Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad: Wikis


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Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway
System map
ATSF system (shown in blue) at the time of the BNSF merger
Reporting mark ATSF
Locale Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas
Dates of operation 1859–1996
Successor BNSF
Track gauge 4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm) (standard gauge)
Headquarters Chicago, Illinois

The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway (reporting mark ATSF), often abbreviated as Santa Fe, was one of the larger railroads in the United States. The company was first chartered in February 1859. Although the railway was named in part for the capital of New Mexico, its main line never reached there as the terrain made it too difficult to lay the necessary tracks (Santa Fe was ultimately served by a branch line from Lamy, New Mexico). The Santa Fe's first tracks reached the Kansas/Colorado state line in 1873, and connected to Pueblo, Colorado in 1876. In order to help fuel the railroad's profitability, the Santa Fe set up real estate offices and sold farm land from the land grants that the railroad was awarded by Congress; these new farms would create a demand for transportation (both freight and passenger service) that was offered by the Santa Fe.

Ever the innovator, Santa Fe was one of the pioneers in intermodal freight service, an enterprise that (at one time or another) included a tugboat fleet and an airline, the short-lived Santa Fe Skyway. A bus line allowed the company to extend passenger transportation service to areas not accessible by rail, and ferry boats on the San Francisco Bay allowed travellers to complete their westward journeys all the way to the Pacific Ocean. The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway officially ceased operations on December 31, 1996 when it merged with the Burlington Northern Railroad to form the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway.



Cyrus K. Holliday, the first president of the railroad.

Startup and initial growth

The railroad's charter, written single-handedly by Cyrus K. Holliday in January 1859, was approved by the state's governor on February 11 of that year as the Atchison and Topeka Railroad Company for the purpose of building a rail line from Topeka, Kansas, to Santa Fe, New Mexico, and then on to the Gulf of Mexico. On May 3, 1863, two years after Kansas gained statehood, the railroad changed names to more closely match the aspirations of its founder to the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad. The railroad broke ground in Topeka on October 30, 1868 and started building westward where one of the first construction tasks was to cross the Kaw River. The first section of track opened on April 26, 1869 (less than a month prior to completion of the First Transcontinental Railroad) with special trains between Topeka and Pauline. The distance was only 6 miles (10 km), but the Wakarusa Creek Picnic Special train took passengers over the route for celebration in Pauline.

The Santa Fe trademark in the late 1800s incorporated the British lion out of respect for the country's financial assistance in building the railroad to California.

Crews continued working westward, reaching Dodge City on September 5, 1872. With this connection, the Santa Fe was able to compete for cattle transportation with the Kansas Pacific Railway. Construction continued, and the Santa Fe opened the last section of track between Topeka and the Colorado/Kansas border on December 23, 1873. The Santa Fe's tracks reached Pueblo, Colorado on March 1, 1876. Serving Pueblo opened a number of new freight opportunities for the railroad as it now could haul coal from Colorado eastward.(Early history)[1]

Building across Kansas and eastern Colorado may have been technologically simple as there weren't many large natural obstacles in the way (certainly not as many as the railroad was about to encounter further west), but the Santa Fe found it almost economically impossible because of the sparse population in the area. To combat this problem, the Santa Fe set up real estate offices in the area and vigorously promoted settlement across Kansas on the land that was granted to the railroad by Congress in 1863. The Santa Fe offered discounted passenger fares to anyone who travelled west on the railroad to inspect the land; if the land was subsequently purchased by the traveller, the railroad applied the passenger's ticket price toward the sale of the land. Now that the railroad had built across the plains and had a customer base providing income for the firm, it was time to turn its attention toward the difficult terrain of the Rocky Mountains.

Crossing the Rockies

The DRGW mainline through the Royal Gorge in 1881.

