Lots to See, but Not for Long

Posted by George Hamlin
on Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Almost fifty-five years ago, you could see the pride of the New York Central, the Twentieth Century Limited, twice a day at the railroad’s Croton-Harmon station in Westchester County, New York. This location, known previously as simply “Harmon”, was where westbound NYC trains exchanged the electric locomotives that had brought them the 32.7 miles from Grand Central Terminal in New York City for diesels (and previously, steam) that would forward their consists to more distant destinations.  Eastbound, of course, the process was reversed.

As seen in the photo above, taken on June 26, 1967, the westbound Century, train number 25, is getting underway following the locomotive change, with a pair of EMD E8s in charge, led by the 4061.  Although Its running mate is smoking quite a bit, both units are clean, and appear to have been washed quite recently.  Interestingly, both the road names and numbers on the side of the 4061 appear to be slightly larger than on the trailing unit.

Behind the locomotives is a smooth-sided baggage-rpo (railway post office).  Like all of the train’s postwar consist, it once was painted in the road’s classic two-tone gray scheme, although now, it wears only the darker shade, suggesting that someone had decided that head-end equipment, even on this pride-of-the-fleet run, no longer merited the additional expense of the fancier livery.

The forward part of the train, consisting of Budd-built stainless steel equipment looks bright and shiny, as well. Once coaches had been added to the train in the late 1950s, thereby removing its previous all-Pullman/first class status, 25 and 26 had become a mix of unpainted stainless and painted/striped equipment; in fact, on tonight’s run, the equipment is overwhelmingly of Budd manufacture, with a mere pair of Pullman-Standard cars, still in their two-tone garb, on the rear.

Leading off with a baggage dormitory, a pair of coaches and two sleepercoaches (rebuilt from former 22 roomette sleepers) comprise the portion of the train where non-first class fares will get you to Chicago. Ordinarily, a Budd grill-diner would have been between these two types of cars, but tonight, a stainless twin-unit (kitchen-lounge and full dining room) combination behind them will be the sole purveyor of food service for all passengers. 

Behind the lounge and diner are a pair of Budd ten roomette, six double bedroom sleeping cars, named for “Valleys”, followed by a Pullman-Standard twelve double bedroom car in the “Port” series.  Last, but certainly not least, the five double bedroom lounge/observation “Hickory Creek” is carrying the markers; only the final pair are in the two-tone gray.

From the standpoint of fifty-plus years of hindsight, it is apparent that the Century is in its declining years; in reality, in fact, “year” is actually more appropriate, because the once-famous train will no longer be running when 1967 becomes 1968 in little more than six months.  Following the passage of the locomotives, I had turned to face in the opposite direction, and, as seen below, photographed 25 heading into the sunset, literally.

Photos: George W. Hamlin

To leave a comment you must be a member of our community.
Login to your account now, or register for an account to start participating.
No one has commented yet.

Join our Community!

Our community is FREE to join. To participate you must either login or register for an account.

Search the Community

Newsletter Sign-Up

By signing up you may also receive occasional reader surveys and special offers from Trains magazine.Please view our privacy policy