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-Jacksonville,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: Supersation Mountains,site of the
legendary Lost Dutchman Mine;Langtry,headquarters of "Judge"
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 Rivera-the Gulf Coast. Amtrak and your crew are proud to host you on board. We'll do everything we can do to ensure you enjoy your trip. If you have any questions please don't hesitate to ask your Attendant or On-Board Service Chief.
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
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
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 megopolis we see today. Across from the station is Olvera 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.
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./23MIN.) Leaving the freeway at Temple City,we cross
the Rio Hondo (also concrete-lined) and we 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 to 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 east-bound 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. The rest of the year it is on the same 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 Sanoran Desert.
HASSAYAMPA RIVER (2:16
Min./45 Min.) We cross the river
8 miles west of Buckeye. Legend claims anyone drinking it waters
will never tell the truth again.
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 white settlers uncovered and actually restored to use in the 1860's. Fulfillment of these settlers' prophecy that the city would rise like the legendary bird for which it is named came in 1911 with the completion of the Roosevelt Dam
of the Salt River,75 miles to the north.
SKY HARBOR INTERNATIONAL
AIRPORT (10 MIN./4 MIN.) is on
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.
(10 Min./43 Min.) To the distant
left, you see the Superstition Mountains, the legendary site of
the Lost Dutchman Mine. There 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"
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 STAT
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 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 912 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 airlines. 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 Prairie and Highway to Heaven.
BENSON A stop for the old Butterfield Stage as early
in 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 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 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 acient dry lakebed is the site of frequent mirages. In the Sulphur Hills on the right is a distinctive rock formation called DOS CABEZEAS (two heads) (25 MIN./58 MIN.) named for Cochise and his ally, Indian Agent, Thomas Jeffords.
ARIZONA/NEW MEXICO STATE LINE (1:30 MIN./25MIN.) 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 Chef's silhouette looking upwards.
STEINS (1:30 Min./20 Min.) Site of the last great battle between Cochise and the U.S. Calvary. 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.
(5 Min./1:15 Min.) These loom
close to the tracks on the right. Beyond them are the Three Sisters
Mountains. Cookes Peak 8,408-ft., can be seen on the left. Also,
look for Window Peak, a hole through a ridge in the Floridas at
7,300-ft. The barren lands between here and El Paso were visited
by Pancho Villa and his band in 1916, attacking the border town
EXTINCT VOLCANO (35
MIN./37MIN.) The flat-top mountain
close to the train on the right is an extinct volcano. Ancient
lava flows extend nearly to trackside. Rattlesnakes thrive here
on the warmth of the lava beds. North of this area was the site
of the infamous Lincoln County Wars, which culminated with the killing of Billy the Kid by Pat Garrett at Mesilla.
RIO GRANDE VALLEY
(60 Min./15 Min.) To the left,
bordered by elegant homes and condominiums, the Santa Theresa
Golf Course was designed by Lee Trevino. This area is called the
Upper Valley, through which the Rio Grande River narrows before
becoming the border between Texas and Mexico on its way from Colorado
to the Gulf of Mexico.
(1:05 MIN./10 MIN.) In the mountains
across the valley, look for the red image of a Thunderbird, a
creature from Indian legend. Atop the mountain are three TV transmitters.
(1:10 MIN./10 MIN.) A white post,30
ft. from the tracks on the right,marks our closest approach to
RIO GRANDE RIVER (1:15 Min./11 Min.) As we cross the river, we leave New Mexico, the "Land of Enchantment," and enter Texas, the "Lone Star State." To our right the crucifixion-topped peak of SIERRA DE CRISTO REY marks the meeting of Texas, New Mexico and Mexico. The 331/2-ft. statue, which stands on a 9-ft. base atop the 4,576-ft. mountain, is also called the "Christ of the Rockies." Each October, thousands of pilgrims climb four miles to the summit in celebration of the "Feast of Cristo Rey" (Christ the King).
