The California Limited was one of the named passenger trains of the Atchison and Santa Fe Railway. It carried train Nos. 3 & 4 and ran between Chicago and Los Angeles, California. The line was conceived by company president Allen Manvel as a means to "signify completion of the basic Santa Fe system." Manvel felt he could attract business and enhance the prestige of the railroad with daily first-class service from Chicago to the West Coast. The California Limited, billed as the "Finest Train West of Chicago," made its first run on November 27, 1892; the California Limited was the first Santa Fe train with Fred Harvey Company meal service. The trains offered air conditioning, a barber, steam-operated clothing press a shower-bath; the Limited was the first Santa Fe train with illuminated drumhead on its observation cars, with the train's name over the company logo. The California Limited was withdrawn on June 15, 1954, giving it the longest tenure of any train on the Chicago-Los Angeles run of the Santa Fe.
The Santa Fe introduced the California Limited on November 27, 1892. The journey required fifteen locomotive changes. During the summer multiple sections were necessary to accommodate demand; the train carried just Pullman sleeping cars until 1938. The Santa Fe re-equipped the California Limited in 1910 with a club-lounge, a twin-unit dining car, new 7-2 sleeping cars from Pullman; the weekly extra-fare Santa Fe de Luxe in 1911 overshadowed the California Limited, but it remained a popular train. The introduction of the Chief in 1926 eclipsed the California Limited, although the train ran for another three decades. In October 1953 it was scheduled to leave Los Angeles at 1815 with coaches and sleepers-- no diner and no lounge. Breakfast stop at Seligman, lunch stop at Winslow, dinner stop at Albuquerque, it ran via Great Bend and Topeka. October 1892: The Pullman Company delivers five six-car trainsets for the California Limited. November 27, 1892: Regular service begins. 1893: The train receives four new dining cars designed by Barney & Smith.
May 4, 1896: Service suspended. November 1896: Regular service resumes. November 1898: Westward schedule drops to 67 hr 50 min, about as good as it did until it dropped to 63 hours in June 1929. 1899: The Limited is reduced to four trains per week. 1902: The train resumes daily service on a 68-hour schedule. July 1923: Walt Disney leaves Kansas City for Los Angeles aboard the California Limited, arriving at La Grande Station, his brother, Roy O. Disney, was living at a veteran's hospital in Sawtell, Calif. west of Los Angeles. April 1, 1938: The Limited is suspended. May 22, 1938: Regular service resumes. September 4, 1945: The second section of Train No. 4 enters a siding near milepost 126 in the City of Santa Anita, California at excessive speed and derails. Some 200 people are injured, five fatally. One cleanup worker dies the following day in a freak accident. June 15, 1954: The California Limited is withdrawn. A variety of steam and diesel locomotives pulled the California Limited. In 1892 the California Limited consisted of heavyweight cars built by Pullman-Standard.
Each train had: a compartment and drawing-room Sleeping car a Dining car that served "the best Fred Harvey meals on rails" a Club car / Parlor car a full-compartment Sleeping car a compartment drawing-room Sleeping car a combination 10-compartment Sleeping car / open-end Observation car Passenger train service on the Atchison and Santa Fe Railway California State Railway Museum Santa Fe Railway Historical & Modeling Society Atchison and Santa Fe Railway Verde Valley — photos and short history of a California Limited Sleeping Car built in 1942. Scanned copy of the 1900-1901 brochure for the California Limited
The Scott Special known as the Coyote Special, the Death Valley Coyote or the Death Valley Scotty Special, was a one-time, record-breaking passenger train operated by the Atchison and Santa Fe Railway from Los Angeles, California, to Chicago, Illinois, at the request of Walter E. Scott, known as "Death Valley Scotty". At the time of its transit in 1905, the Scott Special made the 2,265-mile trip between the two cities at the fastest speed recorded to date; the Scott Special made the trip in 44 hours and 54 minutes breaking the previous records, set in 1900 by the Peacock Special, by 13 hours and 2 minutes, in 1903 by the Lowe Special, by 7 hours and 55 minutes. Santa Fe's regular passenger service from Los Angeles to Chicago at the time was handled on a 2½-day schedule by the California Limited, it was not until the 1936 introduction of the Super Chief that Santa Fe trains would exceed the speeds seen on the Scott Special. Death Valley Scotty had used some ore samples that he collected near Cripple Creek, Colorado, as a ruse to convince some bankers in 1902 that he had a claim on a high-grade ore mine in Death Valley.
