CHICAGO (CBS) — The last time there was a total solar eclipse visible coast-to-coast in the United States was 1918, which might explain the hype for Monday’s eclipse.

Hundreds of people from the Chicago area boarded a special Amtrak train bound for Carbondale on Monday, to see the total eclipse where it will last the longest.

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The specially scheduled trip sold out in less than a day.

About 400 people woke up long before they’ll see the sun to hop on the 3 a.m. Eclipse Express at Union Station. The train will pick up about 55 more passengers in Champaign before arriving in Carbondale.

Passengers said the trip was so convenient, they couldn’t imagine missing out on a piece of history almost in their back yards.

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“When Amtrak announced it, we thought it was a great idea; and going down and coming back in a day is great,” Tim Costello said. “It’s going to be a great experience to see a total eclipse; everything being quiet, and things getting dark, and things like that is just once in a lifetime.”

Christine Chavez said she’s glad to be heading to Carbondale, given that clouds might obscure the eclipse in Chicago.

“We’re actually doing it, because my daughter is really into space; and she’s been wanting to go ahead and see the eclipse, because she heard about it in school,” she said. “It’s definitely a one-in-a-lifetime opportunity, especially for my family. So we’re very excited, and excited that my daughter gets to experience this as well.”

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Amtrak also had a train bound for Quincy, Illinois, leaving Chicago at 7:35 a.m. Although Quincy is outside the path of totality, it will be closer to a total eclipse than Chicago.