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O v e r l a n d   R o u t e


Overland Limited with Atlantic 1023 from Schenectady, crossing the Des Moines River near Boone, Iowa, in 1901 (coll. CNWR)

Los Angeles Limited with a Hudson class E-4 at Winfield, Illinois (coll. CNWR)

With the “Golden Spike” ceremony on May 10, 1869, the first railroad from the Atlantic to the Pacific was completed. On May 15 started a service from Council Bluff near Omaha, where the Chicago & North Western (CNWR) ended, to Sacramento, with “Palace Day and Sleeping Coaches”, in November being extended to Oakland. From 1875 the start of an “Atlantic & Pacific Express” is reported, with Pullman sleeping-cars on the Union Pacific (UP) and “Silver Palace Sleepers” on the Central Pacific (CP), obviously with change of trains. The Golden Gate Special, exclusively with five Pullman sleepers, did run only for a few months in 1888. In 1887 the Overland Flyer was introduced, from 1896 the Overland Limited, via CNWR, UP and Southern Pacific (SP, merged with the CP under Harriman) from Chicago to Oakland. From 1905 one section came from Chicago via the Milwaukee Road. Later the train did run in up to 3 sections, the Atlantic engines were replaced by Pacifics and then by 4-8-4s and in 1938 on the CNWR appeared the streamlined Hudsons E-4. At the Oakland SP station ferries connected with San Francisco. Only from 1939 until 1958 trains could use the Bay Bridge to enter the city of San Francisco.

Union Pacific’s first streamliner was M-10000, completed at Pullman works in 1934. The second streamliner M-10001 consisted of sleeping-cars. On an exhibition run in October 1934 it shattered every speed record for cross-continent train travel: 38 hours 52 minutes for Los Angeles - Chicago, 56 hours 55 minutes for Los Angeles - New York, and it attained a top speed of 120 mph! On June 6, 1935 it was placed in service between Chicago and Portland, baptized the Streamliner City of Portland. On May 15, 1936 started the City of Los Angeles with the M-10002, in style resembling the 10001, a booster and 11 tubular cars, including sleepers, chair cars and a diner. On five days per month it hustled from Chicago to L.A. in 39 hours and 45 minutes. On June 14 followed the City of San Francisco, the M-10004 with a longer nose and booster. The yellow and scarlet train sets by CNWR, UP and SP then got standard cars and three E2 (A/B/B sets), then two E9 General Motors diesels. And they contained not only sleeping cars, but also reclining seats, an heritage from the Challenger, successfully introduced in 1935. Together with the City of Portland they formed a complicated network. The “Cities” symbolized the new age and an American described their clientele as “the starlets and their sycophants”. For the conservative passengers the Los Angeles Limited continued running, “streamlined” in 1938. In 1946 for the first time Pullman sleepers New York - San Francisco and Los Angeles of NYC and Pennsy were introduced, for a short time forming the Transcon Chicago - Los Angeles, then being attached to the Los Angeles Limited and the San Francisco Overland. From 1955 the “Cities” offered “Penthouse Dining”, in the same year they changed to the Milwaukee Road, from 1956 the Challenger (which had replaced the Los Angeles Limited) was combined with the City of Los Angeles and on August 30, 1971, this last “City” arrived at L.A., hauled by five General Motors. Amtrak restarted the service Chicago - Oakland with the San Francisco Zephyr via Denver, Cheyenne and Ogden, in 1983 replaced by the California Zephyr - see the next chapter.

The Overland Limited
SP, UP, C&NW, Pullman, c.1908:
1 Baggage & Dynamo Car Oakland - Chicago
2 1st class Sleeping Car Oakland - Chicago
1 1st class Sleeping Car Portland - Chicago
1 Dining Car Oakland - Chicago
1 Composite Observation & Buffet Car, Oakland - Chicago

M-10001
exhibition run Los Angeles - New York in Oct.1934 (according to Arthur D. Dubin):
Engine unit M-10001
R.P.O. baggage 12200
Pullman sleeper "E. H. Harriman"
Pullman sleeper "Abraham Lincoln"
Pullman sleeper "Oregon Trail"
Chair car - buffet 10402


Cars articulated, colors yellow/red, from June 1935 the Streamliner City of Portland.


M-10001, the second streamliner, on an exhibition run in 1935 (coll. Union Pacific Railroad Museum)

City of San Francisco, engine class E2 no. SF-1 and 17 cars at a passing track called Review, Wyoming c. 1938 (coll. Union Pacific)

Steam-turbo-electric prototype of the Union Pacific, which however did not enter regular passenger train service (Union Pacific Railroad Museum coll.)

San Francisco Zephyr Chicago - Denver - Cheyenne - Oakland of Amtrak with SDP45 type engines and heritage cars approaching Oakland in the 70's (Amtrak)

California Zephyr of Amtrak on the Donner Pass, 1987 (WS)

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