Texas Chief

The Texas Chief was the Santa Fe's only such train within the fleet that was not a transcontinental operation.  However, it operated as the only streamliner providing direct service between Chicago and Texas at Galveston along the Gulf Coast.  It was inaugurated a few years following World War II and not surprisingly, thanks to the Santa Fe's unparalleled devotion to passenger rail travel, the Texas became one of the most popular trains serving its home state (despite a schedule that was somewhat slow and circuitous).  In its nearly three decades running the train maintained a high level of service as the AT&SF was unwilling to let such decline even in the face of falling ridership.  As with most of the other Chiefs (except the original incarnation, The Chief, which was canceled during 1968) the Texas remained on the railroad's timetable until the start of Amtrak on May 1, 1971. 

The Santa Fe's latest edition to its fabled fleet of streamliners was the Texas Chief launched during the spring of 1948 listed as train's #15 (southbound) and #16 (northbound) taking the numbers of what was formally the Chicago Express that served much of the same territory.  According to Mike Schafer and Joe Welsh's book, "Streamliners:  History Of A Railroad Icon," the train covered a route of 1,410 miles with a schedule of 26 1/4 hours serving such notable locations as Kansas City, Topeka, Oklahoma City, Fort Worth, and Houston while later providing connecting service to Dallas/Gainesville during 1955 (this train was listed as #115 and #116 offering sleepers and coaches, covering about 85 miles during its run). 

Santa Fe's Storied Passenger Trains

The Chief: (Chicago - Los Angeles) 

El Capitan: (Chicago - Los Angeles) 

Grand Canyon: (Chicago - Los Angeles) 

San Francisco Chief: (Chicago - Amarillo - San Francisco) 

San Diegan: (Los Angeles - San Diego) 

Super Chief: (Chicago - Los Angeles) 

Tulsan: (Kansas City - Tulsa) 

Chicagoan/Kansas Cityan: (Dallas - Kansas City - Chicago) 

Golden Gate: (Los Angeles - San Francisco) 

More Reading...

A History Of The Santa Fe

Santa Fe's train #16, the northbound/eastbound "Texas Chief" (Houston - Chicago), departs Norman, Oklahoma on June 1, 1970. F.L. Becht photo.

The train was advertised as a full streamliner (and the only through Chicago-Gulf Coast service available) but as a secondary Chief the AT&SF carried on the usual practice of providing it with handed-down equipment from other more notable trains, such as the Super Chief.  For instance, the its consist was comprised of secondhand cars manufactured by American Car & Foundry, Budd, and Pullman-Standard that included chair cars, Pullman sleepers, diners, and lounges (a fairly typical consist for a Santa Fe streamliner).  However, the locomotives carried the usual Warbonnet livery while the cars were clad in stainless steel.  Its early power was provided by the Santa Fe's bevy of F3s and F7s built for passenger service and Alco's iconic PAs also pulled assignments on the Texas Chief.  In later years less attractive F45s or General Electric U28CGs and U30CGs could be found on the head-end.

From a scheduling standpoint the southbound Texas Chief departed Chicago during mid-evening each day and arrived later the next evening in Galveston.  Its northbound counterpart would leave the Gulf Coast early in the morning and return to the Windy City around mid-morning the following day.  By the 1960s the Santa Fe was facing declining ridership system-wide and it was (albeit reluctantly) forced to cancel trains, combine others, and perform cutbacks where service no longer warranted the need to continue doing so.  The latter was the case for the Texas, which saw its timetable truncated no further south than Houston during 1967.  A year later in 1968 further reductions witnessed the Dallas section canceled albeit the railroad continued providing motor-coach service seven days a week. 

(The below Texas Chief timetable is dated effective January of 1970.)

