only was the diesel streamlined but the ever-resourceful B&O,
not satisfied with the light-weight, aluminum cars it had purchased for
its first streamliner, the Royal Blue, turned to its Mount Clare Shops in Baltimore. The forces there used traditional heavyweight equipment and gave the cars streamlining to match the EA/EB set. What resulted, with the help of renowned industrial designer Otto Kuhler was a stunning train with one of the all-time classic liveries; royal blue, silver, and gold pin-striping. While the B&O won over the hearts of many with its
splendid services and on board offerings (later amenities included air-conditioning and strata-dome car service, giving passengers a 360-degree view of the surrounding landscape)
it simply could not compete with the PRR and NYC to New York. As a result on April 26, 1958 the B&O gave up all service to New York and began terminating its trains only as far east as Baltimore.
For the next thirteen years the B&O continued running its premier flagship
train between Washington, D.C./Baltimore. As ridership declined the
railroad began merging other trains into the Cap such as the Ambassador, which operated to Detroit, and the all-coach Columbian to Chicago. However, unlike many other railroads the B&O did not let
its passenger service slide away, and die a slow death. Right until the
end the railroad offered premier service on the Cap and the train’s last journey under the B&O banner was fit for kings. During its last years of service the Capitol Limited continued to provide coach service with reclining seats, lounge service, Chessie tavern service, and finally Chessie Starlight Sleeper service (a rarity in the years directly before Amtrak).
On April 29, 1971, two days before Amtrak took over most intercity passenger operations around the country, the Cap pulled out of Baltimore’s Camden Station replete with coaches,
diners, lounges, strata-dome, and all for its final trip to Chicago.
The railroad even brought back its famed Deer Park spring water and all
onboard vegetables were fresh, not frozen or canned. After Amtrak took
over it initially canceled all B&O trains,
including the Cap. However, ten years after making its final run under its original creator, Amtrak brought back the train
in 1981, operating it over its original route between Washington, D.C.
and Chicago where it continues to remain in service today.
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|B&O E8A #1449, an E8B, and a Geep lead the Cap through Hammond, Indiana on March 31, 1964.|
For more reading consider Baltimore & Ohio's Capitol Limited and National Limited
from author Joe Welsh details both trains from their inception to final
runs under the B&O featuring 160 pages of color and black &
white photography. It's an excellent historical look at both trains and
any B&O fan or historian would likely very much enjoy it! You
might also be interested in Baltimore & Ohio Railroad written by Kirk Reynolds and David Oroszi. While there are several more excellent books, with superb illustrations,
out there covering different aspects of the B&O in more detail this
publication includes a fine general history of the railroad with
wonderful historical photos (many in color).