Sunset Limited rear sleeper designed for the end of the train

SPrearsleeper

Southern Pacific’s Sunset Limited never carried an observation car, the kind of car that I loved to sit in so I could watch out the back of the train. (On almost all long-distance Amtrak trips I spend hours standing in the back car looking out the small window: it’s a great way to cross plains, mountains, the piedmont, or anywhere else the train happens to be.) Instead of an observation, the Sunset carried a rear-end sleeper finished as the one above.

The Sunset Limited also never carried a dome car, at least not until Amtrak, when the Sunset Limited sometimes carried the dome observation lounge from the former California Zephyr.

Even at its inauguration–and despite it’s designer theme lounge, diner, and coffee shop cars–the Sunset Limited was not the best of trains. No domes, at a time when other railroads were adding them and the CZ had five; no observation car, at a time when other railroads hadn’t started dropping them; and, notice in the dining car pictures above, 4-and-4 seating in the Audubon Dining Room, at a time when many trains offered 2-and-4 seating. The Sunset Limited was a good train, but really with nothing more than dressed-up ordinary equipment, albeit brand spanking new in 1950.

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