago.

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