Fleeting Moments of Glory

With the timetable change of Nov. 14, 1971, Amtrak sought to make a bold statement by operating two pairs of trains between Milwaukee and St. Louis via Chicago Union Station.

It was the first time an entire train was scheduled to operate through CUS.

Nos. 301 and 304, renamed from The Limited to the Prairie State and Nos. 302 and 303, which remained named the Abraham Lincoln, used tracks of the Milwaukee Road between Chicago and Milwaukee, and the Gulf, Mobile & Ohio between Chicago and St. Louis.

Amtrak also gave the trains dome cars to go along with their coaches, parlor cars and dining cars.

The operation was an anomaly in many ways. GM&O locomotives operated the entire route with Milwaukee Road motive power also assigned.

Dining car patrons received an Amtrak menu wrapped in a GM&O cover with orders written on Milwaukee Road checks.

Chefs and waiters from both railroads were assigned to dining car service.

In the view above, it is 8:41 a.m. on Oct. 15, 1972, in Joliet, Illinois, when the Prairie State makes its station stop at Union Station.

GM&O 100A is an E8m that had been built in June 1937 as E3A No. 52 for the Baltimore & Ohio and was just one of six such units built by the then-named Electro Motive Corporation, later the Electro Motive Division of General Motors.

At the time the B&O controlled The Alton Road, which operated between Chicago and St. Louis and in 1940 No. 52 was transferred to that railroad where it pulled Chicago-St. Louis passenger trains.

It became 100A in 1947 when the GM&O gained control of The Alton. It was rebuilt in March 1953 when it became an E8m.

In its early years Amtrak leased motive power from its host railroads although many of those units never made it onto the Amtrak roster, including GM&O No. 100A.

The GM&O merged with the Illinois Central to become the Illinois Central Gulf in August 1972 and No. 100A remained on the roster through August 1974. It was sold for scrap the following March.

Behind No. 100A on this day is Milwaukee Road No. 349, an E9B that did make it onto the Amtrak roster as No. 451. It was retired by Amtrak in October 1975.

The Prairie State did not remain a fixture in Amtrak timetables for very long.

On Oct. 1, 1973, Nos. 301 and 304 were assigned Turboliner equipment and the trains names were dropped.

There is still a No. 301 and 304 in the Amtrak timetable but those trains are known as Lincoln Service. Amtrak never used the name Prairie State again.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

One Response to “Fleeting Moments of Glory”

  1. Rail Provocateur Says:

    What a great concept initiated by Jim McClellan/Kevin McKinney during the early stages when new ideas could be implemented. Interestingly, this concept was particularly successful with Chicago suburbanites able to utilize the Glenview stop to travel south thru Union Station–many colleges served.

    Too bad Amtrak has been so reluctant to “re-invent” the run thru concept in Chicago.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


%d bloggers like this: