The City of Saint Louis was just one train in the Union Pacific’s premier fleet of passenger trains. A very late entrant into the railroad's City the St. Louis was not inaugurated into after World War II. However, it proved to be a fairly successful train, in no small part to the Union Pacific's reputation for impeccable service and eventually operated a route similar to the City of Los Angeles. The railroad hosted an entire array of plush City trains, all of which were quite successful. For the St. Louis' it was a shortlived train Today, the City fleet can still be witnessed, in a manner of speaking, as the UP’s official business train is not only decorated in the Cities’ classic livery but also includes the original equipment from them, right down to the two E9As and E9Bs that power it!
The Union Pacific Railroad (UP), the largest and one of the most powerful railroads in the country, has been with us since 1862, some 146 years. The Union Pacific is far older than any other American Class I railroad today with the Kansas City Southern in a nearby second at 111 years. In that time the railroad has become not only one of the most highly respected institutions in the nation but also has seen nearly every major railroading event in our country’s history, and accordingly has a very long and storied history. The Union Pacific’s City fleet is credited with being the first lightweight streamlined passenger train to operate in the United States. In 1934 the City of Salina, the first in the fleet, debuted as a three-car lightweight trainset that the Electro-Motive Corporation named the M-10000.
The Union Pacific was so impressed with the train, and the response it received from the public, that it purchased seven more sets and the City fleet was born! Following the City of Salina, also in 1934 was the City of Portland, followed by the City of Los Angeles, City of San Francisco, and City of Denver in 1936. The City fleet became revered throughout the west and rivaled the Santa Fe’s legendary Super Chief, and every other western passenger train, in exquisiteness and fine traveling. Once the trains received their Domeliners in the mid-1950s they became the lavish way to travel for many in Hollywood.
The City of Saint Louis was another of Union Pacific’s vast City fleet of trains connecting the Midwest with the west coast. The City of Saint Louis debuted on June 2, 1946 originally connecting its namesake city, in conjunction with the little Wabash Railroad between Kansas City and St. Louis, with Cheyenne, Wyoming via Denver and Kansas City. For its first four years of service the train only operated through sleeper service to Portland, San Francisco, and Los Angeles via Cheyenne. However, later in 1951 it was operated as its own train all of the way to Los Angeles. Not long after the St. Louis hit the rails it was upgraded with lightweight, all-streamlined equipment in 1947 featuring diners, Pullman sleepers, lounges, observations, and even dome cars which were added in 1958 from Pullman-Standard and American Car & Foundry.
After the Wabash was leased by the Norfolk & Western Railway in 1964 the latter company ferried the City of St. Louis between St. Louis Union Station and Kansas City Union Station. Operating on a schedule of nearly 47 hours the train (listed as #9 (westbound) and #10 (eastbound) on UP's official timetable) normally carried an average train speed of about 50 mph the entire trip. For more information regarding the City of Saint Louis' schedule and consist please click here.
Through the end the City of Saint Louis, along with her sister City trains, remained a top-notch, all matching consist operation by Union Pacific. As rail travel patronage slacked off through the 1960s the train was eventually downgraded, however, and combined with the City of Los Angeles west of Ogden, Utah. In June 1968 the City of Saint Louis was further downgraded, operating to only Kansas City and renamed as the City of Kansas City. In 1970 Union Pacific pulled dome service from all of its City trains. While service remained satisfactory, however, this did not secure the St. Louis or other City trains’ futures as they were all discontinued with the startup of Amtrak in the spring of 1971. Today, the fleet can still be witnessed through Union Pacific's official business train.
For more reading on the Union Pacific you might want to consider Union Pacific Railroad from authors Joe Welsh and Kevin Holland. Of course, being that the Union Pacific is so well known and has been around for so many years, hundreds of publications (many quite good) have been written about it detailing various subjects of the railroad. However, this book will at least give you a general overview and history of the UP (filled with many, excellent, historical and colorful photographs) at which point you can decide if you are interested in further books of study on the railroad. Even if you are a historian of the UP and have not seen this book I'm sure you will enjoy it!
Also, for more reading on streamliners like the City of Saint Louis you might want to also consider the book Streamliners: History of a Railroad Icon from renowned author Mike Schafer who covers in detail most of the well known and remembered “classic” passenger trains to operate in the country. If you have any interest in such you should very much enjoy Mr. Schafer’s book. If you're interested in perhaps purchasing either (or both) of these books please visit the links below which will take you to ordering information through Amazon.com, the trusted online shopping network.