The Sunnyland (807/808)

Discussion in 'Passenger Trains' started by chris, Jul 11, 2001.

  1. chris

    chris Guest

    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.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 22, 2005
  2. yardmaster

    yardmaster Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporter

    Folks -
    Found this little gem in the Southeast Missourian archives. Not bad, considering that I was actually looking for information on St. Louis Cardinals' pitching great Bill Sherdel at the time.

    To cross reference Ken McElreath's "Observations" article from FMIG Newsletter #39 (see above) Ken cites the Pensacola Sleeper on Train #807 as a 12-1, with usual motive power behind a 1015-class Pacific.


    Through train service on the Frisco railroad from Cape Girardeau to Pensacola, Fla. over the Frisco's recently completed $11,000,000 extension from Aberdeen, Miss., will be inaugurated Sept. 2, it was announced here today in a communication from the Frisco offices at St. Louis. The new service will be operated in connection with the "Sunnyland" of the Frisco lines, the announcement said.

    Pensacola cars will leave St. Louis at 1:55p.m. on the Sunnyland, arriving at Memphis at 9:20pm. The train will leave Memphis at 9:35 p.m. and will arrive at Pensacola t 12 o'clock noon the second day. Cars for Birmingham, Ala., and Atlanta, Ga., are also to be carried on the Sunnyland.

    This new arrangement will greatly speed up service between Cape Girardeau and the Gulf of Mexico, making it possible to go all the way to points in Southern States without a transfer after boarding the train at Cape Girardeau.
  3. frisco1522

    frisco1522 Staff Member Staff Member

    Re: SUNNYLAND (Trains 807 and 808)

    Here's a shot of it from about 1938 with the 1018 swinging down from Southeastern Jct. From a tiny Ivan Oaks print in my collection.

    1018 Sunnyland SE JCT 38r C.jpg
    yardmaster and Ozarktraveler like this.
  4. TAG1014 (Tom Galbraith RIP 7/15/2020)

    TAG1014 (Tom Galbraith RIP 7/15/2020) Passed Away July 15, 2020 Supporter

    Re: SUNNYLAND (Trains 807 and 808)

    Don--I never get tired of these great old b/w photos!

  5. gstout

    gstout Member Supporter

    Re: SUNNYLAND (Trains 807 and 808)

    I received a very nice color photo of the 1960s version of the SUNNYLAND at St. Louis for inclusion in the Frisco book which is now pretty much finished. SUNNYLAND fans will really like it.

  6. yardmaster

    yardmaster Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporter

    Don, that's a dandy. Talk about your "modelable" passenger trains: 5 cars and a good-looking steed on the head-end.
  7. gstout

    gstout Member Supporter

    Re: SUNNYLAND (Trains 807 and 808)

    You could model it 20 years later and about the only thing that would have changed is the locomotive.

  8. meteor910

    meteor910 2009 Engineer of the Year Staff Member Supporter

    I never rode the Sunnyland from St Louis but always enjoyed looking at it as we pulled out when I was on The Will Rogers going back down to Rolla.

    #3 pulled out of StL Union Station at 8:30am, #807 at 8:40am. I always got a good look at the entire length of #807 as it and #3 were always side-by-side under the trainshed. The "Will" usually was longer (more head end cars) and had two Racehorses for power, while the "Sunny" I think only had one Racehorse the times I saw it.

    Ozarktraveler likes this.
  9. klrwhizkid

    klrwhizkid Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporter

    Re: SUNNYLAND (Trains 807 and 808)

    Depending on the year and availability of diesel power, the Sunnyland would generally have either one E8 Racehorse or a single GP7 with steam generator.
    The photo on the following post shows a single racehorse northbound on the Sunnyland early in 1950;
    Cape Girardeau, MO

    The photo on this post shows the Sunnyland southbound in July, 1951 with a GP7 on the head;
    Cape Girardeau, MO
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 31, 2015
  10. meteor910

    meteor910 2009 Engineer of the Year Staff Member Supporter

    Re: SUNNYLAND (Trains 807 and 808)

    The few times I saw # 807 at StLUS from a coach window on #3 (no more than 3 or 4 times - that's about how many times I rode #3), the Memphis train always had one Racehorse E-unit. I never saw it with a Geep or an FP7, or with two E's, but again, I only saw it 3-4 times.

    I rode #4 home and #9 back to Rolla WAY more often. Plus, I came home for a family funeral on #10 once. Every time I remember seeing them, or riding them, #'s 3,4,9,10 always had two Racehorses.

    Ozarktraveler likes this.
  11. yardmaster

    yardmaster Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporter

    This morning, I was perusing photos of FP-7 #5047 in service on Trains 709/710. It started me to wondering whether any FP-7 units saw service on 807/808?

    I have only seen photographic evidence of Redbirds or boiler-equipped GP-7s. The aforementioned comments from Ken McElreath seem to confirm the pictoral record. Anyone have other input?

    Best Regards,
  12. yardmaster

    yardmaster Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporter

    Folks -
    The same FMIG Newsletter #11 that includes Dan Overbey's work train consists in 1960s Sikeston also includes some early 1960s consist information for "Sunnyland."

