• Chicago in the "golden age"

  • General discussion about railroad operations, related facilities, maps, and other resources.
General discussion about railroad operations, related facilities, maps, and other resources.

Moderator: Robert Paniagua

I'm not quite sure if this is the right venue for this query but it's a starting point. I'm interested in information on transcontinental rail travel during the late '40's, early '50's, especially as it relates to connections at Chicago. What stations did the west bound trains from New York, the Broadway Limited and Twentieth Century Limited terminate at? What stations did the westbound trains to Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle originate from? If changing stations, were the passengers on their own or did the railroads provide connection services? Were there "through" cars from either coast and how did they get from one station to the other if that was necessary? Appreciate your responses.
Best regards,

  by icgsteve
http://chicago.urban-history.org/sites/ ... an_idx.htm
Apr. 28, 1957 Daily transcontinental sleeper service resumes between New York and
Los Angeles via the Overland Route, running on PRR and NYC on
alternate days. (Guide)

Likewise the Santa Fe carried 4 sleepers that were handed over to east coast roads.
Changes to the railroad’s passenger operations
in the 1954 period generally were
of the negative, based on the need to cut
costs and to reconfigure services to meet
decreasing passenger demands. On 10 January
of that year, the streamlined Chief (Chicago-
Los Angeles) lost its all-Pullman status
with the addition of four 48-seat coaches
and a lunch-counter diner. Concurrently,
its transcontinental sleepers, which provided
through service to New York and Washington,
D. C., were switched over to the Super
  by 2nd trick op
During the years when rail was the dominant mode of intercity travel, Chicago supported 6 major rail terminals. A link to Wikipedia is provide below:


The Broadway terminated at Union Station, the Century at LaSalle Street. Santa Fe's fleet of Chiefs used Dearborn Station. Union Pacific diverted most of its run-through traffic from Chicago and North Western (North Western Station) to the Milwaukee (Union) in 1955, and Burlington's Zephyrs also used Union, as did the run-through Chicago-Seattle trains offered by Northen Pacific and Great Northern.

Beginning in the late 1960's, the late Major Richard Daley began a campaign to consolidate the inter-city services at Union Station and re-develop much of the real estate. Grand Central, smallest of the players, was the first casualty. LaSalle Street, which hosted Rock Island's subrban service, held on for a number of years, a shadow of its former self.

As to transfers of passengers and baggage between the terminals, it was handled primarily by a very successful enterprise known as the Parmalee Transfer Company. Here's another link:


If you have access to back copies of Trains magazine, cover stories on both the major stations and the complexity of the rail network at its height have been published in recent years.

  by Gilbert B Norman
Here is additional material regarding Parmelee Transfer:


Anytime, you "take the Limo' to a Chicago hotel from O'Hare, you are riding the vestige of Parmelee.