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.

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The Streamlined Internationals

In addition to its transcontinental Empire Builder, the Great Northern Railway operated local passenger trains in Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, and Washington. In June, 1950, the railway replaced its heavyweight International, which connected Seattle with Vancouver, BC, with two five-car trains built by American Car & Foundry. The two trains were enough to provide three daily round trips over the 155 miles between the Northwest cities, each taking under 4 hours, or about a half-hour less than the heavyweight trains that preceded them.

Click image to download a 3.9-MB PDF of this 12-panel brochure describing the “completely modern” Great Northern Streamlined Internationals.

The trains included a mail/baggage car, two sixty-seat coaches, a combination coach-cafe that included 28 revenue seats and 24 non-revenue seats, and a parlor-observation car with seats for 29 first-class passengers. The observation cars were named “Port of Seattle” and “Port of Vancouver.” The parlor cars also had a one-person bedroom for passengers seeking (and willing to pay for) privacy plus an office for customs inspectors.

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Southern Pacific On-Board Stationery

Although my collection includes at least ten different kinds of Southern Pacific on-board stationery, none of them are specifically marked for the Shasta Daylight. At least in its later years, it is likely that passengers aboard the train would use generic SP stationery.

Here is a piece of stationery from the Shasta Limited, which operated in the same corridor from about 1895 until it was replaced by the Daylight.

Click image to download a PDF of this piece of stationery.

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Shasta Daylight Postcards

The Southern Pacific distributed lots of postcards of the Shasta Daylight. Here is an artist’s impression of the train led by Alco PAs going by Odell Lake in the Oregon Cascades.

Click on image to download a PDF of the front and back of this postcard.

Here is a more realistic view: General Motors E7s instead of Alco PAs, and the hill behind the lake isn’t a glacially carved peak.

Click on image to download a PDF of the front and back of this postcard.

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Advertising the Shasta Daylight

When it introduced the Shasta Daylight, the Southern Pacific did its usual flurry of advertising for the new train. However, the SP had a monopoly on passenger-rail service in the Shasta-Daylight corridor, where it competed with the Western Pacific in the City of San Francisco corridor and both the Santa Fe and Union Pacific in the Golden State corridor. So it is likely that the railroad made less effort to advertise the Daylight than some of its other trains.

Click image to download a 1.4-MB PDF of a brochure that SP mailed to travel agents highlighting this ad that appeared in several magazines.

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Shasta Daylight

On July 10, 1949, the Southern Pacific inaugurated the Shasta Daylight, which covered the 714 miles between Portland and Oakland in 15-1/2 mostly daylight hours. The train featured extra-large “skyview” windows to allow passengers to get better looks at the awesome mountain scenery, which was mostly between Eugene, Oregon and Redding, California.

This photo shows the extra-large windows–taller than on any other Silver-Age train–on the Shasta Daylight as it passes its namesake mountain. Click image for a larger view; click here to download a PDF of the front and back of this postcard.

The early advertising for the train pictured 2,000-HP Alco PA locomotives, which was the American Locomotive Company’s answer to the General Motors E series. Like the Es, the PAs had six-wheel trucks, only four of which were powered. Unlike the Es, which were powered by two V-12 Diesels, the PAs had only one V-16 Diesel. In this respect, the PA was similar to the Fairbanks-Morse Erie-built locomotives.

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The Texas Chief

In April, 1948, the Santa Fe introduced the Texas Chief, which connected Chicago with Houston and Galveston via Ft. Worth. Passengers to Dallas had to take a bus from Ft. Worth. The train took 25 hours to get from Chicago to Houston for an average speed of about 54 mph.

The Texas Chief in Oklahoma in 1956. Click image for a larger photo.

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Aboard the Golden State

The logo for the Golden State was a cluster of oranges, and the SP-RI used this on the drumhead on the back of the train, stationery, menus, and other items. It looks very nice on the on-board stationery, which is creamy white.

Click the image to download a PDF of Golden State stationery. Click here to download an image of a Golden State envelope.

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Marketing the Golden State

Both the Southern Pacific and the Rock Island jumped the gun in advertising the 39-3/4-hour Golden Rocket before SP cancelled the train in 1947. I’ve already shown the Southern Pacific’s ad; here is the Rock Island ad from 1946.

Click image to download a larger version.

When the 45-hour Golden State began service in 1948, the Southern Pacific placed color ads in many magazines. I’ve already shown one of them; here is a slightly different one that faced the inside front cover of the May, 1951, National Geographic.

Click image to download a larger version. Click here to download a 9.5-MB uncompressed jpg of the ad.

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The Golden State

With the advent of the Super Chief and City of Los Angeles, passengers had a choice of carriers that would whisk them from Chicago to Los Angeles in under 40 hours. But there was a third route between the second- and third-largest cities in America: the Rock Island out of Chicago met the Southern Pacific’s like from Los Angeles at the little town of Tucumcari, New Mexico. Before the war, these two railroad were content to offer the heavyweight Golden State Limited on a 63-hour schedule.

After the war, the two railroads agreed to meet the competition, so they planned and advertised a three-times-a-week train called the Golden Rocket that would equal the Super Chief’s and City of Los Angeles’ 39-3/4-hour timetable. The railroads ordered two streamlined trains from Pullman, one that would be owned by the Rock Island and one by the Southern Pacific.

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