Remembering the Golden Age that Preceded Amtrak

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Palmland

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I believe the ACL also put some leased dome cars on the Florida Special in later years. I've seen photos of a dome with a SCL herald in Richmond
Seaboard's comment rang a bell, as I remember seeing it when I was in college. I rooted through my pile of slides and found this. Surprisingly it was taken later, March 1970. Lots going on this photo. Broad street station in Richmond is now a museum, a classic railroad office car is in the backround, and the dome is one of the three the B&O used on the Capitol Limited. Perhaps it's Moonlight Dome that until recently was in PV service and I believe was bought by the NS for their Office Car Special trains. I wouldn't be surprised if the new head of operations, Cindy Sanborn, didn't have something to do with this as I suspect she is a closet raiilfan given here railroad pedigree.

The SCL certainly ran a first class passenger operation until the end. Compare this with the sorry trains on the PC. According to the SCL timetable the Florida Special by this time was also carrying coaches but it still had 7 sleepers, 2 diners, and a recreation car. The dome was unique in that it had 5 roomettes, 3 compartments and a single room - I assume a bedroom. Also operating to Florida then were the Silver Meteor, Silver Star, Champion, Gulf Coast Special, and Everglades. The Palmland had been cut back to Columbia.

img204 (1).jpg
 
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I rode the Florida Special near the end of SCL service, and although riding coach, from New York to Fayetteville, I managed to "talk my way" into the dome after departing Richmond...;)
 

Palmland

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I rode the Florida Special near the end of SCL service, and although riding coach, from New York to Fayetteville, I managed to "talk my way" into the dome after departing Richmond...;)
Perhaps you were on it the day the photo was taken!! My Florida Special trip was in 1968. Sadly, no dome but we had to put up with this. No doubt it was recently removed from the Broadway. The photo was in Fort Lauderdale after our trip from Wilmington.

img205 (2).jpg
 

Seaboard92

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Actually CSX bought the Moonlight Dome for their office train and they have had the fluting removed from what I've heard.

The Florida Trains used to have interesting consists for sure in the years they would be running with the Pullman Pool. Whatever was available could and would show up.
 

Willbridge

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My college radio station was definitely low power, but was fun to listen to the latest hits and occasional news. I was there, talking with a friend, when news of the Cuban missile crises came over the teletype. Not long after I saw multiple trains (tracks ran through campus) loaded with tanks and other military equipment headed to Florida from Quantico. It seemed very incongruous as they were interspersed with the Florida streamliners.
In the film 13 Days in May there is a reference to this. Railfans were aware of what was happening while people in DC were hearing denials. A slightly different take is in the final scenes of Dunkerque in which the exhausted British soldier collapses on a seat in a railway carriage that hadn't been built yet. Thanks to English train spotters there are records of all the oddball rolling stock that was assembled to get the concentrated survivors out of potential harm's way.

On the theme of "Golden Age travel" from a quieter time here's more of what the knowledgeable traveler knew... and the sample "Bon Voyage" messages say nothing about engines catching fire.

1955 04 WU - DC7  001.jpg

1955 04 WU - DC7  003.jpg

1955 04 WU - DC7  004.jpg
 

Dakota 400

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I love perusing the optimistic and colorful advertisements of the early twentieth century...
I do as well. I recall very attractive and colorful covers to some railroads' timetables. PRR's come immediately to mind. Some menu covers were attractive and interesting as well, such as C&NW's.
 

Willbridge

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And then there were the simple things that quietly informed one's friends or colleagues that one was off to someplace important and exotic. While I was writing on NP green Mainstreeter stationery others were penning notes on sky blue Pan Am In-Flight stationery...
1955 Aerogramme  005.jpg

1955 Aerogramme  006.jpg
 

anumberone

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Rising from the Rails. A story of the Pullman and the history of the black men that worked on the railroad sleeping cars is on PBS KCET Television Saturday eve in Los Angeles. I'm looking forward to it. My first trip on a train was in 1942. Sacramento to Seattle. I was 4 1/2 I don't remember a lot, I do remember the porters

Just as well give a shout out to those United D.C. 7s I worked for United back in those days and that was the first plane I ever flew in. A short hop from Burbank to LAX, short but exciting for me.
 
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Willbridge

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Me too. Even until approximately 1970.
I wonder how those "Chico" ads would go over in today's politically correct times? And the use of "Chief" and other Native American symbols?
Just ask Jeep...:(
The Santa Fe had better relations with indigenous people than some other companies but they also had other themes in their ads. And doesn't the reporter in this ad look like Clark Kent? Advertising like this is probably why the UP opened a City Ticket Office in Hollywood.

1961 11 22 Santa Fe in SB Sun.jpg
 

MARC Rider

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Rising from the Rails. A story of the Pullman and the history of the black men that worked on the railroad sleeping cars is on PBS KCET Television Saturday eve in Los Angeles. I'm looking forward to it. My first trip on a train was in 1942. Sacramento to Seattle. I was 4 1/2 I don't remember a lot, I do remember the porters

Just as well give a shout out to those United D.C. 7s I worked for United back in those days and that was the first plane I ever flew in. A short hop from Burbank to LAX, short but exciting for me.
A DC-7 was the first plane I ever flew in, too. A flight from Baltimore-Friendship (now BWI) to Miami. The return flight was on a Convair 880.
 

