Classifieds Business Directory Jobs Real Estate Autos Legal Notices Forums Subscribe Archives
Today is August 23, 2014
home newssports feature opinion happenings society obits techtips

Front Page » February 14, 2006 » Local News » Riding the rails: from Helper to San Francisco on Amtrak
Published 3,112 days ago

Riding the rails: from Helper to San Francisco on Amtrak


Print PageEmail PageShareGet Reprints

By PHIL FAUVER

The train ride to California begins at the Helper rail station.

Riding the rails is not just a thing of the past but can be a modern day adventure. Phil and Marilyn Fauver of Orangeville along with two other couples climbed aboard and traveled by rail from Helper to San Francisco, Calif.

They boarded the California Zephyr in Helper. They discovered traveling by train is like riding on a magic carpet, a very relaxing, enjoyable, inexpensive and an exciting way to travel, if you are not in a hurry.

This trip to San Francisco was in remembrance of train trips these couples had experienced in the 1950s. They wanted to learn if train travel today was any different than it was years ago. They discovered train travel today is quite different, in that the trains are more comfortable, with large airline type seats that have leg rests and foot rests. The train was warm and comfortable for the most part. Trains today are double-deckers with chair coaches, sleeping compartment coaches, dining cars, observation cars, with large windows, even skylight windows, for viewing the mountain scenery along the travel route.

The train schedules are designed to take the passengers through the more beautiful parts of the United States, during daylight hours. For example, Amtrak traveling from Utah to California leaves Utah in the night and passes through the Sierra Mountains in the daytime. This allows the passengers to sleep as they travel across the deserts of Utah, and to enjoy the mountain scenery of Nevada and California. This same scheduling can be said for traveling from Utah to Denver, Colorado. The train leaves, Utah, for the East, in the early morning and passes through the mountains during the day, allowing everyone on the train to see the grand mountain vistas, the ski resorts and rivers of Colorado.

Harry and Lavonda Hanson from Mt Pleasant and Jack and Mary Ann Walters from Richfield took the trip with the Fauvers. They expected to enjoy the seafood on Fisherman's wharf, the sights of San Francisco, the trolleys, the cable cars and to enjoy shopping in Chinatown and see the Golden Gate Bridge. Phil and Marilyn wanted to return to San Francisco, a city of excitement and enchantment they had visited many years before. They wanted to explore the city and see how it had changed over the years, to experience, once again, the sights, the sounds, and the smells of this great city.

Phil and Marilyn saved their money and were originally planning to drive to San Francisco, when the idea of taking the train began to form and they started checking prices. They found through Mary Alice, at Price Travel, in this off season, they could travel round trip by train to San Francisco for $312 coach class per couple. When one factors in the need for a motel along the way, and the cost of cars, observation cars, with large windows, even skylight windows, for viewing the mountain scenery along the travel route.

The train schedules are designed to take the passengers through the more beautiful parts of the United States, during daylight hours. For example, Amtrak traveling from Utah to California leaves Utah in the night and passes through the Sierra Mountains in the daytime. This allows the passengers to sleep as they travel across the deserts of Utah, and to enjoy the mountain scenery of Nevada and California. This same scheduling can be said for traveling from Utah to Denver, Colo. The train leaves, Utah, for the East, in the early morning and passes through the mountains during the day, allowing everyone on the train to see the grand mountain vistas, the ski resorts and rivers of Colorado.

San Francisco Bay and the many sailboats at dock.

Those that went on the trip to San Francisco were Phil and Marilyn Fauver from Orangeville, Harry and Lavonda Hanson from Mount Pleasant, also Jack and Mary Ann Walters from Richfield. They expected to enjoy the seafood on Fisherman's wharf, the sites of San Francisco, the trolleys, the cable cars, also to enjoy shopping in Chinatown and see the Golden Gate Bridge.

Phil and Marilyn wanted to return to San Francisco, a city of excitement and enchantment they had visited many years before. They wanted to explore the city and see how it had changed over the years, to experience, once again, the sights, the sounds, and the smells of this great city.

Phil and Marilyn saved their money and were originally planning to drive to San Francisco, when the idea of taking the train began to form and they started checking prices. They found through Mary Alice, at Price Travel, in this off season, they could travel round trip by train to San Francisco for $312 coach class per couple. When one factors in the need for a motel along the way, and the cost of gasoline, meals, traffic and the long drive, traveling by train becomes a viable option.

Phil and Marilyn were excited about this trip. Jack Walters and Harry Hanson were also excited about the possibility of riding the train to San Francisco. Jack called Phil, after hearing about the trip, and asked what they would have to do to join them on this trip.

Price Travel was able to arrange for the Hanson's and Walter's to join the Fauver's on this excursion into a new experience. Price Travel obtained Amtrak tickets, a Gray Line Tour of San Francisco, and arranged for reserved rooms for the group at the Tuscan Inn near Fisherman's Wharf.

When these travelers arrived at their first stop, the train depot in Helper they found a lone red brick building with the sign Amtrak indicating this was the train depot. The depot was warm, with few furnishings, and with two bathrooms. The train soon arrived on schedule.

When the group boarded the train the evening was cold with a slight breeze and some spitting snow. The storm was heavy on the tops of the mountains to the West. This made the interior warmth of the train very welcome as they entered the train. The Amtrak train is a two level train, it has a snack bar, a handicapped area and a lounge area with tables and bench seats on the lower level. They also have on the upper level an observation car between the coach cars. Part of the lower level is reserved for handicapped persons.

