Boy Scout Troop 68:
1986 Philmont Journal
The alarm went off at 2:30 am. It went off
at 2:36. At 2:46 I decided to get out of bed. After all, Jeff would be
picking me up shortly before three thirty to take me to the Schofield
John Schofield had volunteered to to take us to the train station in
We were the first to arrive at Schofield’s. As we
transferred our gear from Mike’s car to John’s car The Wensmanns’
up. Shortly after that came the Schnell’s. I thought it to be humorous
that the Scout who lived the closest was the last to arrive.
We left Melrose shortly after 3:30 and began the
first leg of our journey.
We wasted no time removing our gear from the car
when we arrived at the station. It was not that we were anxious to get
on the train. It was cold that morning. Inside the depot it was nice
We set our packs in the lobby. Almost immediately
the Scouts began to explore every nook and cranny in the station. John
and I checked in at the counter. The gentleman on duty took a look at
ticket and announced that we would have to check our own baggage on the
train. John and I looked at each other. Check our own? Wasn’t this like
an airline? What were we supposed to do with our packs? Put them on our
laps? Neither of us had been on a train before and this confused us.
The Scouts were looking at posters and magazines
when I opened the box of Kraft cheese and crackers and the bag of
that that were given to us by Brian’s father. It seemed to take no
then thirty seconds to divide the snacks among the members of our
Every available cubic inch of the Scouts carry on bags was filled to
What was that? A low rumbling sound! The train is
coming! Luckily, no one was standing in the way as the Scouts stampeded
to the door. There it was. The train! But wait, it’s not Amtrak. It’s a
freight train. Oh well, might as well make the best of it. We watched
go by as Jeff counted the cars.
Back inside the station we found a poster featuring
the Amtrak Superliner, a train that had two levels. The poster showed
to be a great way to travel. We hoped that, at least for a short
we would be able to travel on the train.
Once again we heard a train approaching. Once again
we ran outside. Once again we looked east down the tracks. And once
we were disappointed. The train came from the west, another freight
The ticket agent told us that the Amtrak train was
running fifteen minutes late. Shortly thereafter, we heard another
coming. This one was ours! We grabbed our packs and waited for the
to come to a stop. Our eyes opened wide when we realized we were about
to travel on Amtrak’s Superliner.
The lower level of the Superliner is used for
and other train functions. Passengers rode on the upper level. We
of our packs and talked about what lay on the road ahead of us as we
the stairs. We immediately became silent as we entered the coach car.
had forgotten what time is was. The car was dark except for the
light were someone was still awake. We found some seats and before we
it we noticed that the train was moving! We never felt the train begin
The first thing we discovered about Amtrak was the
comfortable seating that was ours to enjoy over the next twenty four
The seats reclined to a very comfortable position. A leg rest came up
under the our seat and the seat before us had a foot rest for us to
Each person also had a little table to use which was located in the
of the seat before him.
We had smooth sailing, or should I say riding, until
we arrived in Chicago. We needed to change trains for the next leg of
journey. Brian and I stayed with the gear while the rest of the group
to find food and explore the shops in the terminal. As Brain and I
an elderly gentleman approached and began talking to us. I could not
but think of the homeless people of our country as he stood there in
ragged clothes. He talked for about ten minutes and warned us about a
that was to hit Chicago that very evening. He said he could feel it in
his bones. Then suddenly, he left us to go talk to another party.
I decided to check what gate we were to be at to
board our next train. I never did find the desk at were to ask but I
find a lot more Scouts milling around the station. I also found the
of my group and got everyone back together. Luckily, as we gathered our
gear, an Amtrak employee saw us and brought us to the correct gate. It
was the same one at which we had arrived.
The gate doors opened. Nearly sixty Scouts and their
leaders grabbed their gear and began walking toward the train. There
only one problem. No one had told any Scout group what car to get onto.
We were in the middle of the line so we just followed the Scouts ahead
of us. Until they came to the front of the train. The we turned around
and followed those who were behind us, but that was not any better.
a conductor came off the train and told us were to board.
We were one of the last groups to get onto the train
so we were six of the lucky ones who did not get a seat. They had
the train. For the next five hours we were residents of the lounge car
which is a fine place to be if you did not have to be there all the
It was an uncomfortable place to stay for a lengthy amount of time.
The train began to move and left the underground
station. We stopped moving again after traveling a quarter of a mile.
was another problem. The track’s signals down the track were not
properly so we got to sit and see what must have been the beautiful
slum area for the next ninety minutes as the lights were being fixed.
It made us wonder what would happen next.
We were a few of the privileged who got to see much
of America while sitting in the train’s lounge car. It was not a good
to get some rest, especially since the lounge car was located next to
dining car. The lounge car was also the place in which movies were
over the monitors near the ceiling near each end of the car.
where we were sitting.