By 1905 he had conned the banks out of nearly $10,000. Another con he ran in 1905 earned Scott an additional $4,000, it was that he met E. Burdon Gaylord, the owner of the Big Bell mine. Gaylord needed a flashy way to promote his mine and Scott sought the money behind the mine. After a few high-priced and newsworthy train trips around the southwest, Scott met with the Santa Fe's General Passenger Agent, J. J. Byrne, at the railroad's office in Los Angeles on July 8, 1905. Once Scott got in to talk to Byrne, the arrangements were made, thanks to a deposit from Scott of $5,500 in cash; the two agreed on a 46-hour schedule from Los Angeles to Chicago. The passenger list for the train was a mere four people: Scott himself, his wife, F. N. Holman, Charles E. Van Loan, a writer for the Los Angeles Examiner; the schedule involved operating a three car train across the system, led by no less than 19 different locomotives. The engineers of these locomotives came to be known as the "Nervy Nineteen"; the special train consisted of three passenger cars pulled by one locomotive.
The three cars used were baggage car #210, dining car #1407, Pullman Muskegon. Altogether, the three cars weighed a total of 170 short tons. While the three cars remained constant throughout the run of the Scott Special, the locomotive did not. In order to prevent delays on the trip as the train would need to stop for water and fuel, nineteen locomotives were prepared along the route so that as one reached the end of its supplies, it would relay the three cars off to the next fueled and ready locomotive to continue the run. For the more strenuous grades over Cajon Pass in California and Raton Pass in New Mexico and Colorado, helpers were added to get the train up and over the summits. At various points throughout the run, problems such as hotboxes did occur, or in one instance a complete mechanical failure of the locomotive, but in each case, the train's crew was able to get the train to the next relay point, they arrived ahead of schedule; the special departed from Santa Fe's La Grande Station in Los Angeles at 1:00 pm Pacific Time on July 9, 1905.
The locomotive and three cars left the station and the cheering crowds, estimated at 20,000 people, began its run eastward. The number of people at La Grande Station is remarkable in itself since the train's schedule was planned only one day before the event. In rail transport terminology, the Scott Special operated as an "extra" train; such trains are not allowed any special considerations for schedule and are switched into sidings to clear the main line for the railroad's scheduled trains. For this run, the special was afforded rights over all of the railroad's regular trains; as most of the Santa Fe was still a single-track railroad, this meant that quite a few regular trains were put into sidings to wait for the special. This accommodation, along with the numerous locomotive changes en route helped to ensure that the train would arrive in Chicago within the 46-hour schedule; the first locomotive and crew change occurred in Barstow after the train had passed through Cajon Pass. At one point after passing Cajon summit, the train was clocked at 96 mph.
The locomotive and crew were again changed successively at Needles, Williams and Gallup before the train arrived in Albuquerque, New Mexico, at 9:30 am on July 10. To cross Raton Pass and crews were changed at Las Vegas, Raton and La Junta. From La Junta, the train was powered by a succession of 4-4-2 type locomotives that were swapped across the plains in the Kansas cities of Syracuse, Dodge City, Newton and Argentine and Marceline, Missouri, to the Mississippi River crossing at Shopton, near Fort Madison. Locomotive 530 was scheduled to take the train between Dodge City and Newton, but a burst cylinder head in Kent
San Diegan (train)
The San Diegan was one of the named passenger trains of the Atchison and Santa Fe Railway, a “workhorse” of the railroad. Its 126-mile route ran from California south to San Diego, it was assigned train Nos. 70–79. The Los Angeles-San Diego corridor was to the Santa Fe what the New York City–Philadelphia corridor was to the Pennsylvania Railroad. Daily traffic could reach a density of ten trains during the summer months; the first San Diegan ran on March 1938 as one set of equipment making two round trips a day. A second trainset delivered in 1941 made possible four streamlined trains each way. A set of heavyweight equipment made a fifth trip in each direction. During and after the Second World War, furlough business from San Diego's military bases necessitated extra sections of San Diegans, racetrack specials during horseracing season at Del Mar added to passenger train miles. Amtrak continued to operate the San Diegan when it took over operation of the nation's passenger service on May 1, 1971.
