Mystery Passenger Car (and Train)

Discussion in 'Passenger Operations' started by pbender, Oct 25, 2020.

  1. pbender

    pbender Member Supporter

    So I bought a photo of a PRR passenger train leaving St. Louis, because I wanted to try to figure out what we are seeing operationally.
    The first car after the baggage car appears to be a car in shadow line or red and silver paint. So the first question is just what car are we seeing?

    I don't think it is a fluted Frisco or MKT car, but it could be.

    It could be one of the MKT for Frisco heavyweight cars that was painted to match the Texas Special or Meteor.

    It could be one of the PRR 10-6 sleepers painted to match the Texas Special (I know it is NOT one of the 10-5 cars because PRR didn't start using the Single Stripe scheme seen on the third E-unit until November,1955).

    Zooming in on the car, I think I count 5 windows in the group, then a gap, and three more windows before getting to the end of the car. If this is a PRR 10-6 car, then the 5 windows would be the roometts on this side of the car, but we would be looking at the bedroom side of the car, and there should be 6 windows with irregular spacing (in pairs, but the pairs are not equally spaced) then a small window, and a vestibule door window.


    I also see what appears to be vents in the side of a clearstory roof above the smaller group of windows. So, that could be a heavyweight pullman, possibly a car with 10 sections... but I don't see a vestibule door on the far end and, to the best of my knowledge, all the heavyweight sleepers in this scheme had vestibules on both ends of the car, and I'm not certain I see a vestibule at either end (but it is very fuzzy).

    The next questions I have is why is there a through car at this point in the train?

    Documentation I've seen (mostly in the books by the TRRAHS on the Meteor and Texas Special) indicate that the regularly assigned through cars on the Penn-Texas were at the tail end of the train, not the head end.

    Could this be a deadhead move? Possibly, but those frequently are ahead of the baggage cars, so possibly not.

    The last question I have is what PRR train is this? Is anyone familar enough to know? I can ask on some of the PRR groups I belong to as well, so I might find it through another channel.

    What I can see of the consist is:
    A PRR B60 baggage car
    The car I'm curious about
    A PRR P85 coach (distinctive windows make it clear that is what this car is).
    2 PRR Budd cars, in natural stainless steel. Probably coaches, judging by the window pattern
    2 PRR cars in Tuscan paint. They sort of look like coaches, but I can't tell for certain.
    I can't see any other cars after that.

    I'm also not sure what year this was taken in, other than it was no earlier than the end of 1955. The TRRA switchers visible in the photo are painted in grey paint, but I'm not sure that is a good indication of time frame. I also don't see any solid blue cars with the MP equipment, so I would guess this is late 1950s.

    Does anyone else have any thoughts on this?
  2. kenmc

    kenmc KenMc Supporter


    Here are my thoughts. The period is in the late 1950s or about 1960, since the third engine has been painted with the smplified single stripe paint scheme, but the big train communication antennas are still in place on all three units. A period earlier in the 1950s could suggest the "American," which departed in the morning from St Louis, but the later date, plus the the time of day, which is about noon in winter given the shadows, says that this is the "Penn Texas," departing about 11:00 am. In 1958 it handled only one through Frisco car, from the "Texas Special," which was a 10-6 streamlined car, plus three or four MoPac cars, which would have been inserted adjacent to the Frisco car. However, I think that the date is later than that, at least 1961, when there were no Frisco or MoPac through cars any more. This means that the red/silver sleeper, which is a heavyweight Pullman, is an extra car for special service or simply being deadheaded east on the Pennsy.

    Ken McElreath
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  3. yardmaster

    yardmaster Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporter

    For not having an answer yet, the investigation and forensics are most impressive.

    It almost looks like it could be the Monon's latter-day livery but I have no idea why it would be in the consist of a StL - NYC PRR train.

    I'm glad Ken has added his input. My reckoning was that if anyone can attest to passenger trains and through sleepers, it would be him. I'd started going back through the book Night Trains by Peter Maiken to see if I could find any clues. The book remains a very enjoyable read, and is one to which Ken McElreath contributed.

    Best Regards,
    modeltruckshop and pbender like this.
  4. pbender

    pbender Member Supporter

    I am with you on that part.

    My only problem with identifying the train as the Penn-Texas Is that I can’t find a PRR makeup of trains in the 1955-1965 time frame that indicates the Penn-Texas ever left St. Louis without an RPO. Jerry Brittany has at least one a year in that time period.

