Posts Tagged ‘Santa Fe Railway’

Warbonnets in Joliet

January 30, 2021

In the early years of Amtrak trains hosted by the Santa Fe ran, for the most part, with locomotives and passengers cars of Santa Fe heritage.

The Santa Fe has maintained its passenger fleet well and there was little need to mix in cars that Amtrak acquired from other railroads.

Shown is Santa Fe F7A No. 303 leading a train into Joliet on April 14, 1973.

Although the photographer did not indicate which train this was, we’ll take a look at a consist from December 1972 for Amtrak’s westbound Super Chief/El Capitan.

The train was assigned six Santa Fe F units and had a steam car.

All of the passenger equipment had been built for the Santa Fe. The El Capitan section had a baggage car, baggage-dormitory transition car, five Hi-Level coaches, a Hi-Level lounge car and a Hi-Level dining car.

The Super Chief section featured all single-level equipment that included two 11-bedroom sleepers, one 10-6 sleeper, a 4-4-2 sleeper, a pleasure dome lounge car, and a dining car.

The 11-bedroom sleepers were the Indian Squaw and Indian Maid. The four compartments, four bedrooms and two drawing room sleeper was Regal Vale, and the 10 roomettes and six bedrooms sleeper was Pine Lodge.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

What Was in a Name?

October 22, 2020

Many Amtrak trains have names with roots that extend to the days when freight railroads operated passenger trains.

In several instances these names had been around for several decades by the time Amtrak began operations on May 1, 1971.

Amtrak’s initial timetable merely used verbatim whatever train names were still in use at the time those trains were conveyed to it.

Thus the Chicago-Los Angeles train continued to be named the Super Chief/El Capitan as it had been under the operation of the Santa Fe Railway.

That name was a combination of two separate names for two separate trains, the all-Pullman and extra fare Super Chief and the all-coach El Capitan.

Santa Fe consolidated the two trains, hence the combo name, in January 1958 although it continued to advertise them as though they were separate trains.

The combined Super Chief/El Capitan also maintained separate dining and lounge cars with passengers not allowed to use them interchangeably.

During the summer and holiday periods the Super Chief and El Capitan operated as independent trains, a practice that continued through 1969.

Amtrak kept the combo name until April 29, 1973 when Nos. 3 and 4 became merely the Super Chief.

Santa Fe President John S. Reed became disenchanted with how Amtrak treated what has been his railroad’s premier passenger train, particularly the removal of certain Santa Fe practices and services.

In March 1974 he informed Amtrak via letter that he was revoking permission for the passenger carrier to use the “Chief” names. Amtrak also operated the former Santa Fe Texas Chief between Chicago and Houston.

So on May 19, 1974, Nos. 3 and 4 became the Southwest Limited and the Houston train became the Lone Star.

The Lone Star was discontinued in early October 1979 but the ancestor of the Super Chief continued to operate.

By 1984 the name riff between Amtrak and Santa Fe had healed sufficiently that the Chief name could return.

But Nos. 3 and 4 would not be the Super Chief but rather the Southwest Chief.

In the photo above, No. 3 is in Joliet, Illinois, on Aug. 6, 1972, and still looks much like a Santa Fe passenger train, including former AT&SF locomotives 314C, 312B, 302, 320A, 314A and 315A.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Santa Fe Story in Joliet in the Early Amtrak Years

June 19, 2020

It is Oct. 13, 1971, and Amtrak’s Texas Chief is departing Joliet, Illinois, which was the first stop on its trek from Chicago to Houston.

Notes taken by the photographer show that the all Santa Fe motive power consist on this day included ATSF 314, 316B, 314A, 316A, and 309.

The Texas Chief, like its counterpart that used these says rails, the Super Chief to Los Angeles, had a mostly all Santa Fe equipment.

They also still had Santa Fe operating and service employees.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

When Warbonnets Still Led Amtrak

June 8, 2020

Santa Fe warbonnets are among the most iconic locomotives that people associate with the streamliner era in America.

