New York City to Chicago, Early 1957 - What was the Likely Route?

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New York City to Chicago, Early 1957 - What was the Likely Route?
Posted by Attuvian on Thursday, March 5, 2020 10:12 AM

When I was a lad I lived in Jackson, Michigan, a couple hundred yards from the dual main between Detroit and Chicago.  My wife is a Dutch imigrant, and journeyed with her family west to Portland, Oregon from New York City, through Chicago.  It was late January, 1957.  I am curious as to what were the most likely railroads that were used for the trip.

There may have been other rather direct options for the first leg to Chicago (the Pennsy and C&O come to mind), but I'd like to imagine that they rode the New York Central.  If so, there were options out of Buffalo either through Ontario to Detroit or through Cleveland.  I sometimes toy with the notion that, if it was indeed the NYC, that they might just have come via Detroit - and later rolled right past my house.  With limited resources I can't imagine that they were booked on the 20th Century Limited, which took the southern route.  Granted, it's merely a fanciful speculation.  But it's a nagging one.  Regrettably, I never asked my wife's folks before they passed away.  Her brother, who was 12 at the time, doesn't know the details.

Now, if the private agency that was arranging the trip had good sense, they wouldn't have booked the family on the NYC for the first major leg.  That would have probably necessitated a shuttle between the LaSalle Street (?) and Union Stations.  If so, my dream is likely up in smoke! 

John  

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Posted by Overmod on Thursday, March 5, 2020 11:04 AM

Attuvian
Now, if the private agency that was arranging the trip had good sense, they wouldn't have booked the family on the NYC for the first major leg.  That would have probably necessitated a shuttle between the LaSalle Street (?) and Union Stations. 

Keep in mind that Parmelee Transfer was a well-oiled machine in those days, making transfers between Chicago stations quick and relatively easy.  It is possible that the cost of transfer may have been 'rolled' into the price charged for the 'transportation' -- someone here will certainly know -- and of course in those days it would be the same 'price' for travel between endpoints regardless of the actual route selected (for a given range of train timings).

Don't give up just yet...

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Posted by rcdrye on Thursday, March 5, 2020 2:20 PM

The only eastern trunk that had same-station connectons with trains to the Pacific Northwest was the Pennsylvania at Union Station - any other would arrive at either LaSalle (NYC or DL&W/Nickel Plate), Dearborn (Erie) or even Central (NYC/Michigan Central via Detroit before late 1957).  Trains to the Northwest all left from Union in 1957 (CB&Q/NP, CB&Q/GN, Milwaukee/UP).  And yes, the Parmalee coupon would have been added by any competent ticket clerk for the station transfer, with no additional charge.

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Posted by Attuvian on Thursday, March 5, 2020 2:57 PM

rcdrye

The only eastern trunk that had same-station connectons with trains to the Pacific Northwest was the Pennsylvania at Union Station - any other would arrive at either LaSalle (NYC or DL&W/Nickel Plate), Dearborn (Erie) or even Central (NYC/Michigan Central via Detroit before late 1957).  Trains to the Northwest all left from Union in 1957 (CB&Q/NP, CB&Q/GN, Milwaukee/UP).  And yes, the Parmalee coupon would have been added by any competent ticket clerk for the station transfer, with no additional charge.

 
And what would have been the connection to Portland?  I know that SP&S served Portland from Spokane, whch seems to have been the hub for trains taking the northern route.  But an initial Google search indicates that not only was Portland's Union Station initially an NP venture, there are plenty of maps that indicate that NP ran directly from Spokane to Portland (earlier?) or perhaps later via Seattle.  As for 1957, that's the question at hand.
 
John
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Posted by timz on Thursday, March 5, 2020 5:14 PM

Looks like the Wolverine via Detroit got to Chicago in plenty of time to transfer to Union Station to get the City of Portland, or maybe the Empire Bldr

http://www.canadasouthern.com/caso/ptt/images/tt-1056.pdf

The City of Portland hadn't shifted to running via Denver in 1957, so it's the first guess for onward. In the 4/56 timetable

http://wx4.org/to/foam/maps/1_habegger/1956-04-29CUS62-JonHabegger.pdf

the Empire Bldr and N Coast Ltd left Chicago earlier than the City of Portland.

Summer 1958 City of Portland timetable

http://streamlinermemories.info/UP/UPSum58TT.pdf

Summer 1957 Empire Bldr

http://streamlinermemories.info/GN/GN57TT.pdf

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Posted by NP Eddie on Thursday, March 5, 2020 5:17 PM

A great and historical question. The history of the Portland Union Station is complicated and I defer to another person for that information.

To get back to your question: Jackson, Michigan was on the Michigan Central, New York Central, and Grand Trunk Western. The passenger stations in Chicago are as follows: Michigan Central=Central Station, GTW=Dearborn, and NYC=  LaSalle Street. Regardless of the station used, passengers would need to use the Parmalee service to Union Station.

The Union Pacific did operate a "City of Portland" train. The CBQ/NP and CBQ/GN operated trains to the west coast with coaches and sleepers in their trains to Portland. The GN switched their passenger trains at Spokane and the NP used Pasco to switch the Portland passener cars from (or add to) an SPS train for Portland. The SPS then operated the train on their tracks from Spokane to Pasco to Portland. I should add that the NP and GN did not a convenient connection at Spokane until after the 1970 merger.

Ed Burns

Railfan and retired NP, etc. clerk from Northtown (Minneapolis).

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Posted by Attuvian on Thursday, March 5, 2020 6:14 PM

I'll do another query of my brother-in-law and see if he can remember any details that match up with these options. As a teaser, I may forward him some photos of the livery of each railroad's trains. This may jog his memory.

The primary memory of that trip is now family lore. It seems that, as the oldest of the four children that made the journey, my wife's parents allowed him more freedom of movement while on the train. At one stop he'd wandered into one of the following cars - just before it was cut away from the original consist. None of the family spoke English at the time. But apparently - at the last possible moment - his absence was noted and there was enough hullaballoo that someone from the railroad was able to fetch my brother-in-law from the cut-away and throw him onto the last car as it began to pull away from the station.  Yikes!  What a mess that might have been!

John

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Posted by timz on Thursday, March 5, 2020 6:23 PM

If the train was scheduled to drop cars en route, that eliminates some possibilities. Looks like the City of Portland stayed in one piece in January; the Wolverine dropped cars at Detroit, in the morning.

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Posted by rcdrye on Friday, March 6, 2020 11:17 AM

Lots of NYC trains switched cars in and out along the way at Albany, Utica, Syracuse, Buffalo, Cleveland and Toledo, among other places.  DL&W/NKP only moved through cars at Buffalo. Erie dropped a sleeper at Youngstown Ohio.  The CofP's through sleeper to Seattle got cut out of the arriving train at Portland and moved to UP's pool train to Seattle.  The CB&Q/GN trains split at Spokane (and the Western Star got built at St. Paul).  The CB&Q/NP trains split at Pasco (the Mainstreeter getting built at St. Paul).  The Olympian Hiawatha dropped a parlor at Minneapolis westbound.

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