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Special Movements

When "service for the masses" just won't do.

Few things can upset the equilibrium of a Division Superintendent more than a special train movement.

All too often during the Railroad Age, getting any given train over the road is a unique crisis for operational management. Special Movements are not a part of the timetable humdrum, which boilixes the routine flow of traffic. Then there is the urgent and unanticipated demand for rolling stock, motive power, crews, fuel, provisions, etc., etc., etc., thus spreading the joy to the Shop Forces and Commissary Department as well.

But what really makes Special Movements near and dear to the heart is that those for whom a Special Train need be assembled are likely to draw crowds of reporters, local dignitaries, County Troopers, Cub Scouts and gawking onlookers at every jerkwater stop: so that the whole shebang becomes a Three Ring Circus that caroms down the right of way like a loose cannon to the eminent peril of life and limb, timetables and tempers, and the sanity of the poor, harassed Dispatcher.

Here are a few famous Special Movements as well as some more typical examples of the beast:


ATSF F3 a-b-b-a set
B & O hwt combine (communications car)
12-1 hwt sleeper (dormitory car for train staff)
(3) 6-3 hwt sleepers
(2) ATSF Budd fluted ltwt diners
(2) 6-3 hwt sleepers
1-1-buffet-lounge hwt
6-3 hwt sleeper
7-2 "gothic" sleeper
6-3 hwt sleeper (Marine detachment)
1-1-buffet-lounge hwt (White House staff)
1-2-2-2-lounge hwt "Club" series (White House staff)
Ferdinand Magellan (Presidential party)
 
Note that, even as late as 1948, the occasional "gothic" car can still be found in the reserve pool and that heavyweight equipment still greatly outnumbers lightweight cars - even on so prestigious a train.


(3) B & O E7a diesels
B & O hwt baggage car
B & O "betterment" 14 sect sleeper (crew dormitory)
ACL 6 dbr-buffet-solarium lounge "Beach" series fluted ltwt
G M & O "Mansion" series hwt 13 dbr sleeper
NYC "Mansion" series hwt 13 dbr sleeper
B & O "betterment" type diner
NYC "Mansion" series hwt 13 dbr sleeper
(2) U. S. Army communications cars
G M & O "Mansion" series hwt 13 dbr sleeper
B & O "betterment" 8-1-2 sleeper
B & O business car (Royal party)
 
Note how equipment has been scraped up from anywhere it can be found - notably the ACL "Beach" solarium, no doubt purloined from the Florida service pool. The array of paint schemes is remarkable, indeed! Interestingly, this humongous consist is making a short hop from Washington to New York City - the last portion to be by ferry to Staten Island.


"Eagle" series hwt baggage-club (ACL service)
10 cpt hwt sleeper (NYC service)
(2) 6-3 hwt sleepers
NYC hwt diner
6-3 hwt sleeper
Private car "Superb" (gothic type)
 
Pullman supplied the New York Central RR with this heavyweight consist hastily repainted a bright scarlet with gold lettering to carry the College of Cardinals to the XXVIII International Eucharistic Congress held in Chicago. (An interesting diplomatic footnote: the Catholic Church was still considered a sovereign - and not particularly friendly - foreign power at the time, which made the convention of its ruling body on American soil a delicate issue.)
 
The train departed Grand Central Terminal (NYC) at 10.00 AM amid a crowd of some 10,000 well wishers. Large crowds, with bands and local dignitaries, were also waiting at Albany (10,000), Syracuse (30,000, with pause for speeches) and Rochester (50,000, with more speeches).
 
At Porter, Ind. the "Red Special" (as it had been dubbed) was switched to the Illinois Central for the last 44 miles into IC's Park Row Station (Chicago) with arrival at 9.45 AM - 5 minutes early.
 
After the famous train had made its return journey, the cars were repainted to standard Pullman green and returned to regular service.
 
A footnote: the private car "Superb" is one of two model 2503 cars built in March, 1911 - among the first of the steel "gothic" cars. After a long and colorful history, it was retired and is preserved by the Atlanta Chapter of the NRHS.


