Many people in that strange country between Canada and Mexico like to deride their national rail line, Amtrak. But having crossed four of the six continents on the globe that you can cross by train, Amtrak stands up bloody well. It’s relatively cheap, comfortable and efficient. And probably to best way to see the country. On this crossing it was the California Zephyr from San Francisco to Chicago, and then the Lakeshore Limited on to Boston.
As slow as a Romanian train on a bad day, rolling over wooden sleepers and rocking rails, by canyons and mesas, the ghosts of cannibals and their victims at in the Sierra Nevada, Butch Cassidy territory, Mormons and their harems, masses of divorcees in divorce-friendly Reno and the national cowboy poetry festival in Elko (Nevada) – the California Zephyr took us through some of the most spectacular landscape of the USA. The first and perhaps still most famous of the cross-continental railway lines, completed in 1869, the Zephyr traverses towering ranges, 3000 metre mountain passes, glaciers, wide deserts and lush plains. The Lakeshore Limited is a popular service, skirting the great lakes, through the maples and hippies of up-state New York and then into that other USA, Massachusetts.
A few pictures (click on each to see a larger version):