(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.) On
the left, the University's "sun Bowl" stadium is carved
into the hill. On the right, above the palisades of the Rio Grande,
is Cuidad Juarez, in Mexico's Chihuahua State.
EL PASO Surrounded by the Franklin Mountains, El Paso
is named for the ancient pass created here by the Rio Grande,
"El Paso del Rio del Norte." The handsomely restored
railroad station was built in 1904-5. Designed by the Chicago
firm of Daniel H. Burnham, which also designed Washington's Union
Station, The El Paso station is listed in the National Registry
of Historic Places. From El Paso to Orange,the next 941 miles
will be spent in Texas. An old saw of Texas travelers goes"Sun
is set,here we are in Texas yet!" Leaving the station,the sweeping shell on the right surronds the Civic Auditorium and Theatre.
YSLETA (30 Min./2:55 Min.) Site of the oldest surviving identifiable ethnic group in Texas, the Tigua Indians of Ysleta del Sur Pueblo. The second-oldest continuously-used church in the U.S. (1682) is also here.
FABENS (46 Min./2:44
Min.) A handsome mission-style
church is on the right. To the left is a cotton ginning and bundling
facility. just outside Fabens, the Mexican cemetery on the left
features colorful decorations on the graves. The Finlay Mountains
are on our left and Quitman Mountains are ahead.
SIERRA BLANCA (1:35
MIN./1:55 MIN.) Site of the only
adobe courthouse still in use in Texas. 6,970-ft. Sierra Blanca
Peak,to the northwest,appears lighter than the surrounding mountains
because of its soapstone content.
HOT WELLS (1:52 MIN./1:38 MIN.) Ruins of an old adobe school are on the left. On the right, the EAGLE MOUNTAINS. Open-pit soapstone mining is common in the area north of here.
NOTE: TIME ZONE CHANGE (2:04 Min./1:26 Min.) Near Van Horn (visible in the distance on our left) set your watch ahead one hour (westbound, set watches back). We now join Highway 90, which will be our companion for the next 24 hours.
VALENTINE (2:35 Min./55
Min.) Mt. Livermore rises 8,332
ft. on the left. To its left is Bear Mountain. A little farther
along, the twin domes of McDonald
Observatory, in the Davis Mountains,
are on the left. After the Civil War, a Black regiment of calvary
troops was stationed at nearby Ft. Davis to keep the peace among
the Apaches. (2:55
Min./35 Min.) The old wooden windmill on
the right was the location for filming the oil well scene in the
MARFA (3:05 MIN./25 MIN.) The Presido County Courthouse,built of native stone in 1886,is the domed building on the left. Just west of town on the right are adobe walls surrounding a former camp for World War 2 German POW's.
MARFA GHOST LIGHTS
(3:10 Min./18 Min.) On the right
is the area of desert where unexplained sightings of mysterious
lights have been claimed almost continuously since 1938. Ahead
and to the right is Cathedral Mountain, 6,860-ft.
PAISANO PASS (3:15 MIN./15 MIN.) Paisano Pass,the summit of our route through the Del Norte Mountains,at 5,074-ft.,is the highest elevation reached by the Sunset Limited. Colorful canyonlands mark our approach to Alpine.
ALPINE We pause briefly at this Spanish-style station. Alpine is a popular stop for tourists heading to Big Bend National Park 80 miles to the south. Mitre Peak, 6,100 feet, is to the left. The large "SR" on the hill to our left marks Sul Ross State University. East of town, the rodeo grounds are visible on the left.
Between Alpine and Marathon (30 Min./1:10 Min.) we pass between Altvda Mountain (6,860 feet) on the left and Mount Ord (6,814 feet) on the right as we travel through the Glass and Del Norte Mountains. Pronghorn antelope and mule deer are both plentiful in this area. Watch also for javalina (wild pigs) and long-eared jackrabbits.
WARWICK FLAT (35 Min./1:05
Min.) The great Comanche War Trail, which stretched 1,000 miles from Chihuahua to
upper Texas, crossed here.