 
(2) Sou Ry. 4-6-2s
B & O hwt end door horse car (for vehicles)
Sou Ry. hwt baggage car
12-1 "gothic" sleeper (dormitory car for train staff)
B & O hwt combine (communications car)
8-5 "Clover" series hwt sleeper (press party)
8 sect-buffet-lounge hwt "Club" series (press party)
6-3 hwt sleeper (Marine detachment)
6-3 hwt sleeper (White House staff)
Sou Ry. hwt diner
Ferdinand Magellan (Presidential Private Car)
7 cpt-buffet-lounge-obs, "gothic" type (Presidential party)
 
Note that "gothic" cars are still common in the South. With the end of the war, these early steel cars will go to scrap in wholesale numbers. Note, too, the reappearance of B & O combine #1401, which long served on Presidential trains.


 


 


World War 2 is going full bore. France has fallen. The Germans are pounding Britain from the air and driving on Moscow to the east. In the Pacific, tensions are mounting. China is crumbling; the Philippines and Australia are dangerously exposed; war with Japan could erupt at any moment. And America is belatedly realizing that - militarily - we are a third world power.
 
Rearmament fever sweeps the nation, and to help the war effort, 3 special trains have been outfitted to tour the country with displays of military equipment to drum up manufacturers of war goods. The 8 car consists, each with a 36 member staff of War Department and Armed Services personnel, have been repainted a striking red-white-and-blue, with the Great Seal of the United States on the car sides and the drumhead position.
 
They left Washington, D. C. with some fanfare on November 10: one working its way down the east coast, one through the Midwest toward New Orleans and the third toward the West Coast. By day, they set up in the local rail yard and receive visiting industry leaders, engineers and plant managers. By night, they roll on to the next town - to be set up and ready to do it all over again the next morning.
 
Four weeks later, while still on the road, the importance of their mission has been underlined by Pearl Harbor.
 
(6) hwt parlor cars (stripped and converted to display cars)
hwt sleeper-cafe car (quarters and food service for staff)
hwt compartment-lounge-obs (quarters for staff)
 
An interesting note: the lounge-obs cars were taken from the Private Car pool and include the two Plan 3972-B models. One of these, the Ferdinand Magellan, will soon be rebuilt for use as the Presidential Car. It survives today, immaculately preserved, at a Museum in Florida.


For 1936, the United Drug Company (makers of the Rexall brand) has decided that, rather than hold its annual conventions of druggists, it would field a display train to tour the country. Pullman repainted the 12 car consist a tasteful blue and white, and the interiors were refurbished as an idyllic display of the typical corner drug store - complete with soda fountain.
 
The train will operate over 20,000 miles through 47 states, hosting local druggists and the general public by day and traveling on to the next city by night.
 
16 sect hwt sleeper (crew quarters)
(9) hwt parlor cars (stripped and converted to display cars)
hwt diner
hwt 4 cpt-office-obs
 
Some interesting peculiarities: the diner is one of the rare 4004-A (rebuilt from "gothic" 16 section sleepers) for the ACL. (These can be distinguished by their having a vestibule on one end) The office-obs is a rebuilt "gothic" 10 cpt sleeper formerly in NYC service: now assigned to the private car reserve pool. Interestingly for this pre-air conditioning time, the cars have all been rebuilt with turtle roofs.


By 1930, the United States is sinking ever deeper into the Great Depression. With unemployment soaring, the "huddled masses, yearning to be free" are no longer welcome and an increasingly isolationist America has begun to discover that they have an "illegals" problem.
 
Prohibition is creating another problem. Organized crime, once an annoying fringe element, has grown in scope and stature. With it, violent crime of all sorts is on the rise.
 
The result is an ever increasing flood of people who need to be shipped under guard from one place to another. One answer is to provide for movement of prisoners in special trains. Convicts have long been moved by train- generally as individuals escorted by a U. S. marshal or as ad-hoc special movements. But in 1930, with demand on the rise, Pullman took a rebuilt "Varnish" 16 section tourist sleeper and fitted it with bars on the windows as a special Prisoner Car #3195. (This is probably the only Pullman which did NOT have a Porter assigned!) Spotting features are the barred windows and the truss rod underframe.
 