Leadville was the most productive of all of the Colorado mining regions. Mining in the area began in 1859, first for gold and then two decades later for silver. Several of the Santa Fe's board of directors (along with President Strong) sought to capitalize on the need to supply the mining towns of Colorado and northern New Mexico with food, equipment, and other supplies. To that end, Santa Fe sought to extend its route westward from Pueblo along the Arkansas River, and through the Royal Gorge in 1877. Royal Gorge was a bottleneck along the Arkansas too narrow for both the Santa Fe and the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad to pass through, and there was no other reasonable access to the South Park area; thus, a race ensued to build rail access through the Gorge. Physical confrontations led to two years of armed conflict, essentially low-level guerrilla warfare between the two companies that came to be known as the Royal Gorge Railroad War. Federal intervention prompted an out-of-court settlement on February 2, 1880 in the form of the so-called "Treaty of Boston" wherein the DRGW was allowed to complete its line and lease it for use by the Santa Fe. The DRGW paid an estimated $1.4 million to Santa Fe for its work within the Gorge and agreed not to extend its line to Santa Fe, while the ATSF agreed to forgo its planned routes to Denver and Leadville.

Also looking to the south, an initial outlay of $20,000 was authorized on February 26, 1878 for the construction of a rail line south from Trinidad in order to "..seize and hold Raton Pass." The location of the route was nearly as crucial to the venture's success as was the actual track construction. W. R. "Ray" Morley, a former civil engineer for the (D&RG) hired by the ATSF in 1877, was given his first assignment to secretly plot a route through the pass (it was feared that any activity in the area would lead the D&RG to construct a narrow gauge line over the Pass). Additionally, Strong learned that the Southern Pacific Railroad (SP) had introduced legislation to block the Santa Fe's entry into New Mexico. Undaunted, Strong obtained a charter for the New Mexico and Southern Pacific Railroad Company and immediately sent A. A. Robinson to Raton Pass. From February to December 1878 work crews struggled to build the line between La Junta and Raton, and the first Santa Fe train entered New Mexico on December 7.

A map of "The Santa Fé Route" and subsidiary lines as published in an 1891 issue of the Grain Dealers and Shippers Gazetteer.
A comparison map prepared by the Santa Fe Railroad in 1921 showing the "The Old Santa Fé Trail" (top) and the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad and its connections (bottom).

Facing the competition

An AT&SF passenger train in operation, circa 1895.

While construction over the Rockies was slow and difficult due to the logistics involved, in some instances armed conflicts with competitors arose (such as with the D&RG in Colorado and New Mexico, and — after capturing the Raton Pass — the SP in Arizona and California, as exemplified in the "frog war" between SP and Santa Fe subsidiary the California Southern Railroad at Colton, California in September 1883). The troubles for the railroad went far beyond skirmishes with rival railroads, however. In the late 1880s, George C. Magoun, who had worked his way to become Chairman of the Board of Directors for the railroad, was progressively losing his own health. In 1889 the railroad's stock price, which was closely linked in the public's eye with the successes of the railroad's chairman, fell from nearly $140 per share to around $20 per share. Magoun's health continued to deteriorate along with the stock price and Magoun died on December 20, 1893. The Santa Fe entered receivership three days later on December 23, 1893, with J. W. Reinhart, John J. McCook and Joseph C. Wilson appointed as receivers. Union Pacific was another rival, but not that much of one, Union Pacific, or UP, was also in the western expansion and also was a route through the Rocky Mountains for industrial strength.

Expansion through mergers

Having completed a line to the West Coast, by 1886, William B. Strong started looking around for other expansion opportunities. The Financially troubled Gulf, Colorado & Santa Fe Railway Company, a Texas line with nearly 700 miles (1,100 km) of track in service provided just such an opportunity. The GC&SF was required, as part of a merger agreement, to construct a 171-mile (275 km) line from Fort Worth to Purcell, in the Indian Territory, where AT&SF had a railhead. The connection was completed, and the merger became official on April 27, 1887. GC&SF continued to operate as a wholly owned subsidiary until finally merged directly into ATSF in 1965, by which time it had about 1,800 miles (2,900 km) of track in service.

Santa Fe No. 2A, an EMC E1 is shown pulling the Super Chief on the cover of the railroad's 1945 promotional publication "Along Your Way."

A brief look at some key figures comparing the railroad's extent between 1870 and 1945 shows just how much the railroad had grown:

1870 1945
Gross operating revenue $182,580 $528,080,530
Total track length 62 miles (100 km) 13,115 miles (21,107 km)
Freight carried 98,920 tons 59,565,100 tons
Passengers carried 33,630 11,264,000
Locomotives owned 6 1,759
Unpowered rolling stock owned 141 81,974 freight cars
1,436 passenger cars
Source: Santa Fe Railroad (1945), Along Your Way, Rand McNally, Chicago, Illinois.

