Book LookMovie & VideosThe ArtsGamesCrossword

Book Look

‘Great American Rail Journeys’

[MARCH 21, 2001]   Great American Rail Journeys." John Grant, Globe Pequot Press, 2000, 195 pages.

"You leave the Pennsylvania station ’bout a quarter to four,

read a magazine and then you’re in Baltimore,

Dinner in the diner, nothing could be finer

than to have your ham ’n eggs in Carolina,

When you hear the whistle blowin’ eight to a bar,

Then you know that Tennessee is not very far."

— "Chattanooga Choo-Choo," by Mack Gordon and Harry Warren

A celebration of the "beauty, history, and romance of railway travel," John Grant’s "Great American Rail Journeys" is the companion book to the PBS series of the same name. The book is a catalog of rarely seen glimpses of America and showcases "eight of America’s most scenic and historically rich landscapes." Those landscapes are an integral part of the book’s appeal. According to Grant, "With train travel, the going is as important as the getting there."


The book is divided into eight sections; each section represents a rail journey in a different part of North America.

The first begins in Alaska on The Alaskan Railroad. This 356-mile trip between Anchorage and Fairbanks is a daylight adventure that takes about 12 hours to complete. Travelers can plan their own multi-day itinerary with overnight stops in the frontier town of Talkeetna or Denali National Park.

Amtrak’s The Adirondack travels a 400-mile route from New York to Montreal and includes 18 regularly scheduled stops. The scenic highlights of this trip include the historic landmarks and architectural attractions of the Hudson River Valley, the awe-inspiring beauty of the Adirondack Mountains and tranquil Lake Champlain.

The Sierra Madre Express of Mexico’s Copper Canyon is a south-of-the-border treat certain to please any seasoned traveler. The train traverses a 1,300-mile route through the heart of the Sierra Madre range and the Copper Canyon. Elevations up to 8,000 feet combine with spectacular vistas accessible only by train, making this a truly memorable detrip. The route of the Sierra Madre Express (eight days and seven nights) offers the chance to visit Mexican villages, interact with the local Tarahumara Indians and experience the extraordinary scenery of this jewel of the Mexican desert.


The Rockies by Rail’s American Orient Express is a 238-mile trek through two of the premier national parks in the lower 48 states. Leaving from Denver, the train follows the Colorado River as it winds its way through the western countryside. Luxury is the order of the day on this train; vintage Pullman cars offer the finest in sleeping, dining, and observation. According to Grant the first day’s travel between Denver and Salt Lake City "goes through the heart of the Colorado Rockies…it is one of the best one day train adventures in North America."



[to top of second column in this review]


North of Mexico’s Copper Canyon train is The Canadian Rockies’ Skeena, one of Canada’s best passenger trains. Traveling 720 miles from Jasper, in the province of Alberta, to the Pacific Ocean port of Prince Rupert, the Skeena travels through some of the most spectacular wilderness scenery on the North American continent. As with other trips, passengers can make numerous multi-day stopovers and enjoy such activites as fishing, biking, hiking and sightseeing. Opportunities for wildlife viewing and interaction with the native cultures are also abundant.

Back in the continental United States, Amtrak’s The Coast Starlight travels almost 1,400 miles over a two-day period from Los Angeles, Calif., to Seattle, Wash. In addition to making over two dozen stops along the way, the Coast Starlight travels through some gorgeous West Coast coastal scenery. Especially noteworthy is the ride along California’s Pacific Ocean beaches and valleys. As the train heads toward Oregon and Washington the scenery transforms into thick forests and breathtaking mountain heights.


The American South by Rail’s American Orient Express is another luxury train where no expense has been spared. The restored cars include sleeping accommodations that serve as a reminder of the trains of the 1940s and 50s. Beginning in New Orleans and ending in Washington, D.C., this 1,400-mile trek passes through eight different states and makes regular stops in several famous Southern cities.

The author concludes with Alaska’s Gold Rush Train, The White Pass & Yukon Route, a train that offers two different trips from Skagway: a short three-hour trip to White Pass Summit and a longer eight-hour trip to Lake Bennett. The appeal of this train is the path that it follows — the same path used by those caught up in the gold rush fever of the 1880s. Recreations of frontier life and abandoned gold rush sites await the historically inclined traveler. As with other train riding experiences in Alaska, the incredible scenery is one of the highlights of this trip.

