Sunset - The Rail Thing

Picture a train trip in the United States and invariably you envision the familiar red, white and blue of the nation’s well- meaning but joyless government-run passenger train system. Bland, uncomfortable, inexplicably inferior to that ride you once took in Europe -- we've accepted Amtrak as the reality of contemporary rail travel in this country. Turns out it's just one reality.

An odd parallel universe quietly chugs between our cities and across our fruited plains, little known except to railroad buffs. With a little research, that universe can be yours -- that dreary ride an unforgettable adventure, that overpriced warm soda a chilled martini. You've heard of private jets. Welcome to private trains.

Photographed for Sunset Magazine in California and Nevada.
Text by Chris Colin.