THE CHIEF – SANTA FE promotional film on the famed train from the 1950s…

Santa Fe promotional video on the streamliner the CHIEF (not the SUPER CHIEF as stated in the youtube video).


Here’s the Chief about to depart from Pasadena, CA., in the 1960s with Pullman sleepers, chair cars, dining car, lunch-counter car and Dome Lounge.

Social and travel history: the Santa Fe Chief…

The Chief was one of the named passenger trains of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. Its route ran from Chicago, Illinois to Los Angeles, California. The Chief was inaugurated as an all-Pullman limited train to supplement the road’s California Limited, with a surcharge of USD $10.00 for an end-to-end trip. The heavyweight began its inaugural run from both ends of the line, simultaneously, on November 14, 1926, making the cross-country trip in the advertised 63 hours, five hours faster than the California Limited. (The same day, the Overland Limited began its extra-fare 63-hour schedule between Chicago and San Francisco.)

(Left: The Chief leaving from Chicago) The Chief became an instant success, gaining the slogan “Extra Fast-Extra Fine-Extra Fare” though it failed to relieve traffic on the California Limited. The Chief quickly became famous as a “rolling boudoir” for film stars and Hollywood executives alike. In time, the Chief would reduce its schedule to equal that of its cousins, the Super Chief and El Capitan, and would ultimately drop the extra fare requirement as well.

An all-Pullman train, chair cars were added to the Chief in the mid-1950s.

The Chief would have been the “crown jewel” of most railroads’ passenger fleets. But it did not survive the national decline in passenger demand, and ended operations on May 15, 1968.

Short History of the Santa Fe Railway…

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.

The Santa Fe operated some of the finest passenger trains in the world.   Services aboard such streamliners as the SUPER CHIEF, EL CAPITAN, CALIFORNIA LIMITED, GRAND CANYON, CHIEF, TEXAS CHIEF, SAN FRANCISCO CHIEF were the best up until Santa Fe handed over all their passengers services to Amtrak in 1971.   Santa Fe withdrew permission from Amtrak to use the name Super Chief after the services were downgraded by the government railway passenger services.

Ever the innovator, Santa Fe was one of the pioneers in inter-modal 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 travelers 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.

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2 comments

  1. Sorry, don’t know.

  2. I am trying to find the name of a NON-limited Santa Fe train that traveled between Chicago and Los Angeles in the 1920′s. Surely not everyone could afford to pay for a Pullman. Do you know the names of any of these trains?

    Thanks!

    JudyinBoston

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