"Reinette Poisson: One may tolerate a world of demons for the sake of an angel"
| The Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe's
Warbonnet color scheme is easily the most recognized corporate logo in the railroad
industry. Designed to add a splash of color to the railroad's new streamliners in the
1930's, the design was used through the end of Santa Fe passenger service, and it was
later re-introduced for freight service.
Through the passenger years, the Santa Fe ads featuring the brightly-colored locomotives appeared monthly in National Geographic, Time, Life and a score of travel and general interest magazines.
But it was in the toy train field that most people encountered the Santa Fe Warbonnet. Lionel and American Flyer had licenses to produce models of the Warbonnet locomotives; Lionel had the O gauge F3 with its bright red nose, and American Flyer made the S gauge ALCO PA with its long, squared-off nose. Unlike the present days of corporate licensing fees, the Santa Fe actually paid Lionel to model the Warbonnet locomotives.
For many years American Flyer Santa Fe diesel models could be seen in the window of the Gilbert Hall of Science in New York City, and hundreds of department store windows across the nation featured Lionel and American Flyer Warbonnets.
The Warbonnet could be seen everywhere. In the Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye motion picture "White Christmas", a cutaway shows a Warbonnet racing along the coast as they travel from Miami to New York, a three-thousand mile continuity error!
When Alco introduced its famous PA diesel locomotive they cut a hole in the back wall of New York's Waldorf Astoria Hotel and shoved the first fifteen feet of a full-size locomotive right into the banquet room. Headlights blazing, the Warbonnet scheme left no question as to what railroad had purchased the first unit.
Many people steadfastly maintain that Santa Fe's Super Chief, an all stainless steel streamliner running between Chicago and Los Angeles, was America's most famous and finest train, a train with a reputation so fine that Santa Fe refused to let Amtrak continue the name, lest it be spoiled in memory by subsequent service.
The Super Chief was one of the named passenger trains and the flagship of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. It was often referred to as "The Train of the Stars" because of the many celebrities who traveled on the streamliner between Chicago, Illinois and Los Angeles, California.
The streamlined Super Chief (assigned train Nos. 17 & 18) was the first diesel-powered, all-Pullman sleeping car train in America, and it eclipsed the Chief as Santa Fe's standard bearer. The extra-fare Super Chief-1 commenced its maiden run from Dearborn Station in Chicago on May 12, 1936. Just over a year later, on May 18, 1937 the much-improved Super Chief-2 traversed the 2,227.3 miles (3,584.5 kilometers) from Los Angeles over recently upgraded tracks in just 39 hours and 49 minutes (averaging 60.8 miles-per-hour (90.0 km/h), often exceeding 100 miles-per-hour in the process).
With only one set of equipment, the train initially operated but once a week from both Chicago and Los Angeles. From that day forward the Super Chief set a new standard for luxury rail travel in America. At the height of its popularity, the trains of the Super Chief would make daily departures from both ends of the line. Adding to the train's mystique were its gourmet meals and Hollywood clientele.
Direct competitors to the Super Chief during its lifetime were the City of Los Angeles, a streamlined passenger train jointly operated by the Chicago and North Western Railway and the Union Pacific Railroad, and (to a lesser extent) the Golden State, a streamlined passenger train jointly operated by the Rock Island and Southern Pacific railroads. Santa Fe's route from Chicago to Los Angeles was the lengthiest of the high-speed, long distance trains of the day, making its way through mostly sparsely populated areas (which enhanced the train's already distinctive aura). The Santa Fe Super Chief was the last passenger train in the United States to carry an all-Pullman consist.
When Amtrak took over operation of the nation's passenger service on May1, 1971 it ended the 35-year run of the Super Chief on the Santa Fe, though Amtrak would continue to use the name for another three years. In 1974 the Santa Fe forced Amtrak to drop the trains name due to a perceived decline in service. Amtrak replaced the train over the same route with its Southwest Limited. Later the Santa Fe compromised with Amtrak and the train became the Southwest Chief in 1984.
MyTrain, built in 1948 and revitalized 50+ years later proudly carries on the Super Chief's Warbonnet tradition.