MEMPHIAN (Trains 805 and 806) OBSERVATIONS(Reprint) - by Ken McElreath MODERATOR’S NOTE: The following is a superb reprint of an old FMIG Newsletter “Observations” feature done by Ken McElreath. In the coming weeks, I’ll try to post any examples of the “Memphian” timetable that I can find, but Ken did an outstanding job of comprehensively describing the train throughout its history.--cla The premier trains on the River Division until their demise were the 805 and 806. They were also among the oldest name trains on the Frisco, being established shortly after the River Division lines were consolidated about 1903. Like most of the successful Frisco passenger trains up through the 1950s, the “Memphian” catered primarily to the overnight business trade. Thus, along with the “Meteor,” “Will Rogers,” and “Black Gold,” 805 and 806 wree no primarily scheduled for speed, but rather to provide convenient departure and arrival times at the major terminals for the business man. You can easily see this exemplified in the timetable history of the major Frisco trains which are included. In fact, an examination of all of the major Frisco trains shows that their equipment was primarily sleepers, not coaches, and that the majority of their runs were overnight. Perhaps this fact somewhat excuses the slim photographic coverage of passenger trains in action. It also accounts for the heavy head-end traffic, since the U.S. Post Office also liked these overnight runs. In spite of the emphasis on the overnight St. Louis-Memphis traffic, the “Memphian” did also provide consistently good connections with 105 and 106, the “Kansas City-Florida Special” over its entire career. In fact, as the 1930 timetable excerpt shows, it once carried a through sleeper for Jacksonville, Florida. This practice was discontinued during the depression. It is interesting to note that the Florida connections maintained by 805 and 806 were always better than those of the “Sunnyland,” 807 and 808. In the 1920s and early 1930s, 805 and 806 carried two Pullman sleepers, a buffet/lounge car, a chair car, an RPO car and assorted head-end cars. By contrast to 807 and 808, 805 and 806 carried deluxe chair cars with dressing rooms/lounges and reclining seats. The RPO car was usually a full length 60’ type of the 2037-2054 series, at least until WWII. Although a “Fred Harvey” dining car was advertisted, I don’t believe a full café/lounge car was ever carried. Instead, one of the “Meteor” type buffet/lounges provided meal and lounge service. One of the sleepers, the Memphis one, was a 16-section car which was rare for name train use after the 1920s. The through Florida had 12 sections and a drawing room, truly the “standard” of all Pullman services of that day. By the 1940s, the through Florida sleeper was gone, and the 16-section car had been replaced by a 12-section, 2-double bedroom type to Memphis. A 4-6-2 heavy Pacific of the 1050 class was the regularly assigned power for this run. Page 135 of Kratville’s Steam, Steel, and Limiteds shows 1052 leading 806 through Dupo, Illinois on the MoPac in the early 1940s, detoured due to flooding on the River Division. The 1949 schedule shows that the Memphis sleeper had by that time become an 8 section, 5-double bedroom type, reflecting the trend toward private rooms. One year later, the run was dieselized, allowing two E8 units to handle all four River Division trains. Also, the full RPO car gave way to 30’ RPO/40’ baggage car of the 200-219 series, as more mail was being sorted at the teriminals. The final version of the “Memphian” did not include a sleeper, since it was dropped in 1957. Also, porter service ceased in 1958. Soon thereafter, the Frisco discontinued 805 and 806 altogether. During the 1950s, the train usually ran about 5-8 cars in length and often carried extra sleeping cars, many from connecting roads like the L&N or CB&Q. However, usually only a single coach was included in the consist. As mentioned previously, the 11:00pm departure and 7:40am arrivals of both trains did not encourage good photographic coverage of the consists or the trains in action. Page 152 of Joe Collias’ book does show an excellent photo of 806 arriving at Lindenwood Yard behind Hudson #1067. I hope the interesting and varied operation accompanying this “pike sized” passenger example of the interesting operations could be the often-employed practice of 805 dropping off a loaded mail car at Sikeston or Hayti, to be picked up the next day by 807 or 808, depending on the traffic flow. A particularly interesting, but short-lived tidbit in the chronicle of trains 805 and 806 is the fact that during the early 1950s, the CE&I ran its brand-new pocket streamliner, “The Meadowlark” all the way from Chicago to Chaffee to provide a connection to the “Memphian” for Southeast Missouri travellers going to and from Northern Illinois. The train was inaugurated in October 1949, and originally (as well as later) ran only as far as Cypress, IL. The Chaffee experiment didn’t pay off, with connections between 2 and 4 A.M. However, it would have been exciting prototype (and modelling) interest to see it backing (from the Cotton Belt wye and crossing at Rockview) into Chaffee and then have the “Memphian” pull alongside it. The CE&I used Cotton Belt trackage from Thebes, IL to Rockview. “The Meadowlark” normally comprised an E7A and four cars: a baggage/RPO, buffet car and 3 60-seat coaches.