Amtrak Cardinal

Route Guide - Train #50 & #51

Chicago * Indianapolis
Cincinnati * Washington,D.C.

WELCOME ABOARD. You are traveling on board the Cardinal, an Amtrak® Superliner® train. While on board, you will be experiencing the utmost comfort and service in train travel and witness some of the East's most spectacular scenery.

An unforgetable journey
through the heavenly beauty of
the West Virginia mountains

All of us at Amtrak are proud to have you aboard today, and want to ensure your trip is everything you want it to be in train travel. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask one of our friendly on-board service staff.

THE FUN STARTS HERE. There is a lot to see and do aboard the Cardinal, from relaxing, socializing with family and friends, or enjoying a wonderful meal. Please listen for announcements of the specific times and locations of these activities, and most of all -- have fun!

Hospitality Hour will start your travels off right. We invite you to join fellow passengers in the Lounge Car for specialty drinks with a regional flavor and complimentary snacks. Play some cards, make new friends, enjoy time with your family. Let the Lounge Car be your place for games, conversation and good times!

On-Board Tour Guides from the Collis P. Huntington Rail Road Museum Society will provide highlights through the New River Gorge. This is a seasonal program and may not be available on all trains.

Metropolitan Lounge® offers a true first-class touch to your trip. First Class passengers traveling in Club Service or Sleeping Car Accommodations can enjoy the hospitality of the Amtrak Metropolitan Lounges®, in Chicago and Washington, D.C. Union Stations. Here, First Class passengers will enjoy a staffed welcoming area, inviting lounge, complimentary beverage center, plus special services to meet the needs of regional travelers.


The Conductor is in charge of all crew members aboard, and is responsible for the collection of tickets and the safe operation of the train. The Chief supervises the on-board service people, and is responsible for the service you receive while you are on the Cardinal.


Roomy Coach Seats with a Coach Attendant ensures that you are comfortable and well taken care of during your travels. Please keep in mind that seats are assigned for the duration of the trip. If you wish to change seats consult your Attendant first. Please do not re-seat yourself.

First Class Service is provided by your Sleeping Car Attendant. Your Attendant will prepare your room for daytime or nighttime travel, provide wake-up service and bring your morning paper and beverages to your room. Meals and other amenities are included with your First Class accommodations. Individual speakers bring you recorded music (Channels 2 and 3) and train announcements (Channels 1 and 2). The channel selector is located near the reading light in your room.

Private Sleeping Accommodations are available based on your needs. Deluxe Rooms can accommodate two adults and have a private restroom and shower. Family Rooms can accommodate up to two adults and three children, and also have a private restroom and shower. Economy Rooms can accommodate one or two people. Ample public restrooms and showers are conveniently located in the lower level of the Sleeping Car. Sleeping Accommodations may be purchased on board from the Conductor (subject to availability). (Steve's Note: The above statement that Family Rooms also have a private restroom and shower is not correct. The family room does not have its own private restroom or shower)

Sightseer Lounge Car on the Cardinal allows you to view the spectacular scenery along the route through the panoramic windows on the upper level of the car. The lower level Cafe offers light dining. Sandwiches, snacks and beverages, in addition to various sundry items, can be purchased. The Lounge Car also features first-run movies, a Hospitality Hour with specialty drinks, and complimentary snacks during the evening.

EVERY AMTRAK® TRAIN takes you to great vacation destinations -- and the Cardinal is no exception. It visits the marvelous historic attractions of our nation's capital; travels to the door of two of the most famous resorts in the East, the Greenbrier and the Homestead; carries you through the wild, wonderful scenic beauty of West Virginia; the beautiful riverfront city of Cincinnati; and finishes its trip in downtown Chicago.

But the Cardinal is more -- one of the most spectacular train rides in America, through the overwhelming beauty of Virginia's Blue Ridge and along the wild white water of West Virginia's New River Gorge, where you'll be treat to marvelous scenery you can see only from the Cardinal. During the summer months, a U.S. Forest Ranger boards your train to provide informative commentary about the sights along the way.

To give you a better look, the Cardinal is newly equipped with Superliner® cars including a Sightseer Lounge with domed windows the full length of the car. So sit back and relax for a journey that takes you through some of America's most majestic natural beauty.

This guide details some of the attractions at major points along the route. Directional copy is written from West to East, so you'll know whether to look to the right or the left. The first time reference tells you how far the sight is from the Amtrak stop to the west; the second, from the Amtrak stop to the east.

CHICAGO is a city known for its diverse cultural attractions. Among the areas you'll want to visit are the "Gold Coast," Lake Michigan, The Frank Lloyd Wright District in Oak Park, The Art Institute of Chicago, the Adler Planetarium and the Lincoln Park Zoo. Leaving Chicago, look to your left for a dramatic view of the towering city skyline. The Sears Tower, Daley Center and John Hancock Building are among the many magnificent structures you see. A few minutes later, look for the new Comiskey Park, home of the Chicago White Sox on your left.

