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Nostalgia & History > Amtrak's "Super Chief," December 1973


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Date: 02/22/12 01:00
Amtrak's "Super Chief," December 1973
Author: captrr

On Christmas leave in December 1973, I returned home to Cincinnati via Amtrak #4, the eastbound "Super Chief."

1. Kneeling on the platform in Winslow, Arizona, I managed to maneuver so that the sun took out the red/white/blue Amtrak striping. I wanted one final image of the "Super Chief" as it might have appeared before nationalization of the nation's long haul passenger rail service.

2, 3. East of Gallup, New Mexico.








Date: 02/22/12 01:05
Re: Amtrak's "Super Chief," December 1973
Author: captrr

4-6. Albuquerque, New Mexico. I liked the fact that Amtrak was still using classic baggage wagons to load the mail and express. And the Santa Fe billboard...what could you say? Even without its own passenger trains anymore, the railroad was a class operation any way you looked at it.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/22/12 01:32 by captrr.








Date: 02/22/12 01:12
Re: Amtrak's "Super Chief," December 1973
Author: captrr

7. Knowing that the crossing of Raton Pass would most likely be after dark, I elected to shoot as much as possible of the eastward trek over Glorieta Pass. Eastbound out of Albuquerque.

8. Immediately on leaving the Lamy, New Mexico, station stop I was in the vestibule of my sleeping. Traversing Apache Canyon.

9. Ascending the west slope of Glorieta Pass.








Date: 02/22/12 01:17
Re: Amtrak's "Super Chief," December 1973
Author: captrr

10-12. Ascending the west slope of Glorieta Pass. There was little snow, but it was cold. Fortunately the slow eastward climb made the ride tolerable.








Date: 02/22/12 01:22
Re: Amtrak's "Super Chief," December 1973
Author: captrr

13. I did want an image featuring the classic semaphore signals that Santa Fe still used on this line. This one was taken on the west slope of Glorieta Pass. (Apparently this is the east switch at Glorieta, just over the summit. Thanks Evan!)

14, 15. On the east slope of the pass the topography and ground cover differed considerably from the west slope.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/22/12 03:09 by captrr.








Date: 02/22/12 01:28
Re: Amtrak's "Super Chief," December 1973
Author: captrr

16, 17. On the east slope of the pass we went into the hole for westbound #3. These were my final views of the trip, but I resolved to do more of these western transcon trips before the availability of vestibule dutch doors suitable for photography also became a legacy of a distant era.






Date: 02/22/12 02:10
Re: Amtrak's "Super Chief," December 1973
Author: Notch16

Gotta tell ya... I was there, and truly hated that era at the time. But your wonderful photos change my perspective. These look great! I'd ride that train in a heartbeat now, if only I could!

Really enjoying your posts...

~ BZ



Date: 02/22/12 06:00
Re: Amtrak's "Super Chief," December 1973
Author: billio

Almost a real passenger train...



Date: 02/22/12 06:20
Re: Amtrak's "Super Chief," December 1973
Author: goneon66

what an awesome photo journey. thanks for posting this.......

66



Date: 02/22/12 06:51
Re: Amtrak's "Super Chief," December 1973
Author: ATSF3751

Check out the US Mail for the baggage car. Santa Fe continued to carry first class mail, pre-sorted, on passenger trains after the removal of RPO's. This continued into Amtrak. While not the same volumn as pre 1968, it still could account for a full carload during heavy time and included both working and sealed mail cars.



Date: 02/22/12 07:09
Re: Amtrak's "Super Chief," December 1973
Author: kurtarmbruster

Interesting to see all that mail still being carried on this poky ol' train. Said the Postmaster General, "Curses! Slipped through my fingers!" And those big SDP's--gorgeous! Thanks for the lovely views, Cap. Kurt.



Date: 02/22/12 08:53
Re: Amtrak's "Super Chief," December 1973
Author: WP-M2051

Notch16 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Gotta tell ya... I was there, and truly hated that
> era at the time. But your wonderful photos change
> my perspective.

Great photos! That said, plain stainless with silver trucks looked better than the stripes and cost less too. In Santa Fe times one could be sure of glass windows, operative AC and sedate interiors; not so sure of those by 12/73...