Predecessors, subsidiary railroads, and leased lines

The failed SPSF merger

Santa Fe and Southern Pacific Railroad trains meet at Walong siding on the Tehachapi Loop in the late 1980s.

The Southern Pacific Santa Fe Railroad (SPSF) was a proposed merger between the parent companies of the Southern Pacific and Santa Fe railroads announced on December 23, 1983. As a part of the joining of the two firms, all of the rail and non-rail assets owned by Santa Fe Industries and the Southern Pacific Transportation Company were placed under the control of a holding company, the Santa Fe–Southern Pacific Corporation. The merger was subsequently denied by the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) on the basis that it would create too many duplicate routes.

The companies were so confident that the merger would be approved they began repainting locomotives and non-revenue rolling stock in a new unified paint scheme. After the ICC's denial, railfans joked that SPSF really stood for "Shouldn't Paint So Fast". While the Southern Pacific was sold off, all of the California real estate holdings were consolidated in a new company, Catellus Development Corporation, making it the State's largest private landowner. Some time later, Catellus would purchase the Union Pacific Railroad's interest in the Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal (LAUPT).

Merger into BNSF

On September 21, 1995 the ATSF merged with the Burlington Northern Railroad to form the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway. Some of the challenges resulting from the joining of the two companies included the establishment of a common dispatching system, the unionization of Santa Fe's non-union dispatchers, and incorporating the Santa Fe's train identification codes throughout.

Company officers

Presidents of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway:

William Barstow Strong, president 1881-1889.

Passenger train service

The cover of the railroad's November 29, 1942, passenger timetable. Vignettes of the American Southwest and Native American people were common in Santa Fe advertising.

The Santa Fe was widely known for its passenger train service in the first half of the 20th century. The Santa Fe introduced many innovations in passenger rail travel, among these the "Pleasure Domes" of the Super Chief (billed as the "...only dome car[s] between Chicago and Los Angeles" when they were introduced in 1951) and the "Big Dome"-Lounge cars and double-decker "Hi-Level" cars of the El Capitan, which entered revenue service in 1954. The Santa Fe was among the first railroads to add dining cars to its passenger train consists in 1891, following the examples of the Northern Pacific and Union Pacific Railroads. Dining along the Santa Fe was often a memorable experience, whether it be on-board in a dining car, or at one of the many Harvey House restaurants that were strategically located throughout the system.

In general, the same train name was used for both directions of a particular train. The exceptions to this rule included the Chicagoan and Kansas Cityan trains (both names referred to the same service, but the Chicagoan was the eastbound version, while the Kansas Cityan was the westbound version), and the Eastern Express and West Texas Express. All of the Santa Fe's trains that terminated in Chicago did so at Dearborn Station. Trains terminating in Los Angeles arrived at Santa Fe's La Grande Station until May, 1939, when the Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal (LAUPT) was opened.

To reach smaller communities, the railroad often operated Rail Diesel Cars (RDCs) for communities on the railroad, and bus connections were provided throughout the system via Santa Fe Trailways buses to other locations. These smaller trains generally were not named, only the train numbers were used to differentiate services.

The ubiquitous passenger service inspired the title of the 1946 Academy-Award-winning Johnny Mercer tune "On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe." The song was written in 1945 for the film The Harvey Girls, a story about the waitresses of the Fred Harvey Company's restaurants. It was sung in the film by Judy Garland and recorded by many other singers, including Bing Crosby. In the 1970s, the ATSF used Crosby's version in a commercial.

