Meet me at Chicago Dearborn Station, June 1949. It’s late morning, and we’re waiting to board our sleeper for the Grand Canyon, carried on Santa Fe’s #23 The Grand Canyon to Williams, Arizona, leaving Chicago at 12:01 PM and arriving Williams at 10:30 PM the next day. Our sleeper will park at Williams until 4:15 AM, when it will depart, along with a sleeper from Los Angeles, arriving the Grand Canyon at 7:00 AM. (But, remember, railroads operated year-round on Standard Time, so add one hour to all times if you’re in a jurisdiction that observes Daylight Time.) If we only want to spend a day at the Grand Canyon, on our way to LA, we’ll depart in our same sleeper that evening at 8:00 PM, arrive Williams 10:20 PM, where our sleeper will be attached to #23, departing at 10:30 PM and arriving LA at 10:40 the next morning. The LA-Grand Canyon- Chicago sleeper will sit at Williams until 3:30 AM, when it will be attached to #24, arriving Chicago one day later at 3:45 PM. Trains 23-24 The Grand Canyon were operated in two sections during the summer of 1949, the first all sleepers, with diner and lounge, and the second all coaches, with lunch-counter diner and lounge. Both were predominantly heavy-weight. In my experience, the train always carried four or more mail, baggage and express cars. Not until cancellation of The Chief, in 1968, did The Grand Canyon become streamlined by default.
As late as 1962, Santa Fe still ran the Grand Canyon sleeper. Perhaps it lasted until the cuts in 1968.
Ads top and above, from my collection, appeared in the National Geographic. Ad below reproduced here from All Aboard America: Classic American Trains, Melville Wheaton, editor.
The photo below (Otto C. Perry, Denver Public Library Collection, reproduced here from Night Trains: The Pullman System in the Golden Years of American Rail Travel, Peter T. Maiken) shows a 1933 Ash Fork-Phoenix Santa Fe train that fed Chicago sleepers to the mainline. Our 1949 Williams-Grand Canyon train likely looked much the same.