"Great American Rail Journeys" is a wonderful source of information for planning a railroad-style vacation. The photography of the different vistas offered by these trips is stunning and makes casual browsing a joy. In this quotation from the book, Southern folklorist Nick Spitzer captures the charm of riding the rails: "You’re moving at a wonderfully mellow pace across the landscape. You see the backs of yards, you see…fishing camps, you see little dance halls and honky tonks in the crossroads of towns." This book is highly recommended to anyone who is planning a rail vacation or enjoys books on trains.

For more information visit the library at 725 Pekin St. or call 217-732-8878.

[Richard Sumrall, Lincoln Public Library District]

It's Tax Time

Come see the tax professionals at

Meier Accounting

and Tax Service

Dale Meier, Enrolled Agent

519 Pulaski, Lincoln


Tell a friend about

Lincoln Daily

Blue Dog Inn
111 S. Sangamon

Open for Lunch  Mon.-Sat.
Open for Dinner  Tues.-Sat.

Click here to view our
menu and gift items

Movies & Videos

‘The Contender’

Released on video Tuesday, March 6, 2001

Rated R     Approx 127 Minutes     DreamWorks Home Entertainment -2000

Written and directed by Rod Lurie


Jeff Bridges

Christian Slater

Sam Elliot

Joan Allen

Gary Oldman (also the executive producer)


This movie uses graphic language to describe sexual scenes and presents some nudity.

[MARCH 10, 2001]  The box said “two thumbs up” and “Thriller!”

In recent years, the "two thumbs up" endorsement has meant that I probably was going to find the movie to be a loser. "Thriller" usually means I may endure it but I’m probably not going to be thrilled with it.

However, in the case of "The Contender," both my thumbs are up too, and I am indeed thrilled.

"The Contender" is a gritty movie, a political "action" film of sorts. It is a thriller because you don’t have a clear shot at the plot until it is finally revealed for you. At the end, you look back on the film and say, "Yeah, I should’ve seen that coming."

"The Contender" is gritty because it focuses on a dirty fight between political rivals to appoint a new vice president of the United States. The president (played very aptly by Jeff Bridges) selects a woman, Sen. Lane Hanson of Ohio (Joan Allen), for the job, against the advice of party officials and his own advisers. The previous vice president died somehow in office — but "The Contender" never tries to explain his passing.

The whole plot is wrapped up in the confirmation hearings and the process of bringing an appointee to office or sending ’em off packing.

Gary Oldman plays Sheldon Runyon, the Republican chairman of the selection committee. The highly respected, powerful senator seems bent on not only denying the president his day in the sun but also destroying the very career of Sen. Hanson.


[to top of second column in this review]

Two things about this movie made a good impression on me.

First, the acting was excellent. Oldman plays a perfect bad guy in this film (he seems to have the bad-guy act down pat). Jeff Bridges, who I thought incapable of playing a convincing president, stepped up to the plate and delivered. Christian Slater played the part of a freshman congressman who was seeking to do the right thing on principle, and was perfectly cast for the part. Finally, Joan Allen was wonderful in her portrayal of the contender under siege.

Second, the plot was dynamite. This movie seems to make you move away from certain characters and make certain assumptions, but you find yourself making a couple of 90 degree turns before it’s done. In the spirit of "The West Wing," it is full of political intrigue and the power of the Washington scene. "The Contender" is a film about respect and dignity and the rocky road to realizing those two values.

The first hour of the movie has a single weakness: The lack of actors on the set portraying political operatives, appointees, devotees and those holding office makes you believe the story less. They needed a fuller cast to make it seem like Washington and government.

This is not a partisan film about the usual struggle between Republicans and Democrats. Instead it is a story about the dynamics of power, accusation and truth.

So, I recommend this film to you if you enjoy a good thriller, if you enjoy stories about the political struggles of this nation and if you like a good fiction about how truth prevails.

I give it 3½ stars (out of five).


The Arts

LCT scholarship applications available

[MARCH 23, 2001]  To foster local talent, Lincoln Community Theatre will award a $500 theater arts scholarship to a Logan County graduating high school senior who plans to attend Lincoln College.

