Chi-PacCoast "True Southern Route"-Re-visited

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Chi-PacCoast "True Southern Route"-Re-visited
Posted by Shastaroute on Thursday, July 05, 2018 7:02 AM

From 2016 in "Part Deux" concerning re-routing of Sunset Limited, it was implied the Pacific Coast Limited of Winter 1898-99 was little more than a re-naming of the re-routed Sunset service. From OG 1893, under Chicago & Alton (pg. 579) this line over C&A, Iron Mountain, T&P, and SP was already defined as the "True Southern Route To California". It had through Pullman service. Under MoPac (pg.590), the schedule is layed out as "Condensed Time-Table Via Iron Mountain Route".

Period sources found on-line indicate Pullman had built five full new trainsets for the Pacific Coast Limited. Given any extra cars for added traffic coverage, it seems doubtful that this train was not well planned long before the Sunset was re-routed. One account from Dec. 1898 even has an agent recieving a "booklet" describing this train alone. That sounds like advanced planning.

Something more. C&A & SP used topmarked Reed & Barton "Cecil" pattern silverware dated for Feb. 7, 1899 Patent (grant date, not filing). Palace Hotel S.F., at the end of the line, used the twin sister pattern "Royal". Lo and behold, I just found Royal with an engraved IMR monogram whose style leaves little doubt it is Iron Mountain Route. Any pieces marked with the Patent grant date would be too late for initial service on this particular train, but could have come into use as replacements or general service on these lines. The C&A Chicago (113 Adams Street) agent's newsprint ad mentions meals served along this line. Note: The American Tourist Association will soon move to 116(?) Adams Street and run Mexico excursions over the C&A/IMR lines. [Espee was a big user of International Silver around this time, so I've wondered why they had Reed & Barton in the mix.]

What do we really know about this route and the trains? Could the Sunset re-routing be a coy excuse to boost traffic for an upcoming project that Pullman was abuilding? Am I rambling?

 

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Posted by ZephyrOverland on Monday, July 09, 2018 3:46 PM

As I was the original author of this quiz question, here are some thoughts in response to your questions.

You are right in that there was at least through Chicago-San Francisco sleeping car or tourist car service on this route (C&A/Iron Mountain/TP/SP) from 1893, but there was no through train service until the rerouted Sunset came into being. SP made “lemonade” from a situation it found itself in as they could not operate the Sunset Limited to New Orleans for the 1897-1898 tourist season due to the Yellow Fever epidemic that was occurring at the time. SP was promoting the Sunset Limited as a New Orleans train as late as mid-September 1897, but shortly afterwards news reports began surfacing that the Sunset was being rerouted to Chicago, initially as an Overland Route train, but eventually another routing (C&A/Iron Mountain/TP/SP) was used, one that saw only through cars previously. At the time, the Sunset Limited was a twice-weekly seasonal train whose primary audience was people traveling cross country to winter in California, and at the time it was cheaper to travel via New Orleans than via Chicago. I think an assumption to have the Sunset rerouted to Chicago was that passengers who would have traveled via New Orleans would travel instead via Chicago, and an enticement for those passengers to use the Sunset was that the fare for traveling via the rerouted Sunset via Chicago would be the same as if they were traveling via New Orleans. The fare advantage masked the fact that the rerouted Sunset had to complete with Santa Fe, with its California Limited, a first-class seasonal train that was similiar to the Sunset, but with a faster and more direct routing, as well as Overland Route services. 

The Pacific Coast Limited would not have existed if it wasn’t for the Sunset reroute to Chicago. In my research, I saw no mention of a through train via C&A/Iron Mountain/TP/SP before the Sunset reroute. But this does not mean that the involved roads weren’t looking into this. Without access to internal communications (if they even exist) we don’t know for sure. A review of online copes of Railway Age of the time period doesn’t show anything either.

The involved roads spent most of 1898 performing due diligence in developing the Pacific Coast Limited. This train was planned to be an equal to the Sunset Limited, so there was a blueprint to work from, from acquiring new trainsets, setting up operations and promoting the train for the 1898-1899 season. The new train operated on a twice weekly schedule, and as the previous seasons Sunset did, and it directly competed with Santa Fe’s California Limited. The Chicago Tribune mentions the new train as early as October 1898. 

