The Ak-Sar-Ben, Blackhawk, and Fast Mail

These two brochures were stuffed into the same folder as yesterday’s Aristocrat brochure. The Blackhawk was an overnight train between Chicago and the Twin Cities and, unlike the Aristocrat, remained on the timetable for many years after the introduction of the daytime Twin Cities Zephyrs.

Click image to download a 2.6-MB PDF of this brochure.

As introduced in 1930, the train consisted of a baggage car, smoker, chair car, diner, club car, four pullmans, and a solarium-lounge car. Note that it differed from the Aristocrat in lacking a day coach (since it wasn’t a day train) and the addition of the club car. Only about a third of the club car was non-revenue space, with eighteen chairs, while seven bedrooms filled the rest. The solarium car was similar to the Aristocrat‘s but had a larger kitchen and a room called the radio room. From the pictures, I count 45 seats on the Aristocrat‘s lounge and 54 on the Blackhawk‘s.

Click image to download a 2.5-MB PDF of this brochure.

Like the Blackhawk, the Ak-Sar-Ben was an overnight train with few hours of daylight operation. It’s consist was almost identical to the Blackhawk‘s with the addition of a coach for short-distance passengers. The club car and solarium-lounge car appear to be identical to the Blackhawk‘s. One of its four Pullmans only went between Omaha and Peoria.

The Ak-Sar-Ben brochure notes that Burlington introduced a fourth new train in 1930: the Fast Mail, which also went between Chicago and Lincoln. At least in 1930, this train included “high-class Pullmans, lounging car, reclining chair car, and a diner.” The train left Chicago about four hours after the Ak-Sar-Ben and left Lincoln about two hours before, allowing just a four-hour turnaround time in Lincoln.


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