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Sunset Limited
Amtrak's Route Guide - Train #1 & #2

Photographs, travelogues, accommodations, and other information about train travel on this Amtrak route.

Los Angeles * Phoenix * Tuscon
El Paso * San Antonio * Houston
New Orleans * Mobile * Jacksonville
Orlando * Miami

Welcome Aboard!

You're traveling on board Amtrak's Southern Transcontinental Superliner train-the Sunset Limited. On this premier coast-to-coast route, you'll be traveling between Los Angeles and Miami, through the great cities of the American South -- Jackson, Mobile, New Orleans -- and the Southwestern cities of Houston, San Antonio, El Paso, Tucson, and Phoenix.

While on board, you'll be experiencing the utmost in train travel, along with some of the country's most famous and infamous sights: Superstition Mountains, site of the legendary Lost Dutchman Mine; Langtry, headquarters of "Judge" Roy Bean; the Rio Grande Valley; Indian strongholds, ruins and reservations; rock formations and mountain ranges; Texas oil fields and blue bayous -- and the mighty Mississippi. You'll pass Biloxi's commercial fishing fleet, Mobile's large harbor and the many small resorts along America's Riviera -- the Gulf Coast. Florida's thrilling theme parks and inviting beaches are the finale to this nationwide adventure along the rails.

At San Antonio, the Sunset Limited links with the Texas Eagle en route to Chicago. The Texas Eagle also serves Dallas en route to Chicago and Los Angeles. At Jacksonville, the Sunset Limited links with the Silver Star and Silver Meteor en route to Miami. The Silver Star and Silver Meteor also serve points north of Jacksonville, en route to New York and Chicago.

Amtrak and your crew are proud to host you on board. We'll do everything we can to ensure you enjoy your trip. If you have any questions please don't hesitate to ask your Attendant or On-Board Chief.

The Fun Starts Here!

The Sunset Limited features on-board activities the whole family will enjoy. Listen for announcements of the specific time and location of activities, and most of all -- have fun!

Movies in the "See-Level" Lounge Car, including features for children during summer months, will be shown.

Hospitality Hour.Join fellow passengers in the Lounge Car for drinks and complimentary snacks, and don't forget to ask about regional specialties.

Games are usually conducted in the Dining Car. Small prizes will be awarded. Listen for announcements for time and location.

Meet the Crew That Makes the Magic Happen!

The Conductor is in charge of all crew members and is responsible for the collection of tickets and the safe operation of the train. The Chief of On-Board Service" supervises the on-board service crew, and overseas the quality of service.

Enjoy On-Board Accommodations That Pamper and Please!

Roomy Coach Seats. Your Coach Attendant will see to your needs. Since your seat is assigned for the length of your journey, please do not change without first consulting a crew member.

Private Sleeping Compartments. Your Sleeping Car Attendant will prepare your room for daytime or nighttime use, provide wake-up calls and bring the morning paper and beverages. Individual speakers bring you recorded music on Channels 2 or 3, and train announcements on Channels 1 and 2. Simply turn the channel selector near the reading light. First Class passengers receive additional amenities including complimentary meals in the Dining Car.

Economy, Family, Special and Deluxe bedrooms are available. Special bedrooms have a private bathroom and Deluxe have private baths with shower. Sleeping accommodations may be purchased on board from the Conductor if space permits.

Dining Car Service. The Dining Car features complete meals in a comfortable setting. Major credit cards are accepted. Sorry, there is no smoking in the Dining Car. A crew member will contact you if dinner reservations are necessary.

"See-Level" Lounge Car Enjoy the magnificent scenery from our large picture windows, and don't forget the sandwiches, snacks and beverages available for purchase at the Cafe Bar. You can also purchase souvenir playing cards, post cards and blankets. Lounge Car hours are generally from 6 a.m. to 12 midnight. Smoking is permitted in certain designated areas of the Lounge Car.

Scenic Photo Tips

SCENIC SPOTS: Your train passes many beautiful and interesting sights. The "camera" symbol on your Route Guide Map marks the best spots, so have your camera ready!

OUTSIDE SHOTS: Medium-speed films (ASA 64 or higher) are recommended for shooting scenery through the train windows. If your shutter speed is adjustable and light conditions permit, set it at a higher speed (1/125 or 1/250 sec.) for the clearest results. Hold your lens close to the window to eliminate glare and reflections.

INSIDE SHOTS: Flash is recommended. To avoid glare and reflections, do not point the flash directly at the windows.