After extending the route to the Central Coast in the 1980s and 1990s, Amtrak rebranded the route as the Pacific Surfliner on June 1, 2000. Construction of the Surf Line between Los Angeles and San Diego began on October 12, 1880, with the organization of the California Southern Railroad Company. On January 2, 1882, the California Southern commenced passenger and freight service between National City and Fallbrook Junction, just north of Oceanside; the Santa Fe assumed control of the California Southern and on August 12, 1888, completed the line between Los Angeles and San Diego. Known as the "Short Line", the route replaced the Santa Fe's existing circuitous route via Temecula Canyon. In the 1930s the Surf Line hosted four round-trips per day, with an average trip time of 3 1⁄2 hours. In the late 1930s streamlined trains were in transition. While fixed consists such as the Union Pacific Railroad's M-10000 were out, railroads still ordered sets of equipment with the intention that those sets stay with a particular train.
In 1937–1938, the Santa Fe embarked on a massive program to upgrade its passenger fleet: it introduced new sets on the Chief, Super Chief and El Capitan, added three new trains — the Chicagoan, Kansas Cityan, the San Diegan. On March 27, 1938, the Santa Fe inaugurated the San Diegan; the single equipment set could make two round-trips per day. A second San Diegan consist entered service on June 8, 1941, doubling the schedule to four daily round trips; the San Diegan was supplemented by two conventional heavyweight trains. December 31, 1940: No. 1676, a 2-10-2 type locomotive with a 40-car freight train in tow, jumps the rails while cruising north via the Sorrento Grade and lands in the Pacific Ocean, with much of the rolling stock following suit. No one is killed in the accident, but it is many days before all of the wreckage can be pulled out of the sea. June 8, 1941: A second lightweight train consisting of six coaches, a baggage-mail car, a tavern lunch-counter car, a round-end observation car is added to the line.
Service is increased to four daily round trips with streamliners and one round trip using conventional equipment. October 27, 1941: A fifth, steam-powered train is added to the schedule, due in part to the need to transport military personnel to and from San Diego's bases; this semi-streamlined train carries a full buffet car, a diner, three coaches that had all run as the Valley Flyer between Oakland and Bakersfield. The number of daily trains servicing the route increases on average. 1942: The average number of trains per day increases to 42. Consist size expands to 13 cars, each logs 512 daily miles. Trains consisting of 10-12 former Southern Pacific interurban trailer cars, owned by the U. S. Maritime Commission but bearing ATSF markings, are fitted with conventional knuckle couplers at each end of the trainset and pressed into service to handle the additional passenger loads. April 1943: The schedule is lengthened to three hours due to ever-increasing military movements. May 10, 1943: Santa Fe adds a second mainline track along the San Diego line between La Mirada and Fullerton to accommodate increased wartime traffic.
Centralized Traffic Control is installed on the line. May 21, 1952: The Santa Fe places two Budd Rail Diesel Cars, Nos. DC191 and DC192, into service; the two cars, coupled together, make two daily round trips. One of these is a non-stop express service timed at 2 hours 15 minutes. August 25, 1953: Santa Fe 3751 pulls the last steam-powered trains on the "Surf Line." January 10, 1954: The use of round-end observation cars is discontinued in order to eliminate the need to "turn" the trains in San Diego before heading northward. January 22, 1956: Redondo Junction train wreck. Bound for San Diego, the two RDCs derail at 69 mph in an evening high-speed accident at Redondo Junction, just south of the Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal, killing 30 and injuring 117; this accident ended the units' run on the "Surf Line." The radio reports of the accident were one of the first major uses of the Sigalert. March 1956: General Motors' Aerotrain makes a series of experimental runs as a San Diegan consist. Thoughts of placing it in permanent service are abandoned as the entire trainset has to be turned at each end of the line, requires helper locomotives on the Sorrento Grade.