Scholarship applications are available from area high school guidance counselors or by contacting Connie DiLillo, LCT scholarship chairman at 732-7859. Completed applications must be postmarked no later than April 27.

[LCT news release]


2201 Woodlawn Rd. in Lincoln
1-888-455-4641 or 735-5400
Ask for Terry Lock or Sharon Awe

Mortgage Refinancing
Ag Lines of Credit
Low Auto Rates
Free Checking - Debit Card
Money Market Index Account

Claire's Needleworks
and Frame Shop
"We Frame It All"
On the square
M-F 10-5  Sat 10-4

Tell a friend about

Lincoln Daily

LCT chooses summer production staff

[MARCH 12, 2001]  Lincoln Community Theatre has announced the 2001 summer production staff.

The first production, "You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown," which runs from June 8 through 16, was selected in celebration of LCT’s 30th anniversary season. This musical was the first performance offered by Lincoln Community Theatre during the organization’s first season in 1971.

The 2001 production will be directed by Sean-Edward Hall of Springfield. Wayne Mara of Lincoln has been hired as technical director, with Jason Yarcho, also of Lincoln, as accompanist and orchestra director. Lights and sound will be managed by Stuart Wyneken of Lincoln.

The July 13 through 21 comedy, "Moon Over Buffalo," will be directed by Jerry Dellinger of Lincoln. He will also serve as lighting director. Technical director will be Max Levendel of Bloomington.

[to top of second column in this article]

LCT’s final production, "The Wiz," will be directed by Tracy Tiritilli of Bloomington, with husband Mark Tiritilli serving as technical director. The show will run Aug. 3 through 11. Yarcho will again serve as musical accompanist, and Wyneken will handle lighting and sound.

LCT also plans a children’s play this summer. Performances will be June 28 through July 1.

For more information see the LCT website,

[LCT news release]


Theatre 7 chooses cast members

[MARCH 3, 2001]  Theatre 7 – Decatur’s Community Theatre has selected cast members for its production of the comedy "Dearly Departed." The show is about a colorful but dysfunctional Southern family coming together to hilarious results when its patriarch, "Bud," passes away.

"Dearly Departed" is being directed by Joe Straka, with Penny Williams as assistant director

Cast members and the characters they play are as follows: Nancy Jo Batman, Raynelle; Shawn Becker, RayBud; Lesa Andrick, Lucille; James Graham, Junior; Tish Duis, Suzanne; Pam Stinson, Marguerite; Tom Morrow, Royce; Carl Sebens, Reverend Hooker; Karen Becker, Veda; John Dunn, Norval/Clyde; Julie Lycan, Nadine; Heather Jewell, Juanita; and Penny Williams, Delightful.

Tickets go on sale to the general public starting Monday, March 5, at the Decatur Civic Center Box Office, 422-6161.

Performance dates for "Dearly Departed" at the Decatur Civic Center Theater will be March 30-31 and April 6-7 at 7:30 p.m. and April 1 and 8 at 2 p.m.

[Theatre 7 news release]

Lincoln Community Theatre website

Lincoln Community Theatre’s (LCT) website is up and available. The site serves a number of functions, from providing information on becoming a season ticket holder to showing what new productions are being planned for next season. It lists everything one wants to know about LCT — except the scripts. The top of the page lists those already involved in the theatre and announces any paid or unpaid positions, which are still available. Audition dates are also listed for prospective actors.

The site also links to Gus Gordon Productions and Grand Ball Costumes. Gus Gordon produces plays all over central Illinois, and the site lists the upcoming plays. Grand Ball Costumes rents costumes here in central Illinois for plays, Halloween, weddings, birthdays or any other occasion.

A little farther down, the site offers information on upcoming plays, admission prices and season ticket prices. Presently, LCT’s website is displaying pictures of recent performances: "Annie" and "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum."

If you are interested in joining a performance or just going to see one, visit LCT’s website at, e-mail LCT at, or write to Lincoln Community Theatre, P.O. Box 374, Lincoln, IL  62656.


Back to top


News | Sports | Business | Rural Review | Teaching & Learning | Home and Family | Obituaries

Community | Perspectives | Law & Courts | Leisure Time | Spiritual Life | Health & Fitness | Letters to the Editor