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The "Gold Coast Limited"

Last revised: May 6, 2023

By: Adam Burns

Throughout the years Union Pacific offered a long, laundry list of different named passenger trains across its vast system.  One of these, established in the pre-streamliner era during the mid-1920s was known as the Gold Coast Limited

It supplemented the then first-class Overland Limited between Chicago and Oakland/Los Angeles.  For many years the train operated as an all-heavyweight affair although in its final years (during the era of the lightweight City fleet) it did carry some semi-streamlined, modernized heavyweight equipment. 

The onset of the Great Depression, only a few years after the train launched caused its cancellation although it was later brought back to the timetable after World War II before being discontinued permanently in 1955. 

The 1920s witnessed Union Pacific launching several new trains in response to growing competition from Santa Fe, Southern Pacific, Great Northern, and Northern Pacific; names like the Portland Limited (Portland Rose after 1930), San Francisco LimitedPacific LimitedColumbine, and Mountain Bluebird all appeared on the timetable during the decade.  

Union Pacific 4-8-4 #822 departs from Cheyenne, Wyoming with train #23, the westbound "Gold Coast," on the evening of October 15, 1955. Bob Collins photo. American-Rails.com collection.


All secondary trains in nature they complemented UP's then first-class runs the Overland Limited (established in 1896 by renaming the former Overland Flyer connecting Oakland/San Francisco and Chicago, working in conjunction with the Chicago & North Western and Southern Pacific between each end point) and Los Angeles Limited (inaugurated in 1905 between Los Angeles and Chicago). 

The Gold Coast Limited was established on November 14, 1926 running on a slower schedule of the Overland and stopped at those stations passed over by the first-class train.  

While the Gold Coast sported an all-Pullman, heavyweight consist it was tailored towards the middle-class as a cheaper alternative to its counterpart. 

When the train debuted Union Pacific spent a great deal of effort promoting the train through its 68-hour schedule (about five hours slower than the Overland, which had been cut to a 63-hour running time) and its many on board amenities. 

According to the railroad these included, "All-Pullman, bath, barber, valet, maid, and manicure [services].  Open top observation car through the mountains and orange groves of California.  The same fine service eastbound."  The entire ad can be viewed below.

Consist (1952)

Its full consist comprised similar offerings found on the Overland such as coaches, a diner, a lounge, and typically a half-dozen sleepers (one of which ran through to Portland). 

East of Ogden, Utah the train ran combined but west of that point split with one section bound for Los Angeles and the other continuing on along the Overland Route via the Southern Pacific to Oakland/San Francisco. 

Typical power consisted of either UP's Class MT 4-8-2 Mountains or Class P 4-6-2 Pacifics.  Later, it was not uncommon to see the fast and powerful Class FEF 4-8-4 Northerns heading the train as well as streamlined diesels from Electro-Motive (E7s and E8s) and Alco (PA-1) during the train's final years in service.

Timetable (September 30, 1951)

