SUNNYLAND (Trains 807 and 808) OBSERVATIONS (Reprint) - by Ken McElreath MODERATOR’S NOTE: This is another reprint of Ken McElreath's "Observatins" feature in the old FMIG newsletter.--cla River Division passenger trains have always held a fascination for me, partly because I grew up with them in Cape Girardeau and partly because of the magnificent scenery they traversed along the bases of the Mississippi River’s limestone bluffs. My first train ride, in 1951 at the age of five, was from Cape to Chaffee on 807. The river was flooding, and the train backed all the way from Rockview to Cape, about 15 miles, to pick us up. Over the years, quite a few passenger trains operated on the River Division between St. Louis and Memphis: 801 and 802, “Memphis Express” 805 and 806, “Memphian” 807 and 808, “Sunnyland” 821 and 822, “Memphis Local” and “St. Louis Local” I hope to discuss these and other Frisco trains in future articles, but today I shall restrict our attention to the “Sunnyland.” On October 5, 1925, the Frisco inaugurated a new through passenger service between Kansas City and Florida. Called the “Sunnyland,” numbers 107 and 108 were intended to tap the burgeoning tourist trade between the midwest and Florida. Although through sleepers were carried for Atlanta, Pensacola, and St. Petersburg initially there was no through service from St. Louis. Passengers had to make a somewhat inconvenient connection at Memphis via trains 801 and 802, the “Memphis Express.” By 1930, however, the timetable listed additional daytime trains providing direct connections at Memphis plus a through sleeper to Pensacola. These were numbers 807 and 808, also called the “Sunnyland.” Notice from the enclosed timetable history summary that they carried dining and observation-club cars as well as chair cars. The Pensacola sleeper was a 12 section 1 drawing room type, standard in that day. Each train’s regular consist totaled five cars pulled by one of the 1015 class Pacifics. At that time, these were perhaps the fastest scheduled trains on the Frisco system, with 808 averaging 47.4 miles per hour between Memphis and Chaffee, a distance of 161.6 miles including three regular and six flag stops. The Frisco also pioneered on these trains the practice of running locomotives through division points without change by eliminating the one at Chaffee. This idea proved so successful that it was soon applied to all passenger runs. During the Depression the sleeper, diner and observation-club car were dropped. Trains 807 and 808 did carry a buffet coach such as car 1610 or 1611 for meal service. Frisco Southwest shows two photos of 807 in 1937 with two coaches and a buffet-coach. Also in the ‘30’s, 807’s scheduled was moved forward about five hours to compensate for the discontinuance of trains 801 and 802, thus leaving a significant southbound layover at Memphis. The connecting trains, 107 and 108, no longer originated and terminated at Kansas City, but ran strictly between Memphis and Atlanta via the Frisco and Southern Railways as well as to Pensacola. This situation was the reverse of 1925. During the war years, the head end traffic increased so that a 1040 class Pacific or even a 1500 class Mountain was required for power. The 1500’s were the largest locomotives to operate on the River Division, due to bridge ratings. Joe Collias’ The Last of Steam shows two beautiful shots of 807 south of St. Louis with three baggage cars, RPO-baggage with 30’ RPO section, coach, buffet-coach, and what appears to be a business car. Except for dieselization in 1950, the consist remained static until about 1955 when the buffet-coach was dropped. For the remainder of their career, 807 and 808 were coaches only with box lunches available at Chaffee. The second regular coach was eliminated in 1957 and porter service ceased in 1958. During these years and until their demise in the fall of 1965, the trains usually comprised three to five cars including an RPO-baggage of the 200-219 class and a 60 or 64 seat coach. The RPO-baggage car did not run on Sundays. Occasionally, a streamlined coach would substitute for the usual heavyweight. Five baggage cars were typically assigned for St. Louis-Memphis-Birmingham rotational pool service (once per train) with a sixth car during holiday seasons to allow a 24-hour layover at Memphis for loading. Extra head end cars often were set out at places like Cape Girardeau, Sikeston, Hayti and Blytheville for regional mail distribution. Occasionally, a second or even a third coach would be run. Such practices would make interesting model operation. The early 1960s is the period that I remember seeing and riding the trains most vividly. Power was normally an E7 or E8, but often a GP7 would sub. Don Ball’s America’s Railroads: The Second Generation has a nice shot of 808 at Crystal City in 1965. Since 807 was scheduled to depart Cape at 12:01 and 808 at 12:16, and since the northbound local freight 842 from Chaffee to St. Louis departed Chaffee on the heels of 808, things often became very exciting for me at Cape when 807 took longer than usual to load mail and express. 807 would be in the single track station while 808 and 842 would be waiting in the siding just south of the station, all visible at once. Alas, after riding 808 off to college in 1964, I learned that the little trains were discontinued in 1965 during the major Frisco passenger train “purge” which occurred that year. This synopsis of history of 807 and 808 was gleaned from tidbits found in many sources including those mentioned herein. My purpose in writing it is to encourage modeling of Frisco passenger trains including realistic operation. I hope to do the same for other Frisco trains in the future, but the available data is extremely meager. I welcome any materials or photos which would assist in these endeavors.