Regular revenue trains

The Santa Fe operated the following named trains on regular schedules:

An advertisement for the El Capitan on the side of a Santa Fe boxcar seen in San Bernardino, California, in March 1943.
  • El Capitan: Chicago, Illinois — Los Angeles, California
  • El Pasoan: El Paso, TexasAlbuquerque, New Mexico
  • El Tovar: Los Angeles, California — Chicago, Illinois (via Belen)
  • Fargo Fast Mail/Express: Belen, New MexicoAmarillo, Texas — Kansas City, Missouri — Chicago, Illinois
  • Fast Fifteen: Newton, Kansas — Galveston, Texas
  • Fast Mail Express: San Francisco, California (via Los Angeles) — Chicago, Illinois
  • Golden Gate: Oakland, CaliforniaBakersfield, California with coordinated connecting bus service to Los Angeles and San Francisco
  • Grand Canyon Limited: Chicago, Illinois — Los Angeles, California
  • The Hopi: Los Angeles, California — Chicago, Illinois
  • Kansas Cityan: Chicago, Illinois — Kansas City, Missouri (this was the westbound version of the Chicagoan passenger train).
  • Kansas City Chief: Kansas City, Missouri — Chicago, Illinois
  • Los Angeles Express: Chicago, Illinois — Los Angeles, California (this was the westbound version of the Atlantic Express).
  • The Missionary: San Francisco, California — Belen, New Mexico — Amarillo, Texas — Kansas City, Missouri — Chicago, Illinois
  • Navajo: Chicago, Illinois — San Francisco, California (via Los Angeles)
All special trains were placed on public display on the Pacific Electric tracks adjacent to Los Angeles' Exposition Park. Santa Fe #51L, an ALCO PA unit, makes its delivery to the railroad in 1946.
  • Oil Flyer: Kansas City, Missouri — Tulsa, Oklahoma with through sleepers to Chicago via other trains
  • Overland Limited: Chicago, Illinois — Los Angeles, California
  • Phoenix Express: Los Angeles, California — Phoenix, Arizona
  • The Ranger: Kansas City, Missouri — Chicago, Illinois
  • The Saint: San Diego, California — Los Angeles, California — San Francisco, California
  • San Diegan: Los Angeles, California — San Diego, California
  • San Francisco Chief: San Francisco, California (via Los Angeles) — Chicago, Illinois
  • San Francisco Express: Chicago, Illinois — San Francisco, California (via Los Angeles)
  • Santa Fe de Luxe: Chicago, Illinois — Los Angeles, California — San Francisco, California
  • Santa Fe Eight: Belen, New Mexico — Amarillo, Texas — Kansas City, Missouri — Chicago, Illinois
  • The Scout: Chicago, Illinois — San Francisco, California (via Los Angeles)
  • South Plains Express: Sweetwater, Texas — Lubbock, Texas
  • Super Chief: Chicago, Illinois — Los Angeles, California
  • The Texan: Houston, TexasNew Orleans, Louisiana (on the GC&SF between Houston and Galveston, then via the Missouri Pacific Railroad between Galveston and New Orleans).
  • Texas Chief: Galveston, Texas (on the GC&SF) — Chicago, Illinois
  • Tourist Flyer: Chicago, Illinois — San Francisco, California (via Los Angeles)
  • The Tulsan: Tulsa, Oklahoma — Kansas City, Mo. with through coaches to Chicago, Illinois via other trains (initially the Chicagoan/Kansas Cityan)
  • Valley Flyer: Oakland, CaliforniaBakersfield, California
  • West Texas Express: Amarillo, Texas — Lubbock, Texas (this was the westbound version of the Eastern Express).
A map depicting the "Grand Canyon Route" of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway circa 1901.
The galley aboard former (now restored) Santa Fe dining car #1474, the Cochiti, which saw many years of service as a part of the Super Chief.

One-time and special trains

Occasionally, a special train was chartered to make a high-profile run over the Santa Fe's track. These specials were not included in the railroad's regular revenue service lineup, but were intended as one-time (and usually one-way) traversals of the railroad. Some of the more notable specials include:

