Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search


Stateside: Fort Worth to Oklahoma City

Stateside with Rosalea

Fort Worth to Oklahoma City

[Part 5 of an account of my summer vacation.]

The once-a-day Heartland Flyer trip between Fort Worth and Oklahoma City is one of the few Amtrak routes that make money instead of losing it Service is financed through funds made available by the Oklahoma Department of Transportation, and the train leaves Oklahoma City at 9 in the morning, getting in to Fort Worth at 1:40 in the afternoon, leaving for the return trip at 6 pm.

I caught the train on a Sunday evening and discovered that if I'd gone on it the night before I would have been treated to a murder mystery called "A Deadly Train of Thought" put on by some interstate thespians, one of whom had written it as well. He's an associate producer for a morning news programme on an Oklahoma City TV channel, and some other cast members were journalists.

Morose at having missed some local entertainment, I comforted myself with the irresistibly titled "Pastry Product of the Year" that I'd bought from the vending machine in Fort Worth station: Mrs Freshley's Jumbo Honey Bun. I fat right in, you might say, as the prime topic in the seats around me was food.

The elderly lady behind me said she was going to make some beets and cornbread or fried potatoes when she got home (at 11 o'clock at night), and the friendly Mexican couple opposite kept sharing their food and proud tales of their 22-year-old daughter who had just finished a degree and is about to go off to Africa to be a missionary.

At Ardmore OK the guard announced "We're stopping for two - t-w-o - minutes and it's your only chance to have a smoke, so inhale deeply and don't talk." There were oil horses out in the fields earlier, and just out of Ardmore I spied a gas flare and an oil derrick away in the distance.

Everyone on the train seemed to have cellphones which - blissfully - kept cutting out. "I'm in the mountains and I can't hear you," shouted the grandchild of the woman behind me into her cellphone. I looked for mountains but couldn't see any. Just some gentle rolling countryside, quite heavily forested. That's how flat this part of the country is!

If the constant chatter of cellphone users wasn't enough, there are more than 200 rail crossings between Fort Worth and Oklahoma City. Rail tracks have a trip wire about 1400 feet from each of those crossings that set off the bells, lights, and gates. It also alerts the engine driver to one of his chores. I'll let you do the arithmetic, but I reckon you could cook about a gross-and-a-half of perfect soft-boiled eggs, one after the other, on that trip using the train whistle as an egg-timer!

When we arrived in OKC I soon discovered why so many seemingly poor people on the train had cellphones. Payphones were very few and far between, and when I finally found one to call a cab to get to my hotel, I was accosted by a down-on-their luck couple begging for money. If I hadn't looked so down on my luck myself - having just traipsed 14 blocks on a hot humid Oklahoma night, batting off insects as big as my fist while I kept to whatever lighted footpath I could find - I think they would have robbed me.

More next week... but if you want to read more about Amtrak and which of its routes are profitable, you can't do better than the excellent feature the Christian Science Monitor did in May 2002, at

© Scoop Media

Top Scoops Headlines


Werewolf: Living With Rio’s Olympic Ruins

Mariana Cavalcanti Critics of the Olympic project can point a discernible pattern in the delivery of Olympics-related urban interventions: the belated but rushed inaugurations of faulty and/or unfinished infrastructures... More>>

Live Blog On Now: Open Source//Open Society Conference

The second annual Open Source Open Society Conference is a 2 day event taking place on 22-23 August 2016 at Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington… Scoop is hosting a live blog summarising the key points of this exciting conference. More>>



Gordon Campbell: On The Politicising Of The War On Drugs In Sport

It hasn’t been much fun at all to see how “war on drugs in sport” has become a proxy version of the Cold War, fixated on Russia. This weekend’s banning of the Russian long jumper Darya Klishina took that fixation to fresh extremes. More>>


Binoy Kampmark: Kevin Rudd’s Failed UN Secretary General Bid

Few sights are sadder in international diplomacy than seeing an aging figure desperate for honours. In a desperate effort to net them, he scurries around, cultivating, prodding, wishing to be noted. Finally, such an honour is netted, in all likelihood just to shut that overly keen individual up. More>>

Open Source / Open Society: The Scoop Foundation - An Open Model For NZ Media

Access to accurate, relevant and timely information is a crucial aspect of an open and transparent society. However, in our digital society information is in a state of flux with every aspect of its creation, delivery and consumption undergoing profound redefinition... More>>

Keeping Out The Vote: Gordon Campbell On The US Elections

I’ll focus here on just two ways that dis-enfranchisement is currently occurring in the US: (a) by the rigging of the boundary lines for voter districts and (b) by demanding elaborate photo IDs before people are allowed to cast their vote. More>>

Ramzy Baroud: Being Black Palestinian - Solidarity As A Welcome Pathology

It should come as no surprise that the loudest international solidarity that accompanied the continued spate of the killing of Black Americans comes from Palestine; that books have already been written and published by Palestinians about the plight of their Black brethren. In fact, that solidarity is mutual. More>>


Get More From Scoop

Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news