HAYMOND (45 MIN./60 MIN.) A onetime cow camp, now a ghost town of two buildings and a cemetery on the left. The dramatic rock cuts are features of the Marathon Uplift, a geological formation of paleolithic shale and limestone.
(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. This 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.
SANDERSON West of the station, the brick ruins of the
Sanderson Wool Commission reflect the area's long association
with sheep ranching. Early cattle and sheepmen, carousing in the
town's saloons, gave it a "wild and wooly" reputation.
DRYDEN (15 MIN./2:09 MIN.) Remanats can be seen of a 6-ft. high,3-ft.thick wall built by the 33rd Infantry as protection from Pancho Villa's marauders. Between 1919 and 1921, Dryden was home of the 90th Aero Squadron which patrolled the Texas-Mexico border.
LANGTRY (1:10 Min./1:14
Min.) This was the headquarters
of the legendary "Judge" Roy Bean. A trader and saloon-keeper,
Bean also dispensed frontier justice as the self-styled "Law
West of the Pecos." Enamored of the famous actress Lily Langtry,
Bean changed the town's name from Vinegarone to Langtry in her
honor. On the eastern edge of town, gargoyle- like rock formations
protrude from the narrow walls of Eagle Rock Canyon (1:12 Min./1:11 Min.). Near here, 2 miles west of the Pecos River, the
last spike on the Southern Pacific's Sunset route was driven on
January 12, 1883, completing the second transcontinental railroad.
LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE
BASE is on our right. East of
Del Rio,we cross irrigated flatlands,then leave the Rio Grande
Valley to climb through the Anacacho Mountains.
SAN ANTONIO America's tenth largest city,San Antonio is known
as the "Mission City." Franciscan Missionaries built
their first mission here in 1718,eventually adding four others
that ring the city. The most famous of these is San Antonio de
Valero, more widely known as the Alamo. The station's mission-style
exterior echoes the Alamo's distinctive silhouette while its interior
boasts a gilt and polychromed barrel-vault ceiling and broad black
marble staircase. San Antonio's Spanish/Mexican heritage is evident
everywhere,most charming lay along the Peseo del Rio,the beautifully
restored,arcade-lined walk beside the San Antonio River. Nearby
La Villita is the oldest,most thoroughly Spanish part of city,while
the King William district preserves the 19th century Victorian
homes of prosperous German settlers. Prominent on the downtown
sky line is the 750-ft. Tower of the Americans, built for the
1968 HemisFair. Here through cars transfer between the Sunset
Limited Amtrak's Texas Eagle to and from Dallas, St. Louis and
ROSENBURG AND RICHMOND
(3:50 MIN./1:05 MIN.) These twin
towns were notorious centers for gambling and vice in the 20s
and 30s. A historic log building and the old red brick courthouse
are on the left. WE cross the BRAZOS RIVER just east of Richmond.
HOUSTON We arrive at the small modern Washington Street
Station,near Buffalo Bayou,headwaters of the 50-mile ship channel
connecting Houston with the Gulf port of Galveston. To our right,the
modern glass towers of downtown include the nearly-touching, twin
chisel-shaped black towers of the Pennzoil Building and the brown,many-spired
Allied Bank Building. A branch of the Texas Eagle also serves
Houston providing Superliner service to Dallas, St. Louis and
SAN JACINTO RIVER
(35 MIN./1:05 MIN.) A few miles
south of our crossing is the San Jacinto Battleground Historic
Park,dominated by the 570-ft. San Jacinto Monument,visible in
the distance on the right. Texas was an independent republic for
10 years following Santa Ana's defeat here,joining the U.S. in
TRINITY RIVER (50
MIN./50 MIN.) We cross the river
just before Liberty.
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.
RAYNE (59 MIN./14
MIN.) "Frog Capital of the
World," Rayne is the site of frog jumpimg contests at their
annual Frog Festival.
ATCHFALAYA RIVER (51
MIN./33 MIN.) Rimmed by dikes
on both sides,the river is 200-ft. deep at this crossing.