As we headed westward we kept losing time, arriving
later in each town. We did get some good news though. Some seats had
up in the first of the coach cars. We could move out of the lounge car
just in time to get some sleep.
It is quite nice to awaken on a train in
seat. It was even nicer when I realized that today was the day we would
arrive at Philmont Scout Ranch.
Somewhere in Colorado the trained was stopped to
add another car. We had enough time to get off the train and look
the station but not enough time to explore whatever city we happened to
be in at the moment.
Raton, New Mexico, was a site for sore eyes. We
had finally arrived. My Scouts didn’t mind that we were only three and
a half hours late. After all, we were arriving a day early. The drivers
of the buses that were to take us the last few miles to Philmont didn’t
seem to mind either, although they wasted no time loading us into the
If late arrivals were the norm for Amtrak they were probably used to
There was some excitement as we were loading the
buses. A Scout from another contingent was still on the train using a
at it began to leave the station. He decided to jump off the
and discovered that was not a great idea. When he stopped rolling he
off his clothes and checked over his newly acquired scrapes and
It was then time to move out.
As I stated earlier, I had been to Philmont once
before this trip, not for a trek, but for a scoutmaster training
Arriving at Philmont again seemed as if I were returning to see an old
friend. As we rode by the Villa Philmonte, the training center, and the
Seton Library and Museum a lot of memories rushed back to me.
We quickly unloaded our gear at the Welcome Center,
received our tent assignments, moved in, and began exploring base camp.
The first thing to find was the snack bar and trading post, of course.
We also checked out the library and museum and looked over the Villa
and training center. That evening found us once again at the snack bar.
The Scouts received their first glimpse of the world of serious patch
That night we all slept very soundly.
This was our first full day at camp. We
to take it leisurely as we checked in at the various locations around
Greg Chapman, who was assigned to be our ranger
for the next few days, met us at our tents in the morning. He helped us
with our shake down during which we divided our gear into two piles.
pile included the items we would take with us one the trail. The other
was the pile of items we would not be taking on the trail. For some
our “trail” pile was much smaller then the other pile even though we
the suggested list of items to bring to camp. Most of the items Greg
that we would need on the trail, and not need on the trail, made sense
to us. However, there were a few disagreements. Robert brought his
flashlight along, against Greg’s advice. (A few days later on the trail
we were glad that Robert decided to bring it along.)
The rest of the morning was uneventful. We checked
in at headquarters, logistics, and the medical lodge for our physical
Since I was the adult leader they even checked my blood pressure.
That afternoon we took a tour of Waite Phillip’s home, the Villa
We had walked around the grounds of the villa the day before. The
only hinted at what the inside held in store we us to see.
The first room we entered was the living room, and
what a room it was. The room itself was nearly as big as some homes I
designed for people in Melrose. The room was fitted in luxury. Before
massive fireplace laid a bear skin rug, one of Mr. Philip’s trophies.
along the west wall was an elegantly carved wooden chest depicting
of soldiers fighting a magnificent battle. A finely detailed model of a
sailing vessel was shored on top the table and looked as if it was
to head out to sea.
Then there was the piano. The do not remember the
name of it but I do remember that it was only one of four to exist in
world. Our tour guide offered one scout in the group (not one from
68) a chance to sit down and play a tune, but he declined the offered,
muttering something about not being very good. I would not have thrown
a chance like that away.
From the living room we marched up the grand
and toured the library, master bedroom and bath. Everyone seemed
to find two single beds in the master bedroom. Both beds had faces
on the headboards. One face was smiling, while the other wore a frown.
The story goes that Mrs. Phillips would chose which bed in which to
depending on her mood that evening.
The staircase leading to the lower level was almost
as elaborate as the main staircase but was finished in a completely
decor. Mr. Phillips had this level designed and furnished to his own
It was on this level the the trophy room and the “time with the boys”
The trophy room was the only room in the house where the tour groups
were allowed to touch anything, namely the stuffed animals and furs.
adults were allowed to sit in the chairs placed around the room.
A large painted portrait of Waite Phillips and his
wife still hangs at the villa. The portrait used to hang above the
in the living room until Mr. Phillips paid a visit to the ranch one
and saw it there. He asked the staff to remove it and hide it in a
somewhere. He felt that by having it viewed above the fireplace people
may feel as if they should be worshiping him.
The staff respected his wish and moved it to a large
closet on the lower level next to the trophy room, but it is still
to all who take the tour of the villa.
End of Page 2
This journal was written by Steve Borgerding and
is his property.
No part of this journal may be used without his
He can be reached through the web master of this
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