America by Rail

From TrainSpottingWorld, for Rail fans everywhere

America By Rail is the name given to a video series produced by Greg Scholl Video Productions/Railway Productions from 1994-1997. It is made up of four videos.


Volume I: The Heartland (1994) — in this first installment of America by Rail you travel from Washington, DC, to San Francisco, California, on two Amtrak trains; the Capitol Limited (Washington, DC, to Chicago) and the California Zephyr (Chicago to San Francisco). Visits to 12 excursion railroads are also shown once the train "reaches" them: Strasburg Rail Road, Potomac Eagle Excursion Railroad, Western Maryland Scenic Railroad, Ohio Central Railroad, Boone and Scenic Valley Railroad, Omaha Zoo Railroad, Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, Heber Valley Historic Railroad, Virginia and Truckee Railroad, Napa Valley Wine Train, Roaring Camp and Big Trees Railroad, and the Santa Cruz Big Trees and Pacific Railroad. America by Rail: The Heartland was the longest video in the series, with a total running time of 2 hours.

Volume II: The West Coast (1995) — in this video you travel from San Diego, California, to Seattle, Washington, on two Amtrak trains; the San Diegan (San Diego to Los Angeles) and the Coast Starlight (Los Angeles to Seattle). Trips to 5 excursion trains are also provided: Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad, Sacramento Southern Railway, California Western Railroad, Spirit of Oregon Dinner Train, and the Mount Hood Railroad. The total running time of America by Rail: The West Coast is 90 minutes.

Volume III: Winter Wonderland (1996) — in this video you travel from Chicago to Washington, DC, on Amtrak's Cardinal (Chicago to Washington, DC). You also visit several points along the Cardinal's route where steam train specials were held. You see each steam train rush past, and words along the screen tell you what engine is pulling the train. The total running time of America by Rail: Winter Wonderland is 90 minutes.

Volume IV: Route of the Southwest Chief (1997) — in this video you travel from Chicago to Los Angeles on Amtrak's Southwest Chief (Chicago to Los Angeles). Visits to 7 excursion trains are also shown: Abilene and Smoky Valley Railroad, Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad, the Santa Fe Southern Railroad, the Verde Canyon Railroad, the Orange Empire Railway Museum, the Ghost Town & Calico Railway, and the L.A. Angels Flight railway. The total running time of America by Rail: Route of the Southwest Chief is 90 minutes.

America by Rail today

Since the last America by Rail video was produced nearly 10 years ago, most of the trains have changed. Some of the most noticeable changes include:

  • The Capitol Limited consisted mostly of Heritage Fleet coaches; today, the train uses Superliner equipment.
  • In America by Rail: The Heartland, the California Zephyr terminates in Oakland. Today it ends in Emeryville, a few miles northeast.
  • The San Diegan trains have been replaced by the more modern Pacific Surfliner double-deck trains.
  • In America by Rail: Winter Wonderland, the Cardinal uses Superliner equipment. Today, the train uses Am-Fleet and Viewliner sleepers.
  • The Amtrak locomotives seen pulling the trains in America by Rail all but one (Dash 8-32BWH) have been retired. Even the Dash 8-40BP Genesis units, which were called "new" in the series, have been mothballed.
  • Most of the Amtrak equipment seen in America by Rail is painted in the Phase III paint scheme. Today most locomotives and cars are in either the Phase V or Phase IVb paint. The Pacific Surfliners have an entirely different paint scheme unique to the train.

Because America by Rail is so out dated, the series became almost obsolete until it was brought back on DVD.

See also