MORGAN CITY (51 MIN./30
MIN.) Named for Charles Morgan,
who built this portion of the railroad,then called Morgan's Louisiana
and Texas Railroad and Steamship Company.
(35 MIN./30 MIN.) As we come
alongside the levees,vast grain-loading facilities are visible
all along the river's banks.
THE SUPERDOME (1:35
MIN./1 MIN.) On our left outside
the station,the Superdome,large enough to hold four Astrodomes,is
home of the New Orleans Saints and frequent host of Super Bowl
NEW ORLEANS A thriving gulf and river port,New Orleans preserves the flavor of the Old South,with a distinctly French accent. It is famed for its filagee wrought iron balconies Vieux Carre (French Quarter) festival Mardi Gras celebrations that herald the beginning of Lent. New Orleans is not only known as a festival city in itself,but as the gateway to America's Rivera-the Gulf Coast. This coastal area is a potpourri of Spanish and French,Cajun and Creole, Jazz and Dixieland. It is rich varied ethnic origins and cultural diversity,and is noted for tasty gumbos,magnificent old plantations,paddlewheel steamboats,and plentiful fields of cotton and sugar cane.The Sunset Limited stops in the modern Union Passengers Terminal. Upon leaving the station,the Superdome can once again be seen on the right. You'll also see the Rosedale Cemetery with its above-ground tombs,a phenomena unique to New Orleans because of its high water table. Next you'll notice a NASA space center to your right,followed a couple miles later by Lake Borgne. For the next 20 minutes, you'll traverse the Honey Island Swamp which is filled with 'gators,wild boar and other native creatures. You'll catch your last glimpse of the New Orleans skyline to the right. About 10 minutes into the swamp,there's a red green and yellow tiled walkway to your right.Keep a watch for it if you're traveling westward-it leads to an old gambling house that was a favorite haunt of Louisiana politicians. You also want to keep an eye out for alligators sunning themselves on logs. The large body of water to the left is Lake Catherine,and Lake Pontchartrain can be seen beyond it.
BAY ST. LOUIS Bay St. Louis offers a view of the beautiful bay from the only bluff on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, where seagulls, pelicans and the great blue heron can be seen feeding on the bay's bounty. Bay St. Louis provides plenty of outdoor recreational activities including camping at nearby Buccaneer State Park.
Old Town Bay St. Louis is an antique
center and art colony, where fine antiques, indoor flea markets,
book galleries, and unique gift shops abound on historic Main
Street. When traveling this area during daylight hours, take special
notice of the lovely magnolias, bald cypresses, azaleas and live
oaks found in Bay St. Louis. The live oaks, in particular, are
majestic trees that grow up to 50 feet tall. The heaviest of all
oaks, these trees were once used for ship building. In fact, famous
Live Oak vessels include the Constitution, nicknamed "Old
Ironside" due to the strength of its live oak construction.
Leaving here, the train crosses over St. Louis Bay. US 90 is to
the left, and the Gulf of Mexico is to the right.
PASS CHRISTIAN (10 MIN./17 MIN.) Affectionately known as the "Pass," Pass Christian dates its history back to 1699, and is the site of the oldest Yacht Club in the South.
GULFPORT Gulfport is Mississippi's largest seaport and is the center point of her beaches, located halfway between New Orleans and Mobile. Gulfport is the home of the Marine Life Oceanarium.
The premier sailing waters are protected by a ring of outer islands, including Ship Islands. At the northwest end of this island lies only natural deep-water harbor along the entire length of the Mississippi Sound. Fort Massachusetts, one of the last masonry coastal fortifications to be built in the US, now stands here.
Ship Island is part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore, a park that stretches over 150 miles east to Santa Rosa Island of Florida. The park encompasses a variety of habitats from fresh water marshes to ocean beaches, with attractions ranging from an experimental tree farm begun John Quincy Adams, to arms of the sea where saltwater and freshwater mingle. This commingling of water has created some of the richest fishing grounds in the world, because both shellfish and fin fish thrive in the brackish water.
