Episode 14: Coast Starlight SB: Schedules

Watch the Southbound Coast Starlight as it leaves Seattle for all points South along the Pacific Coast.  Learn how to practice vocabulary associated with our unit on Trains and Railroads. Also learn to tame the Amtrak time tables.  Host John Letz will walk you through some of them so you can better plan your rail journeys in the United States. This episode was recorded on November 16, 2015

To watch Episode 14, click here.

Coast Starlight
One of Southern Pacific’s Daylight Trains. It’s a great example of a streamliner.

You can also watch Episode 14 with ads, click here.

To watch Episode 14 in segments, click on the desired segment below:

Segment 1

Segment 2

Segment 3

In Episode 14, we began our Southbound journey aboard the Coast Starlight, leaving Seattle and traveling South as far as Eugene.  We saw some awesome views of Seattle on Puget Sound, Mt. Hood, the Columbia River, and we paid a visit to Portland and to Historic Fort Vancouver – where the “Father of Oregon” John McLaughlin welcomed Oregon Trail pioneers to the British-held Hudson’s Bay Company fort.

See the video Clip.

We demonstrated a card match game to help with unit vocabulary, concepts, and comprehension.  Viewers got to quiz themselves for 3 questions, then learn how to lay the cards out for a game of concentration.  This follows last weeks card match, joining unit pictures with the English words.

Here are some of the match-ups:

This is the only part of the train that makes it move.  It’s where all the power comes from.

This Railroad worker is in charge of the whole train.

This Railroad worker moves the switch so the train can switch tracks.

This freight car has a low profile.  It often carries trailers for semi-trucks.  Sometimes it carries freight containers.

This railroad worker drives the train.

This railroad car has doors on the side.  It has a the shape of a rectangular prism.

This rail car is cylinder-shaped.  It transports liquids.

This rail car was on the end of freight trains in the past.

This Railroad worker is in charge of the train’s brakes.

This rail car is loaded from the top and unloaded through the bottom.

This rail car has short walls and it opens at the top.  It carries heavy materials.

This rail worker controls which train is allowed on each section of track.

Matching words:

Engineer, dispatcher, locomotive, brakeman, caboose, conductor, gondola, switcher, hopper, flat car, tank car, box car, engineer.

See if you can match the words with the descriptions.  Look up the words in a dictionary if you need too.  If you match them correctly, make cards and lay them out as shown in the program.  This way you can practice until the meaning come quickly to your mind.


The objective – besides learning games to reinforce unit knowledge and vocabulary – was to read and understand a train timetable written in English.  We provided a “tour” of the train schedule, pointing out where to find the information critical for reserving and taking your rail journey on Amtrak. We also had viewers hear a short opinion by the host about the merits of Amtrak.

Academic Content Objectives

Geography: Name two large cities in the Pacific Northwest through which the Coast Starlight travels. Name the body of water shared by the cities of Seattle and Tacoma. Identify the river that forms the border between Oregon and Washington.  Name two mountains in the Cascade range that are visible to passenger aboard the Coast Starlight. Transportation:  Match up train cars with their function.  Identify various railroad personnel positions and describe what they do. History: Identify the fort from which the Hudson’s Bay Company controlled the Pacific Northwest fur trade.  Explain the role played by Fort Vancouver and its chief factor in the settlement of the Oregon Territory by citizens of the United States. Conjecture why Chief Factor John McLaughlin assisted settlers from the United States despite that settlement being detrimental to the interests of the HBC and England. Explain how the beaver fur trade worked in the Pacific Northwest region.

Bonus Video: As promised, here’s a bonus video of the Coast Starlight Northbound.  It includes the three video clips from Los Angeles to Seattle featured in previous episodes, plus some extra footage, including the stunning Crater Lake and the often-wild Rogue River.

Click here to enjoy our bonus video.


Make index cards of the words and descriptions listed above. Lay out the cards as shown in the episode and play a game of concentration. Play the game a few times until you become more familiar with the meanings of the words. Just set aside those that you can’t figure out. Feel free to watch the episode again to match the pairs you couldn’t in the earlier game.

Next Episode

Join us in Episode 15 when we complete the Southbound journey of the Coast Starlight into Los Angeles.  You’ll see gray whales breaching in the Pacific Ocean.