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City of Los Angeles 1947

This page was last updated on May 20, 2014.

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By Jeff Koeller, September 2014

Background for City of Los Angeles 1947 Transitional Lettering

In 1947, the City of Los Angeles (COLA) 7th and 9th Trains built in 1937 and 1941, received a simplified lettering scheme that came about as a result of having to create multiple train sets for daily Streamliner service, with the cars taken from various trains such as the Challengers, the Los Angeles Limited, the San Francisco Overland Limited, the Portland Rose, and the City of St. Louis, as well as C&NW cars from their "400" trains. Due to the variety of equipment involved, this lettering is unique and represents the transition from the original "train name" lettering to the standardized "road name" lettering of the 1950s. Even though trains operating in daily service were assigned to a specific city routing, the simplified lettering helped to avoid potential problems such as mixing cars with different train names in the same consist or when rotating cars for shopping. The daily City of Portland (COP) and daily COLA consists all received transitional lettering, as did the City of Denver non-sleeping cars (the sleeping cars in the twin Denver trains retained their train name lettering). Equipment running in the daily City of San Francisco (COSF) train sets, including SP-owned cars, continued the use of train name lettering (with a few exceptions) up to about 1950 when they began to receive road name lettering.

The first cars to get transitional lettering were assigned to the new daily City of Portland service starting on 2/15/47. The non-sleeping cars were lettered for the owning railroads (UP or C&NW) and featured the Streamliner script on the car sides. The COP's American and Imperial-class sleeping cars had narrow-spaced PULLMAN lettering on the letterboards with the car name centered on the side of the carbody. Lettering was red edged in black. Carbodies were Armour yellow and Harbor Mist gray with red separation stripes. The trucks and underbodies were gray.

When daily COLA service was inaugurated on 5/14/47, the consists included jointly-owned cars, railroad-owned cars and sleeping cars. Similar to what was applied to the daily COP equipment, all COLA cars received transitional lettering: the non-sleeping cars were lettered to reflect ownership and included a unique "joint" lettering arrangement, while the sleeping cars had the narrow-spaced PULLMAN lettering applied (train name lettering was not used on any of the cars). Lettering was red edged in black. Carbodies were Armour yellow and Harbor Mist gray with red separation stripes. The trucks and underbodies were gray. Cars from the 1937 and 1941 COLA trains also had aluminum trim molding above and below the window band.

The use of train names on motive power was also discontinued at this time (except for the jointly-owned COSF units). All of the jointly-owned E2, E6 and E7 COLA diesels had the train name lettering removed from the train name "banner," leaving simply a blank red banner on the sides. In some cases, the entire banner was removed. (Exception - jointly-owned E7s 930A and 931A were delivered with blank name boards, supposedly for COP service, but they were used in "pool" service as needed.) During the early years of COLA daily service,  only two power units were used as the overall length of the trains had been reduced. Typically, these were EMD E-units in various combinations, but F-M "Erie-built" units were used occasionally. By early 1949, a UP F3 B-unit was added for additional horsepower. Five AB sets of new UP E8s arrived in 1950, after which three E-units became standard generally in combination with at least one E6 or E7.

Train scene photos for City of Los Angeles 1947-1949 passenger car lettering

A few lettering arrangement drawings are available to document the passenger car transitional lettering, but photos are typically the best resource. While various "roster" shots of cars have been found, there are also some good train scenes showing all or most of the consists that can be used to verify the lettering:

1) In the Spring 2007 issue of The Streamliner magazine, on page 31, there is a view showing the COLA 9th Train backing into the Chicago Passenger Terminal on 6/15/47. Another photo of this same scene, taken at a different angle, can be found in Bill Kratville's book, The Union Pacific Streamliners, on page 563. Half-tone images in such publications tend to compromise the clarity of small details like car lettering near the rear of the train, but by using magnification on the actual photographs, the lettering on virtually all of the cars can be ascertained. Notice the 2-unit power set of jointly-owned E7 931A with a blank name board, and UP E6 956A.

