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Nostalgia & History > Warbonnet Wednesday: SUPER!

Date: 07/10/19 08:33
Warbonnet Wednesday: SUPER!
Author: santafe199

There have been hundreds of photographers (probably more) who have taken thousands of photographs (probably more) of Santa Fe’s famous passenger train, the legendary Super Chief. It was well covered in all of the famous scenic locations Uncle John had to offer: Cajon, Darling, Canyon Diablo, Glorieta, Wooton & Edelstein just to drop a few names. All the noted station stops were also well recorded: Dearborn, Joliet, Fort Madison, KCUS, La Junta, Albuquerque, San Berdoo & LAUPT just to drop a few names. But the loyal & passionate Santa Fe fan growing up within the state of Kansas (pick me…) usually has to take a back seat to such home-state photography. That’s mainly because the Super Chief traversed the Sunflower State both ways in darkness upwards of 90% of its on-time schedule.

Although not nearly on the same level with Cajon, Raton or even Edelstein the Land of OZ does offer a few surprising locations for scenic and/or operational interest. For example Argentine ~ Olathe: tight woodsy scenery with lots of curvature plus 4 main tracks between Turner & Holliday. Melvern, KS with its sharp & steep beginnings of a seven-mile long grade separation, shootable off 2 overpasses. Two massive main line double track bridges in close proximity over the Neosho & Cottonwood Rivers west of Neosho Rapids, KS. The confluence of Santa Fe’s trans-system passenger & freight main lines at Ellinor, KS west of Emporia. The climb up Walton ”Mountain” between Peabody & Walton, KS. RX Crossing (& Tower) at Hutchinson, KS where many noted examples of Uncle John’s varnish crossed paths with those of the “Mighty Fine Line”. The close paralleling of Santa Fe & Rock Island main lines between Whiteside & Partridge, KS just west of Hutch. Passage by the massive Stock Yards on the east side of Dodge City, KS. The famous Santa Fe “race track” between Garden City, KS & Lamar, CO. This ABS/ATS main line was once good for long stretches of sustained 90 MPH running, garnished with semaphore blade signals.

But there was one station in Kansas that got virtually no coverage when the Super Chief was in town. Even though Newton, KS was a very strategic passenger crossroads between Santa Fe’s Chicago-Texas & Chicago-California trains there is a heartbreaking lack of photographs of trains #17 & #18 here. At Newton every through train was given the full 20” fuel and water service, waste removal & supply replenishment. Not to mention passengers & passenger cars that made connections between different trains. It’s safe to say that Newton was once hopping 24/7 with trains & people. Just not that many people equipped with tripods & railfan photography instincts.

My late friend Tony Fey was born & raised in Newton, KS. Of course, the Santa Fe “stuff” he was able to witness makes me insanely jealous. In September of 1970 I was just getting used to the idea of being in High School as a Sophomore. But my future friend was over a year out, having already graduated in 1969. Stemming from those long-ago years before Amtrak I will be forever grateful to Tony. This because in those days on multiple occasions between sunset & sunrise he took his tripod down to the passenger station and photographed Santa Fe passenger trains. Here’s one now:

1. AT&SF 5942 leads train #18, the “Super Chief” at Newton, KS on September 19, 1970. With blue flag attached, #18 is in the middle of its 20” service stop. The fireman is visible in his seat, maybe going over their train orders for the upcoming sprint over to Emporia. (Original Kodachrome slide by Tony Fey)

Thank you, Tony! And rest in peace, my friend…
Lance Garrels (santafe199)
Tony Fey (the late “mopacrr”)

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 07/10/19 08:39 by santafe199.

Date: 07/10/19 08:45
Re: Warbonnet Wednesday: SUPER!
Author: UP951West

Lance, thanks for posting this stunning night shot by Tony Fey, a really fine fellow and professional  railroader I was fortunate to know as a friend . RIP, Tony.   --Kelly

Date: 07/10/19 09:06
Re: Warbonnet Wednesday: SUPER!
Author: gcm

Wow - that is a stunning night shot.

Date: 07/10/19 09:38
Re: Warbonnet Wednesday: SUPER!
Author: Hou74-76

Yes, a stunning photo indeed.  I recall standing on those platforms on a late summer night in the 1960s waiting to change trains.  Before the trains arrived there was a chilly breeze that went right over the platforms and tracks and made me roll down my sleeves.  Your photo catches that chill I felt and the warmth of the train as it came to a grinding stop at Newton.

Date: 07/10/19 15:22
Re: Warbonnet Wednesday: SUPER!
Author: jgilmore

THAT is an outstanding photo! Wow, incredible, and great backstory too. Thank you both!


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Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/10/19 17:48 by jgilmore.

Date: 07/17/19 10:42
Re: Warbonnet Wednesday: SUPER!
Author: jmhemmer

Beginning in 1959, my perplexed parents allowed their ten-year-old to use lawn-mowing money to ride the Texas Chief from Oklahoma City to Newton and back for a night at Ground Zero in central Kansas, a habit that lasted eight years.  No. 16's 10 p.m. arrival in Newton gave me seven hours before No. 15's departure to watch the heart of Santa Fe's passenger fleet.  During those few hours, Santa Fe served up not only the Texas Chiefs, but also Grand Canyons in both directions, San Francisco Chiefs in both directions, the Super Chief and El Capitan eastbound (often the westbounds would pull in before No. 15 left)--a total of 8-10 glorious passenger trains--plus random grain trains, manifests, locals, and an all-night coffee shop for cheeseburgers.  The holidays were best, when 15 and 16 ran in two sections and 17 and 18 often required three.  If only I had possessed the equipment and skills to record images like this one!  

Date: 07/17/19 11:11
Re: Warbonnet Wednesday: SUPER!
Author: King_Coal

Fine photo. Thanks for sharing it.

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