Category Blog

By Train Through Quebec Along The St. Lawrence River


Near Baie St. Paul is the line's only Tunnel

Near Baie St. Paul is the line’s only Tunnel

By Train Along The St. Lawrence River

By Jeffrey R. Orenstein, Ph.D., Simply Smart Travel

September, 2015  As our taxi pulled in to the train station in Quebec City, our about-to-commence train trip from Quebec City to the Charlevoix region of Quebec was already off to a spectacular start. Right behind the station platform. the mighty Montmorency Falls as the river of its namesake tumbled into the St. Lawrence from a height of 275 feet, the highest in Quebec and 98 feet higher than Niagara Falls. The station afforded an amazing view of the cataract and was so close to the falls that the roar and mist from the falls were hard to ignore.

As impressive as they were, the falls were just a hint of scenic vistas about to unfold out the windows o...

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Riding In The Cab of Railroad History: Southern 2-8-0 #630

630 steam engine

Locomotive 630 on the turntable at East Chattanooga while passengers watch the operation of turning her.

It is only three large steps up from the platform to the cab of Number 630, a 114 ton steam locomotive. But as I mounted those steps, it was as if I had climbed back in time a full 113 years. At the top of the steps, I stepped into the cab of an operating steam locomotive that was a modern 2-8-0 Consolidation when she was delivered to the Southern Railroad in 1904.

After 48 years of faithful service pulling freight trains in Tennessee and elsewhere, she was “retired” in 1952. But this huge machine leads a charmed life...

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Traveling Like A Railroad Baron: Private Train Across The Cascades

private cars

Our private cars tucked on the end of the Empire Builder on the platform at Whitefish, Montana.

Traveling Like A Railroad Baron

Uncommon Journeys Private Train Across the Cascades

Moira, our tour guide, led us out a private door from the main waiting room of Seattle’s King Street station onto the platform. We walked past the scores of passengers lined up inside the station waiting behind a barrier to board the waiting Amtrak Empire Builder passenger train for their journey to Chicago. We followed Moira down the platform past the Amtrak cars to the  three private cars (“varnish” in train buff lingo) that were attached to the rear of the Empire Builder.

As we reached the open doorway of our private sleeping car, an impeccably-uniformed attendant bid us a warm welcome, He helped us up ...

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From Toronto to Vancouver By Train: Watching A Continent Unfold.

From Toronto to Vancouver By Train
Watching The Panorama of a Continent Unfold From A Luxury Dome Car

The view of Rockies from the train

The breathtaking Front Range of the Canadian Rockies as seen from the dome on the Canadian’s observation car.

There was a tangible sense of excitement among the sleeping car passengers who gathered in the Toronto Union Station departure lounge at 9:30 p.m. on a Tuesday night in late March. They-and we-were there to travel across Canada on Via Rail Train Number One, the storied Canadian to Vancouver. Soon, after we made our dining car reservations with the train’s crew working in the departure lounge, the announcement came that it was time to board...

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Autumn In Florida: Paradise Enjoyed

Fall In Florida

By Jeffrey R. Orenstein, Ph.D., Simply Smart Travel

This autumn we will mark our twenty year anniversary since we moved from Ohio to Florida. One of the things we missed during our first few years in the Sunshine state was the annual abrupt change that marked each autumn in northern Ohio. Like clockwork, the tress put on their gorgeous display of color and the weather turned sharply colder, even though so-called Indian summer warm spells were frequent. Unfortunately to this warmth-loving writer, frosts and even an occasional snowfall that tuck were also part of an Ohio October. They were the inevitable harbingers of the long winter to come.

But now that I am an honorary Florida native (a curious cultural phenomenon that seems to happen to transplanted residents after about ...

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Welcome To Florida SunRail!

A SunRail commuter train pulls out the station, whisking people to work in Orlando

A SunRail commuter train pulls out the station, whisking people to work in Orlando

Welcome To Florida SunRail

Florida is finally on a fast track for good rail service. SunRail, the greater Orlando commuter rail service opened May 1, 2014 and ridership has been good not only among commuters but also among tourists, shoppers and basketball game=goers on holidays and evenings. It has been so successful that plans are already in the works to extend it on both ends and to provide eventual service to the Orlando airport.

This railroad is both welcome and long overdue. It joins Tri-Rail, on Florida’s east coast (Palm Beach to Miami), as a regional solution to traffic congestion and a great way to get around...

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Summer In Florida

Tampa's TECO Trolley runes every 15 minutes to and from Ybor City.

Tampa’s TECO Trolley runes every 15 minutes to and from Ybor City.

A Saturday In Tampa Slightly Off The Beaten Path

 If you’re ever in downtown Tampa on a business trip and have the better part of a half day free, there are some interesting attractions very close by and certainly worth a visit.

While Busch Gardens, Rays baseball and International Mall attract the throngs, if you stray off the beaten path a bit, there is a lot to see.

I recommend a visit to be the beautifully restored Tampa Union Station, served by Amtrak’s New York to Miami route. Built in 1912 and renovated in 1998, the Italian Renaissance edifice sees two trains daily and is the third busies station in Florida. It’s on the National Register of Historic Places and is beautiful inside and out.

A fairly short walk ea...

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