This is the train that took Big Al Capone to The Rock! While no records of specific consists have emerged, a typical prison train would probably include:
 
wood baggage car (outfitted as a kitchen car)
prisoner car #3195
wood or "gothic" 10 section-obs (dormitory car)
 
Movement of a Prison Train has fairly high priority (everyone no doubt obsessed with the risk of a mass jail break). However - as the customers are unlikely to complain about the quality of service - the equipment and amenities are minimal. Aside from the #3195, other equipment will be taken from whatever pool cars are lying unused at the moment.


On Saturday morning, July 8, 1905, John J. Byrne, general passenger agent of the Santa Fe lines west of Albuquerque received a most unusual request. A nondescript local citizen entered his office and demanded to know if the Santa Fe could put him in Chicago in forty-six hours.
 
Humoring the fellow, Byrne replied to the affirmative. When pressed about the price he quoted a figure of $5,500, then watched in stunned silence as this character peeled that amount off a fist sized bankroll. The visitor, who had introduced himself as Walter Scott, asked how soon they would leave. Finally realizing that he was serious, Byrne told him that his train would leave Los Angeles the next afternoon.
 
Walter Scott, better known as "Death Valley Scotty" was a local prospector: a hardscrabble existence, to say the least. He was one of the last vestiges of the Old West that was dying as the 20th Century dawned. When times were good (which wasn't often) the miners and cowpunchers - tough, independent dreamers - would cut loose. And Scotty, sporting a serious bankroll, had decided to celebrate Dame Fortune by taking a little train ride.
 
46 hours - Los Angeles to Chicago - was unheard of. The Santa Fe publicity department, knowing a media event when they smelled one, scrambled to alert the local press up and down the line. As a result, a mob of 20,000 people were at Santa Fe's Moorish style La Grande depot in the little coastal town of Los Angeles, California to see Scott, his wife, and one C. E. Van Loan, newspaper man, on their way.
 
With less than 12 hours notice, Santa Fe personnel worked through the night with preparations. The schedule of the "Coyote Special", as it was quickly dubbed, had to be drawn up, fitted into the existing operation patterns, and the amended timetable sent down the line. The Motive Power department shuffled its crews and locomotives (trying not to disrupt operations too badly in the process) while the Car Department pulled together a train with what cars were on hand.
 
The result was a three car consist. Santa Fe assigned baggage car 210. Diner 1407 was prepared by the Fred Harvey Company (which operated Santa Fe's dining car services) while the local Pullman office assigned sleeper "Muskegon", an opulent new Varnish 12-1, for a total of 170 tons on the train.
 
On Sunday July 9, 1905, at 1:00 PM, the "Coyote Special" pulled out of La Grand Station. From the beginning, the train set a relentless pace. Stops at division points for engine changes usually lasted no more than 3 minutes and the telegraph wires hummed as the dispatching staff cleared the way ahead.
 
The run of the "Coyote Special" quickly became a media happening, eagerly followed in the newspapers, with crowds at every station stop and on-site progress reports dropped off by Mr. Van Loan. The journey was not without its problems: such as when one locomotive blew its valve cover packing and the crew had to "borrow" a freight locomotive that happened by.
 
A total of 18 locomotives (19, if you count the purloined freighter), each with a complete crew, were assigned to the run. The "Coyote Special" had absolute right-of-way and ran as close to a non-stop journey as the equipment of the time was capable of.
 
The special arrived in Chicago's Dearborn Station at 11:54 on July 11, 1905. Total elapsed time was 44 hours 54 minutes, for an average speed of 50.4 miles per hour. Santa Fe did not schedule another train that fast until the 39 hour 45 minute timecard of the "Super Chief", 30 years later.
 
A summation of the "Coyote Special" can be found in Free Downloads.

Information courtesy Robert D. Walz


 


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North East Rails  Clint Chamberlin.
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