The park is the gateway to the Barrier Islands, whose brilliant white stand beaches are famous worldwide. Barrier Islands are special places which appear permanent, but are, in fact, continually changing and moving west parallel to the mainland. These islands are now home to a variety of birds that came close to extinction, including the Brown Pelican. In fact, it was the dredging of channels in and around these islands that set the stage for the 1993 nationwide best-selling novel, "The Pelican Brief" by John Grisham.
BILOXI On the way to Biloxi is Beauvoir, the last home of Confederate President Jefferson Davis. Not too far away is the Old Biloxi Lighthouse, a 65 foot-tall cast-iron structure which was built in 1848 and painted black after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. It is the the only lighthouse in the U.S. that stands in the middle of a four-lane hgihway. In Biloxi, you'll pass many shrimp boats, the mainstay of this port's commercial fishing fleet. In fact, you would see some shrimp factories to your right were it light.
On the way into town, you would see the home of barq's root beer-a famous southern brand originally bottled in Biloxi. Keesler Air Force Base is also located here, one of the largest technical training centers in the country. It boarders the track on the left. Leaving Biloxi, you'll come to Biloxi Bay. To your right, in the distance, is Deer Island. Also to your right is a white building that houses the J.L. Scott Marine Education Center and Aquarium, Mississippi's largest public aquarium. Its centerpiece is a 42,000-gallon Gulf of Mexico tank.
Thanks to Biloxi's prximity to Ship Island, it was once the capital of Louisiana. In 1722, the capital was moved to New Orleans. About a year before this happened, France wanted to solidly establish Biloxi and so sent marriageable women to the colony. These girls were called, "femmes de casquette" because they carried chests with a trousseau.
Lastly, you would see the old train station, also to the right. We can't leave Biloxi without a note about Mardi Gras. In 1908, the first official queen was crowned, "Queen Ixolib," Biloxi spelled backward!
OCEAN SPRINGS (4 MIN./19 MIN.) If it were light, you would see a white gazebo to your right. This marks Ocean Springs which was, for a short time, the capital of Louisiana. The Indians called this area "E-ca-ma-cha-ha," which means the "Holy Ground." It was here that they came from miles around to drink the water of the grest Spirit. In the 1800s, the white man rediscovered these healing waters and made the area famous.
PASCAGOULA Welcome to the most industrial town in Mississippi. On the way in, you'll cross the Pascagoula River Swamp, one of the most fertile bird watching areas in the state. Were it light, you would see the treeline of Petit Bois off to the right in the distance. Locals call this island "Petty Boy" Next, you'll come to the Singing River about which several legends have been told. One recounts the story of Pascaqoula Indian Princess Anola and her lover, a Biloxi brave, who could not marry because they were from different tribes. They decided to commit suicide together and walked into the river singing. Another tale tells of a mass suicide by a Pascaqoula tribe who knew they were about to be massacred by the Biloxi Indians. They all chose to hold hands and sing as they walked into the river to drown. Actually, scientific studies have been undertaken to find out why the river "sings." One theory is that the movement of schools of fish in the river cause a sound like singing. Today, locals only "hear" the singing upriver because of the heavy industry in the area. Not only does the river here sing, but two UFO sightings have been reported in Pascagoula. In 1874, residents reported a "singular and awe in-spring" light headed out towards Horn Island. More recently, in 1973, two fisherman claimed they were taken aboard a UFO and later released! As you cross this river, you'll see NOAA research facilities on the East and West banks. To the right is Ingles Shipyard, the largest employer in the state.