  • Cheney Special: Colton, California — Chicago, Illinois (a one-time train that ran in 1895 on behalf of B.P. Cheney, a director of the Santa Fe).
  • Clark Special: Winslow, Arizona — Chicago, Illinois (a one-time train that ran in 1904 on behalf of Charles W. Clarke, the son of then Arizona senator William Andrew Clark).
A promotional brochure for the Santa Fe Railway's Scott Special passenger train.
  • David B. Jones Special: Los Angeles, California — Chicago, Illinois and on to Lake Forest, Illinois (a one-time, record-breaking train that ran between May 5 to 8, 1923, on behalf of the president of the Mineral Point Zinc Company).
  • Huntington Special: Argentine, Kansas — Chicago, Illinois (a one-time train that ran in 1899 on behalf of Collis P. Huntington).
  • H.P. Lowe Special: Chicago, Illinois — Los Angeles, California (a one-time, record-breaking train that ran in 1903 on behalf of the president of the Engineering Company of America).
  • Miss Nellie Bly Special: San Francisco, California — Chicago, Illinois (a one-time, record-breaking train that ran in 1890 on behalf of Nellie Bly, a reporter for the New York World newspaper).
  • Peacock Special: Los Angeles, California — Chicago, Illinois (a one-time train that ran in 1900 on behalf of A.R. Peacock, vice-president of the Carnegie Steel and Iron Company).
  • Scott Special: Los Angeles, California — Chicago, Illinois (the most well-known of Santa Fe's "specials," also known as the Coyote Special, the Death Valley Coyote, and the Death Valley Scotty Special; a one-time, record-breaking train that ran in 1905, essentially as a publicity stunt).
  • Wakarusa Creek Picnic Special: Topeka, KansasPauline, Kansas (a one-time train that took picnickers on a 30-minute trip, at a speed of 14 miles-per-hour, to celebrate the official opening of the line on April 26, 1869).

Paint schemes and markings

Steam locomotives

The Santa Fe operated a large and varying fleet of steam locomotives, most notable of which was the 2-10-2 "Santa Fe", originally built for the railroad by Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1903 and the AT&SF would ultimately end up with the largest fleet of them at over 300. Aside from the 2-10-2 the Santa Fe rostered virtually every type of steam locomotive imaginable including 4-4-2 Atlantics, 2-6-0 Moguls, 2-8-0 Consolidations, 2-8-2 Mikados (or "Mikes"), 2-10-0 Decapods, 2-6-2 Prairies, 4-8-4 Northerns, 4-6-4 Hudsons, 4-6-2 Pacifics, 4-8-2 Mountains, 2-8-4 Berkshires, and 2-10-4 Santa Fes. The railroad also operatd a fleet of heavy articulated steam locomotives including 2-6-6-2s, 2-8-8-0s, 2-10-10-2s, 2-8-8-2s, and the rare 4-4-6-2 Mallet type.

Diesel locomotives, passenger

AT&SF diesel-electric units Nos. 1 and 1A stop in Los Angeles, California wear their modified Golden Olive paint scheme in May 1936.
The 1926 Chief "drumhead" logo.

Santa Fe's first set of diesel-electric passenger locomotives was placed in service on the Super Chief in 1936, and consisted of a pair of blunt-nosed units (EMC 1800 hp B-B) designated as Nos. 1 and 1A. The upper portion of the sides and ends of the units were painted gold, while the lower section was a dark olive green color; an olive stripe also ran along the sides and widened as it crossed the front of the locomotive.

Riveted to the sides of the units were metal plaques bearing a large "Indian Head" logo, which owed its origin to the 1926 Chief "drumhead" logo. "Super Chief" was emblazoned on a plaque located on the front. The rooftop was light slate gray, rimmed by a red pinstripe. This unique combination of colors was referred to as the Golden Olive paint scheme [4][5]. Before entering service, Sterling McDonald's General Motors "Styling Department" augmented the look with the addition of red and blue striping along both the sides and ends of the units in order to enhance their appearance.

In a little over a year the EMC E1 (a new and improved streamlined locomotive) would be pulling Super Chief and other passenger consists, resplendent in the now-famous Warbonnet paint scheme devised by Leland Knickerbocker of the GM "Art and Color Section." Its design is protected under U.S. Patent D106,920, granted on November 9, 1937. It is reminiscent of a Native American ceremonial headdress. The scheme consisted of a red "bonnet" which wrapped around the front of the unit and was bordered by a yellow stripe and black pinstripe. The extent of the bonnet varied according to the locomotive model, and was largely determined by the shape and length of the carbody. The remainder of the unit was either painted silver or was composed of stainless steel panels.

