The Forty Niner

This 1938 brochure advertises the Forty Niner, UP/SP/C&NW’s all-Pullman train designed to supplement the five-times-a-month City of San Francisco for fast, luxurious travel between Chicago and San Francisco. The train, which began operated in July, 1937, was pulled (at least when it was in in UP territory) by streamlined steam locomotives (scroll down to eighth and ninth photos) and included six semi-streamlined cars: a baggage/crew dorm/kitchen car, diner, three sleepers, and an observation/sleeping car.

Click image to download a 6.6-MB PDF of this 28-page brochure.

The kitchen car was named Donner Lake, which passengers must have noted was sickly ironic as the lake was named for the Donner Party, who allegedly turned to cannibalism when trapped by snow in the Sierra Nevada in the winter of 1846. The diner was named Angel’s Camp, for a California mining community. Pullman had built the two cars in 1928, reputedly as private cars for the president of Cuba, but they were actually rented or leased to private parties.

The Forty Niner pulled by UP streamlined steam locomotive 7002. This picture appears to be in Weber Canyon in eastern Utah.

The first sleeping car in the brochure was the James Marshall (named after the person who first found gold in the Sierras), a traditional twelve-section, one-drawing-room sleeper. However, reflecting the increasing preference for private rooms, this car was replaced with a 17-roomette, one-section sleeper in April, 1938. The replacement car was called Roaring Camp. The second sleeper, named Captain John Sutter (after James Marshall’s employer), had four drawing rooms, three compartments, and a barber shop/shower bath.

The interior of the full-length diner shows its heavyweight heritage. Unusually for a diner, the tables for four were round. Click image for a larger view.

The last two cars were built by Pullman in 1936 as a follow-up to the all-aluminum George M. Pullman, which had been built for the 1933 Century of Progress fair. Sharing a center truck, when built they were called Advance and Progress; for the Forty Niner they were renamed Bear Flag and California Republic. Bear Flag had two double bedrooms and fourteen duplex single rooms. California Republic had a compartment and three double bedrooms, a buffet, and 26 seats in the observation end. To save weight, the cars were built almost entirely of aluminum. Unlike the George M. Pullman, which was scrapped during the war, these two cars survived until 1956.

For the Forty Niner, the exteriors of all the heavyweight cars were greatly modified, giving them streamlined lines and trim to match the Bear Flag and California Republic. Although the locomotives were painted yellow, red, and brown to match UP’s early streamliners, the cars were painted two-tone grey. The train ceased to operate in 1941 when a second City of San Francisco was delivered, and the steam locomotives lost their shrouding soon after.

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