MOBILE Mobile is an old world city, founded by the French in 1704. entering Mobile, the Mobile International Speedway is to the right. As you pull into the station, you will see the partially rebuilt French Fort Conde which was once headquarters for the entire Louisianna Territory. At the north end of the station, you'll see the new Mobile Convention Center. Mobile bay is just to your right-its port is one of the ten largest in the world. It is the home port of the WWII Battleship USS Albama, saved from the scrap yard by Albama school children, and is now a national memorial to all those who fought for our country. Mobile Bay was also the sight of the fiercest naval battle that Union naval officer David Farragut issued his classic command, "Damn the Torpedoes. Full steam ahead!" Congress created the rank of full admiral for him in 1866.
Amid the modern city and indutrial activity, you'll find placid Creole and Victorian mansions resorted to past magnificence. Always a fun loving and gracious people, Mobilians were the first to celebrate Mardi gras in America. A short distance from the city are the Bellingrath Gardens and Home-more than women and children lived at Ft. Pickens with Geronimo. Today, these forts are part of the Gulf Islands national Seashore Park.
In the early 1870s, development of the waterfront began in earnest. the harbor was filled with steamboats and square-riggers from ports all around the world. Vessels discharged their ballast here, which was hauled and dumped along the shore, creating 60 acres of land in a few years. Thus, the shoreline is made up of red granite from Sweden, blue stone from Italy, broken tile from France, and dredging from the River Thames and the Scheldes of the Netherlands!.
History can be found at the National Museum of naval Aviation, where the largest collection of military aircraft and memorabila is displayed. The history of avaiation is traced out on a full-scale timeline from 1911 to the Space Age, and the newly completed west wing features a seven-story atrium where four Blue Angel Skyhawks soar in permanent diamond formation. Were it light, you would see the Grand Pensacola train station. Leaving town, you'll catch many glimpses of Escambia Bay to your right, which part of the greater Pensacola Bay.
CRESTVIEW boasts a diverse community of people who love the area and its way of life. The Eglin Air Force Base here is the largest in the free world, encompassing over 724 square miles. Crestview is located along a section of the "Old Spanish Trail", a historical trade route from El Paso, Texas, to Jacksonville, Florida. Crestview is the gateway to Fort Walton Beach and Destin, located on the Gulf.
DE FUNIAK SPRINGS (15 MIN./17 MIN.) Magnolia trees and azalea bushes enhance the deep south charm of De Funiak Springs, known for its resorted Victorian homes. In the 17th century, this area was a reowned resort because of its natural springs.
CHIPLEY As you come into Chipley, you'll see the Washington County Agricultural center to your right, a low white building with a red roof. Chipley is another town along the Sunset Limited's route with a history righ in railroad lore. Founded in 1882, Chipley's development began with the construction of the Louisville & Nashville Railroad, completed between Tallahassee and Pensacola in 1883 . The railroads provided a transportation link for the cotton industry that fueled the economy of this small town. Originally called Orange, the town became one of the largest naval store centers in the south. The name of the town was changed to Chipley in honor of the man who stood at the helm of the historic railway project -Col. William D. Chipley. Just south are the Panama City beaches. Leaving Chipley, you'll pass many small towns, and one hour further than Chipley is where the time changes from Central to Eastern time.
TALLAHASSEE Florida with a southern accent-that's the capital city of Tallahassee. This place in the Sunshine State is one of alligators, azaleas, arrowheads, mastodons, missions, magnolias, pow-wows, plantations, politics and great pride among Floridians.
Tallahassee touts one of the world's deepest fresh water springs, Wakulla Springs, where alligators can be found lazing in the midday sun beneath the branches of twisted cypress. Many exciting underwwater scenes for the "Tarzan" movies were filmed here with Johnny Weissmuller and Maureen O'Sullivan. Outdoor enthusiasts enjoy the adventures of local wildlife areas including Falling Waters State Park, located southwest of Tallahassee. Here, vistors can wander through wooded trials past deep caverns where Indians once settled; camp the pioneer life in canopied forests; swim in a cool, clear lake; and witness the park's mysterious waterfall which is said to flow into a bottomless crevasse.
