New York Central Christmas ad, Milwuakee Road snowbound, and the California Zephyr on a New Year’s Day

Wishing each of you happy holidays and safe travels.


The ad above appeared in a National Geographic magazine.

The Milwaukee Journal photo below was taken during the blizzard of January 29, 1947. The photo is reproduced here from the book Milwaukee Road Remembered, Jim Scribbins.

The photo at bottom is from a promotional flyer in my private collection. It is captioned:

“At the dawn of a New Year, a dazzling winter wonderland unfolds for passengers on the Vista-Dome California Zephyr, en route to California via Rio Grande’s scenic main line through the Rockies.”





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Pennsylvania Broadway Limited, 1948

As a kid, I wrote to railroads and asked for pictures of their trains. A stamp on the back of this photo says: “Kaufman and Fabry Co., Commercial Photographers, Tel. HArr 7-3135, 425 So. Wab. Ave., Chicago.” Penciled in on a blank marked “No.” is “48-1347.” I surmise it was taken in 1948. That it is the Broadway Limited is merely an educated guess.


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The Wabash Midnight and its St.Louis-Chicago competitors, the Gulf, Mobile & Ohio Midnight Special and the Illinois Central Night Diamond


You’re a Washington University student heading from St. Louis home to Chicago for Thanksgiving 1951. Wabash doesn’t have a day train after the noon Banner Blue, but you could catch the GM&O Ann Rutledge at 4:30 or the IC Daylight at 4:45, only your part-time job keeps you in St. Louis till 9:00. So you’ll take an upper berth. You can choose between the Wabash Midnight, the GM&O Midnight Special or the IC Night Diamond, all leaving St. Louis close to midnight and getting you to Chicago before 7:00 am, in plenty of time for the holiday.

I spent a number of Thanksgivings commuting from Washington, DC, to New York City, and on a few of those northbound Wednesday journeys I opted for what Amtrak called the “Executive Sleeper,” a car dropped at New York in the middle of the night by the DC-Boston Night Owl. I could stay in my roomette until 7:00 in the morning. I’m grateful that I had the chance to experience that kind of short-hop sleeper service and for my memory of the holiday feel as I boarded a Night Owl that included three sleepers filled with Thanksgiving-bound travelers.

My November 1951 Official Guide doesn’t give car numbers for the St. Louis-Chicago sleepers, but my June 1954 Guide does. At that time, ten sleepers left each city for the other, 4 on Wabash, 4 on GM&O, and 2 on IC. The Wabash Midnight also carried a Decatur set-out sleeper to and from Chicago, and the GM&O and IC alternated month-to-month in carrying a Springfield, IL set-out from Chicago.

The photo above, a September 1960 shot of the Midnight arriving St. Louis, is from Wabash in Color, David R. Sweetland.

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Amtrak Thanksgiving 2014 timetable, front and back covers

I depart from “streamliner memories” because I thought those of you not on the corridor might not see this holiday timetable with its pleasing photographs.



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Baltimore and Ohio all-coach Columbian, late 1940s/early ’50s

As a kid, I wrote to railroads and asked them to send me pictures of their trains. This came from B&O, along with an interior shot of a coach with snack bar, a system map, and other less interesting, more child-oriented stuff.


Note the low-profile Strata-dome car, a dome lounge on the Columbia. Until the 1960s, when the every-other-day Chicago-Florida City of Miami and South Wind began carrying domes from Northern Pacific and Great Northern, B&O was the only railroad in the East to operate dome cars.

Few trains in the East or West carried dome cars in the late 1940s, yet at that time you could cross the country on trains with domes by taking B&O’s Capital Limited or Columbian to Chicago, and from Chicago the Super Chief to LA, California Zephyr to the Bay Area, or Olympian Hiawatha to Seattle.


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Canadian Pacific Rail Diesel Cars


Ad appearing in a late 1940s/early ’50s National Geographic


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Union Pacific Domeliner City of Portland

UPCITYOFPORTLANDbrochure5The distinguishing feature of the City of Portland, as of the City of Los Angeles, was its dome diner. The COP’s competition, the Empire Builder and the North Coast Limited, had plenty of domes, but no dome diner. The COP also offered a late afternoon departure from Chicago, convenient for passengers connecting from day trains, whereas the Builder and NCL left Chicago in early afternoon. The COP was faster for Chicago-Portland passengers, and, for much of its life, carried a through sleeper to Seattle that got passengers there as fast as either of its competitors.

The Union Pacific brochure reproduced above and below is dated 9/59. It shows the dome lounge being run on the end, as an observation car, as indeed it was built to be; but the car soon would be moved to mid-train, behind the dome diner and in front of the sleepers.

Union Pacific was among the leaders in publishing beautiful brochures about its trains.








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