All units wore a nose emblem consisting of an elongated yellow "Circle and Cross" emblem with integral "tabs" on the nose and the sides, outlined and accented with black pinstripes, with variances according to the locomotive model. "SANTA FE" was displayed on the horizontal limb of the cross in black, Art Deco-style lettering. This emblem has come to be known as the "cigar band" due to its uncanny resemblance to the same. On all but the "Erie-built" units (which were essentially run as a demonstrator set), U28CGs, U30CGs, and FP45s, a three-part yellow and black stripe ran up the nose behind the band.

A "Circle and Cross" motif (consisting of a yellow field, with red quadrants, outlined in black) was painted around the side windows on "as-delivered" E1 units. Similar designs were added to E3s, E6s, the DL109/110 locomotive set, and ATSF 1A after it was rebuilt and repainted. The sides of the units typically bore the words "SANTA FE" in black, 5"– or 9"–high extra extended Railroad Roman letters, as well as the "Indian Head" logo [6][7], with a few notable exceptions.

Railway identity on diesel locomotives in passenger service:

Locomotive Type "Indian Head" "Circle and Cross" "Santa Fe" Logotype Starting Year Comments
ATSF 1 and 1A Yes Yes* Yes No 1937 "Circle and Cross" added to No. 1 after rebuild in May 1938
EMC E1, E3, & E6 Yes* Yes Yes No 1937 "Indian Head" added to B units at a later date
ALCO DL109/110 Yes* Yes Yes No 1941 No "Indian Head" on B unit
EMD FT Yes* No Yes No 1945 "Indian Head" added to B units at a later date
ALCO PA / PB Yes* No Yes No 1946 "Indian Head" added to B units at a later date
EMD F3 Yes* No Yes No 1946 "Indian Head" on B units only
FM Erie-built Yes* No Yes* No 1947 "Indian Head" and "SANTA FE" on A units only
EMD F7 Yes* No Yes* No 1949 "Indian Head" on B units only; "SANTA FE" added in 1954
EMD E8 Yes* No Yes No 1952 "Indian Head" on B units only
GE U28CG No No No Yes 1966 "Santa Fe" logotype in large, red "billboard"-style letters
GE U30CG No No Yes* No 1967 5"–high non-extended "SANTA FE" letters
EMD FP45 No No Yes* No 1967 9"–high "SANTA FE" letters

Source: Pelouze, Richard W. (1997). Trademarks of the Santa Fe Railway. The Santa Fe Railway Historical and Modeling Society, Inc., Highlands Ranch, CO. pp. 47–50.

In later years, Santa Fe adapted the scheme to its gas-electric "doodlebug" units [8]. The standard for all of Santa Fe's passenger locomotives, the Warbonnet is considered by many to be the most recognized corporate logo in the railroad industry. Early in the Amtrak Era, Santa Fe embarked on a program to paint over the red bonnet on its F units that were still engaged in hauling passenger consists with yellow (also called Yellowbonnets) or dark blue (nicknamed Bluebonnets) as it no longer wanted to project the image of a passenger carrier.

Diesel locomotives, freight

Santa Fe FT locomotive set #144LABC, wearing the blue and yellow Cat Whiskers paint scheme, pass near Belen, New Mexico in January 1947.
Santa Fe's blue and white "box" logo adorned many of the railroads early diesel locomotives. A dark blue logo on a yellow background was adopted in 1960 and retained until 1974.

Diesel locomotives used as switchers between 1935 and 1960 were painted black, with just a thin white or silver horizontal accent stripe (the sills were painted similarly). The letters "A.T.& S.F." were applied in a small font centered on the sides of the unit, as was the standard blue and white "Santa Fe" box logo. After World War II, diagonal white or silver stripes were added to the ends and cab sides to increase the visibility at grade crossings (typically referred to as the Zebra Stripe scheme). "A.T.& S.F." was now placed along the sides of the unit just above the accent stripe, with the blue and white "Santa Fe" box logo below.

Due to the lack of abundant water sources in the American desert, the Santa Fe was among the first railroads to receive large numbers of streamlined diesel locomotives for use in freight service, this in the form of the EMD FT. For the first group of FTs delivered between December, 1940 and March, 1943 (#100–#119) the railroad selected a color scheme consisting of dark blue accented by a pale yellow stripe up the nose, and pale yellow highlights around the cab and along the mesh and framing of openings in the sides of the engine compartment; a thin, red stripe separated the blue areas from the yellow.