Nearer to Atlanata than to Miami, Tallahassee more closely resembles its Southern neighbors than it does the rest of Florida. As you pass through, you'll see Florida State University's Doak Campbell Stadium to your left in the distance. At the station, you can see Florida A&M University in top of a hill to your left. The station itself was a former freight depot, and is one of the state's oldest surviving stations. Leaving Tallahassee, the old Florida Capitol Building can be seen from an overpass above US Highway 27, and a few miles later, cypress swamps encompass the train. Next, it emerges in the rural community of Chaires, and farmlands and woodlands dominate the view.
MADISON The city of Madison was founded on May 2, 1838. In 1874, the Florida Manufaturing Company was founded, and ginned as many as ten thoudand bales of Sea Island Long Staple Cotton in one year. A single warehouse is the only remaining building of the world's largest along staple cotton precessing complex. In the heart of downtown Madison is the Four Freedoms Park, a beautifully landscaped city block. It contains a Confederate monument symbolizing the ideals of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's - freedom of speech and expression, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and from fear everywhere in the world.
LAKE CITY Once named Alligator after a Seminole Indian Chief, Lake City is the hometown of Pat Summerall of football fame. It is also home of the Florida Sports Hall of Fame. The Stephen Foster Center on the banks of the famous Suwannee River and the Suwannee Valley Zoo are located here as well.
You'll see the Suwannee State Park on both sides of the tracks.
JACKSONVILLE As the "Gateway to Florida" and home of the Gator Bowl, Jacksonville is the second largest city in the U.S. geographically. It is also the final stop for the Palmetto service. The ST. JOHN'S RIVER (15 MIN./51 MIN.) is unique because it is one of a few in the world that flows "up," from south to north. Jacksonville Naval Air Station is on the left side. Ahead is the Armed Forces Reserve Center and the Naval Supply Center. To the south, the train passes Doctor's Inlet and Black Creek. The Miami sections of the Silver Star and Silver Meteor uncouple or join here.
GREEN COVE SPRINGS (38 MIN./27 MIN.) This was once the spa that former president Grover Cleveland and J.C. Penney visited often. Following is the SEMINOLE POWER PLANT (55 MIN./10 MIN.) a coal-fired generating facility requiring over 90 coal cars per day to keep it going. The tall hourglass shaped towers are cooling towers. We cross the St. John's River once again at Buffalo Bluff.
PALATKA An Indian named meaning "forbidding place," this is the closest station to St. Augustine, the oldest European settlement in the US.
PIERSON (37 MIN./16 MIN.) The "Fern Capital of the World," grows much of the nations commercial crop. The special black tents you see protect the plants from frost-bite and sunstroke.
DELEOAN SPRINGS (46 MIN./7 MIN.) Named for Florida's first tourist, Juan Ponce de Leon. Legend says he did find the fountain of youth and now lives comfortably in Spain.
DELAND The Clyde Beatty Cole Cros. Circus headquarters is across from the station. DeLand is the home of Stetson University, Florida's oldest University, named for the famous hat maker. It is also headquarters of Nautilus Fitness Equipment, as well as the nearest stop for Daytona Beach.
ST. JOHN'S RIVER (9 MIN./8 MIN.) Again, to the right, connects Lake Monroe and Lake George.
SANFORD Host of the "Golden Age Games" each year. It's also the southern terminus for Amtrak's Auto Train service on the left. Here the St. John's River Broadens and becomes Lake Monroe.
WINTER PARK The birthplace of the Temple Orange was described by former president Chester Arthur as "the prettiest place I have seen in Florida." Left of the station is the Winter Park Commons, nestled between the tracks and colorful boutiques of Park Avenue. Hundreds gather in the park every spring for the annual Winter Park Arts Festival, the oldest and largest outdoor art show in the country.
ORLANDO The station stop for Walt Disney World. The refurbished Pullman cars are part of Church Street Station, shops dedicated to high-spirited good times. Orlando City Hall and the CNA Building attest to the city's growth. The circus trains and trailers on the left side of the train belong to the JAMES E.STATES SHOWS (4 MIN./27 MIN.).
