(Originally appeared in October 1994
"Staying on Track," published by the Lubbock Model Railroad Association.)
Let us say that it is the Summer of 1931 and that we are standing
on the platform at the Santa Fe depot in San Angelo, Texas. We have
time and money to waste and train #94, gleaming in the colored light
of sunset, beckons us to adventure. Our eyes fall upon a twelve
Section, one Drawing Room sleeper, and we resolve to stay with that
particular car until it is once again part of #94, northbound out
of San Angelo. So with tickets and June 10 timetable in hand, we
board for the 9:50 departure. Number #94 deposits us in Amarillo
at 11:25 AM, just in time for lunch at the Harvey House.
Southbound #95 leaves at 7 PM, but a different Pullman is going
to San Angelo. A note in the timetable explains that the car from
#94 rolls eastward that night. The car awaits us on a track adjacent
to the depot. Berths are already made down, and soon we are asleep.
We are awakened about 2 AM as we are switched into #2, The Navajo,
and with the dawn we are treated to the squeals of brake shoes and
wheel flanges on winding track near Waynoka, OK.
The car is cut out and we spend the day getting acquainted with
Waynoka. But come 7:40 PM it is incorporated into #22, The Missionary,
and twelve hours later we disembark in the vast shadow of Kansas
City Union Station.
Probably, the sleeper from San Angelo would usually vanish into
the Pullman pool at Kansas City, but this is our daydream through
the timetable and the same car is returning. We roll westward aboard
#17, The Ranger, at Midnight and ride as far as Wichita at sunrise.
Number #21, The Missionary, picks us up at 5:20 PM, and hustles
us to Amarillo, where our car is cut out at 8:30 AM.
At the previously mentioned 7 PM #95 takes us into our sixth night
and we are back in San Angelo at 8:30 in the morning. Our car could
go out on #94 again that night, but it probably didn't.
A 12-1 sleeper is supposed to arrive from Dallas at 12:55 PM and
the run back is due to leave at 4:45. If everything is on time,
the doubtlessly small staff that Pullman stations at San Angelo
has about three and a half hours to clean, service, and stock the
car. It can be done, but it seems more sensible to send the car
from Amarillo out that afternoon to Dallas and to send the car from
Dallas to Amarillo that night. That's probably what happened, so
we're back aboard our old friend, part of #78, bound for Dallas.
The Santa Fe in 1931 does not have a direct line between Brownwood
and the Metroplex, so we take the scenic route, unfortunately at
night. Our car becomes part of #92, The Texas Express, at Brownwood,
then at Temple is passed to #18, The Ranger. At Cleburne, #67 assumes
our transport and a 9 AM we are switched out at Dallas.
Twelve hours later, #68 picks us up and passes us to The Ranger,
this time #17. Temple sees our car integrated into #91, The California
Special, and at Brownwood #77 forwards us into San Angelo in the
That night we stand on the platform and watch #94 wheel our friend
into the darkness. After eight nights, uncounted miles, and entirely
too many train numbers, who can resist a parting wave as the markers
vanish into the distance?