Read Down
Time/Leave (Train #23/C&NW)
Milepost Location Read Up
Time/Arrive (Train #24/C&NW)
8:00 PM (Dp)0.0
Chicago, IL (North Western Station) (CT)
8:15 AM (Ar)
11:05 PM138
Clinton, IA
4:35 AM
12:45 AM219
Cedar Rapids, IA
2:35 AM
2:20 AM289
Marshalltown, IA
12:58 AM
3:10 AM327
Ames, IA
12:15 AM
3:45 AM340
Boone, IA
11:40 PM
7:02 AM485
Council Bluffs, IA
8:45 PM
7:30 AM (Ar)488
Omaha, NE (Union Station)
8:30 PM (Dp)
Read Down
Time/Leave (Train #23/UP)
Milepost Location Read Up
Time/Arrive (Train #24/UP)
8:20 AM (Dp)0.0
Omaha, NE (Union Station)
7:50 PM (Ar)
9:16 AM37
Fremont, NE
6:49 PM
F 9:48 AM66
Schuyler, NE
6:11 PM
10:12 AM82
Columbus, NE
5:52 PM
F 10:55 AM122
Central City, NE
F 5:11 PM
11:20 AM (Ar)144
Grand Island, NE
4:45 AM (Dp)
11:30 AM (Dp)144
Grand Island, NE
4:35 PM (Ar)
12:18 PM186
Kearney, NE
3:40 PM
12:57 PM222
Lexington, NE
F 2:57 PM
F 1:16 PM236
Cozad, NE
F 2:39 PM
F 1:30 PM246
Gothenburg, NE
F 2:22 PM
2:15 PM (Ar)281
North Platte, NE (CT)
1:40 PM (Dp)
1:25 PM (Dp)281
North Platte, NE (MT)
12:30 PM (Ar)
Sutherland, NE
F 12:02 PM
Paxton, NE
F 11:50 AM
2:23 PM332
Ogallala, NE
11:31 AM
Brule, NE
F 11:21 AM
Big Springs, NE
F 11:11 AM
F 2:57 PM363
Julesburg, CO
F 11:00 AM
Chappell, NE
F 10:46 AM
Lodge Pole, NE
F 10:37 AM
3:45 PM (Ar)405
Sidney, NE
10:20 AM (Dp)
3:55 PM (Dp)405
Sidney, NE
10:10 AM (Ar)
F 4:40 PM442
Kimball, NE
F 9:32 AM
6:10 PM (Ar)507
Cheyenne, WY
8:30 AM (Dp)
6:20 PM (Dp)507
Cheyenne, WY
8:15 AM (Ar)
Granite Canon, WY
F 7:40 AM
Buford, WY
F 7:27 AM
Hermosa, WY
F 7:08 AM
7:42 PM (Ar)563
Laramie, WY
6:35 AM (Dp)
7:50 PM (Dp)563
Laramie, WY
6:25 AM (Ar)
F 8:13 PM583
Bosler, WY
F 5:57 AM
F 8:24 PM591
Lookout, WY
F 5:42 AM
F 8:30 PM596
Harper, WY
F 8:38 PM603
Rock River, WY
F 5:23 AM
F 9:01 PM620
Medicine Bow, WY
F 4:55 AM
F 9:30 PM640
Hanna, WY
4:29 AM
F 9:55 PM659
Walcott, WY
F 3:57 AM
F 9:55 PM665
Fort Steele, WY
F 3:47 AM
F 10:12 PM673
Sinclair, WY
F 3:35 AM
10:25 PM (Ar)680
Rawlins, WY
3:25 AM (Dp)
10:35 PM (Dp)680
Rawlins, WY
3:15 AM (Ar)
Riner, WY
F 2:46 AM
Creston, WY
F 2:33 AM
F 11:27 PM721
Wamsutter, WY
F 2:18 AM
F 11:47 PM737
Tipton, WY
F 1:58 AM
F 12:07 AM754
Bitter Creek, WY
F 1:37 AM
F 12:30 AM774
Point Of Rocks, WY
F 1:14 AM
1:10 AM799
Rock Springs, WY
12:40 AM
1:35 AM (Ar)814
Green River, WY
12:15 AM (Dp)
1:55 AM (Dp)814
Green River, WY
11:50 PM (Ar)
F 2:33 AM844
Granger, WY
F 11:10 PM
F 3:07 AM873
Carter, WY
F 10:35 PM
F 3:43 AM899
Aspen, WY
F 10:00 PM
F 3:50 AM901
Altamont, WY
F 9:54 PM
4:08 PM (Ar)914
Evanston, WY
9:30 AM (Dp)
4:18 PM (Dp)914
Evanston, WY
9:20 AM (Ar)
F 4:35 AM925
Wahsatch, WY
F 9:03 PM
F 5:14 AM950
Echo, WY
F 8:15 PM
F 5:34 AM966
Morgan, WY
F 7:52 PM
6:15 AM (Ar)990
Ogden, UT (CT)
7:15 PM (Dp)
Read Down
Time/Leave (Train #23-37 [Gold Coast/Pony Express]/UP)
Milepost Location Read Up
Time/Arrive (Train #38-24 [Gold Coast/Pony Express]/UP)
7:00 AM (Dp)990
Ogden, UT (MT)
6:40 PM (Ar)
8:00 AM (Ar)1026
Salt Lake City, UT
5:45 PM (Dp)
9:40 AM (Dp)1026
Salt Lake City, UT
5:15 PM (Ar)
10:07 AM1042
Garfield, UT
F 4:44 PM
10:45 AM1062
Warner, UT
4:19 PM
F 11:00 AM1067
Stockton, UT
F 4:08 PM
F 11:10 AM1074
St. John, UT
F 3:59 PM
F 11:25 AM1087
Faust, UT
F 12:00 Noon1111
Tintic, UT
F 3:10 PM
12:40 PM1144
Lynndyl, UT
2:30 PM
1:03 PM1161
Delta, UT
2:05 PM
F 2:05 PM1211
Black Rock, UT
F 1:05 PM
2:40 PM (Ar)1233
Milford, UT
12:40 PM (Dp)
2:55 PM (Dp)1233
Milford, UT
12:30 PM (Ar)
3:40 PM1269
Lund, UT
11:50 AM
F 3:57 PM1283
Beryl, UT
F 11:29 AM
F 4:18 PM1300
Modena, UT
F 11:10 AM
Uvada, UT (MT)
Crestline, NV (PT)
4:50 PM1351
Caliente, NV
8:40 AM
Elgin, NV
F 7:55 AM
Carp, NV
F 7:28 AM
Rox, NV
F 6:53 AM
6:52 PM1427
Moapa, NV
6:35 AM
Dry Lake, NV
F 6:12 AM
8:45 PM (Ar)1476
Las Vegas, NV
5:40 AM (Dp)
9:15 PM (Dp)1476
Las Vegas, NV
5:10 AM (Ar)
F 9:35 PM1488
Arden, NV
F 4:45 AM
F 9:45 PM1495
Sloan, NV
F 4:32 AM
Jean, NV
4:08 AM
Nipton, CA
F 3:24 AM
F 10:40 PM1543
Ivanpah, CA
F 3:10 AM
Cima, CA
F 2:48 AM
11:40 PM1575
Kelso, CA
2:05 AM
1:25 AM1647
Yermo, CA
12:40 AM
2:00 AM1660
Barstow, CA
12:10 AM
2:44 AM1697
Victorville, CA
11:23 PM
4:10 AM (Ar)1741
San Bernardino, CA
9:55 PM (Dp)
4:20 AM (Dp)1741
San Bernardino, CA
9:45 PM (Ar)
4:30 AM1697
Colton, CA
9:32 PM
4:50 AM1752
Riverside, CA
9:15 PM
5:07 AM1763
Mira Loma, CA
5:23 AM1771
Ontario, CA
8:40 PM
5:35 AM1777
Pomona, CA
8:32 PM
6:05 AM1799
Pico, CA
6:11 AM1801
Montebello, CA
6:25 AM1804
East Los Angeles, CA
7:55 PM
7:00 AM (Ar)1811
Los Angeles, CA (Union Passenger Terminal) (PT)
7:30 PM (Dp)
Read Down
Time/Leave (Train #23/SP)
Milepost Location Read Up
Time/Arrive (Train #24/SP)
7:00 AM (Dp)990
Odgen, UT (MT)
6:30 PM (Ar)
Promontory, UT (PT)
10:38 AM1111
Montello, NV
1:50 PM
12:19 PM1166
Wells, NV
12:11 PM
1:37 PM1217
Elko, NV
10:50 AM
2:18 PM1239
Carlin, NV
10:15 AM
F 3:40 PM1297
Battle Mountain, NV
8:42 AM
5:13 PM1356
Winnemucca, NV
7:20 AM
6:15 PM1389
Imlay, NV
6:33 AM
7:18 PM1428
Lovelock, NV
5:44 AM
F 8:40 PM1485
Hazen, NV
F 4:33 AM
10:40 PM1530
Reno, NV
2:55 AM
11:45 PM1565
Truckee, CA
F 1:35 AM
2:11 AM1629
Colfax, CA
11:03 PM
2:49 AM1647
Auburn, CA
F 10:27 PM
3:40 AM1665
Roseville, CA
9:54 PM
4:15 AM (Ar)1683
Sacramento, CA
9:16 PM (Dp)
4:35 AM (Dp)1683
Sacramento, CA
8:55 PM (Ar)
Davis, CA
8:32 PM
5:43 AM1743
Martinez, CA
7:38 PM
5:58 AM1749
Crockett, CA
7:24 PM
6:24 AM1762
Richmond, CA
6:59 PM
6:38 AM1765
Berkeley, CA
6:49 PM
6:49 AM1769
Oakland, CA (16th Street Station)
6:39 PM
7:00 AM1771
Oakland, Pier, CA
6:30 PM
7:35 AM (Ar)1775
San Francisco, CA (PT)
6:00 PM (Dp)