KISSIMMEE On the left side is the Chamber of Commerce building. The colorful plaques in front are the insignias of each of the continental states. Further down the tracks is Lake Tohopekaliga. Look for lush orange groves on both sides from here to Aurburndale.
CAMPBELL (9 MIN./50 MIN.) A visit here might be called an electrifying experience. The town is notorious for the highest incidence of lightning strikes anywhere in the world.
AURBURNDALE (23 MIN./6 MIN.) Underneath the Minute Maid tower, the giant Coca-Cola subsidiary "juices" over 100,000 crates of oranges every working day. The Adams Citrus Growers Company is one of the few private citrus companies left in the United States. This industrial neighborhood is shared with Purex.
WINTER HAVEN The Bordo Citrus Products Cooperative is across from the station.
WEST LAKE WALES (13 MIN./35 MIN.) Two miles east, the white obelisk is the landmark for Bok Tower Gardens. The bell tower houses one of the most famous carillons in the world. The highest point in the state, this structure contains 53 bells weighing as little as 17 pounds and as much as 12 tons.
FROSTPROOF (25 MIN./23 MIN.) There are still plenty of groves here, despite the fact that the city lost its reputation when freezing destroyed millions of oranges in the winter of 1983. That year, the "frostproof" line moved farther south. Stacks of beehives (white boxes) Interspersed between orange groves are for pollination as well as making honey.
SEBRING The home of the International Grand Prix Racing Championship, note the race track to the left. Beef is one of Florida's principal agricultural products, and Sebring is one the largest cattle producers in the state. LAKE ISTOKPOGA (8 MIN./34 MIN.) peeks through the trees. Orchards and windmills dot the area around the Kissimmee River.
OKEECHOBEE The dikes to the west border LAKE OKEECHOBEE (8 MIN./59 MIN.). Installed by the Corps of Engineers, the barriers have protected the town from floods since 1919, after the shallow lake washed ashore during a hurricane. Rains here give way to some beautiful rainbows. Okeechobee is in the heart of Florida's cattle country. FLORIDA STEEL CORPORATION (32 MIN./35 MIN.) is on the right.
INDIANTOWN (35 MIN./32 MIN.) Sugar cane is grown a few miles away. The St. Lucie Canal, which pours into Lake Okeechobee, is seen on both sides.
UNITED (44 MIN./23 MIN.) The airfield to the right belongs to the Pratt and Whitney plant located here. Jack Nicklaus, architect of the local golf course, makes his home in nearby Palm Beach Gardens.
WEST PALM BEACH The twin towers to the left symbolize the affluence of Florida's "Gold Coast." Prices can exceed the $1 million mark. The nearby Flagler Museum is the white marble estate, once the home of the late railroad and oil magnate Henry Morrison Flagler. West Palm Beach is also where the Atlanta Braves and Montreal Expos train in the spring. Between here and our final destination, there are a large number of draw bridges and canals.
DELRAY BEACH The Florida State Tennis Championships are held here. About three minutes to the south is Boca Raton, where IBM builds personal computers.
DEERFIELD BEACH At the nearby Pompano Beach Race Track, harness racers and quarter horses work out on the outdoor track.
FT.LAUDERDALE One of the cities of the Florida "Gold Coast," known as the "Venice of America." It's also "where the boys are" during spring break. Nearby Port Everglades is home port for several of the luxury liners making up the Florida cruise ship fleet.
HOLLYWOOD The brightly painted water tower is in the heart of the city. THE OPA-LOCKA FLEA MARKET (16 MIN./ 15 MIN.) and HIALEAH RACE TRACK (21 MIN./10 MIN.) are open daily to greet patrons.
MIAMI The state's best known city and the busiest cruise ship port in the world. Miami has more than 1.8 million residents and 13 million annual visitors. In "Little Havana" shop signs proclaim "English Spoken Here." A former refugee colony, 500,000 Cubans now live or work here each day.
For more information on Amtrak trips call 1-800-USA-RAIL