Because of a labor dispute with the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, who insisted that every cab in a diesel-electric locomotive consist must be manned, FT sets #101-#105 were delivered in A-B-B-B sets, instead of the A-B-B-A sets used by the rest of the Santa Fe's FTs. The Santa Fe quickly prevailed in this labor dispute, and FT sets #106 on were delivered as A-B-B-A sets.

The words "SANTA FE" were applied in yellow in a 5"–high extended font, and centered on the nose was the "Santa Fe" box logo (initially consisting of a blue cross, circle, and square painted on a solid bronze sheet, but subsequently changed to baked steel sheets painted bronze with the blue identifying elements applied on top). Three thin, pale yellow stripes (known as Cat Whiskers) extended from the nose logo around the cab sides. In January, 1951 Santa Fe revised the scheme to consist of three yellow stripes running up the nose, with the addition of a blue and yellow Cigar Band (similar in size and shape to that applied to passenger units); the blue background and elongated yellow "SANTA FE" lettering were retained.

The years 1960 to 1972 saw non-streamlined freight locomotives sporting the Billboard color scheme (sometimes referred to as the Bookends, or Pinstripe scheme) wherein the units were predominantly dark blue with yellow ends and trim, with a single yellow accent pinstripe. The words "Santa Fe" were applied in yellow in a large serif font (logotype) to the sides of the locomotive below the accent stripe (save for yard switchers which displayed the "SANTA FE" in small yellow letters above the accent stripe, somewhat akin to the Zebra Stripe arrangement).

From 1972 to 1996, and even on into the BNSF era, the company adopted a new paint scheme often known among railfans as the Yellowbonnet which placed more yellow on the locomotives (reminiscent of the company's retired Warbonnet scheme), the goal again to ensure higher visibility at grade crossings. The truck assemblies, previously colored black, now received silver paint.

In June, 1989 Santa Fe resurrected the Warbonnet and applied the scheme in a modified fashion to two EMD FP45 units, #5992 and #5998 (this time, displaying "Santa Fe" in large, "billboard"-style red letters across the side). The units were re-designated as #101 and #102 and reentered service on July 4, 1989 as part of the new "Super Fleet" (the first Santa Fe units to be so decorated for freight service). The six remaining FP45 units were thereafter similarly repainted and renumbered. From that point forward, all new locomotives wore the red and silver, and many retained this scheme after the Burlington Northern Santa Fe merger, some with "BNSF" displayed across their sides.

For the initial deliveries of factory new "Super Fleet" equipment, the Santa Fe took delivery of the EMD GP60M, GP60B and General Electric B40-8W, which made the Santa Fe the only US Class I railroad to operate new 4-axle (B-B) freight locomotives equipped with the North American Safety Cab. These units were intended for high-speed intermodal service, but towards the final days of the Santa Fe, could be found working local trains and branchline assignments.

Several experimental and commemorative paint schemes emerged during the Santa Fe's diesel era. One combination was developed and partially implemented in anticipation of a merger between the parent companies of the Santa Fe and Southern Pacific (SP) railroads in 1984. The red, yellow, and black paint scheme (with large red block letters "SF" on the sides and ends of the units) of the proposed Southern Pacific Santa Fe Railroad (SPSF) has come to be somewhat derisively known among railfans as the Kodachrome livery due to the similarity in colors to the boxes containing slide film sold by the Eastman Kodak Company under the same name (Kodachrome film was one of the preferred brands in use by railfans). A common joke among railfans is that "SPSF" really stands for "Shouldn't Paint So Fast." Though the merger application was subsequently denied by the ICC, locomotives bearing this color scheme can still be found occasionally in lease service.

Santa Fe #9536 carries the experimental Kodachrome paint scheme in April, 1988.
Santa Fe #5704, one of five EMD model SD45-2s specially decorated in red, white, and blue to commemorate America's Bicentennial, leads the Super C high-speed intermodal train.

Ferry service

The Santa Fe's San Pablo ferry plies the waters of San Francisco Bay in the early 20th century.