2) Otto Perry's photo of the COLA 9th Train at Archer Hill, Wyoming, on 12/4/48. This view (OP-19335) can be found in the Denver Public Library (DPL) website, and can be enlarged to examine the lettering on the forward cars. Note the 2-unit power set: UP E7 998 and jointly-owned E6B 987BJ (with name banner removed).

3) Otto Perry's photo of the COLA 9th Train near Cheyenne on 6/8/47 is also available in the DPL website (OP-19259). While it doesn't show the car lettering well, it‘s a good example of a 2-unit power set: jointly-owned E7 927A with a blank name board, and jointly-owned E7B (either 928B or 929B) also with a blank name board.

Car-by-car analysis of the COLA 9th Train lettering - May 1947

1) Baggage, UP 5603 - UNION PACIFIC road name on the letterboard located on both sides of the left baggage door (UNION to the left of the door and PACIFIC to the right of the door). Streamliner script centered on car side. RAILWAY EXPRESS AGENCY lettering above car number over left truck. BAGGAGE lettering above car number over right truck. The same arrangement is used on both the left and right sides of the carbody (with the UP road name always located on both sides of the left baggage door, the REA lettering on the left and the BAGGAGE lettering on the right). One photo has been found showing the REA and BAGGAGE lettering reversed, but this is rare. Photo reference - SPHTS book, Southern Pacific Passenger Cars, Volume 3, page 514, top left photo shows the left side of UP baggage car 5630. Note that the baggage cars in these trains were not static and rotated out as needed: for example, the baggage car in the train scene photo on page 31 in the Spring 2007 issue of The Streamliner is number 5622.

2) Coach, UP-C&NW LA-405 (Pasadena) - joint lettering with 5-inch UNION PACIFC sublettering on the left side of the letterboard and 5-inch CHICAGO AND NORTH WESTERN sublettering on the right side of the letterboard. This arrangement is the same for both sides of the carbody (UP always to the left and C&NW always to the right). Streamliner script centered on car side. Car number over each truck (car name not used). No train name lettering. Car has aluminum trim molding. Photo references: train scene on page 31 in the Spring 2007 issue of The Streamliner; and Otto Perry's train scene taken on 12/4/48 (OP-19335).

3) Coach, UP-C&NW LA-406 (Boulder City) - same joint lettering and details as for LA-405.

4) Coach-Lounge, C&NW 3428 - CHICAGO AND NORTH WESTERN road name on the letterboard. Streamliner script centered on car side. Car number over each truck. Photo reference: PC Dorin's book, Chicago and North Western Passenger Service - The Postwar Years, page 48, second photo from top shows coach-lounge 3420. Also, in the SPHTS book, Southern Pacific Passenger Cars, V-1, on the bottom of page 439 is a photo of C&NW coach 3421 in UP colors with the same lettering arrangement. By the way, Railway Classics imported very nice factory painted brass models of the C&NW coach lounge and coach cars in UP colors, but the green-tinted windows should be changed to represent clear windows, and the trucks need to be painted gray.

5 and 6) articulated Dormitory-Kitchen/Diner, UP 5100 - UNION PACIFIC on letterboards of both cars. Streamliner script centered on side of both cars. Car number over the end trucks only on each car. Photo references: train scene on page 31 in the Spring 2007 issue of The Streamliner. Also, photos of the cars in Pullman green are useful for lettering reference and placement. In the SPHTS book, Southern Pacific Passenger Cars, V-4, on page 263 is a view of  DK/Diner 5100 in green with the same style Gothic UNION PACIFIC lettering used in the yellow and gray scheme. Substitute the Streamliner script for the Challenger scrip, and locate the car number over the four-wheel end trucks as shown (do not use the car number over the six-wheel truck at the articulated joint). Another photo showing the opposite side of DK/Diner 5101 is on the bottom of page 264, but note that this view was taken at UP's East Los Angeles coach yard, not at West Oakland (the five sets of DK/Diners operated in the Los Angeles Challenger and typically did not run into Oakland on the San Francisco Challenger).

