Named Trains

In 1952, the Association of American Railroads estimated that there were 13,000 daily trains in the United States, including “local and suburban [i.e., commuter] trains,” but not subway or other urban transit trains. Of the 13,000, about 650 were distinguished enough to deserve names, and this booklet lists those names, the railroads that operated them, where they went, and whether they were powered by steam, Diesel, or electric locomotives. Canadian trains such as the Continental Limited and Dominion are included as well.

Click image to download a 14.1-MB PDF of this 28-page booklet.

Romantic names including the Empire Builder, Orange Blossom Special, and Twentieth Century Limited are all listed here, but there were plenty of trains with less distinctive names. Two different railroads had trains called the Chicago Express, one of which also ran a Chicago Limited. Two other railroads had trains called the Chicago Night Express, while a third had a Chicago Daylight Express. Then there was a Chicago Mail, a Chicago Special, and two different railroads with trains called the Chicagoan. While the Southern Pacific made the name Daylight famous, at least four other railroads ran at least six other trains with the word “daylight” in their names.


Named Trains — 1 Comment

  1. What an interesting list, thanks for posting it. Even the Susie Q’s two car motors, like The Matinee, that ran all the way from Paterson NJ to NYC gets a mention. The “thrice weekly” Zephyrettes also get a place on the list, even though it was usually only one lonely RDC making the trek from Salt Lake to Oakland. Having a name doesn’t always mean comfort.

    It seems like every NYC train that originated or passed through Cleveland ran in steam. I think it’s because the NYC’s main steam shop was in Collingwood, on Cleveland’s east side. Back in the day, a 10 year old kid that looked a lot like me could just walk in and ask for a tour. They didn’t even call Homeland Security on me, but I…err, he, did manage to get a ride on 0-6-0 to Euclid on a transfer job.

    The SP, Santa Fe, and UP were running steam on almost every secondary train. Both Canadian roads were 100% steam, and would remains so for another 10 years. The only large railroad we had left that was 100% steam was the N&W, a railroad that never believed in the diesel, and ran steam until it obvious steam was dead. Even the Pennsy still had a number of steam hauled trains. If you were trackside in 1952, there was still a decent chance of seeing a steam engine in passenger service.

    Regards, Jim

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