Writing my Congressman

It’s been a while since I’ve been truly politically active. My political energy has lately been focused on the restoration and preservation of the Amtrak station (originally Santa Fe) in Lawrence.

Recently, the CEO of Amtrak announced a proposal before a congressional delegation to discontinue a portion of the route from western Kansas to Albuquerque and replace it with a bus. Such a move would, needless to say, negatively impact the utilization of the Lawrence station.

In response, I wrote the following to the entire Kansas congressional delegation.

I support maintaining Amtrak’s Southwest Chief on its present route and oppose the proposal by Amtrak’s CEO to replace a segment of the route with bus service.

As a member of Depot Redux, I have supported efforts to preserve and restore the Santa Fe station in Lawrence, which has culminated in the current renovation project now underway. The proposed replacement of train service with buses will leave this asset underutilized.

I am also a railfan and model railroader. It seems that many consider passenger rail to be structurally irrelevant; air and/or auto travel is always advantageous over railroads. I consider it part of my hobby to counter this viewpoint and promote the advantages of passenger rail.

Passenger rail is an underutilized asset that, if properly developed, could be an important part of the nation’s intermodal transportation network. Amtrak’s proposal to replace rail service along part of the Southwest Chief route would hinder this potential.


Richard Kennedy

September 1995, part 1

OK, in scanning my negatives, Started in June, went through to August, then switched and started from the Top in January.  I guess that means I resume in September, right?

August 23, 1995 – Fall Sports Jamboree @ Haskell Stadium


August 29, 1995 – LHS Soccer home opener

September 1, 1995 – LHS Football home opener

September 2, 1995 – Topeka Railroad Days

More to come…

First Sunday of 2016

[All this happened before I broke my foot]

The first Sunday of the month usually means cleaning the BNSF station in Lawrence. But first, I needed to get outside and catch some trains. Because of my ‘appointment,’ I elected to stay close to town and went with the UP Kansas Sub.

I hauled myself over to Laptad’s Corner, and parked myself on the east side of the crossing. At 11:14, the bells started ringing for a westbound autorack led by 7443 and 7247.


Once the first train cleared (with DPU 7633 on the rear) I noticed up by the Midland grain elevators a set of coal cars heading my way. I managed to get a faraway shot of the lead units on the eastbound going by the end of the autorack.


The lights didn’t get a chance to go off, and the gates started coming back down just as soon as they had made their way up. Meanwhile, I set up for the “wedge” shot of the coal drag, led by 6863 and 6211.


Normally, the eastbound coal trains on the Kansas Sub are in a 2×1 configuration. [Two locomotives on the front of the train, one pushing] However, this coal train wound up being 2×2 instead.


After the coal train left, I went to get lunch and take care of a few errands. Around 12:45, I wound up turning around in the Riverfront Park parking area, and noticed an eastbound approaching the nearby crossing (mentioned above by Wes) and caught a eastbound autorack with a UP GEVO and a KCS ACe.


After this autorack train left, I returned home to pick up a critical item…. a rabbit-ears antenna. It, combined with a small TV borrowed from my Uncle Marty, allowed me to keep an eye on the football.


And, of course, while the Chiefs were mopping the floor with the Raiders, we mopped the floor of the depot.


The rabbit-ears at work in the Depot.

And, when I got home, some split-screen action with the Chiefs-Raiders and Broncos-Chargers

Thumbnails of other photos in this set:

Recent Railfan Photography

Okay, it’s been a while, but I have taken a few trips railfanning lately.

May 31: I went south of Paola to catch a Amtrak charter running from Springfield to Kansas City.


June 24: I spent an hour or so on “Don Ball Curve” by the Lawrence Visitor’s Center (AKA the Union Pacific Depot) on my birthday.


July 4: Before shooting off fireworks, I shot some trains down by Ottawa (along with my traditional Saturday morning greeting of Amtrak 4)


Not the usual station

On a normal day, Amtrak’s Southwest Chief stops at the station in Lawrence.


However, it is not this station.

The November 13th edition of the Chief was detoured over the Union Pacific line between Hutchinson and Kansas City due to a derailment. Although the UP line goes through Topeka and Lawrence, the station stops at these locations were cancelled.

Amtrak Heritage Sweep

In 2011, Amtrak painted a group of locomotives in special 40th Anniversary paint schemes resembling the different paint schemes on its locomotives. As a Depot Redux volunteer, I usually greet the Amtrak train on Saturday mornings. I’ve kept a lookout for the heritage units as well.

Within a year’s time, I had seen every one of the Amtrak units, and had also photographed all but one, most of them leading the train. Two weeks ago, I got the last of the Heritage Units, which has been based out of Kansas City on the River Runner. Today, I re-shot the only unit I had not photographed *leading* an Amtrak train. With that in mind, here are my photos of all of Amtrak’s heritage units

Phase I: Amtrak 156, 12 July 2014, Lawrence, leading the Southwest Chief
(I have also caught 156 leading 2 Amtrak specials, as well as twice trailing on the Chief)

Phase II: Amtrak 66, 4 October 2014, KC Union Station, leading the Missouri River Runner
(I previously saw 66 trailing on a Chief, but it was on a nightime train, and I did not have my camera)

Phase III (1st): Amtrak 145, 7 September 2013, Camden, Missouri, leading the Chief
(I did catch this train at Lawrence; however, it got there before sunrise)

Phase III (2nd): Amtrak 822, 15 March 2014, Lawrence, leading the Chief (156 is also in the consist)

Both Phase III units together: 145 + 822, 11 July 2014, Lawrence, on an Amtrak special.

Phase III (3rd): Amtrak 406, 12 April 2014, Topeka, with the Amtrak Exhibit Train (along with the Veteran’s Unit, see below)

Phase IV: Amtrak 184, 19 October 2014, Lawrence, leading the Chief

Veteran’s Unit: Amtrak 42, 11 November 2013, Lawrence, leading the Chief