April 28, 1956: Heavyweight local trains Nos. 70 and 7
The Chief was one of the named passenger trains of the Atchison and Santa Fe Railway. Its route ran from Illinois to Los Angeles, California; the Chief was inaugurated as an all-Pullman limited train to supplement the road's California Limited, with a surcharge of USD $10.00 for an end-to-end trip. The heavyweight began its first run from both ends of the line on November 14, 1926, scheduled 63 hours each way between Chicago and Los Angeles, five hours faster than the California Limited; the Chief was a success, dubbed "Extra Fast-Extra Fine-Extra Fare" though it failed to relieve traffic on the California Limited. The Chief became famous as a "rolling boudoir" for Hollywood executives. In 1954 the Chief reduced its schedule to equal its cousins, the Super Chief and El Capitan, would drop the extra fare requirement as well; the Chief would have been the "crown jewel" of most railroads' passenger fleets. But it did not survive the national decline in passenger demand and its last run was on May 15, 1968.
1926: to supplement the California Limited Santa Fe inaugurates the all-Pullman, extra-fare Chief, running between Chicago and Los Angeles. November 14, 1926: The Chief makes its first departure from both ends of the line simultaneously. March 1928: Eastward schedule drops to 61-1/4 hours June 1929: schedule both ways drops to 58 hours 1937: The Santa Fe announces that the Chief will receive streamlined cars to replace the heavyweights and will run on a 50¾-hour schedule. February 22, 1938: 10 new streamlined cars are placed into service. 1942: Consist expands to 13 cars, each averages 743 daily miles. 1945: The train receives new cars and the schedule is reduced to 45 hours. March 27, 1947: sleeping car service direct to San Diego starts. January 10, 1954: The 45-hour schedule is cut to 39 hours, 45 minutes eastbound and 39 hours, 30 minutes westbound, with a morning departure from Chicago; the westbound train spends only one night in transit, leaving Chicago in the morning and arriving in Los Angeles late evening of the following day.
The fare surcharge is dropped. 1954: Coaches are added to the Chief. The cars are blunt-ended at Pullman's Richmond, California facility and returned to service in the new San Francisco Chief's consists as Pullman lounges. January 1954: Santa Fe transfers transcontinental sleeping car service to the Super Chief. September 5, 1956: A Santa Fe fireman from the waiting eastward Fast Mail Express throws a switch in front of the speeding Chief near Springer, New Mexico, causing it to enter the siding occupied by the Fast Mail Express and collide head-on. Both engine crews are killed. Thirty-five passengers and crew members are injured. View additional info. 1960: eastward Chief begins running via Topeka. 1963-64: westward train does likewise. May 15, 1968: The Chief ceases operations. Summer 1972: Amtrak revives the Chief for three months using Nos. 19 & 20 and the Chief's morning departure from Chicago. October 28, 1984-present: Amtrak institutes the "Southwest Chief" running between Los Angeles and Chicago.
In summer 1926 the fastest schedules between Chicago and San Francisco/Los Angeles were 68 hours. That November four extra-fare all-Pullman trains started running on 63-hour schedules: the Chief, the Los Angeles Limited via Salt Lake, the Golden State Limited via El Paso, the Overland Limited to San Francisco. In 1928 the four eastward trains dropped to 61 hours 15 minutes to improve connections at Chicago. In June 1929 the Chief and Overland Limited schedules dropped to 58 hours each way, leaving Chicago at 11:15 AM/11:50 AM and Los Angeles/San Francisco at 9:45 PM/9:40 PM; the standard-fare schedule became 63 hours westward and 61-1/4 eastward on seven routes from Chicago to the Coast. The Los Angeles Limited and Golden State Limited retained their 1928 schedules and so dropped their extra fares. In 1931 the Overland Limited dropped its extra fare and combined with the 63-hour train on its route. In February 1936 it was scheduled 53 hours 45 minutes to Los Angeles, compared to 61 hours for the Los Angeles Limited, Golden State Ltd, California Ltd.