The Santa Fe maintained and operated a fleet of three passenger ferry boats (the San Pablo, the San Pedro, and the Ocean Wave) that connected Oakland with San Francisco by water. The ships traveled the eight miles between the San Francisco Ferry Terminal and the railroad's Point Richmond terminal across the Bay. The service was originally established as a continuation of the company's named passenger train runs such as the Angel and the Saint. The larger two ships (the San Pablo and the San Pedro) carried Fred Harvey Company dining facilities.

The rival Southern Pacific Railroad owned the world's largest ferry fleet (which was subsidized by other railroad activities), at its peak carrying 40 million passengers and 60 million vehicles annually aboard 43 vessels. Santa Fe discontinued ferry service in 1933 due to the effects of the Great Depression; the construction of the San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge initiated the slow decline in demand for SP's ferry service, which was eventually discontinued as well. See also Ferries of San Francisco Bay.

See also


  • Baker Library Historical Collections, Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad Records, 1879-1896. Retrieved May 10, 2005.
  • Berkman, Pamela, ed. (1988). The History of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe. Brompton Books Corp., Greenwich, CT. ISBN 0-517-63350-7.  
  • Bryant, Jr., Keith L. (1974). History of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. Trans-Anglo Books, Glendale, CA. ISBN 0-8032-6066-0.  
  • The Cosmopolitan (February 1893), The Atchison Topeka and Santa Fe. Retrieved May 10, 2005.
  • Darton, N. H. (1915). Guidebook of the Western United States, Part C. The Santa Fe Route. USGS Bulletin 613.  
  • Donaldson, Stephen E. and William A. Myers (1989). Rails through the Orange Groves, Volume One. Trans-Anglo Books, Glendale, CA. ISBN 0-87046-088-9.  
  • Donaldson, Stephen E. and William A. Myers (1990). Rails through the Orange Groves, Volume Two. Trans-Anglo Books, Glendale, CA. ISBN 0-87046-094-3.  
  • Duke, Donald and Stan Kistler (1963). Santa Fe...Steel Rails through California. Golden West Books, San Marino, CA.  
  • Duke, Donald (1995). Santa Fe: The Railroad Gateway to the American West, Volume One. Golden West Books, San Marino, CA. ISBN 0-87095-110-6.  
  • Duke, Donald (1997). Santa Fe: The Railroad Gateway to the American West, Volume Two. Golden West Books, San Marino, CA. ISBN 0-87095-110-6.  
  • Foster, George H. and Peter C. Weiglin (1992). The Harvey House Cookbook: Memories of Dining along the Santa Fe Railroad. Longstreet Press, Atlanta, GA. ISBN 1-56352-357-4.  
  • Glischinski, Steve (1997). Santa Fe Railway. MBI Publishing Company, Osceola, WI. ISBN 0-7603-0380-0.  
  • Hendrickson, Richard H. (1998). Santa Fe Railway Painting and Lettering Guide for Model Railroaders, Volume 1: Rolling Stock. The Santa Fe Railway Historical and Modeling Society, Inc., Highlands Ranch, CO.  
  • Pelouze, Richard W. (1997). Trademarks of the Santa Fe Railway. The Santa Fe Railway Historical and Modeling Society, Inc., Highlands Ranch, CO.  
  • Porterfield, James D. (1993). Dining by Rail: the History and Recipes of America's Golden Age of Railroading. St. Martin's Press, New York, NY. ISBN 0-312-18711-4.  
  • Pratt School of Engineering, Duke University (2004), Alumni Profiles: W. John Swartz. Retrieved May 11, 2005.
  • Santa Fe Railroad (1945), Along Your Way, Rand McNally, Chicago, Illinois.
  • Santa Fe Railroad (November 29, 1942), Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway System Time Tables, Rand McNally and Company, Chicago, Illinois.
  • Serpico, Philip C. (1988). Santa Fé: Route to the Pacific. Hawthorne Printing Co., Gardena, CA. ISBN 0-88418-000-X.  
  • Waters, Lawrence Leslie (1950). Steel Trails to Santa Fe. University of Kansas Press, Lawrence, Kansas.  

External links


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