Yes, it is official. The Coronavirus vaccine is out and in the distribution phase. Relief couldn’t come soon enough. That’s an understatement. There are still millions of Americans who are looking forward to traveling once the vaccine has been vastly distributed. Amtrak passengers certainly cannot wait to hit the rails again. For the first time since the dreaded pandemic began, avid riders can take to the rails and enjoy the scenery they’ve been missing throughout the past nine months. Along Amtrak’s famous Northeast Corridor between Boston and Washington, DC, there are countless highlights to be experienced. They are highlights which passengers cannot afford to fall asleep and miss during their journey. Even though Amtrak’s beloved Northeast Corridor stretches over four hundred miles, there’s a handful of sights and highlights which passengers feast their eyes on time and again. Cameras, even cell phone cameras should be kept at the ready. Below are the top five Amtrak Northeast Corridor highlights.
5) Thames River (New London, CT): The Thames River is a short river and a tidal estuary in the state of Connecticut. Whether arriving or departing New London Station, passengers gaze out their windows at this wide, majestic waterway. It flows south for 15 miles through eastern Connecticut from the junction of the Yantic River and the Shetucket River in Norwich to New London and Groton, before emptying into Long Island Sound. The Thames River watershed includes a number of smaller basins and the 80-mile-long Quinebaug River, which rises in southern Massachusetts and joins the Shetucket River about four miles northeast of Norwich.
4) Baltimore & Potomac Tunnel (Baltimore, MD): The Baltimore & Potomac (B & P) Tunnel is a double-tracked masonry arch railroad tunnel on the Northeast Corridor south of Baltimore’s Penn Station. Completed in 1873, the Baltimore & Potomac Tunnel is used by 140 Amtrak and MARC commuter trains, as well as CSX freight trains. The 7, 669 ft. tunnel passes beneath the Baltimore neighborhoods of Bolton Hill, Madison Park, and Upton. The Baltimore & Potomac Tunnel consists of three tunnels-Gilmore Street Tunnel, Wilson Street Tunnel, and John Street Tunnel. The three tunnels are separated by a pair of open-air cuts; one on Pennsylvania Avenue and the other on John Street. Even though the Baltimore & Potomac Tunnel is a bottleneck, limiting trains to 30 mph, passing through the 147 year-old tunnel provides an hora to railroad travel which passengers can’t experience anywhere else. It is a living piece of history, weaved into the excitement of traveling between New York City and Washington, DC.
3) Kingston Station (Kingston, RI): Kingston Station is a historic railroad station located approximately 35 miles south of Providence, in the village of West Kingston. Kingston is located in the town of South Kingstown, RI. Kingston Station was built in 1875 by the New York, Providence, and Boston Railroad, replacing earlier stations dating back to 1837. Kingston is served by Amtrak’s Northeast Regional trains, while Amtrak’s sleek Acela Express trains race through the station at their highest sustained speed of 150 mph.
2) Hell Gate Bridge (New York, NY): The Hell Gate Bridge, formerly known as the New York Connecting Railroad Bridge, or the East River Arch Bridge, is a 1, 017 ft. steel arch bridge in New York City. The Hell Gate Bridge carries three tracks; two on Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor and one freight track. The Hell Gate Bridge crosses the East River between Astoria, Queens and Randalls and Wards Islands in the Bronx. The red arch across the Hell Gate is the largest of three bridges that form the massive Hell Gate viaduct. Together with approaches, the Hell Gate Bridge spans 17,000 ft. Note: The designs of the Tyne Bridge in Newcastle, England and the Sydney Harbour Bridge in New South Wales, Australia, were inspired by the Hell Gate Bridge.
1) Union Station (Washington, DC): Washington Union Station is one of the country’s first great railroad terminals. It marks the southernmost point of the Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor. Designed by renowned architect, Daniel Burnham, Union station was completed in October 1907. During its heyday in the early 1940’s, Union Station was a thriving transportation hub serving up to 42,000 passengers daily. In 1964, the District of Columbia designated the building an historic landmark and in 1969 it was listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Today, Union Station is Amtrak’s northeastern hub, serving well-traveled routes including the Northeast Regional, Acela Express, Silver Star, and Silver Meteor. Union Station’s Metro subway station is the busiest subway station, handling over 150,000 commuters and passengers daily. Approaching Union Station, with an eagle’s eye, passengers can spot the dome of the Capitol building towering above the station and the Washington Monument out the right window.
The Coronavirus pandemic is slowly approaching its end. No Amtrak rider one wants to remember the grueling experience of being forced to stay home rather than riding the rails. Undoubtedly, any Amtrak journey forges great memories. Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor is a railroad traveling experience like no other. From crossing bridges such as the massive Hell Gate Bridge and passing over wide rivers such as the Thames and the Susquehanna make passengers’ jaws drop. Stopping at historic stations such as Kingston and passing through historic tunnels including the Baltimore & Potomac Tunnel make passengers gaze in awesome wonder. Upon arrival in Washington, DC, the ever so glorious Union Station makes passengers feel historic, as if they were transported back in time. Ultimately, passengers are overcome with the feeling as if they’re immersed in a Smithsonian exhibit. Whatever the highlight, whatever the location, whatever direction an Amtrak passenger may be headed, there will always be points of interest, eye-opening landmarks, and welcoming sights that make every journey the utmost surreal experience.