F: Flagstop, stops only on signal.

S: Stops to let off or take on passengers.

Looking back on the Gold Coast Limited the train had a rather interesting history.  After only five years in service Union Pacific canceled it in 1931 citing declining ridership brought on by the Great Depression. 

The name remained off the timetable for more than 15 years until it was reestablished during October of 1947 to replace the discontinued Challenger that year (a train which had also came and went from the timetable). 

The 1930s and 1940s were the age of Union Pacific's streamliner fleet, specifically the City trains that defined the railroad. 

It was UP itself that had christened the streamliner by debuting the three-car, articulated trainset known as the M-10000 (or just, The Streamliner, as the railroad called it) during February of 1934.  Before the decade had ended it fielded colorful, sleek, and fast trains serving the cities of Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Denver among others.

As the railroad continued expanding its fleet, an effort as much spurred by the competition as it was an attempt to provide travelers with additional services, the Gold Coast Limited lost importance. 

During the years following World War II Union Pacific reorganized its fleet to introduce daily service on its City fleet. 

This move meant that some trains, like the San Francisco Challenger and Los Angeles Challenger were forced off the timetable to provide enough equipment to do so. 

Through the early 1950s UP was still witnessing relatively strong ridership, convincing it to purchase additional new equipment. 

Large orders during this time from Pullman-Standard, Budd, and American Car & Foundry allowed UP to boast one of the most expansive lightweight fleets in the nation.   

Timetable (1952)

It was also the era of the Domeliner when Union Pacific acquired a large batch of domes used on all of its top trains.  These cars featured an array of services from sleepers, coaches, and lounge-observations. 

However, the diners were the most popular and fondly remembered today enabling passengers the chance to enjoy their meal perched high above the tracks to witness the open vistas of the western United States. 

It provided for an unparalleled experience and the Union Pacific was the only railroad to offer such a feature on its trains.  Through the 1960s UP was still upgrading and reequipping its train which finally led to the permanent cancellation of the Gold Coast Limited in 1955.

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