Welcome Aboard the San Francisco Chief

Here’s a brochure dated April, 1963, given to passengers on the San Francisco Chief. The four-panel brochure has the train’s schedule, highlights along the way, and what seems to be an overly lengthy description of how to adjust the coach seats.

Click image to download a 3.0-MB PDF of this brochure. Click here for an OCR version.

“Please let the conductor pouch your ticket,” says the first informational paragraph. It appears the railroad had a rather complex way of informing conductors who took charge of trains partway through their runs just who were legitimate passengers. I remember conductors putting what were called “hat checks” above the seats of passengers whose tickets had been collected. Perhaps that is the “receipt” referred to in the brochure.

Click image to download a PDF of this luggage sticker.

The San Francisco Chief never actually went to San Francisco, instead terminating in Oakland when it began service in 1954. However, after 1958, the train went no further than Richmond, 11 miles from Oakland.

Click image for a larger view.

As shown in the above photo from 1960, a typical San Francisco Chief of the 1960s included several low-level coaches, three hi-level coaches, a full-length dome car (whose forward view was obscured by the hi-level coach in front of it), a diner, a lounge for first-class passengers, and several sleepers. At least some of the low-level coaches and sleepers came from Dallas and Houston and joined the Chicago portion of the train in Clovis, NM.

The Santa Fe used five F-series locomotives to pull this 14-car version of the San Francisco Chief. Click image to see more of Mike Condren’s photos of Santa Fe passenger trains; thanks to Mr. Condren for permission to use this photo.

The last car on the train in the 1960 photo appears to be a darker color than the others, meaning it was painted rather than stainless steel. The above photo, from 1968, shows it was a mail or express car, perhaps put on the end so it could be easily removed in some city before the end of the route. Consists from the early 1960s show express-mail cars on the end of the San Francisco Chief between Kansas City and Wichita or Topeka, and one 1968 consist shows one at the end of the train from Chicago to Winslow, Arizona. I wonder why Winslow and not Williams Junction, where the car could have been transferred to a train to Phoenix?

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