Save Amtrak long-distance trains

Sign the petition at https://petitions.moveon.org/sign/save-amtraks-long-distance

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Chicago to Cleveland or Pittsburgh: 5 railroad routes until the 1950s

As I left Chicago recently on Amtrak’s Capitol Limited, riding over former New York Central rails toward Cleveland on almost the same schedule as New York Central’s Lake Shore Limited, I ate dinner in the diner and then lay in my bed looking out the window at the lights of Northern Indiana and Ohio. Compared to the ad above, my train was, of course, at the other end of the line, but just as romantic a ride if you’re a rail lover.

In bed I pondered the relative routes of the five railroads that in the streamliner era left Chicago for Cleveland or Pittsburgh. When I got home, I consulted maps in my Official Guides and consulted my editions of the Handy Atlas of American Railways. But the maps lacked enough detail, so I turned to the schedules.

The most northerly of the five routes east to Cleveland or Pittsburgh was the New York Central, to Cleveland through South Bend and Toledo. Next most northerly was the B&O, through Akron and Youngstown. To the south of the B&O was the Pennsylvania and the Nickel Plate, both through Ft. Wayne; beyond Ft. Wayne, Nickel Plate went northerly, to eventually reach Cleveland. It crossed the B&O at Fostoria. The most southerly of the five was Erie, the only one that reached New York without passing through either Cleveland or Pittsburgh; it crossed the Pittsburgh-bound Pennsylvania line at Mansfield and crossed the Pittsburgh-bound B&O at Youngstown, and never needed to cross the Cleveland-bound Central and Nickel Plate.

In Chicago, New York Central and Nickel Plate trains left La Salle Street Station, Pennsylvania used Union Station, B&O Grand Central, and Erie Dearborn.

 

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Amtrak California Zephyr predecessor, from Western Pacific timetable, April 28, 1968, front and back covers

Today’s Zephyr goes over Donner Pass, on tracks that were Southern Pacific’s, instead of through the Feather River Canyon, on tracks that were Western Pacific’s. The route between Salt Lake City and Chicago, through the heart of the Rockies on Rio Grande and across the plains on Burlington, is the same now as it was then, however.

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Fast Trains of the ’30s and Earlier

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The list above is from the Lucius Beebe book High Iron published in 1938. These 1930s records are a sad commentary on the lack of development of high-speed rail in the U.S.

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I couldn’t resist reproducing the photo below, also from High Iron, because it’s a unique view (shot facing forward, rather than toward the rounded end) of the observation lounge car on Santa Fe’s early Super Chief. In the book the photo is credited to the AT&SF but the photographer is unnamed.

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Budd New Haven RDC Cars: Late ’40s, Early ’50s Ad

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Budd Western Pacific “Zephyrette” RDC Ad

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For more about RDCs, and more about Western Pacific’s Zephyrettes, click on RDC on side bar.

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Missouri Pacific Colorado Eagle Ad: Late ’40s, Early ’50s

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The Eagle took you to mountains like in the drawing, but didn’t quite reach them. Dome coach, grill coach, diner-lounge, sleepers, coaches, overnight St. Louis to Denver.

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