The Sunset Limited

Amtrak's Southern Transcontinental Route

Welcome aboard the Sunset Limited, Amtrak's scenic 3,030 mile Southern Transcontinental Route between Los Angeles and Miami via New Orleans. The Sunset Limited travels along America's Sunbelt -- from Southern California through the deep South and to the beaches of Miami, treating you to superb scenery, style and Superliner comfort. This guide will help you pinpoint many of the scenic features along the way, as well as give you glimpses of the exciting destinations and the rich history that mark the route.

While many of the past great transcontinental rail lines were forged from east to west, the Southern Pacific's Sunset line had its beginnings in California. Charles Crocker, Mark Hopkins, Collis P. Huntington and Leland Stanford, all of whom were involved in creating the first transcontinental railroad, achieved a second transcontinental rail link in 1883 with the completion of the route you're now traveling. Amtrak's Sunset Limited, however, is the first true coast to coast rail link ever!

This guide is written from west to east, noting how many minutes past the previous Amtrak station you can expect to see a particular sight, and whether you should look to your right or left. The first time reference tells you how far that point is from the next Amtrak station to the west, and the second time, how far it is to the next Amtrak stop to the east. If you're traveling westward, just begin at New Orleans or your point of origin and read the entries in reverse order. Remember to look left when we've indicated to look right, and right when we've indicated to look left.

Note that all AMTRAK STATIONS are in capital letters to set them apart from towns and regions through which the Sunset Limited travels but makes no stop. Use this guide along with an Amtrak timetable to determine station times. All times in this guide are approximate.

* Los Angeles *

LOS ANGELES Pueblo de Nuestra Senora de la Reina de Los Angeles, now known simply as Los Angeles, was founded 12 years after Fr. Junipero Serra set out in 1769 to establish a chain of missions stretching up the coast of California. The Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal sits astride the route connecting the missions -- El Camino Real, the "Royal Road." The station is a fitting blend of Spanish and Art Deco styles -- reflecting both Los Angeles' earliest heritage and the modernistic tradition that helped transform the area into the megopollis we see today. Across from the station is Olivera Street, a colorful historic district that marks the site of the original village on the Los Angeles RIver. As we leave the station we cross the Los Angeles River, a usually-dry, concrete-lined channel familiar from numerous movies and TV shows. City Hall dominated the downtown dkyline. On the hill to the left is Dodger Stadium. The cluster of tall buildings on the left is the Los Angeles County Hospital.

California State University at Los Angeles (10 Min./34 Min.) Visible on the left. Next, our train travels up the center strip of the San Bernardino Freeway (Interstate 10).

El Monte (20 Min./23 Min.) Leaving the freeway at Temple City, we cross the Rio Hondo (also concrete-lined) and pass El Monte Airport on the left. El Monte is named for Mount Wilson, rising 5,700-ft. high to the north. East of El Monte, we cross the usually-dry San Gabriel River.

POMONA Named in 1875 for the Roman goddess of fruit, the name is just as apt today, with the important agricultural department at California State Polytechnic College at your left. Pomona boasts two Amtrak stations. The Sunset Limited stops at Commercial Street.

During the night, the train also stops in INDIO. The train crosses the Colorado River just west of YUMA, at the border between California and Arizona.

Note: The time change occurs here during the winter. When eastbound from October to April, set your watch ahead one hour before arriving. When west-bound, set your watch back one hour as you depart. Depending on what time of year you are traveling, there may also be a time change during the night. Arizona is in the Mountain time zone, but does not observe daylight savings time. November through March, Arizona is one hour ahead of California time. The rest of the year it is on the same time as California.

The train follows the Gila River which forms the northern boundary of the Gadsden Purchase in a nearly-straight path across the Sonoran Desert.

Hassayampa River (2:16 Min./45 Min.) We cross the river 8 miles west of Buckeye. Legend claims anyone drinking its waters will never tell the truth again.

* Phoenix *

PHOENIX The capital of Arizona, Phoenix was built on the ruins of the ancient Hohokam Indian culture which thrived here from B.C. until the 15th-century. The Hohokam tamed the desert with sophisticated irrigation systems, the ruins of which early settlers uncovered and actually restored to use in the 1860s. Fulfillment of these settlers' prophecy that the city would rise like the legendary bird for which it is named came in 1911 with completion of the Roosevelt Dam on the Salt River, 75 miles to the north.

Sky Harbor International Airport (10 Min./4 Min.) is on the right.

TEMPE After we cross the Salt River, we pass through the Arizona State University campus. The red-roofed, carousel-like building is the University's Music Hall, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.

Superstition Mountains (10 Min./43 Min.) To the distant left, you see the Superstition Mountains, the legendary site of the Lost Dutchman Mine. This is where German prospector Jacob Waltz worked a fabulous silver vein, never again located after his death. (30 Min./15 Min.) Bi-planes, used by "crop dusters," can be seen parked on the left. The surrounding cotton fields are the source of famed "pima" cotton.