MARC Rider

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Me too. Even until approximately 1970.
I wonder how those "Chico" ads would go over in today's politically correct times? And the use of "Chief" and other Native American symbols?
Just ask Jeep...:(
Well, wouldn't that mean the Amtrak is facing a problem with the Southwest Chief?
But, then again, my first job title at USGS was "Project Chief," and my boss was a "Section Chief." I don't think any native activists would mind that because the word actually comes from the French "chef," from the Latin word "kaput," meaning "head," which is also related to the word "Capitol." Which means that the Southwest Chief and the Capitol Limited should really be the same train and run cross-country from Washington to LA. :)
 

Seaboard92

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Well, wouldn't that mean the Amtrak is facing a problem with the Southwest Chief?
But, then again, my first job title at USGS was "Project Chief," and my boss was a "Section Chief." I don't think any native activists would mind that because the word actually comes from the French "chef," from the Latin word "kaput," meaning "head," which is also related to the word "Capitol." Which means that the Southwest Chief and the Capitol Limited should really be the same train and run cross-country from Washington to LA. :)
At one time I think they were interlined in the 1990s till OTP went down hill.
 

TheCrescent

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My only pre-Amtrak trip was on the Southern Crescent in the 1970s from the Southeast to Boston, in a sleeping car. I am told that it was cheaper than flying (the reverse of that train today). I don’t really have many memories of it, but when I took a Norfolk Southern excursion in the 1980s, in a Southern Railway coach from the Crescent, Amfleet seemed nicer (due to the carpeted floors on Amtrak).

The snazziest and most high-end train that I’ve ever taken is Brightline; it blows away every other train, with its sleek and luxurious stations and really nice cars. I am also thrilled in first class on the Acela Express, with elegant interiors, 150-mph speeds and friendly staff. Perhaps the Golden Age is here, or coming soon?
 

20th Century Rider

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I wouldnt count on the Cardinal being Daily, it's a 3× a week Train and probably will stay that way even when Daily LD Service resumes.
If Amtrak is to really get back on the rails... and expand its services... wouldn't it be nice to see a daily Cardinal, the Sunset Limited finally continue on to Orlando... reinstatement of the Pioneer as it once was bringing service back to CALI via Las Vegas; and to PDX on the old UP.

Hey there Amtrak... there are people living all over this country... forget them not when it comes to bringing back and expanding service. 😇
 

Bob Dylan

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Dramatically portrayed in this Oscar nominated performance...thank Goodness I never had to read one for a recipient...

I was with my dad the evening 2 Marines came to his house to inform him my Brother, the Marine Grunt, had been wounded in Vietnam and was in the Hospital on Okinawa(since I grew up in a Military Family, we both thought he had been Killed in Action when we saw the Navy Car drive up)
 
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20th Century Rider

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I was with my dad the evening 2 Marines came to his house to inform him my Brother, the Marine Grunt, had been wounded in Vietnam and was in the Hospital on Okinawa(since I grew up in a Military Family, we both thought he had been Killed in Action when we saw the Navy Car drive up)
A memorable post... seeing Mickey Rooney as a novice in a serious role. Wow... brings back memories...😌
 

Skylark

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Got Hollywood Beach hooked to my SWC ride today! Never heard of it before...learned lots of cool things.

Someday...
 

Eric in East County

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On March 4, 1946, the Mutual Radio Network began broadcasting Bob Elson on the Twentieth Century Limited, a 15-minute weekday program originating from Chicago’s LaSalle Street Station and featuring veteran sportscaster Bob Elson interviewing passengers who were about to depart for New York City on the 20th Century Limited.

Elson would open each program with, “Hello folks. This is Bob Elson aboard the Twentieth Century Limited, one of the world’s great trains where we have a host of travelers today and some very interesting people.” He would then conduct spontaneous interviews (usually three per broadcast) with some of the more interesting passengers (actors, entertainers, visiting royalty, scientists, sports figures, famous authors, political figures, etc.) who were departing on that day’s Century. (During these interviews, train announcements and other station noises could be heard in the background.)

A number of these programs survive in good sound and are quite interesting to listen to, particularly if you are a fan of the “golden age of rail passenger service.” Here’s a link to a source where they can be purchased inexpensively in the mp3 format:

 

AmtrakMaineiac

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My first experience on a US passenger train (being born in England as a child I had ridden on BR behind steam!) was as a college student riding the Reading Company RDC from Bethlehem PA to Pholadelphia. In 1968 I decided to travel home to the Boston area by train. Took the RDC down to Philly to catch Penn Central's Patriot which ran through to Boston via the Hell Gate. At that time many trains required changing from Penn to Grand Central to continue to Boston. I recall the excitement of seeing it pull into 30th Street a GG1 followed by several baggage cars, a parlor cars with swivel chairs then coaches mostly the New Haven stainless steel ones. The train was packed but I managed to find a sear in the smoking compartment of one coach. This coach had lights that would go out when we were stopped but come on once the train was on the move, probably dead batteries. Eventually after Newark they failed completely. After NYC the train emptied out and I got a better seat but stayed in the darkened coach for the better view in the dark outside. At New Haven we got a pair of FL9 Diesels. I didn't get any food, I recall there was some kind of snack bar. I remember passing a mail train with RPOs at Providence. Got off at 128 station which we reached about 30 minutes late.
This trip started me taking the train whenever I could, until I got my first car a '63 VW Beetle in my junior year. Until then I took a few trips, all memorable even though the Penn Central had its problems it was always a thrill taking the train. I even got to ride the new UAC Turbo Train riding in the dome portion behind the engineer with a great view out the front.
 

jis

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My only experience with US passenger trains was in 1965 Boston - New York - Washington DC - Boston. Trains involved was the Senator and another one I forget the name of, all in Coach. The experience was less than spectacular, involving non-operating Air Conditioners on a relatively warm day. At least the open Dutch Doors were nice.

As a result of that experience we decided to switch to Greyhound and ride a Scenicruiser instead, and the AC did work there and it was less expensive to boot :)
 

uncleboots

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My Pre-Amtrak Trips were the Wabash Bluebird and Banner Blue. The GM&O Limited and Midnight Special. I loved riding in the Wabash Domes.
 
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