A Journey of 2,228 Miles Across the United States
FROM LAKE MICHIGAN TO THE PACIFIC, the route of the great express connects two of America’s greatest cities.
A FEW minutes before noon on a certain day many years ago a man wearing a cheap serge suit, cowboy hat and fiery red tie walked into the office of the Santa Fé lines in Los Angeles and demanded to see the assistant traffic manager.
“I want to take a train over your road to Chicago”, the stranger said, “and I want you to do it in forty-
He began to shed a number of thousand-
The name of the unusual visitor was Walter Scott, a miner of wealth combined with sporting tendencies, and although he had done the trip over thirty times before, he felt that the day had come when the railway should be put to a really gruelling speed test. Besides, Mr. Scott had the money and he was entitled to use it as he wished, so long as the railway company considered that the feat which he demanded was within the bounds of possibility.
So, at one o’clock in the afternoon of Sunday, July 9, 1905, Mr. Scott’s special train pulled out of La Grande Station of the Santa Fé system at Los Angeles, engine No. 442 hauling baggage-
KANSAS CITY, with if typical American skyline, is reached at 9.35 pm on the first day. The “Chief” leaves again at 9.50 pm.
The average speed, including delays, was 50.4 miles an hour, an extraordinary figure considering the distance and character of the route, which runs through extraordinarily varied country and at times climbs to very high altitudes. The engines used were of the “Pacific”, “Prairie” and other types, as well as the “Atlantic” type of balanced compound engine. Changing engines at divisional points was cut to a fine art, a novel plan being adopted to save time. The fresh engine was backed on to the main line just ahead of a crossover before which the special train would stop. The old locomotive was cut out and was run over to a siding, the new one being coupled on without delay. The fastest change-
Scott’s run became nation wide in its interest. It was front-
Through the speed anxiety of Mr. Walter Scott it became clear to the Santa Fé system that there were hardly any limits to improvements in running time, and even to-
THE FIRST AIR-
There are at present five daily trains from Chicago to California, but the speediest is the “Chief”. It leaves Dearborn Station at 11 am, arriving at San Diego at 9.30 pm, two days later. There is an additional charge of a few dollars as an “extra fare” demanded for the train's special privileges. The “Chief” is frankly intended for those people who want the best. It is designed for men who demand the extra roaming space provided by the large club cars, and for women who love daintiness and immaculate surroundings.
Let us make a tour through this wonderful long-
Expert barbering is also obtainable, and there is the luxury of a shower bath for men as well as women; and we shall find that the shower is in constant demand during the tropical months in western America. Furthermore, the first air-
Fred Harvey’s hotels are indeed remarkable, for they serve so many stations and are essentially a part of railway travel in America. The hotel at Albuquerque, on the Chicago-
Passing through the sleeping-
At the rear of the train is the observation super-
The Santa Fé “Chief” traverses the heart of romantic America. If you have once travelled on it you will inevitably want to repeat the experience, for the route taps the most remarkable scenery, including fertile farming sections, areas rich in mineral wealth, the arid wastes of the Mojave desert, the extraordinary district of Death Valley -
SUNNY CALIFORNIA is reached two days after the start from Chicago. This picture shows the Santa Fé station at San Bernardino, where the “Chief” has only sixty miles to go to Los Angeles, having travelled 2,168 miles from Chicago.
The train, too, is under one management all the way, and this makes for smoothness of running and general economy.
If you “stop off” at Albuquerque it is likely that you will make detours to see the Indian country; but you may pick up the “Chief” on any following day.
One of the attractive features of the Santa Fé line over which the “Chief” runs regularly every day is the variation in altitude covered by the line. Just before Raton, on the westward journey, the Raton Tunnel stands at 7,622 ft above sea level, and much of the elevation of the track is above the 5,000 ft level.
You may leave Chicago at 11 am in the morning and you will arrive in Los Angeles (which being translated means the City of the Angels) on the third day out at 5 pm. If you are going on to San Diego you will arrive in that city four and a half hours later. It is fitting that the railway world should salute the “Chief”.
[From part 9, published 29 March 1935]