COOLIDGE We cross the Gila River here. To the right, on the Gila Indian Reservation, is the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument, the remains of a 4-story Hohokam Indian communal dwelling over 600 years old.

Picacho Peak State Park Saguaro Forest (10 Min./35 Min.) Visible on the right, the forest is home to monumental cacti as tall as 40-ft. Arizona's state flower, the saguaro's roots can store up to 2,000 gallons of water. Other cactus species that can be seen along our route include the barrel cactus, the slender-branched ocotillo, the tree-like cholla and the sword-leafed yucca.

Picacho Pass (10 Min./35 Min.) The Picacho Mountains are on our left. 3,382-ft. Picacho Peak is on the right. This area was the scene of the only Union-Confederate battle fought in Arizona.

Pima Air Park (32 Min./29 Min.) In the distance on the right. Here, used jetliners are refurbished for resale. To the left are the Little Owl Head Mountains. Ahead on the left are the Tortolita Mountains.

* Tucson *

TUCSON Founded in 1776 as a Spanish supply station for nearby Mission San Xavier del Bac. Today, Tucson is a city of over 300,000, the second-largest in Arizona. It is built on the banks of the Santa Cruz River, subterranean except in the rainy season. Tucson is located in a broad valley, surrounded by mountains; the Santa Catalinas on the north, the Rincons on the east, Santa Ritas on the south and the Tucsons on the west. As we leave the station, the stadium of the University of Arizona is on the left.

Davis Monthan Air Force Base (12 Min./1:10 Min.) Along the eastern edge of the base is a vast aircraft "boneyard" where the dry desert climate helps preserve hundreds of military planes, such as B-52 bombers, in storage. Near the tracks, the Pima Air Museum displays historic aircraft, from World War II bombers to Constellation airliners. Between Tucson and Benson, we traverse a series of arroyos (canyons) as we wind through the Santa Rita, Empire, Rincon and Whetstone Mountains along the Pantano Wash.

Vail (40 Min./45 Min.) East and west-bound trains travel separate tracks in this area, crossing at the High Bridge. Just east of the bridge is Durant Castle, a private home modeled after a European castle. Beyond the saddle in the Rincon Mountains on the left are the Colossal Caves. (1:05 Min./15 Min.) To the left is a strangely eclectic "town" -- actually a string of film sets used for shows like Little House on the Prarie and Highway to Heaven.

BENSON A stop for the old Butterfield Stage as early as 1860. When the railroad arrived in 1880, it became the shipping point for the mines around Tombstone, 25 miles to the south, and the site of the "Gunfight at OK Corral." The first explorer of this region, in 1539, was the black Moroccan, Esteban, the first non-native to set foot in what is now the United States. Glimpsing the sun gleaming on the straw roofs of distant Zuni pueblos, Esteban mistakenly reported them to Coronado as cities of gold, setting off Coronado's lengthy search for the "Seven Cities of Cibola," an expedition responsible for the introduction of the horse to the Southwest. East of Benson, we cross the San Pedro River.

Dragoon (21 Min./1:34 Min.) The Dragoon Mountains, visible on the right, were once the base for the Apache chief Cochise, who led the Chiricahua band against the U.S. Cavalry in the Southwest Indian Wars from 1861 to 1872, when Arizona lands were finally granted to the Apache tribe.

Wilcox Playa (42 Min./1:08 Min.) East of Cochise, this ancient dry lakebed is the site of frequent mirages. In the Sulphur Hills on the right is a distinctive rock formation called Don Cabezeas (two heads) (52 Min./58 Min.) named for Cochise and his ally, Indian Agent, Thomas Jeffords.

Arizona/New Mexico State Line (1:30 Min./25 Min.) Set your watch forward if you are traveling eastward between April and October (back one hour if traveling westward). We now pass through the Peloncillo Mountains, an important region for mining copper, silver and gold.

Cochise's Face (1:25 Min./20 Min.) Cochise Mountain, tallest peak of the Chiricahua Mountains on the right, resembles the Chief's silhouetee looking upwards.

Steins (1:30 Min./20 Min.) Site of the last great battle between Cochise and the U.S. Cavalry. Adobe ruins of a Butterfield Stagecoach Stop on the right. The stage line ran 2,800 miles -- the one-way fare for the 55-day journey between St. Louis and San Francisco was a then -- astronomical $150.

LORDSBURG Nestled between the Burro Mountains and the Pyramid Mountains to the south, Lordsburg is an important trade center for southwest New Mexico.

Continental Divide (25 Min./25 Min.) Halfway between Lordsburg and Deming, we cross the Divide at an elevation of 4,587 ft. -- the lowest railroad crossing of the Divide in the U.S. Waters east of the Divide flow into the Atlantic, to its west, into the Pacific.

