The Scout

In the pre-streamlined era, the Santa Fe Railway ran numerous named passenger trains between Chicago and Los Angeles, including the Los Angeles Limited (a name later also used by the Union Pacific); the California Limited; the Chief (which started in 1926 and wasn’t streamlined until 1938); the El Tovar; the Grand Canyon Limited; the Hopi; and the Navaho (which continued from LA to San Francisco). Just as the El Capitan was the Santa Fe’s economy streamlined train, the Scout was the Santa Fe’s economy heavyweight train.


Click image to download a 4.7-MB PDF of this 20-page brochure.

Inaugurated in 1916, the Scout consisted of coaches and tourist-sleepers, whose berths were slightly less comfortable and more packed than regular Pullman sections. By 1941, when this brochure was issued, at least some of the cars–probably the coaches–were streamlined, but the sleeping cars were probably still heavyweights.


Tourist sleeper in day mode on the 1937 Scout. Note the lack of partitions between the sections, which would normally be found in first-class Pullman sections of that era.

Despite the economy orientation of the train, it wasn’t cheap. The brochure says the round-trip coach fare between Chicago and Los Angeles was $65, around $1,000 today. Meals were a little more reasonable: breakfast, lunch, and dinner together cost $1.50, about $24 today. A note in the brochure says that, due to wartime shortages, 1942 meal prices were raised to $1.85, about $27 today.


This ad from 1940 emphasizes the streamlined coaches and diner, but doesn’t show photos of the heavyweight tourist sleepers. Click image for a larger view.

The Scout was briefly discontinued during the early years of the Depression, then revived in 1936. It probably received its streamlined coaches and other cars around 1938. The train could not compete against the Santa Fe’s own El Capitan, and was discontinued in 1948.


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