RUE Episode 15 Amtrak History

Amtrak Historyt
Portland’s distinctive Train Station predates Amtrak History. It servers Amtrak’s Empire Builder, Cascades, and the Coast Starlight. It’s over 100 years-old.

Let’s celebrate Amtrak history in this episode, while learning to recognize opinions and express a few opinions of our own. We focus on Amtrak’s 40th anniversary and consider what a blessing Amtrak has been to rail passengers in the United States.  Click here to see the entire episode.

If you’re watching by segments, click on the segment below that you ant to watch:

Segment One

Segment Two

Segment Three

We continue our Southbound journey aboard the Coast Starlight, traveling through Oregon and California.  We pass through scenic Pasa Robles , Cuesta Pass, and the edge of the Pacific Ocean.  This is the episode where we see migrating gray whales from the train. This episode was produced on December 3, 2015.

We also explore some Amtrak history from a book published during Amtrak’s 40th anniversary.  We’ll hear and see the use of past tense verbs and host John Letz models expressing an opinion.

Language Learning: Expressing your opinion can be tricky in English, but using phases like: In my opinion, It seems to me, From my perspective; writers and speakers can share their view of things without being tied to objective facts.  It’s also important to learn these cues that someone speaking or writing is not being impartial; rather they’re expressing their opinions. It’s important to know the difference between expressing opinions and presenting facts.  Think of PBS as striving to present objective facts.  Note that Fox “news” makes no such attempt, although they often present opinions in the guise of reporting facts.  It’s a tricky world.  Hopefully, some of these cues will help you make the important distinction between opinions and facts, which is a tall order as you struggle to improve your English listening, reading, and writing skills.

Video Clips:

Click here to view part 2 of the Coast Starlight Southbound.

Click here to view part 3 of the Coast Starlight Southbound.

Bonus Video:

Click here to view our Bonus Video: Coast Starlight Southbound Long

Language Objectives:

Recognize and understand past tense verbs. (This lesson models a great number of past tense verbs.)

Distinguish between opinions and facts by recognizing the language associated with expressing an opinion.

Academic Content Objectives

American History/Technology/Economics: Locate in time the eras of private railroad passenger service and the inception of Amtrak.

Explain the causes of the decline in passenger railroad service in the United States and the results of actions by the U.S. Congress to address that decline.  Trace the evolution of Amtrak from its inception until it’s 40th anniversary. Distinguish opinion from fact by recognizing signal words and other language usage. Demonstrate the role of technology in the decline of passenger railroad service form the 1950s until the birth of Amtrak.


List 5 things you learned about the history of Amtrak.  Watch the video clips we used or the entire episode if you need to do so. Write the 5 facts in your notebook.

Next Episode

Click on the Episode 16. page to see our next episode of Ramping Up your English.