In May 1936 Union Pacific opened high speed Chicago - Los Angeles service with its City of Los Angeles Diesel streamliner. In December 1937 the original City of Los Angeles train was replaced by a full-sized 14 car train; the schedule was doubled to 10 times monthly in July 1938. A typical heavyweight Chief consist in Winter, 1937: 4-6-4 "Hudson"-type Steam Locomotive #3451 Express Mail #2041 Railway Post Office #63 Baggage-Club-Lounge #1304 Chief Manakaja Lounge General Carr Fred Harvey Company Diner #1472 Sleeper Glen Ewen Sleeper Laurel Wood Sleeper-Observation-Lounge Crystal Bay A typical "mixed" Chief consist as of January 31, 1938: 4-6-4 "Hudson"-type Steam Locomotive #3460 Railway Post Office #79 Baggage #1894 Baggage-Buff
Los Angeles the City of Los Angeles and known by its initials L. A. is the most populous city in California, the second most populous city in the United States, after New York City, the third most populous city in North America. With an estimated population of four million, Los Angeles is the cultural and commercial center of Southern California; the city is known for its Mediterranean climate, ethnic diversity and the entertainment industry, its sprawling metropolis. Los Angeles is the largest city on the West Coast of North America. Los Angeles is in a large basin bounded by the Pacific Ocean on one side and by mountains as high as 10,000 feet on the other; the city proper, which covers about 469 square miles, is the seat of Los Angeles County, the most populated county in the country. Los Angeles is the principal city of the Los Angeles metropolitan area, the second largest in the United States after that of New York City, with a population of 13.1 million. It is part of the Los Angeles-Long Beach combined statistical area the nation's second most populous area with a 2015 estimated population of 18.7 million.
Los Angeles is one of the most substantial economic engines within the United States, with a diverse economy in a broad range of professional and cultural fields. Los Angeles is famous as the home of Hollywood, a major center of the world entertainment industry. A global city, it has been ranked 6th in the Global Cities Index and 9th in the Global Economic Power Index; the Los Angeles metropolitan area has a gross metropolitan product of $1.044 trillion, making it the third-largest in the world, after the Tokyo and New York metropolitan areas. Los Angeles hosted the 1932 and 1984 Summer Olympics and will host the event for a third time in 2028; the city hosted the Miss Universe pageant twice, in 1990 and 2006, was one of 9 American cities to host the 1994 FIFA men's soccer World Cup and one of 8 to host the 1999 FIFA women's soccer World Cup, hosting the final match for both tournaments. Home to the Chumash and Tongva, Los Angeles was claimed by Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo for Spain in 1542 along with the rest of what would become Alta California.
The city was founded on September 4, 1781, by Spanish governor Felipe de Neve. It became a part of Mexico in 1821 following the Mexican War of Independence. In 1848, at the end of the Mexican–American War, Los Angeles and the rest of California were purchased as part of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, becoming part of the United States. Los Angeles was incorporated as a municipality on April 4, 1850, five months before California achieved statehood; the discovery of oil in the 1890s brought rapid growth to the city. The completion of the Los Angeles Aqueduct in 1913, delivering water from Eastern California assured the city's continued rapid growth; the Los Angeles coastal area was settled by the Chumash tribes. A Gabrieleño settlement in the area was called iyáangẚ, meaning "poison oak place". Maritime explorer Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo claimed the area of southern California for the Spanish Empire in 1542 while on an official military exploring expedition moving north along the Pacific coast from earlier colonizing bases of New Spain in Central and South America.
Gaspar de Portolà and Franciscan missionary Juan Crespí, reached the present site of Los Angeles on August 2, 1769. In 1771, Franciscan friar Junípero Serra directed the building of the Mission San Gabriel Arcángel, the first mission in the area. On September 4, 1781, a group of forty-four settlers known as "Los Pobladores" founded the pueblo they called El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles,'The Town of Our Lady the Queen of the Angels'; the present-day city has the largest Roman Catholic Archdiocese in the United States. Two-thirds of the Mexican or settlers were mestizo or mulatto, a mixture of African and European ancestry; the settlement remained a small ranch town for decades, but by 1820, the population had increased to about 650 residents. Today, the pueblo is commemorated in the historic district of Los Angeles Pueblo Plaza and Olvera Street, the oldest part of Los Angeles. New Spain achieved its independence from the Spanish Empire in 1821, the pueblo continued as a part of Mexico.
