We were aboard Amtrak’s California Zephyr early Sunday morning June 15 west of Lincoln, NE when the train was stopped for about two hours because of tornado warnings. Indeed while we sat, a tornado toppled this silo farther west in Atlanta, NE.
At dawn we began moving again and the conductor told us about the warnings. When we reached the station at Holdrege, NE we were told about the silo wreckage. We stayed at Holdrege for several hours. In all, the weather put the train five hours behind.
|The silo before the tornado|
|The silo after the tornado|
We stopped again in Atlanta. Our car was directly across from the silo wreckage. This time we were informed that the train crew had run up its maximum 12-hour workday and a replacement crew was on its way. From Denver, five hours away by car!
We waited more than four hours for the new crew to arrive. We had barely resumed our journey when the engine started spewing black smoke. Not good, we were informed. During a relatively short wait, the engineer jury-rigged a fix.
By the time we reached Denver, due in at 7:15 am, night had fallen. After switching engines, we started our climb across the Rockies. We awoke at about 4 am. Stopped again in the wilderness. And awaiting another replacement crew. Who, for a time, couldn’t find the train. Another three hours lost. By this point we were 18 hours behind.
But here’s the really good part: A crew member we befriended told us that Amtrak’s vice president for operations, DJ Stadtler, was aboard the train. Mr. Stadtler, you’ve got your work cut out for you.