Trains No 805-806, "The Memphian" - St. Louis-Memphis

Discussion in 'Passenger Trains' started by chris, Jul 10, 2001.

  1. chris

    chris Guest

    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 No 805 and No 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,” No 805 and Bo 806 were not 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 No 105 and No 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 No 805 and No 806 were always better than those of the “Sunnyland,” No 807 and No 808.

    In the 1920s and early 1930s, No 805 and No 806 carried two Pullman sleepers, a buffet/lounge car, a chair car, an RPO car and assorted head-end cars. By contrast to No 807 and Bo 808, No 805 and Bo 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 advertised, I don’t believe a full cafe/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, 12-1 sleeper, 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 SLSF 1052 leading No 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 E8A 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 terminals.

    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 No 805 and No 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 11:00 pm departure and 7:40 am 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 No 806 arriving at Lindenwood Yard behind Hudson SLSF 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 No 805 dropping off a loaded mail car at Sikeston or Hayti, to be picked up the next day by No 807 or No 808, depending on the traffic flow.

    A particularly interesting, but short-lived tidbit in the chronicle of trains No 805 and No 806 is the fact that during the early 1950s, the C&EI 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 travelers 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 C&EI used Cotton Belt trackage from Thebes, IL to Rockview. “The Meadowlark” normally comprised an E7A and five cars: a baggage/RPO, buffet car and 3 60-seat coaches.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 10, 2024
  2. dwain

    dwain Guest

    C&EI and SL-SF Connections

    Interesting article.

    That helps explain a story I heard growing up in Cape. It seams that at one time you could board a sleeper that was picked up later at night and picked up by the Frisco and routed to Chicago through southern Illinois.

    I guess the dissolution of the SL-SF and C&EI ended this.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 10, 2024
  3. chris

    chris Guest

    C&EI and SL-SF Connections

    Great information, Dwain.

    I'd never heard of this practice, although it's not too surprising. Yet another beautifully modelable aspect of the River Division and another reason for me to consider modelling N-scale, so that I can include Cape Girardeau, or at least roll my HO-scale Chaffee facilities a few years forward to include the Meadowlark connection.

    I'll check to see if I can find any related details in any of my public timetables. I also have a book called Night Trains which details Pullman operations by state, and includes some data on train consists for the early to mid-1950s.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 10, 2024
  4. dwain

    dwain Guest

    C&EI and SL-SF Connections

    I don't know how long the service lasted, but the idea was to board the sleeper, go to bed and the car would be picked up taken to Chaffee and placed on a Chicago train. You would wake up in Chicago.

    I cant believe that there would be enough traffic to justify the operation, especially with the IC to the east offering direct service to Chicago.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 10, 2024
  5. yardmaster

    yardmaster Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporter

    805/806 - Sleeping Car Service in 1919


    An interesting tidbit on early sleeper service for 805/806, from The Frisco Man, May, 1919:

    A new sleeping car line has been established between St. Louis and Cape Girardeau on trains No. 805 and 806. Twelve section drawing-room sleepers are provided. The car is set out at Cape Girardeau for occupancy until 7:30am and is opened at at Cape Girardeau for occupancy at 9:00 p.m.

    Note that under a separate document somewhere in the library showing passenger train dates, Nos 805/806 were known as the "St. Louis-Memphis-Florida Special" from it's birth in November, 1912, until it was dubbed "The Memphian" in October, 1925.

    This is the first I've read of dedicated sleeper service to Cape. I don't have any timetable history that I know of for this time frame, nor have I located info on when this was discontinued.

    Perhaps Ken McElreath or other passenger operations / River Division aficionados could help?
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 10, 2024
  6. yardmaster

    yardmaster Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporter

    End of Trains No 805/No 806, the "Memphian"


    Cleaning out some files and came across some references to the demise of Trains No 805/No 806 from the Southeast Missourian newspaper's "Out of the Past" column:

    September 4, 1958
    Postal authorities in Cape Girardeau say that elimination of the two night Frisco passenger trains, each of which carried mail to and from the city, will cause a considerable readjustment of service.

    October 23, 1958
    Postmaster Ted Regenhardt announces two highway post offices and two tractor-trailer trucks will expedite mail service in to and out of Cape Girardeau upon cessation of service by Frisco night passenger trains; the rolling post offices will operate out of St. Louis and Memphis, Tenn, meeting at Sikeston, Mo.; the tractor-trailer trucks will move between the two large cities, receiving pouches at the various stops on the way.

    October 27, 1958
    Night passenger service on the Frisco Railroad ended last night; manning the last northbound passenger train between St. Louis and Memphis, Tenn., were engineers J.E. Cheek and A.F. Riehl, both of Chaffee, Mo.; conductor G.D. Moore of St. Louis; brakeman S.L. David of Chaffee; B.E. Montgomery, general agent for Frisco in Cape Girardeau, and porter R.H. Crittenden of St. Louis.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 10, 2024
  7. yardmaster

    yardmaster Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporter

    Referencing the October 23, 1958 note from the Southeast Missourian, the blog of Missourian photographer Fred Lynch includes a photo of one of these "highway post offices" that was to fill in after the demise of No 805/No 806.

    Note that the article says that the Frisco Transportation Company (FTC) would operate these trucks.

    Best Regards,
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 10, 2024

Share This Page