One of the great advantages of traveling by train is being able to sit back and admire the scenery. Just in time for fall, as the leaves begin to change colors, Amtrak has announced the reintroduction of the historic Great Dome Car, a lounge car built by the Budd Company in 1955. The fleet, which included six cars, was purchased by Amtrak in 1971. Two, the Downeaster and the Adirondack, remain in service today.
The top levels of the glass-roofed cars have windows on every side, including the ceiling, to offer breathtaking panoramic views from all angles. The Downeaster will run from Brunswick to Portland to Boston from August 11 to September 23, making its first trip to Maine. The train will make four trips each day. The route will offer passengers panoramic views of picturesque villages, coastline, marshes, streams and landscapes along the Downeaster route.
The Adirondack will run from September 27 to November 2 from Albany, New York to Montreal, Canada, traveling through the Adirondack Mountains, where the foliage is particularly spectacular in the fall. Passengers will also enjoy views Lake Champlain on their way to Montreal.
According to Andrew Frey, who took the Adirondack Great Dome Car last year, “The ride north from Albany was inimitable. Three Trails & Rails volunteers from the National Park Service gave commentary about such sites as the Erie Canal, Fort Ticonderoga, Mount Independence as we passed them. I felt like I was in a museum on wheels.
“Outside, an amalgamation of orange, gold, and red rushed past us, transforming the panoramic windows into a kaleidoscope of autumn hues. A clear day, the vistas across Lake Champlain into Vermont were incredible! The ride was thrilling at times, too, especially as the train crept along a steep cliff, hugging the lake.”
Tickets will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis, therefore travelers are advised to arrive early to secure a seat. Passengers are encouraged to change seats often, giving others a chance to experience the scenery from a different perspective.
Wayne Davis, chairman of Trainriders Northeast, says the Downeaster is America’s most charming train, adding that passengers have the opportunity to make friends aboard. “Rail travel brings people together, and the dome car is a nice feature to have here in Maine,” he said. “It’s an amenity. It convinces people ’Well, we haven’t been to Boston for a while, let’s take the dome car, it will be fun, let’s take the kids.”