COMMUTERS DON'T CHECK BAGGAGE. Metra and the operators of the Ogilvie Transportation Center decided that unused space previously devoted to storage or left idle in the old North Western Terminal complex could be put to commercial use. Thus, a baggage handling area north of the commuter concourse became a French market. (Yes, Philadelphia's Reading Terminal had a produce market under that train shed years ago. It's a good idea all the same, and the commuter concourse is open again on Saturday, at least during market hours.)

The computer-controlled annunciator boards replaced some truly marvellous train indicators that for many years were re-set by hand after each train, with the hands of a clock spun to the departure time, and strips of wood with the station stops slid into slots underneath.

There's not a lot of seating, and the few tables set about the edge of the room are perilously close to the hustle of commuters rushing to their trains. On a Saturday morning, it's pretty quiet.

Because it's a Saturday morning, the stalls of the market proper get started slowly. There was coffee and French pastry to be had, if you knew where to look.

The market visit was prologue.  The weather forecast was tolerable (for once) and a train ride can be restorative.  At Union Station, a train ride to a college basketball game was in order for a number of Syracuse fans, on their way to watch their Orange play the team formerly known as the Marquette Warriors.  The spirit of Al McGuire was with Marquette, or perhaps it was the intervention of Our Lady of the Sewer Socialists.

The mosaic, a gift of several parishioners, adorns Old St. Mary's Church, which is represented along with City Hall, the Gas Light of the Weather Forecast, and the First Wisconsin office tower, blending the modern image in the iconic Italian style. She faces the Frank Zeidler Municipal Building.

My destination that afternoon was the Milwaukee School of Engineering's Grohmann Museum, a collection devoted to artistic representation of things agricultural and manual. The visiting exhibit is "Lake Boats."

Jim Brozek worked on the winter maintenance crews during the 1970s, and the Port Captain gave him permission to take photographs during breaks, and of the work, subject to safety considerations.

Presumably this occurred just before Miller Time. Mr Brozek finished his work before jihadi videos adopted this grouping as a signature style.

A needle gun is not a toy, and playing with one in front of a safety message simply shipfitter humor.

Christopher Winters also worked the Lakes.

Autumn at Johnson's Point

Edward J. Ryerson on the St. Mary's River. The photo description notes "archival inkjet print". So much for darkroom technique?

Decision time: watch the end of the basketball game at the Milwaukee Ale House, or catch an earlier train? It was not a bad day to be outside. The signage at Red Arrow Park advises that the Starbucks is open all year. The skating rink is seasonal.

Go for the early train. Amtrak Hiawatha 338, Milwaukee to Chicago, 29 January 2011: cabbage car 90224, Horizon coaches 54584, 54561, 54522, 54527, 54513, Amfleet coach 82770, Genesis 817 pushing. Temperature 31 degrees (F) and mostly cloudy, dry rail. Superintendent's watch not synchronized to a standard clock, go 2:59:16, Milwaukee airport 3:09:09 - 3:10:35, Sturtevant 3:24:36 - 3:25:20, Glenview 4:01:12 - 4:02:06, meet 7 - 27 at Edgebrook 4:08, Mayfair 4:10:43 with light braking, pass Pacific Junction 4:14:20, stop in Chicago 4:24:30. 85 Minute Train.

The Amcoach must have been sent west for some reason without a full cleaning, as a number of the seat pockets contained copies of the November-December 2010 issue of Arrive, the promotional magazine of the northeastern Acela service. Perhaps there's an opportunity for some comparative reading, as in the Cold Spring Shops stacks of stuff to be archived or tossed are magazines for some of the British and German intercity services.

The theme of the magazine is "home for the holidays", fittingly enough for trains in the Thanksgiving-Christmas time slot. Look closely at that cover.

Baltimore station, before the high level platforms and the Metroliner project, and those coaches are unmistakably P70s of The Pennsylvania Railroad.

The Milwaukee Road, er, Amtrak, delivered me to Chicago in time to catch the 4:40 to Elburn without breaking a sweat.  (Hooray for the north exit from tracks 13/15). Further north in the North Western Station, the first floor of the power house has been converted into taverns. The Iron Horse offers good beer and lots of C&NW publicity photos on the wall for those occasions when the next train is over an hour away.

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