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Santa Fe Transcontinental Passenger Service

On March 31, 1946, The Chief (#19/20) became a transcontinental train in that three of its eight full sleepers were coast-to-coast cars in conjunction with the PRR (Broadway Limited #28/29), NYC (20th Century Ltd. #25/26) and B&O (Capital Limited #5/6).

Those cars were:

  • PRR, 4-4-2 Sleeper (light-dark-light gray) (Imperial Pass, Park, and Point) Santa Fe cars were Hotevilla and Bacobi groups. Regals later replaced them in 1954.
  • B&O, 6-6-4 Sleeper (ATSF Valley car exclusively)
  • NYC, 4-4-2 Sleeper (Imperial House, Imperial Domain, Imperial Empire). Santa Fe cars were Regals.

At the beginning of 1946 the NYC used the grays in a light-dark-light pattern with a pair of silver or silver-gray pinstripes through the window band. In late 1946 that was changed to dark-light-dark, though still with the pinstripes. This scheme lasted until 1948, and there's a good color photo of it from that year on page 14 of Zimmerman's 20th Century Limited. When the Century was re-equipped in 1948 the pinstripes were discontinued, the shades of gray changed slightly, and the letttering style changed too. Also in 1948-9 the Imperials were renamed as Bridge cars.

In 1949, a second sleeper was added from the NYC, a 10-5 Cascade. These were soon replaced by 10-6 River cars (Chicopee River, Indian River, Kankakee River). The Santa Fe used Pine cars for this service.

Around 1950, the B&0 service changed from a 6-6-4 to a 10-6. This service was covered completely by ATSF Pine cars and was extended via the San Diegans to San Diego, becoming the longest Pullman route (3,120 miles).

Bob Chaparro reports: "For 1951 I have the following cars, by type, assigned to this service for the NYC:

  • 4-4-2 Castleton Bridge, George Washington Bridge, Thousand Islands Bridge, Tri-Boro Bridge, Brooklyn Bridge, International Bridge, Rip Van Winkle Bridge
  • 10-6 Chicago River, Chateaugay River
  • Occassionally filling in: 4-4-2 High Bridge, Imperial Chariot, Imperial Crown, Imperial Empire

A July 9, 1951 Pullman Company listing of car assignments for the New York Central showed the following cars assigned to transcontinental service:

  • 4-4-2 sleeper
    • New York Central cars Castleton Bridge and George Washington Bridge
    • Santa Fe cars Nava, Bacobi, Saydatoh, Tsankawi, and Seboyeta
  • 10-6 sleeper
    • New York Central cars Chicago River and Chateaugay River
    • Santa Fe Cars Pine Bell, Pine Beach, Pine Brook, Pine Cavern, and Pine Arroyo.

On July 26,1951, the following New York Central cars were substituted for the Santa Fe 4-4-2 sleepers: Thousand Islands Bridge, Tri-Boro Bridge, Brooklyn Bridge, International Bridge, and Rip Van Winkle Bridge. The Santa Fe car Nava was listed as an extra. Other New York Central 4-4-2 sleepers known to have operated in this service were High Bridge, Imperial Chariot, Imperial Crown, and Imperial Empire."

PRR service is less understood. It appears that the tuscan paint scheme did not come until 1954, and by that time Santa Fe cars fully covered this service.

Edmond Freed states concerning their paint during interchange: "From 3/46 to 1953 these would have been TTG paint. They had a dark window band on a light body, black roofs, silver trucks and silver grey striping and lettering. The second gray scheme (1953) was Pullman drawing D5223 and differed from the first with its black trucks and small PRR at either end of the letterboard."


Both the 20th Century Limited and the Broadway Limited left New York at 6:00p and arrived in Chicago at 9:00a. the Capitol Limited left Washington at 5:30p and arived in Chicago at 8:00a. The Chief departed at 1:30p.

After January 15, 1954, the sleepers were shifted to the Super Chief (#17/18) and protected by ATSF stainless cars. Only rarely (Frailey says once or twice a month) would sleepers from eastern connections be seen in place of Regal or Pine cars. These sleeper pools were:

  • B&O 10-6 from Washington (Capital Ltd.) via Chicago to San Diego. (Pine Leaf, Gem, Creek, Pass, Ring, Beach). Return was via the Shenandoah.
  • NYC 10-6 from New York (20th Century Ltd.) via Chicago to LA. (Pine Arroyo, Brook, Dale, Island, Cove, Fern)
  • NYC 4-4-2 from New York (20th Century Ltd.) via Chicago to LA. (Regal Gate, Gulf, Arms, Creek, Town, Court)
  • PRR 4-4-2 from New York(Broadway Ltd.) via Chicago to LA. (Regal Ruby, River, Spa, City, Inn, Ring)

The 4 cars operated as a block. Initially, they were after the lounge and in front of the Vista Sleeper observation. After June 1, 1957, they moved to the front side of the diner.

The PRR dropped its car in October, 1957. The NYC and B&O 10-6 cars were dropped January 12, 1958. The NYC 4-4-2 was the final car to cease operation in April, 1958.

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