Of all of the Union Pacific's vast array of City trains the City of Salina was by far the least popular in the fleet thanks largely to its lightly populated route and early retirement.
However, it is included here for its historical significance, as it was the first streamliner ever operated on a major Class I railroad and was greeted by incredible fanfare upon its debut. Also known as the M-10000 the train literally set the stage for the large fleet of streamliners that would later be operated by the Union Pacific.
The railroad's City fleet became one of the most successful in the country, rival only by Santa Fe's Super Chief. While UP did not reach Chicago directly until the 1980's its extensive reach throughout the west enabled it to offer service up and down the Pacific Coast.
One could take its trains from the Windy City (in conjunction with the Chicago & North Western/Milwaukee Road) to southern California, as well as the Pacific Northwest. Today, these trains can still be seen, in a manner of speaking, as 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 Electro-Motive 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. The company is far older than any other American Class I railroad today with the Kansas City Southern in a nearby second.
In that time UP 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 railroad 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 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 Salina (known by UP personnel as “Little Zip”) has one significant claim to fame, it was Union Pacific’s very first streamlined City train and was originally known as the M-10000 before the railroad began naming its City fleet.
The M-10000 kicked off the streamliner concept in 1934 when UP introduced it in February of that year and was known to the public as The Streamliner. For its time the train was an entirely new and novel concept, looking somewhat like a sleek and shiny tube with no boxy features whatsoever (contrary to the standard coaches of the day).
The three-car, semi-articulated trainset (including the power car) built as a team effort between the Electro-Motive Corporation and Pullman-Standard topped out at 204 feet, was extremely light at just 124 tons, held 56 passengers, was powered by a 600-hp distillate engine power car, and could easily top 100 mph while cruising at-speed.
The consist itself was simple; a baggage-RPO combined into the lead power car, a coach, and a coach-observation bringing up the rear. The train was the first to feature Pullman's classic round-end observation design and became nearly standard on future observation cars built by the manufacturer.
Aside from the train's historical significance as one of the first streamliners it also ushered in Union Pacific's now classic Armour Yellow livery, interestingly enough chosen for safety so that the M-10000 could be easily spotted.
Due to the success of the train around the country, the interest by the public, and its incredibly fast speeds, Union Pacific quickly ordered additional trainsets (which featured more amenities, cars, and accommodations) and the City fleet was born.
The City of Salina, renamed so from its original M-10000 and Streamliner designation to more easily differentiate the Union Pacific's growing fleet of City streamliners of the later 1930s (in total the railroad owned seven M-10000 series trainsets), was a very short-lived train.
Since it only served a small market of under 200 miles, Kansas City to Salina, Kansas, the train offered little in the way of revenue. So, after just eight years of operation the aluminum trainset was scrapped for the war effort in 1942.