North Coast Limited: springtime in the Rockies?


Second to the California Zephyr, the NCL was probably the most photographed train in the late 50s and 60s. In this Bill Duvall photo, from the 1985 NRHS Potomac Chapter calendar, the train is in Jefferson Canyon, Montana. It looks spring-like to me, but I suppose this  is more likely July or August in Montana.

Rock Island 1961 timetable

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Click to enlarge, and click on the enlargement to enlarge further. I only reproduced the condensed schedules here. All schedules fpr all railroads are available in the Official Guide of the Railways, limited hardcopy and electronic reprints available from the Cape Ann Train Co.

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Rock Island parlor observation car, interior, late 30s, early 40s


Pullman-Standard photo, Phil Weibler collection, reproduced her from Greg Stout, Route of the Rockets: Rock Island in the Streamlined Era. In the book’s foreward Stout says, “Rock Island… died from too many agricultural branches, overdependence on trackage rights, and a route map that seemed to reach every important terminal the long way around.” The railroad was short of funds most of its life, yet ran some good trains–its Rocket–fleet. But not spectacular trains, and above is an example. While other railroads offered reclining or rocking, swiveling chairs in their parlor cars, Rock Island offered lounge car-type seating. Some folks must have been disappointed. Ahead in the coaches, the seats reclined and the window wasn’t to your back.

Rock Island Twin Star Rocket brochure


Click to enlarge, and click again to enlarge further.

I have little promotional material for Rock Island trains, except for the Golden State, which I’ll post at a later date. Above is one page about the Twin Star Rocket from a Rock Island brochure called, “Minnesota!”

Rock Island Twin Star Rocket in Dallas and Houston

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The three photos above, of the Twin Star Rocket, are from “Down South” on the Rock Island, Steve Allen Goen. In the top two pictures (from the same shot by Dr. Tom Hughes, Steve Goen collection) the train is leaving Dallas Union Station in September 1964. In the bottom shot, by Joe Thompson, the train is close to arrival at Houston Union Station, April 1952, and the diesel is wearing the original Rocket color scheme.

Rock Island Jet Rocket


“To increase the ‘gee-whiz’ factor of the Jet Rocket [inaugurated between Chicago and Peoria in 1956] the train was delivered with a closed-circuit TV camera installed in the nose. The camera fed a television set in the lounge area. The idea was to create some excitement by giving lounge passengers a simulated cab ride. However, after the paying customers got a look at the repeated near-misses with pedestrians, school buses, gasoline tank trucks and gravel haulers at grade crossings, excitement quickly gave way to sheer terror.” Quote and photo below from Greg Stout, Route of the Rockets. Photo above from



Pennsylvania Railroad Horseshoe Curve


This photo is reproduced from an envelope in which Pennsylvania mailed me the typically American Railroad Association booklets a railroad might send to a kid writing to ask about their trains. They didn’t understand that I wanted a timetable and photos, interior and exterior. The envelope was the best part of their response. Click to enlarge and click on the enlargement to enlarge further.

Is it two passenger trains passing, each with a fair amount of head-end, or is it a passenger and a freight? Since most Pennsy trains went through the curve in the dark, I might guess, using my 1954 Guide schedule, that one of these trains is the St. Louisan,  the Duquesne, the Metropolitan, the Allegheny, or the Juniata. If both are passengers and are reasonably close to schedule, they would be the eastbound Allegheny and the westbound Duquesne.

Pennsylvania diesels in green and in tuscan color schemes


I believe Pennsylvania’s passenger engines (diesels and GG1s) were first green with gold pin strips and the cars were tuscan, as pictured below. Later, after the war I think, the engines received the tuscan paint that matched the cars.

Photo above and below from Don Ball, Jr., The Pennsylvania Railroad 1940s-1950s.



To see all posts for the current month, you may need to click on “older posts,” after the last visible post. To see prior months’ posts, click on the month, under archives, and then also remember to click on “older posts” when you get to the end of those posts that are first visible for each month. To enlarge pictures click on them; click again to enlarge them further. To see everything in some posts, you’ll need to click on “continue reading.” Enjoy!

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Santa Fe Super Chief dining car, sleeping car rooms

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Two photos above and two below from Santa Fe’s brochure, “Travel the Chief Way.” The Turquoise Room, second below, a dining room for private parties, was located on the lower level of the “pleasure dome” lounge car, which always ran adjacent to the diner.

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