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Author Topic: Possible train trip from Chicago to Bay Area  (Read 1089 times)

hbelkins

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Possible train trip from Chicago to Bay Area
« on: April 26, 2018, 11:00:00 AM »

Not really a road trip, but my brother has been nagging me to go on a cross-country Amtrak trip with him.

We'd catch the train at Cincinnati, then ride to Chicago, where we'd change trains and hop on the Amtrak train that goes west through Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, and on to the Bay Area. He wants to fly back to CVG, but since I'm not too keen on flying, I'd prefer to rent a car one-way and drive back to Kentucky.

Does anyone have a link to a good source that would tell me which counties that railroad line passes through? I've never been to California, and have only been in one Nebraska county. I can see myself picking up new ones in Iowa, Colorado, Utah and Nevada as well (I have Illinois clinched.)
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froggie

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Re: Possible train trip from Chicago to Bay Area
« Reply #1 on: May 03, 2018, 09:49:13 AM »

There isn't really a site to easily track which counties Amtrak goes through.  Best bet is to do (and what I did with my Empire Builder trip 3 years ago) is just log the trip then go back and see which counties it went through.  Or you could follow the rail lines the Zephyr follows on a mapping service that includes counties (like OSM or Bing).  Amtrak's own trip planning site will show the routes, but since it uses Google Maps as the background will not show you the counties.
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Max Rockatansky

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Re: Possible train trip from Chicago to Bay Area
« Reply #2 on: May 03, 2018, 10:17:20 AM »

In California you'd be going through:

-  El Dorado County
-  Placer County
-  Sacramento County
-  Yolo County
-  Solano County
-  Contra Costa County
-  Alameda County

That's assuming your western terminus is in Oakland...

vdeane

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Re: Possible train trip from Chicago to Bay Area
« Reply #3 on: May 03, 2018, 12:50:04 PM »

If you can figure out which rail line Amtrak follows, it should be possible to follow line in the mob-rule overlay or Google Earth as well.  Google Earth would probably be easier as rail lines are rendered in it with bold black lines rather than the narrow, gray, and only visible at certain zoom level ones that Google Maps uses.
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kphoger

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Re: Possible train trip from Chicago to Bay Area
« Reply #4 on: May 03, 2018, 02:07:02 PM »

If you can figure out which rail line Amtrak follows, it should be possible to follow line in the mob-rule overlay or Google Earth as well.  Google Earth would probably be easier as rail lines are rendered in it with bold black lines rather than the narrow, gray, and only visible at certain zoom level ones that Google Maps uses.

No need for all of that.

www.mob-rule.com gives you the option to use Google's transit mode to get directions mapped out with a county line overlay.  Just search for directions between Chicago and Emeryville and choose the transit mode

(Although, for some reason, it's currently telling me to switch to Greyhound once I reach Reno.)
« Last Edit: May 03, 2018, 02:09:13 PM by kphoger »
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CtrlAltDel

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Re: Possible train trip from Chicago to Bay Area
« Reply #5 on: May 03, 2018, 03:19:32 PM »

www.mob-rule.com gives you the option to use Google's transit mode to get directions mapped out with a county line overlay.  Just search for directions between Chicago and Emeryville and choose the transit mode

(Although, for some reason, it's currently telling me to switch to Greyhound once I reach Reno.)

Sometimes, though (and I haven't checked if it's the case here), the lines it provides don't follow the tracks. They're just straight lines that connect the stations.

EDIT: I checked, and it has indeed been fixed, at least on some routes.
« Last Edit: May 03, 2018, 03:28:39 PM by CtrlAltDel »
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SP Cook

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Re: Possible train trip from Chicago to Bay Area
« Reply #6 on: May 03, 2018, 04:10:22 PM »

If you go to openrailwaymap.com you can find a map of the entire railway network with the names of the lines labeled (railroad sections have names just like highways have route numbers).   Then go to the wikipedia article for the train and it will list the various sections the train uses.  Then you can get the counties from any good map of the states by county. 

BTW, the Cardinal leaves Cincinnati at 1:30 in the morning.  It won't cost you much more to use Ashland, which is at a more civil hour.

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kphoger

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Re: Possible train trip from Chicago to Bay Area
« Reply #7 on: May 03, 2018, 04:54:30 PM »

Sometimes, though (and I haven't checked if it's the case here), the lines it provides don't follow the tracks. They're just straight lines that connect the stations.

EDIT: I checked, and it has indeed been fixed, at least on some routes.

I've found the straight-line approach to be more common with bus than with rail.
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froggie

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Re: Possible train trip from Chicago to Bay Area
« Reply #8 on: May 03, 2018, 08:42:24 PM »

Quote from: SP Cook
BTW, the Cardinal leaves Cincinnati at 1:30 in the morning.  It won't cost you much more to use Ashland, which is at a more civil hour.

