Why “Train X”?

This three-page article promoting Pullman’s Train X appeared in 1948, eight years before the train itself was first inaugurated. The article is by Robert Young, known as “the daring young man of Wall Street” and as someone who embraced innovations as a way of reviving the declining post-war rail industry.


Click image to download a 1.3-MB PDF of this brochure.

Young’s article disparagingly referred to streamliners as “already out of date” when they had been introduced in the 1930s because they were not only unduly heavy but topheavy. Young further complained that vista-dome cars “only exaggerated the topheaviness.” Train X, he promised, “can take half the traffic off the highways which will quintuple rail travel and save billions of taxpayers’ money for highway repair and enlargement.”

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A Preview of Train X

Here’s a big (8-1/2″x11″) brochure touting the benefits of Train X, Pullman-Standard’s entry into the ultra-lightweight passenger train race that took place in the late 1950s. As previously related here, only two railroads–the New York Central and New Haven–purchased versions of Train X, and both were withdrawn from service after less than 15 months of operation.


Click image to download a 5.1-MB PDF of this eight-page brochure.

The brochure focuses on the train’s small profile, light weight, its tilting capabilities, and the ability to cram a lot of people into a few cars. Although the tilting was supposed to make the ride more comfortable, it could not overcome the poor ride quality of the ultra-lightweight cars.

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Lightning Stripes

These postcards show New York Central passenger trains pulled by Diesels painted in the “lightning stripes” scheme used in the late 1940s and 1950s. The first has a photo of a train along the Hudson River heading for New York City with West Point in the background.


Click image to download a PDF of this postcard.

The second has New England scenes with an image of Diesels pulling a passenger train. The back of the card says there is a “a vacation spot for everyone” in old New England. Apparently, for some people, leading a team of oxen hauling logs is considered a vacation. Who knew?

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Spokane Train Stations

This postcard depicts the Spokane’s Great Northern train station, which was also used by the Spokane, Portland & Seattle Railway. The water in the foreground is the Spokane River, as the train station was on Havermale Island.


Click image to download a PDF of this postcard.

Spokane had three train stations, one of which was right across the river from the GN station: Union Station, which served Union Pacific, Milwaukee Road, and Spokane International. The two stations are both visible in the postcard below, while a close-up of Union Station is below that.

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Burlington: The First 90 Years

As previously noted, the Burlington celebrated its 100th anniversary in 1949, even though it previously had dated its founding to 1850. This booklet, which places the railroad’s 90th anniversary in 1940, is further evidence that it changed the birth year to allow Ralph Budd, who retired in 1949, to still be president for the centennial.


Click image to download a 19.8-MB PDF of this 44-page booklet.

Like the centennial booklet, this one was written by Richard Overton, who worked for the Burlington while getting his Ph.D. in history from Harvard. The 90-year booklet about two-thirds the length of the centennial version, so Overton expanded the text between the two versions.

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11 Western Gateways

This notepad has no passenger content, but it provides some background to the sad demise of the Milwaukee Road. When the Great Northern and Northern Pacific merged into the Burlington Northern in 1970, one of the concessions they made to the Milwaukee Road was to allow it to interchange traffic with BN at “11 western gateways” in North Dakota, Montana, and Washington. Prior to the merger, the Northern Pacific had insisted that any interchanges be made in the Twin Cities, thus denying the Milwaukee the opportunity to earn revenue from freight it initiated east of St. Paul.


Click image to download a PDF of this notepad sheet.

According to historian Michael Sol, by 1974 the gateways were adding $27.5 million (scroll nearly to the bottom) in annual revenue to the Milwaukee’s coffers. That didn’t stop the railroad from scrapping the Pacific Coast Extension, a decision that Sol argues was a mistake–he says the western lines were earning a profit while it was the eastern ones that were dragging the railroad down.

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Milwaukee Road 1970 Timetable

Milwaukee’s timetable expanded from four pages in 1968 to six in 1970. Yet the trains were fewer than ever; the extra pages are filled with a station index, list of agents, and a table of fares, all of which were missing from the 1968 timetable.


Click image to download a 3.6-MB PDF of this timetable.

The City trains became just one “city of everywhere,” departing Chicago at 6 pm with the Denver cars cut off at North Platte; the Portland cars cut off at Green River; and the San Francisco-Los Angeles cars split at Ogden. Chicago-Twin Cities was down to just the Morning Hiawatha with the overnight Fast Mail still carrying a coach eastbound but not westbound. Three more trains served Chicago-Milwaukee and there were still two trains a day between Chicago and Madison. There was one extra train a day between Milwaukee and Watertown, with ten intervening stops, apparently a commuter train. Finally, the timetable noted the Chicago suburban trains to Elgin and Walworth.

Milwaukee Road 1968 Timetable

The Milwaukee’s 40-page 1956 timetable was, by 1968, reduced to just four pages, no longer than the 1951 Pacific Northwest timetable. These four pages contain just eight tables of trains.


Click image to download a 2.8-MB PDF of this timetable.

These eight tables include:

  1. Chicago-Twin Cities, showing four westbound and five eastbound trains (as was the case in past timetables, the eastbound Fast Mail carried a coach, while the westbound one did not);
  2. Minneapolis-Aberdeen, with just one train;
  3. Chicago-Milwaukee, showing seven round trips per day;
  4. Chicago-Los Angeles;
  5. Chicago-Portland/Denver;
  6. Chicago-San Francisco;
  7. Chicago-Wausau, which was the Afternoon Hiawatha from Chicago to New Lisbon and then a coach train from there to Wausau;
  8. Chicago-Madison, a choice of two trains a day or a bus connection at Columbus from the Hiawathas; and
  9. Chicago-Walworth and Chicago-Elgin suburban tables, which (as in previous timetables) just list miles, not schedules as there were no doubt several trains a day.

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Milwaukee Road 1956 Timetable

Together with yesterday’s timetable, we have snapshots of Milwaukee Road passenger operations before and after Union Pacific transferred its trains from Chicago & North Western to the Milwaukee. The two timetables have the same number of pages even though this one devotes three pages to the new trains: one each for trains to Portland/Denver, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.


Click image to download a 25.6-MB PDF of this 40-page timetable.

The railroad fit the new pages in by reducing the four pages that the previous timetable had devoted to equipment listings for major trains to less than a page and by moving the equipment listings for some of the minor trains to the pages on which those train tables were located.

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Milwaukee Road 1955 Timetable

Train numbers 17 & 18 once denoted the Columbian, but by the time of this timetable they had lost the name, only operated as far as Marmarth, ND, and were merged with the Pioneer Limited east of Minneapolis.


Click image to download a 26.1-MB PDF of this 40-page timetable.

How did railroads come up with train numbers? The Pioneer Limited was trains 1 & 4. The Copper Country Limited was 2 & 9; I don’t see any sign of train 3. The Morning Hiawatha was 5 & 6, but the Afternoon Hiawatha was 100 and 101.

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