The B&O's service had been around since 1890 where, according to Herbert Harwood, Jr.'s authoritative book, "Royal Blue Line: A Classic B&O Train Between Washington And New York," the railroad's entire fleet of trains serving this market had simply been referred to as the "Royal Blue." In 1935, to revive its sagging passenger business it launched an official streamliner to the Big Apple known as the Royal Blue. The train featured lightweight aluminum cars manufactured by American Car & Foundry with power provided via a pair of graceful steam locomotives carrying an English look, the 4-4-4 Lady Baltimore and 4-6-4 Lord Baltimore. In addition, a boxcab diesel (internally identical to the future EA but lacking external streamlining) was purchased from the Electro-Motive Corporation and given #50. What’s more, the train included additional creature-comforts such as wider seats, full dining services (and a lunch-counter option), buffet-lounge, and round-ended parlor observation. The Royal Blue officially entered service on June 24, 1935. Just a month prior the Milwaukee Road launched its Hiawatha on May 29th.
The Hiawatha was also initially steam powered, featuring the legendary 4-4-2's (Class A), manufactured by the American Locomotive Company. This train was all about speed. In his book, "The Hiawatha Story," author Jim Scribbins notes just how fast these Atlantics were during trial runs held on May 15, 1935: "They were intended to cruise at 100 mph and to reach 120 mph - plenty of reserve power if needed...On May 8th, No. 1 reached 90 mph with a 500-ton train. The big event, though, was a May 15th round trip between Milwaukee and New Lisbon with engine No. 2. Engineman Ed Donahue had a complete consist of Hiawatha equipment. The train, carefully timed to each milepost with stopwatches and chronometers, loafed along at 65 to 75 mph as far as Watertown 'just to get the feel of things,' then the decision was made for the remainder of the run to find out just how fast comfortable travel could be achieved. Ninety-one mph seemed like 45. At 100 mph a shout erupted from the mechanical department personnel doing the timing - 103.5...105...105.5...109, and still comfortable. Finally came 112.5, and the train rode like a dream. In the diner, a full glass of water held every drop. The trip to New Lisbon had required 113 minutes for 136 miles, a start-to-stop average of 74.9 mph, and the 112.5 mph had been maintained without difficulty for 14 miles...According to Engineer Donahue, the faster he went the better the locomotive rode."
The Atlantics were later bumped by newer 4-6-4 Hudsons (Class F-7) in the fall of 1938. These machines had no trouble matching their counterparts, also capable of speeds above 100 mph. The Milwaukee was lauded for its Hiawatha fleet, the original of which was home-built at its shops in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (except for the locomotives). While the trains' speed and exterior glamour wowed the public the interior accommodations were just as opulent with its famous "Tip-Top-Tap" restaurant-buffet-diner, three reclining seat coaches, parlor, and parlor-observation. Other flagship services like the Super Chief and Empire Builder featured similar levels of comfort and designers went to great lengths ensuring just the right theme had been achieved for each particular train. As Bob Johnson, Joe Welsh, and Mike Schafer point out in their book, "The Art Of The Streamliner," engineers were always under a deadline: "Renowned architect John Harbeson once estimated that he had designed over thirty trains for the Budd Company - and never had more than three weeks to create any of them." These men also spent time learning about each train's particular operating territory and the history of its railroad.
Norfolk & Western
The Overnight, Pocahontas: Norfolk - Cincinnati
The Flagship, Powhatan Arrow: Norfolk - Cincinnati
The All-Stops Transcontinental, Mainstreeter: Chicago - Seattle
Northern Pacific's Top Service, The North Coast Limited: Chicago - Seattle
A History Of PRR's Streamlined Services, The So-Called "Fleet Of Modernism"
One Of The Very Best, The Broadway Limited: New York - Chicago
The PRR's Regional, Congressional Services: New York - Washington
Competing Against The B&O, The Liberty Limited: Washington/Baltimore - Chicago
Along The Northeast Corridor, The Senator: Boston - New York - Washington
Service To Florida, The Joint PRR/L&N/ACL/FEC, South Wind: Chicago - Miami
Serving The Gateway City, The Spirit Of St. Louis: New York - St. Louis
The Successful Regional Streamliner, The Crusader: Philadelphia - Jersey City
Denver & Rio Grande Western (Rio Grande)
The Iconic California Zephyr, A Joint CB&Q/WP/Rio Grande Streamliner: Chicago - Oakland/San Francisco
Through The Rockies, The Prospector: Denver - Salt Lake City
Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific (Rock Island)
Offering Its Own Mile High Service, The Rocky Mountain Rocket: Chicago - Denver/Colorado Springs
In Conjunction With SP, The Transcontinental Golden State: Chicago - Los Angeles
St. Louis - San Francisco Railway (Frisco)
The Luxurious Texas Special, A Joint Katy/Frisco Service: St. Louis - Fort Worth/Dallas - San Antonio
Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe (Santa Fe)
A Legend Is Born, The Chief: Chicago - Los Angeles
The All-Coach, El Capitan: Chicago - Los Angeles
The Unrivaled, Super Chief: Chicago - Los Angeles
Seaboard Air Line