DEMING is home to the world's only duck races, held here each August. At the crest of the Cookes and Florida Mountain Ranges, is the stop for the resort areas to the north around Silver City. The Deming Luna Mimbres museum holds artifacts of the 1000 year old Mimbres Indian civilization and more recent relics of the Old West. South of town is Rock Hound State Park. famed for its rock formations.

Florida Mountains (5 Min/1:15 Min)

Extinct volcano (35 Min/37 Min)

Rio Grande Valley (60 Min/15 Min)

Franklin Mountains (1:05 Min/10 Min)

U.S./Mexico Border (1:10 Min/10 Min)

Rio Grande River (1:15 Min/11 Min) Sierra de Cristo Ray

(1:16 Min/5 Min) The Southwestern Portland Cement Company is now on our left, and on our right is the Asarco mineral refinery.

University of Texas at El Paso (1:22 Min/3 Min)

* El Paso *


Ysleta (30 Min/2:55 Min)

Fabens (46 Min/2:44 Min)

Sierra Blanca (1:35 Min/1:55 Min)

Hot Wells (1:52 Min/1:38 Min) Eagle Mountains

Note: Time Zone Change (2:04 Min/1:26 Min)

Valentine (2:35 Min/55 Min) Mt. Livermore McDonald Observatory (2:55 Min/35 Min) The old wooden windmill

Marfa (3:05 Min/25 Min)

Marfa Ghost Lights (3:10 Min/18 Min)

Paisano Pass (3:15 Min/15 Min)


Alpine and Marathon (30 Min/1:10 Min)

Warwick Flat (35 Min/1:05 Min) The Great Comanche War Trail

Haymond (45 Min/60 Min)

(1:35 Min/5 Min) An Apache Indian cave and cooking mound are visible on the left. The large gravel barriers that can be seen periodically on both sides of the tracks are for flood control. The area is the western limit of viable sheep and goat ranching in Texas, due to the abundance west of here of puma, bobcats, coyote and eagles.


Dryden (15 Min/2:09 Min)

Langtry (1:10 Min/1:14 Min) Eagle Rock Canyon (1:12 Min/1:11 Min)

Pecos River High Bridge (1:32 Min/52 Min)

Amistad Reservoir (2:16 Min/12 Min)


Laughlin Air Force Base

* San Antonio *


Randolph Air Force Base (20 Min/3:50 Min)

COLUMBUS (2:20 Min/1:50 Min)

Rosenburg and Richmond (3:05 Min/1:05 Min) Brazos River

* Houston *


San Jacinto River (35 Min/1:05 Min)

Trinity River (50 Min/50 Min)


Orange (40 Min/40 Min) We cross the Sabine River between Texas and Louisiana. Cypress swamps dominate the scenery, and alligators can sometimes be seen out sunning themselves.

Calcasieu River (1:15 Min/5 Min)


Rayne (59 Min/14 Min)



Atchafalaya River (51 Min/33 Min)

Morgan City (51 Min/30 Min)

The Intercoastal Waterway

Bayou Boeuf (1:04 Min/16 Min)

We cross the cypress-dominated Chacahoula Swamp before arriving in SHRIEVER (Thibodaux/Houma), home of numerous off-shore drilling related businesses.

Bayou Blue

Bayou LaFourche (8 Min/1:05 Min)

Des Allemands (24 Min/48 Min)

Mississippi River (35 Min/30 Min)

Huey P. Long Bridge (45 Min/23 Min)

The Superdome (1:35 Min/1 Min)

* New Orleans *



Pass Christian (10 Min/17 Min)






De Funlak Springs (15 Min/17 Min)





* Jacksonville *

JACKSONVILLE St. John's River (15 Min/51 Min)

Green Cove Springs (38 Min/27 Min) Seminole Power Plant (55 Min/10 Min)


Pierson (37 Min/16 Min)

DeLeon Springs (46 Min/7 Min)


St. John's River (9 Min/8 Min)



* Orlando *

ORLANDO James E. States Shows (4 Min/27 Min)


Campbell (9 Min/50 Min)



West Lake Wales (13 Min/35 Min)

Frostproof (25 Min/23 Min)

SEBRING Lake Istokpoga (8 Min/34 Min)

OKEECHOBEE Lake Okeechobee (8 Min/59 Min) Florida Steel Corporation (32 Min/35 Min)

Indiantown (35 Min/32 Min)

United (44 Min/23 Min)




HOLLYWOOD The Opa-Locka Flea Market (16 Min/15 Min) Hialeah Race Track (21 Min/10 Min)

* Miami *


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