Date: 02/22/12 10:08
Re: Amtrak's "Super Chief," December 1973
Author: Out_Of_Service

nice series Capt. ... those SDP's never looked so good ... did the engineer of #3 extinguish his headlight for your camera shot ... on second thought maybe he did it for the crew of #4



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/22/12 10:09 by Out_Of_Service.



Date: 02/22/12 10:15
Re: Amtrak's "Super Chief" 1973
Author: timz2

ATSF3751 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Check out the US Mail for the baggage car. Santa
> Fe continued to carry first class mail,
> pre-sorted, on passenger trains after the removal
> of RPO's. This continued into Amtrak.

From where to where? When did it end?



Date: 02/22/12 12:19
Re: Amtrak's "Super Chief" 1973
Author: walstib

Great shots! Thanks for posting.



Date: 02/22/12 14:50
Re: Amtrak's "Super Chief" 1973
Author: captrr

Guys, thkx! My notes from the trip say that dinner in the diner was "up to Santa Fe standards" on the Friday evening out of LA. I had ridden Santa Fe's "Super Chief/El Cap" from San Bernardino to Chicago in April '69. Apparently I felt the December '73 meal was as good as what I had partaken of four years earlier. One thing that really stood out for me on the December '73 trip was that out of San Bernardino I was standing in the vestibule of my sleeper. The conductor joined me at the door and talked about what it was like to work for "the Company" and he wasn't talking Amtrak. We overtook a UP eastbound just west of Blue Cut and slowly worked our way up to the head end. We kept the top half of the dutch door open. What a thrill as the guttural roar of six diesels filled the space. Then after crossing under I-15 we overtook a westbound SP working upgrade on the Palmdale Cutoff. Again, what a sight and sound show under the stars. Past Summit I said "thanks" and retired to my roomette. What an experience! No pictures...but great memories.

Out_of_Service, I checked the initial slide I took as #3 rounded the distant curve. His headlight was already extinguished, so he did it for the crew of #4, but kept it out so as not to ruin my shot. When I took that final shot we were already slowly moving east. If you look closely you can see #4 has already gotten the signal to proceed.

How I miss Santa Fe...and passenger trains you could ride in the vestibule in. I'm so very glad I rode what I could when I did. I've pulled a San Diego to Portland, Oregon, trip for scanning. Again, you sure could capture the romance of traveling by rail when you were shooting out the vestibule.



Date: 02/22/12 16:43
Re: Amtrak's "Super Chief" 1973
Author: john7968

. Check out the US Mail for the baggage car. Santa
> Fe continued to carry first class mail,
> pre-sorted, on passenger trains after the removal
> of RPO's. This continued into Amtrak.

Is wasn’t first class it was “blue placard” mail, largely parcel post, never the less, good revenue



Date: 02/22/12 17:30
Re: Amtrak's "Super Chief" 1973
Author: rattenne

I was under the impression the Amtrak version of the Super Chief only ran during the summer of 1973 - Santa Fe then rescinded use of the name as the train's service was not up to Uncle John's standard.



Date: 02/22/12 17:55
Re: Amtrak's "Super Chief" 1973
Author: DavidP

rattenne Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I was under the impression the Amtrak version of
> the Super Chief only ran during the summer of 1973
> - Santa Fe then rescinded use of the name as the
> train's service was not up to Uncle John's
> standard.

Amtrak used the Super Chief name for the primary Chicago - LA train from May 1, 1971 through summer of '73 - also "Chief" for a summer only second Chicago - LA train and Texas Chief for the Chicago - Houston train. The last straw for Santa Fe's licensing of the famous name was reported to be Amtrak's plan to remove the separate first class-only diner from trains 3/4 during the 1973-74 winter season.

Dave



Date: 02/22/12 19:56
Re: Amtrak's "Super Chief" 1973
Author: kachina19-20

Santa Fe conductors were in a class by themselves. Friendly when they were with passengers, but oh so professional when they needed to be. I remember seeing an on time #4 at Joliet in 1977 where the Santa Fe brakeman all but cursed out the poor station agent because he didn't get the baggage wagon out of they way quick enough to hi ball the train. By golly they were going to get #4 to Chicago on time. And this before adding the slop to the schedule.

Dave Johansen
Glen Ellyn, IL



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