In the early Amtrak years warbonnets pulled Amtrak’s Super Chief and Texas Chief, both of which were hosted by the Santa Fe.

In the image above, an Amtrak train is at Joliet, Illinois, on April 2, 1972. This photograph is a scan from an Agfachrome slide.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Santa Fe Power on an Amtrak Train

October 14, 2019

Santa Fe F45 No. 5922 leads an Amtrak train into the Joliet Union Station in 1973.

The photographer said the image was made sometime between April and June 1973.

The photo was made on high speed Ektachrome color slide film push-processed to ASA 400 (now ISO 400) which was about the top ASA for slide film in 1973. “This let me take an action photo in cloudy weather,” he said.

No. 5922 was built by EMD in June 1968 for freight service and was a freight version of the Santa Fe passenger FP45.

Santa Fe routinely assigned F45s to passenger service, usually positioning them behind the red and silver FP45s.

No. 5922 was built as No. 1922 and would later have roster number 5972.

It was common in the early Amtrak years for Santa Fe motive to pull Amtrak’s Super Chief and Texas Chief.

Initially, F units were assigned to Amtrak service, but the F45s began spelling the ancient and increasingly unreliable F units in early 1973. An an F7B provided steam for heating and cooling.

But that practice began to end shortly after this photograph was made. In late June 1973 the Santa Fe received the first of Amtrak’s SDP40F locomotives.

In another year Santa Fe management would demand Amtrak cease use of former Santa Fe passenger train names and the Super Chief became the Southwest Limited while the Texas Chief became the Lone Star.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Branson Scenic Buys 3 Amtrak Cars

August 2, 2019

A Missouri tourist railroad has acquired three retired Amtrak cars.

The Branson Scenic Railway purchased Amtrak baggage cars 1204 and 1245, and dining car 8521.

All three cars are expected to be moved later this month from Amtrak’s Beech Grove shops near Indianapolis.

Both baggage cars are of Santa Fe heritage and were built by Budd in 1953. The dining car was built by Budd in 1949 and used by the Southern Railway on is Crescent between Washington and New Orleans.

The diner was also assigned by the Southern to the Royal Palm, Southerner, and Tennessean,

Amtrak acquired it in 1979 when the Southern ceased operating its last passenger train, the Southern Crescent.

The diner was rebuilt by Amtrak to HEP capability in 1984 when it received its current roster number. It was overhauled in 2012 and retired from Amtrak revenue service in 2015.

Branson Scenic plans to rename the diner Silver Belle and used it as a backup diner for Branson’s dinner train and as a premium car for its Polar Express excursions.

The baggage will be used for parts and storage but one may become a power car.

The Branson Scenic uses tracks owned by Genesee & Wyoming’s Missouri & Northern Arkansas Railroad through the Ozark Mountains.

Trains operate on 40-mile round trips north or south of Branson.

Michigan Group Buys Pacific Parlor Cars

March 22, 2019

A Michigan museum and excursion operator has acquired two passenger cars once used as first-class lounges on Amtrak’s Coast Starlight.

Trains magazine reported this week that the Steam Railroading Institute of Owosso, Michigan, bought the former Pacific Parlour Cars, which had been built by Budd in 1956 for the Santa Fe as Hi-Level lounges.

SRI plans to use the car on excursion trains, including its annual North Pole Express holiday trips pulled by 2-8-4 No. 1225, a former Pere Marquette Berkshire-type locomotive.

The cars were reported to be located at Amtrak’s Beech Grove shops near Indianapolis, but are expected to be ferried to Michigan soon.

Trains said that SRI officials would not discuss how much the cars cost other than to say the price tag was fairly high.

SRI officials expect to recoup its investment through ticket sales of Christmas season trips.

The cars are also expected to be assigned to fall foliage specials operating on State of Michigan-own track between Mount Pleasant and Cadillac in early October.

