Sunday 20 July 2014

The Super Chief

Coined "The Train of the Stars", the Super Chief carried celebrities and everyday citizens from Chicago to Los Angeles from 1936 to 1971.  Offering champagne dinners and speedy service, the Super Chief was a "rolling hotel".

The Santa Fe Railway debuted the Super Chief, the first diesel powered train in the United States, on May 12, 1936.  Once a week it would pick up passengers at Dearborn Station in Chicago and transport them 2227 miles to Los Angeles in 36 hours and 49 minutes.  Travelling at an average speed of 60 miles per hour, it would peak at 112 miles per hour, making it the fastest train in America.  

Super Chief leaving the Chicago station courtesy

The Super Chief boasted a stainless steel exterior and a sleek design.  Inside, it featured rare wood panelling and American Indian artwork.  The train provided modern amenities like air conditioning.  Barbers, maids and valets were on board to meet the needs of the 500 passengers.  

In the dining car, guests clothed in suits and hats, dresses and pumps, waited to be served.  They feasted on caviar and cold salads, grilled fish and sirloin steaks, all served on the train's very own Mimbreno china.   A breakfast favourite was Santa Fe French Toast.  Over one million meals were served on the Super Chief.

Janet Leigh gets ready to board the Super Chief courtesy

For guests who made a special request, there was seating in a private dining car called the Turquoise Room, where you might find the likes of Frank Sinatra, Janet Leigh, Paul Newman or Elizabeth Taylor.  Even President Truman's daughter, Margaret, took the Super Chief.

Sadly, after its heyday in the 1940's and 1950's, the Santa Fe trains started to empty out.  By 1971, it shut down the line. 

Note:  McNeil Lehrer Newshour anchor, Jim Lehrer, remembers the Super Chief rumbling through his Kansas town as it followed the old Santa Fe and Spanish Trails.  He has written a novel Super based on the famous train.

"Santa Fe all the Way" courtesy

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