Southern Pacific Shasta Daylight

SHASTADAYLIGHT1Climbing over Cascasde Summit, the highest point on the Oakland to Portland route. Photo by Sandy Goodrick, reproduced here from Mike Schafer and Joe Welsh, Classic American Streamliners.  Southern Pacific introduced the Shasta Daylight in 1949, 13 years after the introduction of the Daylight on the LA-San Franscisco run.SHASTADAYLIGHT3oSeen northbound at the Pit River Bridge on Shasta Lake in 1955. Photo also by Goodrick and reproduced here from Classic American Streamliners.

Below, from my brochure collection, a leaflet about the train, undated but after the dome lounge was added in the mid-fifties.









Below is the cover and a page about the train from a route guide dated 10/17/63. Notice that by this time the diesel depicted was in the new red front, gray body color scheme. Also notice that as late as 1963, Southern Pacific was still publishing such promotional material, even though the railroad was eliminating passenger trains as fast as it could. There was a paradoxical aspect to Southern Pacific’s behavior in the later years in that, even when it was actively trying to get rid of passengers, its trains that I road (Lark, Coast Daylight, Sunset/Golden State, when they were combined for half their journeys) left LA spotless inside and out. I suspect this reflected mid-level passenger operations folks who had always taken pride in their trains and managed to continue to do a good job.




Seen below stopped at Dunsmuir, California, 1957, photo by John Dziobko, reproduced here from Classic American Streamliners.


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The California Zephyr at Grand Junction, Colorado: quintessential summer railroading from the late 1940s until now

CZgrandjunctionTwice a year, Christmastime and summertime, I ride across country by train. I savor the full day on board between Chicago or New Orleans and the West Coast. Whether I’m going over Raton Pass, New Mexico or looking out the window as the train stops at Alpine, Texas, the ‘mountain town’ on the Sunset Route, or crossing the heart of the Colorado Rockies or riding along the southern boarder of Glacier National Park, Montana, riding through mountains in the summer is a part of what makes summer ‘summer’ for me.

Visible in this view of the Zephyr, on Rio Grande rail here, are the dome buffet lounge car and, ahead of it, three dome coaches. Behind the buffet lounge is the diner, a string of sleepers (usually four until the consist was lengthened in the later years) and the dome observation lounge.


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The Via Canadian takes the route of the Canadian National Super Continental

SUPERCONTINENTALThrough the heart of the Rockies today’s Canadian doesn’t take the route of its Canadian Pacific namesake, but instead the more northerly route of Canadian National’s Super Continental, stopping at Jasper rather than Banff.  In this scene, produced here from a Vanishing Vistas post card and credited as a Canadian National photograph, the Super Continental is in Fraser Canyon on the stretch of the journey between Vancouver and Kamloops, Jct.


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Frisco timetable, November 1960: front cover, back cover with add for the Kansas-City Florida Special, and map

FRISCOtimetable FRISCOtimetableback FRISCOtimetablemap

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Frisco Texas Special diesels, brand new in La Grange, Illinois, 1947

FRISCOTEXASSPECIALReproduced here from a Vanishing Vista’s post card, the photo is credited to the Electro-Motive Division of General Motors.

The Texas Special was streamlined in the late forties and competed with Missouri Pacific’s Texas Eagle. The Texas Special carried an observation lounge three nights out of four, with a lounge car running  instead on that night.

The train was run jointly with MKT (Katy), which took it over in Oklahoma. Frisco also ran the Kansas City-Florida Special, a joint operation with the Southern Railway which took it over in Birmingham, so  from Missouri Frisco reached deep into Texas and, at one time, as far south in Florida as Miami. (The through sleepers from Kansas City were carried at varying times by Seaboard and by the Florida East Coast for the journey below Jacksonville, where Southern’s track ended.)


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Frisco Meteor arriving St. Louis

FRISCOmeteorBN&ITSHERITAGEAs the caption to this photo from Steve Glischinski’s Burlington Northern and Its Heritage says, the Meteor is reduced to mostly headend traffic by the time this summer 1965 photo was taken by Jim Boyd. Inaugurated in the late forties, the train was a streamliner with a seven o’clock departure from St. Louis for Tulsa and Oklahoma City. An observation lounge diner trailed its sleepers.


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Frisco’s Kansas City Florida Special arriving Kansas City


The caption to this photo from David R. Sweetland’s Wabash in Color says this is the KC-Florida Special leaving KC, but I think it’s arriving. At least according to my May 1964 Official Guide and my November 1960 Frisco schedule, the KC-Florida Special left KC at elevenish at night. This photo was taken on Feb. 17, 1963, according to the caption.

At its height the KC-Florida Special carried through sleepers from KC to Miami, although most of the train terminated at Jacksonville. A Frisco lounge and diner ran from KC to Birmingham. The train was never streamlined, although it carried some streamlined cars.

Today’s Amtrak Crescent follows the route of the KC-Florida Special from Birmingham to Atlanta. During the Special’s life, the other important train on Southern’s track between Birmingham and Atlanta was the Southerner. The Crescent at that time used L&N’s route in and out of New Orleans, and used Southern only between Atlanta and Washington, DC.

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