Few changes to the interiors of the cars are expected to be made for now, but officials said the lower-level theater seating might be replaced by washrooms, wheelchair accommodations, coach seating or other uses.

The upper lounge and dining seating upstairs will be used to offer catered meal service.

Proposals Sought for OK Passenger Service

June 23, 2018

Watco Companies has issued a request for proposals to provide intercity rail passenger service between Tulsa and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

The request came from Watco subsidiary Stillwater Central Railroad and proposals are due by July 27.

The request for proposals seeks comprehensive proposals from providers of passenger rail services to operate passenger rail service to be known as the Eastern Flyer between Sapulpa and Del City on the Sooner Subdivision.

Oklahoma City currently is served by Amtrak’s Heartland Flyer while Tulsa has never had Amtrak service.

The last passenger trains to Tulsa were provided by the Santa Fe and discontinued with the coming of Amtrak on May 1, 1971.

Fort Madison Reaches Pacts for New Boarding Platform

November 8, 2017

Officials in Fort Madison, Iowa, have approved three agreements that will make possible moving the Amtrak station to the former Santa Fe depot.

City Manager David Varley said the agreements will provide for construction of a new platform that Amtrak will use once it is completed. The passenger carrier has agreed to pay $150,000 toward the construction costs.

Amtrak also has agreed to pay $400 month in rent to use the recently restored station for 20 years. Amtrak will use 813 square feet of the depot while the city will be responsible for maintenance and repairs.

Varley said the agreements involving the $1.2 million project took a long time to reach because of the multiple parties involved.

“So BNSF will own the platform because it is on their property,” he said. “And then BNSF will lease it to Amtrak. And since we own and operate the depot, and the platform will be attached to the depot, they lease it from Amtrak back to the city. It sounds kind of crazy but it’s because of the ownership of the property.”

Varley said the depot project is a good candidate for funding from hotel-motel tax funds, and recommended a 60/40 percent split of operation costs between the hotel-motel tax and the general fund, respectively.

He estimated that first year operation costs for running the station will be about $50,000, but after some one-time costs, the annual number will drop to about $35,000.

Going with the lower number would mean an annual cost of $21,000 from the hotel-motel tax and $14,000 from the city’s general fund.

Fort Madison is served by the Chicago-Los Angeles Southwest Chief and handles about 6,600 passengers annually.

San Diego Amtrak Station Sold

October 14, 2017

The Amtrak station in San Diego has been sold to an unidentified investor who is considering developing it. Amtrak operations at the 102-year-old former Santa Fe depot are not expected to change.

Located at Broadway and Kettner Boulevard, no immediate changes are expected, but a San Diego architecture firm has been hired to complete an assessment report and recommend needed maintenance and restoration steps.

Officials said Amtrak will continue to lease space in the station and any changes likely are years away.

The buyer was identified as Santa Fe Depot LLC. The seller was Prologis Inc. The sale price was not disclosed.

“The sale is significant to the San Diego community and represents the seller’s deep commitment to preserving the landmark asset,” said real estate broker Kipp Gstettenbauer of Voit Real Estate Services, which represented the seller.

The San Diego station is located amid new development near the waterfront. The depot has 10,000 square feet of space and is zoned for retail use.

“By working closely with the buyer and Heritage Architecture, we will be able to restore parts of the building that have gone unused for more than 50 years, while providing additional services in the station, expanding ridership for Amtrak and increasing the building’s historic value,” Gstettenbauer said.

Santa Fe built the station, which features California mission and Spanish colonial style design, to serve the 1915-16 Panama-California Exposition held in Balboa Park.

The railroad considered razing the station in the 1970s and building two-high rise office towers on the site.

But that plan was fought by the Save Our Heritage Organization as well as then-Mayor Pete Wilson. The depot was subsequently placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego later acquired the former baggage building and a master plan was written to oversee redevelopment of the land around the depot.

Bosa Development has built several condominium towers adjacent to the station.