INDIANAPOLIS Welcome to the capital city of the Hoosier State, home to the famous Indy 500. The city has world-class sports facilities including a natatorium, a 20,000 seat track and field stadium, a state-of-the-art bicycle racing track and a 60,000 seat domed stadium. The Hoosier Dome and green domed state Capitol Building are to your left coming into the city, and Indianapolis Airport is to your right.

CINCINNATI During the Civil War, Cincinnati became a refuge for runaway slaves and it was here that Harriet Beecher Stowe gathered much of her material for Uncle Tom's Cabin. It is also the birthplace of William Howard Taft, the 27th President. Today, greater Cincinnati is an eight-county, three-state area that is home to major corporations such as Procter & Gamble, Kroger Co., Federated Department Stores and Kenner Products.

South Ripley (1:10 Min./10 Min.) Locals say the real Uncle Tom's Cabin was here, up on a hill to your right. They light the cabin with a star at Christmas.

CATLETTSBURG Look to your left and you're looking into Ohio; you are in Kentucky; right up ahead is West Virginia.

CHARLESTON Coming into this capital city, you will see the gold-domed state building. Southwest of the city is Logan County, home of the infamous feud between the Hatfields and McCoys.

MONTGOMERY Once the state capital, Montgomery is home of the West Virginia Institute of Technology.

[ We have been informed by educated sources that Montgomery has never been the state capital of West Virginia.]

Gauley (15 Min./33 Min.) Here, we come to the beginning of our trip through the New River Gorge. Just ahead is the Gauley Bridge, where the Gauley River and New River meet to form the Kanawha River. The journey through this wild and picturesque country is not only beautiful, but incredibly interesting! Much of what you will see is visible only by rail, or a wild trip on a whitewater raft. The railroad opened the New River to industrial development with the completion of the C&O in 1873. Then, as many as 14 passenger trains ran daily. The area thrived for over half a century thanks to an abundance of coal. Its fortunes faded with the Great Depression which forced many companies out of business. Today, many of the places we'll pass are ghost towns.

Fayette/South Fayette (28 Min./20 Min.) Look to the right for your first glimpse of the New River Gorge Bridge, the world's longest steel arch span measuring over 1700 feet long.

THURMOND The town to your left was known for its saloons, bawdy houses, gambling, drinking and violence. There used to be a saying that, "There was no law west of Hinton ... and no God west of Thurmond."

HINTON The halfway point between the Cincinnati and Potomac, and the end of the New River Gorge.

Great Bend Tunnel (21 Min./10 Min.) The legend of John Henry, the steel-driving man, began in this tunnel. It is said that his ghost hammer can still be heard ringing as you pass through.

ALDERSON The federal prison for women located here has housed such infamous characters as Tokyo Rose, Axis Sally, Squeaky Fromme and Sarah Jone Moore.

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS This beautiful resort town boasts the Greenbrier Hotel.

CLIFTON FORGE Best known as the station serving Hot Springs, sit of The Homestead resort hotel.

CHARLOTTESVILLE This city was home grounds to explorer Meirwether Lewis, revolutionary George Rogers Clark, and President James Monroe, James Madison and Thomas Jefferson. Each year, millions of visitors flock to the area to visit both Jefferson's Monticello and Ash Lawn, the estate of James Monroe. You'll pass through the middle of the University of Virginia campus, founded and designed by Thomas Jefferson.

CULPEPER The citizens of Culpeper became the first Minutemen to respond to Patrick Henry's call-to-arms in 1775. During the Civil War, both sides used the town for headquarters. To your right, you'll notice gravestones containing, according to locals, some 55,000 Confederate graves.

MANASSAS Leaving town, you'll cross Bull Run. Nearby, two great armies of a divided nation clashed for the first time during the Civil War in July of 1861. Just over a year later, the second battle of Manassas lasted three days and produced far greater bloodshed, opening the way for the South's first invasion of the North.

ALEXANDRIA Once home to George Washington, George Braddock and Robert E. Lee, Alexandria has many colonial structures. To your left (at the station) is The George Washington National Memorial Masonic Temple, one of many memorials built for this great statesman. Nearby Old Town Alexandria is an authentically restored portion of the city, rich with art galleries, boutiques and restaurants.

Potomac River (8 Min./10 Min.) As we cross the river, you'll see the 14th Street Bridge on your left, along with the towering buildings of Crystal City. The Pentagon is on the Virginia side to your left. Just beyond is Arlington National Cemetery.

WASHINGTON, D.C. Visitors to Washington, D.C. will find many monuments, museums and cultural attractions including the Smithsonian Institution, the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials, the Washington Monument, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Korean War Memorial, the U.S. Capitol Building, the White House, the National Zoo, the Kennedy Center, and the Botanical Gardens, to name but a few.

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 200 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.

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Last Updated: 06/22/97 - WebMaster: Steve Grande -