During Mexican rule, Governor Pío Pico made Los Angeles Alta California's regional capital. Mexican rule ended during the Mexican–American War: Americans took control from the Californios after a series of battles, culminating with the signing of the Treaty of Cahuenga on January 13, 1847. Railroads arrived with the completion of the transcontinental Southern Pacific line to Los Angeles in 1876 and the Santa Fe Railroad in 1885. Petroleum was discovered in the city and surrounding area in 1892, by 1923, the discoveries had helped California become the country's largest oil producer, accounting for about one-quarter of the world's petroleum output. By 1900, the population had grown to more than 102,000; the completion of the Los Angeles Aqueduct in 1913, under the supervision of William Mulholland, assured the continued growth of the city. Due to clauses in the city's charter that prevented the City of Los Angeles from selling or providing water from the aqueduct to any area outside its borders, many adjacent city and communities became compelled to annex themselves into Los Angeles.
Los Angeles created the first municipal zoning ordinance in the United States. On September 14, 1908, the Los Angeles City Council promulgated residential and industrial land use zones; the new ordinance established three residential zones of a single type, where industrial uses were
Santa Fe de Luxe
The Santa Fe de Luxe was the first extra-fare named passenger train on the Atchison and Santa Fe Railway. The de Luxe started on December 12, 1911 on a seasonal weekly schedule between Chicago and Los Angeles, California, it was the first train the Santa Fe called "Extra Fast - Extra Fine - Extra Fare." It was conceived by company president Edward Payson Ripley as the Santa Fe equivalent to the renowned 20th Century Limited and Broadway Limited. The trip took the sixty passengers paid a surcharge of $25 each way. Passengers could only board in Chicago, Los Angeles, Kansas City, or at Williams, Arizona (where those heading to the Grand Canyon boarded a train of the Grand Canyon Railway. On arrival at Summit in Cajon Pass in California eastbound passengers were presented with orchid corsages and engraved pigskin wallets. On the westbound run, ladies received a bouquet of flowers and a basket of California oranges, while the men got the usual wallet; the de Luxe was not essential to the war effort and was withdrawn on May 1, 1917.
It took the Pullman Company a year to design and build the 12 heavyweight steel underframe cars of the two identical consists of the de Luxe, one of which was: Baggage-Club-Lounge #1328 San Gabriel Fred Harvey Company Diner #1434 Sleeper Pima Sleeper Piute Sleeper Vaca Sleeper Walpi Observation-Parlor El QuiviraThe cars were lavishly furnished and had electric lighting. Drawing room passengers slept in brass beds instead of the usual berths; the dining cars featured the first attempt at air conditioning on rail passenger cars. The trains were pulled by the best available of the road's passenger pool locomotives. On the prairie districts of Illinois and Kansas, most divisions saw fast 4-4-2 "Atlantic"-type engines assigned. On many of the western mountain districts, 4-6-2 "Pacific"-type steam locomotives were used, with helpers added over the toughest grades. Passenger train service on the Atchison and Santa Fe Railway Duke, Donald. Santa Fe: The Railroad Gateway to the American West. Volume Two.
San Marino, California: Golden West Books. ISBN 0-87095-110-6. Repp, Stan; the Super Chief: Train of the Stars. San Marino, California: Golden West Books. Pp. 13, 219. ISBN 0-87095-081-9. Waters, Lawrence Leslie. Steel Trails to Santa Fe. Lawrence, Kansas: University of Kansas Press. P. 388. ASIN B0007DU3WK. California State Railway Museum Santa Fe Railway Historical & Modeling Society
El Capitan (train)
The El Capitan was a streamlined passenger train operated by the Atchison and Santa Fe Railway between Chicago and Los Angeles, California. It operated from 1938 to 1971; the El Capitan was the only all-coach or "chair car" to operate on the Santa Fe main line between Chicago and Los Angeles on the same fast schedule as the railroad's premier all-Pullman Super Chief. It was the first train to receive the pioneering Hi-Level equipment with which it would become synonymous; the El Capitan debuted on February 22, 1938 on a twice-weekly schedule, using two five-car sets of streamlined equipment built by the Budd Company. Like the Pennsylvania Railroad's Trail Blazer, it offered "low-cost passage with high-speed convenience." The fare from Chicago to Los Angeles was $5.00 above the $39.50 regular coach fare in 1938. Conceived as the Economy Chief, the name El Capitan was chosen to commemorate the Spanish conquistadors. Unique in charging an extra fare despite being a coach train, it pioneered such features as "RideMaster" seats optimized for sleeping.
