Transcontinental passenger service - Chicago or St. Louis? A historical question

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  • Member since
    January 2015
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Transcontinental passenger service - Chicago or St. Louis? A historical question
Posted by Jack 64 Brown on Sunday, September 8, 2019 6:00 PM

We all know that Chicago had, by 1870, become the chief rail hub of the Midwest -- indeed of the US.  But by 1875, St. Louis could claim a real advantage, with nearly all rail passenger services concentrated at a single station. The city's new Union Station (1894) was the largest in the country.  By contrast, Chicago had 5 mainline stations in the Gilded Age, making many intercity connections into a hassled transfer by hack, bus, or el across a busy city.

So on one level, St Louis carriers "should" have done well in the transcontinental passenger business.  But a look at any Official Guide suggests that nearly all the business went through Chicago.  Chicago certainly had far more passenger service overall.

Here is my question: can anyone put me on to original sources (1880-1930) that evaluated the pros and cons of the two cities for transcontinental travel?  Or historians accounts?

Did eastern and western carriers enter joint agreements that boosted one or the other city (esp in Golden Age - ie 1880-1930).  Did fares advantage one city over the other?  Travel times?

I know about Robert Young and his 1946 ad campaign "A hog can cross the country without changing trains, but you can't."  But I am asking different questions of an earlier period.  Surely this topic engaged editors, passenger agents, and railroad presidents for many decades

  • Member since
    September 2003
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Posted by Overmod on Monday, September 9, 2019 8:49 AM

We don't need two of these.


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