Read Down Time/Leave (Train #15)
Read Up
Time/Arrive (Train #16)
5:20 PM (Dp)0
Chicago, IL (Dearborn Station) (CT)
9:15 AM (Ar)
6:10 PM38
Joliet, IL (Union Station)
8:10 AM
6:55 PM90
Streator, IL
7:20 AM
8:15 PM177
Galesburg, IL
5:55 AM
9:20 PM232
Fort Madison, IA
5:00 AM
10:30 PM311
La Plata, MO
3:49 AM
11:05 PM346
Marceline, MO
3:15 AM
1:10 AM449
Kansas City, MO (Union Station)
1:35 AM
1:55 AM489
Lawrence, KS
12:15 AM
2:20 AM515
Topeka, KS
11:45 PM
3:25 AM577
Emporia, KS
10:40 PM
4:40 AM650
Newton, KS
9:35 PM
5:20 AM677
Wichita, KS
8:45 PM
6:05 AM715
Winfield, KS
8:00 PM
6:25 AM728
Arkansas City, KS
7:45 PM
7:00 AM753
Ponca City, OK
7:05 PM
7:30 AM786
Perry, OK
6:35 PM
8:00 AM817
Guthrie, OK
6:05 PM
8:55 AM848
Oklahoma City, OK
5:30 PM
9:52 AM881
Purcell, OK
4:40 PM
10:18 AM903
Pauls Valley, OK
4:06 PM
11:13 AM948
Ardmore, OK
3:15 PM
11:58 AM988
Gainesville, TX
2:31 PM
1:40 PM1052
Fort Worth, TX
1:08 PM
2:12 PM1081
Cleburne, TX
12:23 PM
4:02 PM1180
Temple, TX
10:45 AM
6:19 PM1291
Bellville Yard, TX
8:50 AM
8:00 PM (Ar)1368
Houston, TX (CT)
7:20 AM (Dp)

Despite these cutbacks the train also gained new equipment at the same time in the form of popular "Big Dome" lounges (Budd products manufactured during 1954 they were some of the heaviest of their type ever constructed), which came from the canceled Chief that year.  According to the Santa Fe's 1970 timetable there was no reserved seats required on the Texas although it did provide "train to train baggage transfer service" via the Penn Central's connecting Broadway Limited at Chicago.  Such small, but notable, gestures were becoming the exception rather than the once-common rule in rail travel by those days.  Additionally, the train still provided chair cars (coaches), the noted "Big Dome" lounge, a full service diner, and a trio of sleepers (10-roomette, 6-bedroom serving Chicago - Topeka; 10-roomette, 6-double bedroom serving Chicago - Fort Worth, and finally a 10-roomette, 6-double bedroom running the Chicago - Houston route).  For even further reading about the Texas Chief please click here.

There were very few roads that were both unwilling and financially able to maintain their trains to the highest of standards right until the day Amtrak took over intercity operations in 1971.  The Santa Fe was one such company (the Union Pacific another).  Despite having to combine its flagships El Capitan and Super Chief into one, for example, the train continued running on-time with the very best of equipment until the end.  This was also the case for both the Texas Chief and San Francisco Chief (the other transcontinental still running then) which boasted high operational standards as well.  The former would make its final run under its parent company on April 30, 1971.

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Header Photo: Drew Jacksich

Researching Rights-Of-Way

A popular pastime for many is studying and/or exploring abandoned rights-of-way.  Today, there are tens of thousands of miles scattered throughout the country.  Many were pulled up in the 1970's and 1980's although others were removed long before that.  If you are researching active or abandoned corridors you might want to check out the United States Geological Survey's (USGS) Historical Topographic Map Explorer.  It is an excellent resource with thousands of historic maps on file throughout the country.  Just type in a town or city and click on the timeline of maps at the bottom of the page!

Studying Diesels

You will be hard pressed at finding a better online resource regarding diesel locomotives than Craig Rutherford's TheDieselShop.us.  The website contains everything from historic (fallen flags) to contemporary (Class I's, regionals, short lines, and even some museums/tourist lines) rosters, locomotive production information, technical data, all notable models cataloged by the five major builders (American Locomotive, Electro-Motive, General Electric, Fairbanks-Morse, and Baldwin), and much more.  A highly recommended database!

Electro-Motive Database

In 1998 a gentleman by the name of Andre Kristopans put together a web page highlighting virtually every unit every out-shopped by General Motors' Electro-Motive Division.  Alas, in 2013 the site closed by thankfully Don Strack rescued the data and transferred it over to his UtahRails.net site (another fine resource).  If you are researching anything EMD related please visit this page first.  The information includes original numbers, serials, and order numbers.