After this time one could see a variety of large steamers pulling the train although it most often used Class MT Mountains. Officially it was listed as #29 (northbound) and #30 (southbound) with a typical consist including several mail/express head end cars (upwards of a half-dozen), a Railway Post Office (RPO), two or three reclining seat coaches, a cafe-lounge, and up to three sleepers (one serving Butte to Salt Lake, another running through to Los Angeles, and a connecting Southern Pacific section via Oakland). When the streamliner era hit the industry, spurred by none other than Union Pacific' own M-10000 launched in February of 1934 the Butte Special began fielding rebuilt heavyweight cars with semi-streamlining. During the 1940s the equipment also wore UP's brief two-grey passenger livery, a simple but elegant scheme that also adorned steam locomotives.
(The below Butte Special timetable is dated effective January of 1970.)
|Time/Leave (Train #35)
||Time/Arrive (Train #36)
|7:30 PM (Dp)||Salt Lake City||7:00 AM (Ar)|
|8:20 PM (Ar)||Ogden||5:50 AM (Dp)|
|8:55 PM (Dp)||Ogden||5:35 AM (Ar)|
|11:55 PM (Ar)||Pocatello||2:45 AM (Dp)|
|12:25 AM (Dp)||Pocatello||2:05 AM (Ar)|
|1:30 AM (Ar)||Idaho Falls||12:55 AM (Dp)|
|1:40 AM (Dp)||Idaho Falls||12:45 AM (Ar)|
|7:30 AM (Ar)||Butte (Northern Pacific Station)||7:30 PM (Dp)|
When the railroad began a concentrated effort to dieselize its motive
power fleet after World War II it had a batch of F3s, delivered between
1947 and 1949, equipped for passenger service (steam generators).
Later rebuilt into F7 specifications these normally-assigned freight locomotives
continued to pull the Special until the railroad acquired batches of true passenger power rom the early 1950s through 1964 in the
form of Electro-Motive E8s and E9s (Fs, however, could still be found
heading the train through the 1960s). It was during this time that the
train was clad in Union Pacific's classic Armour yellow and gray
passenger scheme thanks to these new diesels along with the lightweight equipment.
It is fascinating that for a train serving a town of no greater than
50,000 residents (Butte) it offered an impressive level of conveniences.
impressive feature was a 6-6-4 American View sleeper that had two
sections converted to offer light meals provided through Pullman. While only a dinette service this unique setup is still talked about
today for those lucky enough to have experienced it. Even as patronage
declined during the 1960s Union Pacific kept the train immaculate
with all-matching, clean equipment. In 1960 it stopped providing direct
service to West Yellowstone and in 1965 discontinued all rail service to
the national park. The major blow came in 1967 when the train lost its
lucrative U.S. mail contract and was subsequently curtailed to thrice
weekly only. In its final years the Special was listed as #35
(northbound running on Thursday, Saturday, and Monday) and #36
(southbound running on Friday, Sunday, and Tuesday).
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|The "Butte Special" is readying to leave Butte, Montana on June 7, 1968 led by E9A #934 as an individual poses next to the locomotive.|
The Union Pacific petitioned the Interstate Commerce Commission to cancel the train after this time but had little success in doing so. As such, the train continued on until Amtrak normally carrying a baggage, two reclining seat coaches, and that unique 6-6-4 dinette/sleeper, the last of its kind in the country to offer Pullman meal service. Through the end, in typical UP fashion the Butte Special remained an all-matching train with an E9A or E8A for power and the four-car consist mentioned above. Perhaps only the Santa Fe equaled the UP in this capacity as both railroads simply did not let services slip despite mounting losses right until Amtrak took over.
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