    FMIG Newsletters

    Some notes that interested me:
    • All motive power was provided by redbirds; by April, 1963 at least #2014 ("Truxton") had been repainted in the yellow cigar-band scheme.
    • REA Car #426 seemed to be a pretty regular customer.
    • Same for REA-RPO #205
    • One also see sthe same coaches assigned to the trains, especially 1259, 761 and 1203.

    I know that I and others have said it here before, but "Sunnyland" really is a passenger train that can be realistically modeled in most scales. At a minimum, 3 cars made up the consist (two head-end and one coach) with a maximum of 6 cars. The latter ballooned up to 6 cars with the addition of Business Car #3.

    Best Regards,
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2015
  13. meteor910

    meteor910 2009 Engineer of the Year Staff Member Supporter

    I never rode #'s 807/808, but I did ride #3 a few times. I recall seeing #807 right to the left of #3 in StL US. It left shortly after we did as I recall - I think I remember us pulling out first.

    Anyway, the consist of #807 (~1963) was as /Chris notes - one coach, plus three head end cars (as I recall), and one E. I recall feeling superior, as #3 had two coaches, more head end stuff, and two E's!

  14. Karl

    Karl 2008 Engineer of the Year Supporter

    Re: SUNNYLAND (Trains 807 and 808)

    Unlike 107 and 108, which carried a chair-buffet, 807 and 808 did not offer meal service. One of the local cafes sold boxed lunches, bottled soda, coffee on board during the station stop at Chaffee. The bike ride from 217 Wright Street to the depot was a short bicycle ride, and often made to observe the comings and goings of 807 and 808. I always remember the large steel-wire basket that the cafe owner used to carry everything aboard the trains. Redbird were indeed, the rule, but I was always disappointed when a geep appeared on point. Never did see an FP-7 leading these trains.
  15. yardmaster

    yardmaster Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporter

    Cross-referencing Tim Cannon's photos of the final Sunnyland in Chaffee:

    A Moment of Silence

    Here are photos and the article from the September 23, 1965 Chaffee "Signal." I should disclose that I used a filter to remove all of the yellowing of the newsprint.

    As interesting side notes, there is a stamped "Philips Radio and TV," which was my grandfather's business next door to the Dairy Queen and just the other side of where the old freight depot/team tracks would have been located. I also noticed that the photos were credited to "Rhoton Photo." Doy (sp?) Rhoton was the photographer who rented the back section of Grandpa's shop and used it for a photo studio. I think that Harlan Sadler was using it for his photo studio when I was a kid; once they vacated it, Grandpa was using it as an assembly room for a Pitt Special that he later decided he'd prefer not to have/fly.

    Frisco Sunnyland Article.jpg Frisco Sunnyland BIg Red.jpg Frisco Sunnyland Passengers.jpg

    Best Regards,
  16. yardmaster

    yardmaster Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporter

    Karl, do you happen to recall the name of either the cafe or the cafe owner that provided the boxed lunches? Seems I've checked around before to no avail, short of researching all of the old Signal back issues.

    When I was a stringer for the Signal in the 1980s, I remember there being bound copies of old back-issues. I sure hope they found their way to a safe and secure place when the little paper called it quits.

    While it's a drab substitute for one of the Redbirds, it would be interesting to find a photo of either 807 or 808 with a GP-7 on the business end of things.

    Best Regards,
  17. klrwhizkid

    klrwhizkid Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporter

    Chris, how about this one in Cape Girardeau from 1951:
    SLSF #559 Southbound on Sunnyland 807 July 1951.JPG
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  18. yardmaster

    yardmaster Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporter

    Thar' she blows, Keith. Many thanks; I'm a little embarrassed to say that I believe I've seen this photo before - the flooded platform and the "Hutson's" furniture building in the background are quite familiar. However, either I didn't look too carefully at the consist, or I'd forgotten that I'd seen a photo of a GP-7 on 807. I'm hoping it's the former; I'd like to think I'm still too young to be forgetting critically important things like birthdays and train photos. :)

    Thanks again.

    Best Regards,
  19. yardmaster

    yardmaster Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporter

    Some cross-referencing links to various photos of "Sunnyland" that are located around here:

    807 at the Chaffee depot. I'm guessing c. 1965 prior to its discontinuance:

    #808, From Ken McElreath in 1950:
    Cape Girardeau, MO

    More from Ken, after the demise of the brick depot in Cape, this of #807:
    Cape Girardeau, MO

    Finally, from 1962 and 1963, photos of both 807 and 808 from Ken:
    Cape Girardeau, MO

    Best Regards,
  20. yardmaster

    yardmaster Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporter

    Bit of a "Sunnyland" binge lately...

    I was going through some of my old saved photos and found this one, which I thought should be on the site somewhere, but I cannot find it. I also can't find if this was from Karl or Ken McElreath or Tim Cannon or others? If we can identify possession of this one, I'll do so and leave it; otherwise, I'll put this one back in the dust bin for now.

    It appears to be #807 in Cape Girardeau, near the present-day Missouri Dry Dock and Repair. I had a note that it was c. 1930s, but it appears to be a 4-6-2 with larger sand dome and smokebox-mounted bell, so I'd guess that it might be actually sometime around 1943 or later?

    Best Regards,
    807 CAPE GIRARDEAU C. 1930S.jpg

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