More From Washington Union Station

by Jim on 2011/06/18

[Jimbaux is a foamer forever.]

I’m Back

Thanks to everyone who wrote and commented on the previous post, a post in which the quality of the message far exceeded the lame quality of the photos.  I appreciate it, and it touched me, especially from the two ladies from my former who employer who were, as their names they used suggested, somewhat mother figures for me there, and even in my life beyond work.

I’m Forever Bein’ a Kid Rock

A few friends have said that my renewed desire in the last few weeks to be by the railroad like I’ve done so much in the past is a really good sign, and I’m starting to really believe them, especially after what happened Thursday, about which I hope to write soon.

Union Station?

One or two friends suggested I go to Union Station, but they apparently don’t understand that a constricted environment like that, especially when the only trains there are passenger trains, just really doesn’t do it for me.  However, as we learned in the last post, I had to go there anyway on Monday, and I made the best of my experience there.

It’s a neat place to be if you ever get a chance to go there.  I recall the time that The HumJudd and I rode the Crescent into here from New Orleans in 2005.

Arrivals & Departures

I would love to have seen this place pre-Amtrak, back when the private railroad companies ran passenger trains, part of why today’s scene is relatively boring to me, as only the government-run services, Amtrak, MARC, and the Virginia Railway Express, serve this place, as seen on the arrival and departure board.

And, of course, Amtrak has banners hanging throughout the place show the different trains, including the Southwest Chief, which was once the pride of the Santa Fe Railway.  As I recently wrote, I surely wish you Warren Buffet followers would write to him and ask him to have the BNSF Railway renamed back to the “Santa Fe” please!

These are the first P42s that I photograph – and maybe even see – since my last full day in Louisiana.

I’m a foamer.  It’s what I am.  It’s what I do.  I can’t deny it.

It is what it is, and that’s okay.  It’s what I do, and people have, for years, loved my train pictures and stories, even those presented in this post are relatively lame.

By the way, in case you haven’t figured it out, I am using the clicker camera that Bernie lent me in April.  Here’s another shot of the foodcourt, and the Subway is just past the very top of the frame of the picture.

Here’s the front of Union Station, where automobiles come to drop off and pick up passengers.

I took several pictures of signs, but many of them emerged fuzzy.  This one didn’t.

There plenty of signs and posters promoting Amtrak’s recent developments and future developments in high-speed rail.

Food Follies

I messed up, like I always do.  Before I exited Union Station on Monday, I made a run to Ben & Jerry’s.  Without actually looking at sizes and prices, I ordered the largest size.  I just didn’t realize how large and how expensive the largest of the large was.

By the time I realized the folly of my ways, it was too late to change what I had done.  Boy, is that a microcosm for other things in life!  Anyway, here’s the result.

Yeah, what a monster.  My stomach ‘thanked’ me.  After I finally put it all down, I looked back at the receipt for the purchase, but I wasn’t looking at the big price I had just paid.  I was, rather, looking at the time stamp on the receipt.  Then, I looked at my pocketwatch (i.e. – cell phone) and calculated that it had taken me 17 minutes to devour this thing.  With that plus what I had eaten from Subway, I didn’t eat much at all for the rest of the day.

I guess all is well that ends well, or something like that.  Here’s to hoping I get some photographs or ‘real’ trains soon.

I hope that you have enjoyed this.


{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Patricia Champagne June 18, 2011 at 18:22

Getting closer —— to trains, that is. It’s good to see railroad-related photos. I know you’ll eventually get those train shots you’ve been aching for.


2 Sandra Robichaux June 18, 2011 at 19:19

Your words and photos are very interesting to look at…SCR


3 Peter June 19, 2011 at 12:13


Great shots of Union Station. Yes, it would have been great to see this station in its heyday, when trains where the means of travel! It is great they preserved it, unlike Penn Station in NYC, which was torn down in the 1970s. What a mistake that was.

Well, it looks like you scoffed down enough ice cream for a small village!

See you in DC next week.



4 Tom Becket June 21, 2011 at 17:59

One of the reasons I avoid places like Ben & Jerry’s, or Haagen Dasz, is exactly the reason you had buyer’s remorse over the ice cream cone: WAY too much to eat, and way too expensive. I’m an aging fat guy-pushing 260, need to get back under 200-and as much as I like ice cream, I find myself walking away. I just don’t need that much of it. That said, when I do have it, I try not to make it a race to the finish. I realize that, given the weather, your hand may have been forced some, but no shame in taking twice that to complete the experience. I have a weak spot for milkshakes. When I lived in NY City, I used to head up to Montreal once or twice a year. There is/was a Friendly Ice Cream in Plattsburgh NY that I used to stop at once in a while. I had one of the girls there trained to make them just right. I’d get a shake there, and it would last me most of the way to Schroon Lake if I paced myself. Some things SHOULD take time!!

If you want to get out and see some variety in your train watching, head to Alexandria. The station there is convenient to the Metro-take the train out to King Street-and you can see everything that goes in or out of DC, except for the NS trains into their Alexandria yard, which is just south of the station in kind of a pocket that branches off the main. There’s an overhead bridge just south of the station that makes a good spot to take photos from, as there’s a great overhead angle of the building itself, and the tracks curve as they approach. You’ll get CSX and NS trains running through, as well as the usual Amtrak and VRE trains. This too is a place you’ll wish you could have gone back in the pre Amtrak era: Trains of Southern, C&O, and RF&P called here; the RF&P had cars to Florida from the ACL and SAL, after 1967 SCL. Made for some pretty interesting consists. Even into the 70’s, Amtrak did homogenize things, but the Southern ran the Crescent and Piedmont til 1979 and 1975 respectively, and the freight action was interesting. Chessie had a mix of B&O, C&O, and Western Maryland-I saw a couple of the WM F units there in 1976 at night, was not able to get a photo-as well as Southern power. Potomac Yard-now cleared and developed-also hosted Pennsy, then PC, finally Conrail freight power, both electric and diesel. It was a great place. Even with the reduced variety, worth a visit. When the trains lose their appeal, or you need a break, walk on down King Street, there are places to eat and watch people. You can also visit the George Washington Masonic Memorial, you can’t miss it, right next to the station, worth seeing even if you’re not a Mason.

Finally, a note to previous poster Peter, a nit pick if I may: Penn Station in NY was torn down from 1963 to 1967, to make way for the Penn Plaza office complex, and Madison Square Garden, which moved there from 8th Av and 51st Street. My dad, who worked in the city then, has pictures of some of the demolition. It still stands as the greatest act of vandalism in modern America. The one good thing to come out of it was an awareness of the great architecture that still stands in US cities, and a movement to preserve the great public spaces-like Washington Union Station-rather than have them meet the wrecking ball.


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