Running The Coast, The Joint Seaboard/L&N, Gulf Wind: New Orleans - Jacksonville
Expanding Services, The Silver Comet: New York - Birmingham
Launching Streamlined Service In The South, The Silver Meteor: New York - Miami/St. Petersburg
The Legendary Daylights: Los Angeles - San Francisco/Oakland
The Overnight, Lark: Los Angeles - San Francisco/Oakland
The Streamlined, San Joaquin Daylight: Los Angeles - San Francisco/Oakland
Serving The Northwest, The Streamlined Shasta Daylight: Portland - San Francisco
"Daylights" In The Southwest, The Sunbeam: Houston - Dallas
The Transcontinental Southern Service, The Fabled Sunset Limited: Los Angeles - New Orleans
In Conjunction With The Rock Island, The Transcontinental Golden State: Chicago - Los Angeles
Southern's Flagship, The Crescent: New York - Atlanta - New Orleans
Serving The Midwest And South, The Royal Palm: Chicago - Miami/St. Petersburg
Additional Service To The Deep South, The Southerner: New York - Atlanta - New Orleans
In Conjunction With The N&W, The Tennessean: New York -Lynchburg - Bristol - Memphis
The First-Ever Streamliner, The M-10000
The Challenger, Providing Secondary Service From Chicago To Los Angeles
UP's City Fleet Of Streamliners, Most Operated In Conjunction With The C&NW, And Later Milwaukee Road
City of Los Angeles: Chicago - Los Angeles
City of Portland: Chicago - Portland
City of San Francisco: Chicago - San Francisco
City of Denver: Chicago - Denver
City of St. Louis: St. Louis - San Francisco/Oakland
The City Of Salina, The Renamed M-10000: Kansas City - Salina, Kansas
The Popular, Regional, Blue Bird: St. Louis - Chicago
The Iconic California Zephyr, A Joint CB&Q/WP/Rio Grande Streamliner: Chicago - Oakland/San Francisco
General Motors' Interesting Aerotrain Concept
The L&N's Flamingo: Cincinnati - Atlanta
The Southern's Pelican: New York - New Orleans
The Florida East Coast's, One-Of-A-Kind, Havana Special: New York - Key West, Florida
The United Drug Company's, "Rexall Train"
By the late 1930s shiny, sleek, and fast passenger trains were fast becoming the must-have sensation as nearly every major railroad had at least one in service by 1940. Some of the more famous either debuted or were re-christened then included Pennsylvania’s Broadway Limited (June 6, 1938); New York Central’s 20th Century Limited (June 6, 1938); B&O’s Capitol Limited (November 23, 1938); Union Pacific’s transcontinental City fleet (1935-1936); and finally Southern Pacific’s Daylight (March 21, 1937). The onset of World War II halted the advancement of streamliners with all efforts focused on wartime production (sadly, New York Central's introduction of the Empire State Express on December 7, 1941 was overshadowed by a much more notable event in American history). Streamliner mania continued after the war in spite of declining demand as railroads spent lavishly on new equipment in hopes of rejuvenating public interest. The NYC, for instance, spent an astonishing $90 million during, and immediately after, the war for a total of 720 new cars built by the vaunted Pullman-Standard ("The World's Greatest Hotel"), Budd Company, and American Car & Foundry.
As it turns out, the beautifully crafted shrouding some steam locomotives wore was short-lived when Electro-Motive got in on the streamlined concept with its EA diesel in 1937. First operated by the B&O, and soon followed by the Santa Fe (E1), these machines could operate further while requiring fewer man-hours to maintain. This initial variant was powered by two 900-horsepower, 12-cylinder 201-A Winton engines. The Santa Fe equipped its E1 variant on the premier Super Chief. The train was a more luxurious version of the Chief and introduced to compete with the Union Pacific’s City of Los Angeles. It was instantly successful and featured a striking paint scheme of red and yellow (Knickerbocker's famous Warbonnet livery) with matching stainless-steel cars produced by Budd. The entire train was modeled after Native American tribes of the Southwest. By comparison, the B&O utilized its EA on the premier Capitol Limited (Chicago - New York) with the help of its Mount Clare Shops, which streamlined standard heavyweight cars to match the new diesels.
Despite their efforts railroads watched helplessly as passenger traffic plummeted and not even new equipment and promotional advertising could sway passengers back to the rails. The industry bowed out of the market when and where they could as automobiles and airplanes gradually eroded business. Due to the Interstate Commerce Commission's strict oversight many, particularly the largest railroads, had difficulty eliminating services entirely. By the 1960s even flagships were in serious decline (New York Central elected to cancel its prestigious 20th Century Limited prior to its 1968 merger with PRR) while only the strongest carries, such as the Santa Fe and Union Pacific, continuing to operate their trains with top-notch accommodations. As railroads desperately looked for a way out the major car builders ceased production of traditional equipment and Pullman closed altogether in late 1968. By 1971 their wish became reality with the creation of the National Railroad Passenger Corporation, or Amtrak. It alleviated many carriers of their obligations. Today, Amtrak continues providing intercity services across the country albeit via a truncated network and far fewer on-aboard amenities than these streamliners provided.
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