After boarding Amtrak the group stowed their bags in the racks, went up the stairs to the upper level and settled into the coach seats. The group decided to eat their evening meal in the dining car. The dinner menu consisting of Flat Iron Steak, Turkey Tenderloins, Roast Chicken, Cod with basil and thyme, Tri Color Tortellini, and the evening special.

The cleanliness of the dining car was impressive. The white tablecloths, the fresh flowers in a vase on the table, the waiters dressed in white, and the well-prepared tasty food would have rivaled any fancy restaurant.

The view from the train window across the Sierra Nevada mountains.

Everyone agreed, riding the train was most comfortable and very relaxing. We did not have to worry about traffic. We had time to tell each other of life experiences, to walk about the train, get acquainted with other people on the train, play games, sleep, read a book, have leisurely meals in the dining car and observe the passing scenery.

Returning to the coach car, after dinner, we again settled down in the semi-darkness to read. There were small overhead spot lights, that could be turned off and on as desired, above each seat. There was a row of small lights in the ceiling through out the train, giving a low amount of illumination. As we crossed the mountains from Price to Spanish Fork, some of us watched, from the train windows, the automobile accidents and emergency vehicles on SR-6 West of Soldier's Summit. The rain and snow that evening, made driving treacherous and caused many accidents on SR-6. While others slept or read books, Phil chose to move about exploring the train. On the train were people of many races, ages and size, who found train travel to be a great way to travel.

As the train rolls along it sways a little from side to side, with an occasional small bump or rumble as it passes over the bridges. The coaches have air shock absorbers to cushion the coaches as they pass along the rails. Anyone walking around soon learned to hang onto the backs of the chairs or the overhead luggage bins. This was almost like being on a ship at sea.

The train stopped briefly in Salt Lake City at the new small depot there, to take on passengers. Some of us got off briefly, to purchase newspapers, bottles of water, (there are drinking fountains in each coach) or snacks. The train also stopped in Reno and Elko, Nev., and Sacramento, Calif. before it made a final stop in Emeryville, Calif. During the night the train crossed the Southern tip of the great Salt Lake, passing by Tooele, Utah. Later, we passed a salt manufacturing facility with mountains of salt. A nearly full moon could be seen in the night sky as the train crossed the salt flats. Later crossing Nevada it could be seen to set behind the mountains along the Western horizon.

Breakfast and lunch, the next day, in the dining car gave us additional neat experiences of eating great food while watching the countryside roll past our windows. During the day many friendly people were met. such as Steve and Jill Silver from Copperopolous, Calif., on the edge of the wine country. They were on their way home from visiting a new grandchild in Salt Lake City.

Larry Tenant from Logan was on his way to get an old automobile in California and drive it back to Logan for his auto restoration business. Larry was originally from California. He had recently moved his business of Auto Restoration to Logan. He is also a recent convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. When we left Reno, a mother, her sister and two small children, a boy and a girl seated themselves across the aisle from us. The little boy enjoyed playing games with the six grandpa's and grandma's seated nearby and helped Marilyn put together a jigsaw puzzle. While stopped in Reno, Nev., two volunteer tour guides from the Railroad Museum in Sacramento boarded the train. These volunteers, a husband and wife tour guide team, kept up a sporadic dialogue, over the public address system, from Reno to Sacramento about the historic points and events of history along the train route. These tour guides read from a script telling the people on the train when the Nevada, California State Line had been crossed, the history of the Truckee River, the town of Truckee, Calif., the Stanford Curve, Donner Lake, the Donner party, Mt. Judah, Soda Springs, Donner Pass, Emigrant Gap, The American River, Alta, Gold Run, Cape Horn and Colfax, Calif. When the train arrived in Roseville, Calif. to take on passengers an elderly gentleman passenger in his 80's from Chicago. He was on his way to see his daughter in California. He had two bottles of oxygen with him. He became distressed, because his bottles of oxygen became empty. The trip for him had taken longer than expected. The Roseville paramedics were called and he was taken to the hospital.

Arrival in Emeryville was uneventful except for a long walk through the station, carrying our baggage, to the waiting Amtrak buses. The train arrived about two hours late due mostly to giving freight trains priority to use the tracks and the one emergency situation of the man without oxygen. Freight trains are more important to the railroad than passenger trains as freight generates more income than do passengers.

If you are not in a hurry, the train is a great way to travel. The total travel time from Helper to the Tuscan Hotel on Fisherman's Wharf was a little over 24 hours. In Emeryville an Amtrak bus was provided to take passengers across the Bay Bridge in San Francisco to Pier 39 on Fisherman's Wharf. The Amtrak bus driver was very gracious and instead of leaving passengers at Pier 39, he unloaded the passengers at their respective hotels. No doubt he received many tips for this kind service.

The six people from Utah were left at the Tuscan Inn a Best Western Hotel, where they found their reservations were in order and each couple had their own very nice rooms.


Print PageEmail PageShareGet Reprints


Top of Page


 
Local News  
February 14, 2006
Recent Local News
Quick Links
Subscribe via RSS
Related Articles  
Related Stories



Best viewed with Firefox
Get Firefox

© Emery County Progress, 2000-2008. All rights reserved. All material found on this website, unless otherwise specified, is copyright and may not be reproduced without the explicit written permission from the publisher of the Emery County Progress.
Legal Notices & Terms of Use    Privacy Policy    Advertising Info    FAQ    Contact Us
  RSS Feeds    News on Your Site    Staff Information    Submitting Content    About Us
z