This operation was not successful, as the Pacific Coast Limited did not return and only a through tourist sleeper was operated for the 1899-1900 season. The October 4th 1899 Chicago Tribune states that the Pacific Coast Limited would not return due to the Texas and Pacific upgrading their physical plant, making such an operation unfeasible. This may had been the case but this could have been a smokescreen excuse, since railroads would rarely admit that their services did not have the passenger loadings, especially during this time period with so many competitors offering services to the same endpoints. The the same article states that Santa Fe increased its luxury train service from two to four days per week and the Overland Route sped up their services.  So demand was there.  Even Rock Island, Burlington and Rio Grande were upgrading their through car services. By 1902, SP found another Chicago routing via Rock Island, eventually establishing the Golden State Route as a more worthy competitor to the Santa Fe. 

As for your speculation about motivations behind the reroute, keep in mind that in the years to WW1, railroads were constantly trying new sleeping car and through train routes in attempts to get competitive advantages in passenger traffic. Some through car routes eventually evolved into through train services, but the opposite also occurred as well. Chicago & Alton was still attempting to be involved in western transcontinental traffic through the 1920’s through occasionally handling through Golden State Route trains between Chicago and Kansas City and even trying to be a connection for Santa Fe services as well.

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Posted by Shastaroute on Tuesday, July 10, 2018 12:59 PM

Thanks ZO.

 

It would be nice to know more about the ownership and operating facts. Unfortunately, Railway Age (Oct. 1898 Pg 753) gives the impression this is an Alton instigated train simply running over the other roads (perhaps poor wording): https://books.google.com/books?id=KtBLAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA832&lpg=PA832&dq=southern+pacific+sacramento+shop+fire+1896&source=bl&ots=NRCgIErQdV&sig=4BXlFLV-koPImKFCkECpXotxPlw&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwj_xvTJ1fvbAhWorVQKHT0KAEk4ChDoATADegQIBBAB#v=onepage&q=iron%20mountain&f=false

As long as we've brought up the Rock, I have buried away a snapshot from somewhere in the 30's-on of a father and son standing just west of the Rock agency structure at Udell, Iowa. They are waving at a westbound passenger in daylight that appears to be a long line of heavyweights following the Harriman baggage with what may be a Northern leading. The citizens of Udell fought RI in the state railroad commission to get the station/agency located with flagging stops for west-bounds, naming the town after a prominent area doctor. I haven't found any other photos of this location. Any Rock-hounds got ideas about what train it may be?

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Posted by ZephyrOverland on Tuesday, July 10, 2018 6:33 PM

Shastaroute

 

It would be nice to know more about the ownership and operating facts. Unfortunately, Railway Age (Oct. 1898 Pg 753) gives the impression this is an Alton instigated train simply running over the other roads (perhaps poor wording): https://books.google.com/books?id=KtBLAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA832&lpg=PA832&dq=southern+pacific+sacramento+shop+fire+1896&source=bl&ots=NRCgIErQdV&sig=4BXlFLV-koPImKFCkECpXotxPlw&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwj_xvTJ1fvbAhWorVQKHT0KAEk4ChDoATADegQIBBAB#v=onepage&q=iron%20mountain&f=false

 

Most likely C&A submitted the news item to Railway Age - it is worded to give them the best possible light, not necessarily that they were the main sponsor of the train. This was a common practice at the time.  

When it was announced that the Sunset would be running to/from Chicago, C&A submitted a number of ads (of the classified ad type) in the Chicago Tribune announcing its operation of the Sunset Limited for several weeks before the actual start of operation. 

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Posted by Shastaroute on Thursday, July 19, 2018 2:04 PM

An additional IMR china pattern did surface as a past listing. Ordered from Onondaga Pottery Company (Syracuse China) through Ford of St. Louis, it bears an impressed date code of 56(?) in a diamond which corresponds to mid-year 1916. Produced for "The Sunshine Special", the three handling roads are noted in the decoration without the "Missouri Pacific" becoming involved in this one. The backstamp indicates it was ordered for the Iron Mountain Route, which should suffice as proof that the IMR name was used separately from Missouri Pacific in some dining services. For the case of the Pacific Coast Limited, the advertising indicates that all cars were carried through, so we might expect only one service used in the dining car. Whether or not this was a Pullman-marked service or specific to one of the involved roads, would be speculation until more is known. And it's always possible that the four roads simply agreed on "Iron Mountain Route" as a generic term covering the whole trip (at least to Los Angeles where sleepers were transferred to other "westbound" trains for San Francisco).

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