The Red River

The Great Northern inaugurated the streamlined Red River between St. Paul and Grand Forks on June 25, 1950–one week after the Internationals began service. The single train made one round-trip per day on the 320-mile route (supplementing the Empire Builder, Oriental Limited, and Winnipeg Limited over much or all of the route), taking 6-1/2 hours to get from St. Paul to Grand Forks.

Click image to download a 0.9-MB PDF of this 12-panel brochure describing the “completely modern” Great Northern Streamlined Internationals.

Like the Internationals, the Red River was built by American Car & Foundry and consisted of a mail-baggage car, three 60-seat coaches, and a cafe-parlor observation car. This last car, unimaginatively called “Red River,” had 12 seats in a small dining room at the front, nine seats in a coffee shop, a small kitchen, and 20 parlor seats in the back. The Red River’s 180 coach seats and 20 parlor seats contrasted with the Internationals’ 148 coach seats and 29 parlor seats; the Great Northern apparently believed that the Midwest train would attract a lower ratio of first-class passengers than the Internationals.

The July 1, 1950 issue of Railway Age featured both the Internationals and the Red River, providing a great deal of information about both. Like the Internationals, the Red River was filled with art works, including bas relief sculptures in the parlor car by George Kratinas and plexiglass wildflower etchings in the coaches, probably by the same Henry Pearson who did the etching in the Internationals parlor car.

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