Amtrack Road Trip - 2001
by Ann & Jake Snyder
7 p.m., Friday, January 19: All aboard for South Bend via the Lake Shore Limited! This was he fifth annual Chicagoland MG Club Amtrak Road Trip, and while it was the nearest destination to date, it was another great weekend. Getting there is half the fun. The conductors had our group pegged as soon as Roger Goebbert asked "What time do we get to Seattle?" And that was before the wine was poured. Everyone brought snacks in abundance to share. Unlike most of our events, at this one you don't have to wait for the end of the rallye to eat and share a few toasts. In addition to Roger and Shirley, this 2-day natter 'n' noggin was attended by Lana and Kori Ehmann, Deb and Bill Mennell, Carol and Dave Mullis, and Ann and Jake Snyder, all of whom took the train, and by Diana and Oscar Gonzales, who drove to South Bend. Our hotel was downtown, with an art deco lobby, indoor pool, and 50's-theme restaurant and lounge, where we ended the evening with a toast to another year of great CMGC events. From our block of rooms on the eleventh floor, the downtown area looked like a miniature Christmas village. The lighted dome of the courthouse just across the street was impressive.
Our hotel was only 5 blocks from the Studebaker National Museum. After a brisk walk, that's where we spent Saturday morning. The Studebaker Brothers Manufacturing Company was formed in 1868, but prior to that, during the Civil War, two of the four brothers operated a blacksmith shop that built wagons for the U.S. Army. So the collection of vehicles starts with the "Studebaker wheelbarrow", which earned one of the brothers enough to finance the start of the family business, and the family's Conestoga wagon. It also includes many farm wagons, buggies, surreys, and carriages, several of which were used by U.S. presidents. One wagon, made for the Columbian Exposition, is crafted of rosewood and inlaid with medals won by the company for previous vehicles.
Of the automobiles in the collection, many have been restored and donated by Studebaker Driver's Clubs from across the continent. There are various Champions, Commanders, Hawks, Avantis, Larks, and others. A canary yellow '35 Commander roadster was one of our favorites. The collection includes the last Studebaker produced, a 66 Cruiser in "Timberline Turquoise", a color that would look very nice on a GT.
Saturday afternoon, many of us visited the Northern Indiana Center for History, which is currently hosting a special Lincoln exhibit, complete with the original Emancipation Proclamation and actors playing the roles of President and Mrs. Lincoln. We also were permitted an informal tour of the Studebaker mansion, now a restaurant. We held a summit conference in the hotel to discuss our options for dinner, and then were on our way. But as we crossed the icy bridge over the St. Joseph River, we saw that the sign of the South Bend Brewing Company was dark. So dinner was at a cozy Italian trattoria, and dessert was at The Chocolate Café of the South Bend Chocolate Company. This was a trip with something for everyone! Returning to the hotel, we gathered in or around the heated pool for a while, and then the most resilient of the group met in the lounge once more, to help the barkeep close up.
Sunday morning we arrived early at the Amtrak station to find that the train was about an hour behind schedule. So we looked at timetables and began thinking about possibilities for next year's trip. And we nearly finished the snacks on our way back to Chicago.
For more on the Studebaker Museum, visit
where you'll see that canary yellow roadster.