Given HB's description, they're probably leaving from Cincinnati because his brother wants to fly back to CVG.  Can't do that as easily leaving from Ashland.
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hbelkins

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Re: Possible train trip from Chicago to Bay Area
« Reply #9 on: May 04, 2018, 10:46:34 AM »

Quote from: SP Cook
BTW, the Cardinal leaves Cincinnati at 1:30 in the morning.  It won't cost you much more to use Ashland, which is at a more civil hour.

Given HB's description, they're probably leaving from Cincinnati because his brother wants to fly back to CVG.  Can't do that as easily leaving from Ashland.

Yes, he lives in Owen County (center of the "golden triangle" of Lexington, Louisville and northern Kentucky).
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US 89

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Re: Possible train trip from Chicago to Bay Area
« Reply #10 on: May 04, 2018, 06:18:47 PM »

The rail line essentially follows I-70, US-6, I-15, and I-80 through Utah. In Utah, you'd get these counties, from east to west:

-Grand County
-Emery County
-Carbon County
-Utah County
-Wasatch County
-Utah County (again)
-Salt Lake County
-Tooele County

In Nevada, it follows I-80 more or less, and you get these counties:

-Elko County
-Eureka County
-Lander County
-Humboldt County
-Pershing County
-Churchill County
-Lyon County
-Storey County
-Washoe County
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US 81

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Re: Possible train trip from Chicago to Bay Area
« Reply #11 on: May 05, 2018, 06:43:32 AM »

I can't speak to any of the rest of the country, but I rode the Texas Eagle for about 12 hours within Texas and I was amazed at how much road-geeking there was to do from the train. So many old/abandoned routes and abandoned bridges to see. I brought books and tablets but I never had the slightest inclination to do anything but watch the scenery for more cool finds.

I hope the experience is similar for your trip.
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1995hoo

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Re: Possible train trip from Chicago to Bay Area
« Reply #12 on: May 05, 2018, 03:59:20 PM »

Maybe someone at on-track-on-line.com might know the answer. They have a railfan forum; I'm not a member, but from a glance it appears to be an active forum. The website itself doesn't appear to be updated as regularly as one might like, but the forum looks active.
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Bruce

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Re: Possible train trip from Chicago to Bay Area
« Reply #13 on: May 07, 2018, 02:09:37 AM »

If you're using the Mob-Rule layer in Google Earth (or this KML county map from Google), it would be best to pair it with a KML trace of the rail line from Wikipedia.

The California Zephyr's is here. You just have to paste it into a blank text file, save it as a .kml, and open both files in Earth.

You'll end up with something similar to this:

D-Dey65

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Re: Possible train trip from Chicago to Bay Area
« Reply #14 on: May 07, 2018, 07:28:39 AM »

I can't speak to any of the rest of the country, but I rode the Texas Eagle for about 12 hours within Texas and I was amazed at how much road-geeking there was to do from the train. So many old/abandoned routes and abandoned bridges to see. I brought books and tablets but I never had the slightest inclination to do anything but watch the scenery for more cool finds.

I hope the experience is similar for your trip.

It was when I rode Amtrak up and down the east coast in the early 2000's.



If you go to openrailwaymap.com you can find a map of the entire railway network with the names of the lines labeled (railroad sections have names just like highways have route numbers).   Then go to the wikipedia article for the train and it will list the various sections the train uses.  Then you can get the counties from any good map of the states by county.
Interesting site you've got there. Quite a few surprises, when it comes to the abandoned lines, but there are some missing;

*Most of the Port Chester Branch of the former New York, Westchester and Boston Railway.
*The Cedarhurst Cut-Off south of Springfield Junction.
*The LIRR Central Branch west of Floral Park.
*The LIRR "White Line."
*The former Flushing and North Side Railroad Woodside Branch.
*The LIRR Whitestone Branch.

They did however had another branch of the Old Put in Yonkers that I never knew about, and an extension of the White Plains branch of the NYW&B that extended beyond White Plains into Westchester County Airport and Connecticut.


I'm trying to list some of the stuff I found out about Central Florida, but I'll have to get to that later.

« Last Edit: May 07, 2018, 05:01:12 PM by D-Dey65 »
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ET21

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Re: Possible train trip from Chicago to Bay Area
« Reply #15 on: May 17, 2018, 08:49:55 AM »

Double check on where your train switch occurs at Union Station in Chicago. It's currently undergoing a major renovation that includes building twin 9 story towers on top of the station. I know some of the Metra commuter lines are sharing platforms at the moment
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