The Capitol Limited train runs daily between Washington, DC and Chicago. From DC it follows the historic B&O line through the Potomac Valley. It will take you past historic Harpers Ferry and the Allegheny Mountains into Pittsburgh. The train crosses into Ohio heading north to Cleveland, and then through Indiana into the center of Chicago.
The Capitol Limited
The Capitol Limited takes 18 hours overnight from Chicago, Illinois to Washington D.C., which is the route I took. The restaurant serves good food and there are sleeper couchettes as well as reclining seats. The ticket cost $68 one way in a reclining seat, though I spent the whole night sleeping in the observation car.
The route is not as scenic as the California Zephyr to San Francisco but I wanted to do it to be able to say that I crossed the U.S. by train. Be sure to bring warm clothes whatever the weather outside though. The attendants tend to turn the air-conditioner right down day and night which made it feel like travelling in a freezer.
As we left Chicago the train was going through swathes of industrial developments. No wonder they call it the rust belt of the US. Derelict industrial estates lined both sides of the tracks, with the odd suburban housing. By midnight I was ready to sleep so I didn’t see much else until the morning. The train crossed the Appalachian Mountains overnight. By around 7 o’clock in the morning the hills and forests were on either side of the train.
This was the first time I saw the East coast. We crossed some marvellous towns built in the New England style – seeing it for the first time in the fog and mist gave it a nice mystical feel. It reminded me a lot to parts (real) England and some regions of Transylvania.
Pulling Into DC
We arrived in Washington D.C. on time at 1 pm. The station looked absolutely huge and as soon as I walked out I headed to the Capitol Hill. But I will tell you more about that in another post.