• A Pre A-Day Treasure Trove

  • Tell us where you were and what you saw!
Tell us where you were and what you saw!

Moderator: David Benton

  by Gilbert B Norman
For those of us, who by grace of age and circumstance, were "out there riding" before A-Day (Amtrak inception; May 1, 1971), the linked site should prove to be a treasure trove:


A warning to those who know only the Amtrak era; you will be "green with envy".

  by John_Perkowski
I correspond on a technical passenger board with one of the contributors to that site.

Mission Road was one of 3 coach yards in Los Angeles into the 1960s. It was long ago built over to other uses. This is one of the challenges of the Amtrak era; the infrastructure to serve passenger trains at the termini is GONE.

  by David Benton
Great link Mr Norman , for a glimpse of yesteryear .
One observation i would make , American trains were a mishmash of livires before amtrak took over their rolling stock .
Fair comment ???

  by Gilbert B Norman
A fair comment, Mr. Benton--

The number of "perfect streamliners', i.e. all cars of same livery, as we have discussed at another thread here at this Forum were few and far between. To have all cars regularly assigned to any train of the same design and manufacture was very very rare. Even trains such as the California Zephyr, had one or two "foreign' Sleepers in consist during peak travel periods.
  by bill haithcoat
And then there is this. A number of trains BEGAN as "perect streamliners" from beginning to end(though not always including the locomotive) but they often did not remain so. Many trains, when they finally died, had absolutely none of their original equipemnt, the way it all often got switched around, added to, taken off, etc. It can be kind of confusing, but as Mr. Norman well knows, that was part of the fun!!!

Just half-way keeping up with it (and trying to remember it now) was a full time task. It was always interesting to travel to a quite different part of the country and see what the trains REALLY looked like, when you factor in things like mail cars and the number of coaches on trains that did not have reserved seats. It could be quite different from the impression you had gotten from the timetables and maybe a few all set up "publciity shots". It could be quite enlightening and sometimes a little shocking. As some trains were much "nicer" than you expected, some not as "nice", burdened down with headend, for example, which you would never know from the timetable)..

I grew up in Chattanooga, and at first rode mostly in the southeast and then the southwest. But one day found me in St. Louis and I had a blast seeing a whole station full of trains I had never seen before (except the Texas Eagle which got me there from Dallas and the Georgian which took me back to Chattanooga.

I specifically remember finding the Penn Texas to be a classier train than I had made it out to be from the timetable. So much hype went to the Broadway Liimited, and rightly so, but it could make one not sufficient appreciate some of the other trains. Same could be said othe 20th Century Limited vs. some other NYC trains. Not taking anything away from the Broadway or the Century, undersand, just saying the others were kind of neglected, I think.
  by bill haithcoat
Also, keep in mind that before Amtrak, many trains were "interline". This meant they were operated in cooperation with more than one railroad.

In some cases the cooperating railroads might have different "colors" (like schools) and thus there could be a conflict. ALso, normally trains changed locmotives each time they changed railroads so that is another thing to mar the perfection right there.

Before I forget, thanks Mr. Norman for poviding this oldie goldie link. I shall enjoy it more and more as the day goes on.

  by David Benton
thanks for your insights Bill . You mention Chattanooga, Do you know which train ( if any specific one ) , the song Chattanooga Choo choo ,refers to ?
I never made it to Chattanooga on my american travels , of course there was no Amtrak service , but it sounds an interesting place .
  by bill haithcoat
As to Chattanooga Choo Choo, no there ws no such literal train with that official name.

There are various guesses as to what train the author may have had in mind (in his own poetic mind). One story is that a newspaper writer referred to new generic early 1900's Cincinnati to Chattanooga service as the "choo choo" and the name somehow stuck.

Others have thought the Tennessean or the Pelican. My personal choice is the Birmingham Special because of its schedule. Song says it left Pennsy Station quarter till 4. Well, the BHM Special left Washington at 3:45, seems kind of close to me.

Anyway it is all guess work as to what anybody had in mind--but there was no literal train by that name. I would surely have found out by now.
  by bill haithcoat
As to mishmash of equipment in the early days of Amtrak. Yes, that was certainly the case, and more so than than what we have just been mentioning with theprivate railroads.

But keep in mind, that was not exactly a bad thing. It meant Amtrak could farm out the equipment wherever it wasneeded the most. It means some trains had domes which did not have them before. Some could now have leg rest coaches, slumbercoaches, observation cars, etc.

That meant spreading the quality all around, but, yes, at the price of a mishmash look. But which was more important? I think the excitement of riding a dome or full leg rest coach on trains which di not have them before was more important that keeping the same paint scheme.