    I don’t have any information to dispute that. In fact, the October 1961 makeup of trains might give a clue that this is correct. ( see )

    it lists the passenger carrying portion of the consist as:
    3 coaches
    1 dining car
    1 sleeper-lounge
    2 or 3 10-6 sleepers ( # depends on date )

    Which more or less matches what is shown in the photo. If the head end of the train had an RPO, I would be even more convinced....

    That was my initial reaction as well, so we will go with it.

  5. kenmc

    kenmc KenMc Supporter


    I agree with you about not having an RPO car (the "Spirit of St Louis" carried two in 1960.) I can confirm from personal eyewitness experience that by 1967 the "Penn Texas" only carried one baggage car and no RPO, but the "Spirit" still had a single RPO. The "Penn Texas" also typically still had three coaches, a twin unit diner and a single sleeper. Perhaps the photo is later than I thought, but the MoPac baggage cars still in the Eagle paint scheme pretty well kill that thought. Maybe it was a Sunday and the RPO only ran from Indianapolis eastward.

    Isn't this fun?

    Ken McElreath
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  6. pbender

    pbender Member Supporter

    According to the makeup of trains books referenced earlier, the Penn-Texas had 2 RPOs between St. Louis and Pittsburgh every day except Saturday and Sunday, when it only had one.

    One other possibility is we are looking at a second section, and the RPO was on the first section. I am not sure how often that happened, but certainly a possibility.

    Yes, one of my favorite parts of this hobby.

  7. Karl

    Karl 2008 Engineer of the Year Supporter

    These Pullmans received the red and silver livery during 1954-1955. They were not shadow-striped.

    Key Passenger train Changes:
    Trains 111/112 discontinued 6/29/58
    Trains 3/4 assumed a daylight schedule 10/1/57
    Trains 303/304 discontinued 10/15/60
    Trains 1/2 discontinued 1/5/59

    University Series 12-2: Drake University, (304/10/3/303), retired 8/61; Norwich University (304/10/3/303), retired 6/61;
    College Series 10-1-2: Trinity College (105/106), retired 11/59; Smith College (105/106), retired 9/62; Drury College, (105/106), 1/64; Amherst College, (105/106), retired 8/62
    Villa Series 10-3: Villa Superb (9/709/10/704), 6/61 retired; Villa Peerless, (9/709/10/704), 6/61 retired
    Tower Series 8-1-3: Magdalen Tower (3/4), 6/61 to SLSF 446; Rathaus Tower (3/4), retired 6/61
    Plan 3979A, Lot 6283, 8-1-2: Robert F Hoke (111/112), retired 1/64; P. G. T. Beauregard(111/112), retired 6/61

    I believe that the car in question is a 10 section Pullman, and therefore it’s likely to have been a KC-FS car or a Ft Smith car. The end of the Texas Special sent its 14-4 cars to the KCFS and to Ft Smith, which made surplus the College and Villa series cars. I think that the photo depicts a deadhead move circa 1959-1960.
  8. pbender

    pbender Member Supporter

    @Karl that is certainly a possibility. I certainly lean towards this being a heavyweight car.

    In addition to the cars you listed, these cars were also painted red and silver ( according to the TRRA issue on the Texas Spexial):

    MKT assigned heavyweight Pullmans ( from P132):
    12-1 McGeorge ( renamed Kimbell in 1951 )
    12-1 McCallsburg
    12-1 McInnis
    8-6-1-1 Ash Belt and Ash Fork from 1956-1959 ( no shadowline )
    6-4-4 Fir Valley and Fir Terrace from 1955-1964. ( no shadowline. Assigned KC to Dallas )

    And there was one Frisco car ( from P135)
    12-1 McZena

    I believe on the Texas Special, the 12-1 cars held a St. Louis to San Antonio assignment, but I copied this list from some notes on my IPad, not the book, so I will need to double check that one.

  9. RogerRT

    RogerRT Staff Member Staff Member Supporter

    Could be a New Haven car...Roger
  10. pbender

    pbender Member Supporter

    Possibly, but did the NH have cars that were painted red and silver like this?

    I know the NH had red and stainless fluted cars, but I don’t think the car in the photo has fluting.

  11. yardmaster

    yardmaster Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporter

    Immensely so, especially for those less initiated and greatly interested in passenger movements. It's threads like these that make me want to build a layout solely around the Springfield depot in the 1940s.
    Ozarktraveler likes this.

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