On its inaugural run the El Capitan left the main line at Williams and traveled up the Grand Canyon Railway to Grand Canyon Depot. In regular operation passengers bound for the Grand Canyon would connect at Williams. In its first year and a half the El Capitan ran at 80% capacity, superior to similar services. Reservations had to be made weeks in advance. In 1942 the consist expanded to 12 cars. Heavy traffic during World War II forced the Santa Fe to lengthen the train's schedule by two hours in July 1942. On September 29, 1946 the El Capitan began running every other day, departing Los Angeles and Chicago on odd-numbered days. Together with the Super Chief on even-numbered days, the two trains formed what the Santa Fe billed as "the first and only daily 39 3/4 hour service between Chicago and California." On January 25, 1948, one of the locomotives assigned to the El Capitan crashed through a steel bumper post and concrete wall at Los Angeles' Union Passenger Terminal, ending with the locomotive dangling about 20 feet about Aliso Street.
In 1948 the Santa Fe received additional equipment which permitted the Super Chief and El Capitan to start operating daily. The extra-fare charges were dropped from both El Capitan and the Chief on December 14, 1953. El Capitan was one of the first Santa Fe trains to use the Budd-built "Big Dome"-Lounge cars; these were soon given to the Chief, replaced by new double-decker "Hi-Level" chair cars developed by Budd and the railroad in 1954–1956. These experimental cars had a quieter ride, increased seating capacities, better views; the Sante Fe combined the Super Chief and El Capitan on January 12, 1958. The combined train used the Super Chief's numbers, 17 and 18, but the Santa Fe continued to use both names. On its formation Amtrak continued the combined Super Chief/El Capitan designation until April 29, 1973, when it dropped the El Capitan portion. Today the route of the El Capitan is served by Amtrak's Southwest Chief. Many Amtrak trains used a combination of refurbished former Santa Fe Hi-Level cars with newer Superliner railcars until the early 2000s.
The El Capitan debuted in February 1938 with two all-lightweight consists manufactured by the Budd Company. Each included a baggage-dormitory-coach, two coaches, a lunch counter-dining car, coach-observation car; the baggage-dormitory-coach had a small baggage area forward, followed by bunks for the train's crew and 32 coach seats. Both coaches seated 52 and featured men's and women's restrooms at opposite ends. In the observation car the restrooms were located forward, followed by 50 coach seats. During periods of high demand additional cars were added from the Scout's pool; the Santa Fe employed its experimental pendulum car. Between 1946–1948 the Santa Fe increased the length of the El Capitan and added new cars built during and after World War II; the new El Capitan included a storage mail car, baggage-dormitory, eight 44-seat "leg-rest" coaches, two lunch counter-dining cars, a club-lounge, a coach-observation car. Most of the coaches were built by Pullman-Standard; the reduced seating in the coaches was given over to improved leg room for passengers.
Between 1954 and 1956 the El Capitan's consist included the "Big Dome"-Lounge that replaced the mid-train club-lounge car. On July 15, 1956 the new, "Hi-Level" streamliner consist debuted. Santa Fe purchased enough "Hi-Level" equipment for five nine-car consists. Six of the railroad's older baggage-dormitory cars had a cosmetic fairing applied to the rear roofline to create the distinctive "transition" cars and maintain a streamlined appearance on El Capitan; the real transition cars were the 68-seat step down chair cars, which had a regular-height diaphragm at one end and a high-level at the other. The dining cars rode on six-wheel trucks due to their massive weight; the "Big Domes" were transferred to the Chief pool. As on many "named" long haul trains of the era, the rear of the observation car bore a lighted "Drumhead"; these signs included "El Capitan" in a distinctive logotype with the railroad's logo. Amtrak Southwest Chief Passenger train service on the Atchison and Santa Fe Railway "Day Coach Limited".
Life. August 21, 1939. Pp. 48–55. Retrieved August 4, 2013. Abbey, Wallace W.. "Short hop on El Capitan". In McGonigal, Robert S. Great Trains West. Waukesha, WI: Kalmbach Publishing. Pp. 60–65. ISBN 978-1-62700-435-0. Dorin, Patrick C.. The Super Chief and the El Capitan. Fore