7) Club-Lounge, UP-C&NW LA-703 (Hollywood) - joint lettering with 5-inch UNION PACIFC sublettering on the left side of the letterboard and 5-inch CHICAGO AND NORTH WESTERN sublettering on the right side of the letterboard. This arrangement is the same for both sides of the carbody (UP always to the left and C&NW always to the right). Streamliner script centered on car side. Car number over each truck (car name not used). No train name lettering. Car has aluminum trim molding. Photo reference: train scene on page 31 in the Spring 2007 issue of The Streamliner.

8 and 9) Articulated Sleepers San Dominguez and Wilshire - narrow-spaced PULLMAN lettering on the letterboards of both cars (train name not used). Car names centered on side of carbodies. No train name lettering. Both cars have aluminum trim molding. Photo reference: train scene on page 31 in the Spring 2007 issue of The Streamliner.

10) Sleeper Rose Bowl - narrow-spaced PULLMAN lettering on the letterboard (train name not used). Car name centered on side of carbody. No train name lettering. Car has aluminum trim molding. Photo reference: SPHTS book, Southern Pacific Passenger Cars,V-2, page 250, the bottom photo shows the car in the transitional scheme. In the same book, several examples of the narrow-spaced PULLMAN lettering can be seen on American and Imperial-class sleepers on pages 457 (top left) and 460 (top left and bottom right).

11 and 12) 4-4-2 Sleepers Los Feliz and San Gabriel - narrow-spaced PULLMAN lettering on the letterboards of both cars (train name not used). Car names centered on side of carbodies. No train name lettering. Both cars have aluminum trim molding. Photo reference: in Kratville's book, The UP Streamliners, on page 238 the center photo shows sister car Arcadia in the transitional lettering scheme.

13) Sleeper-Obs Baldy Mountain - narrow-spaced PULLMAN lettering on the letterboard. Car name centered on side of carbody. No train name lettering. Car has aluminum trim molding. Photo reference: Kratville's book, The UP Streamliners, on page 225 is a view of the car in the transitional lettering scheme. The Coach Yard's brass model of this car represents the as-built appearance, so to be correct for the late 1940s, a red Mars light should be added to the rear of the model.

COLA train name lettering returns

The transitional lettering on Baldy Mountain lasted until fall of 1949, not long after COSF cars Nob Hill and Russian Hill were permanently assigned to the COLA (8/1/49 and 8/4/49 respectively). According to a UP correspondence letter dated 9/20/49, all four observation cars then operating on the four COLA consists (regulars Sun Valley and Baldy Mountain, as well as the two ex-COSF cars) were to have City of Los Angeles train name lettering applied. Sleeper-obs cars Baldy Mountain and Russian Hill were lettered as follows: COLA train name, with 5-inch PULLMAN sublettering at the vestibule end (both sides) and 5-inch "C.& N.W." sublettering at the obs end (both sides). Photo reference: PC Dorin's book, Chicago & North Western Passenger Train Equipment, page 38 shows Russian Hill in the COLA train name scheme. Also, the SPHTS book, Southern Pacific Passenger Cars, V-5, page 255 shows the COLA circa 1950 with Russian Hill in this scheme.

Modeling a late-1949 to early 1950s COLA 9th Train with Baldy Mountain on the rear could be accomplished by following the March 31, 1950 consist shown in Kratville's book, The UP Streamliners,on page 325. However, due to new car deliveries and other re-shuffling of car assignments, the only remaining 9th Train regulars were Baldy Mountain, Rose Bowl, Los Feliz and Hollywood. By this time, the 9th Train had acquired the 7th Train's 11-Double Bedroom/12-Section articulated sleeping car set to replace nearly identical 9th Train cars San Domingues and Wilsire (which were destroyed by fire on 7/7/49), plus the 7th Train's articulated coach set (recently renumbered to C&NW 3408-3409). These coaches would be subsequently replaced with new 5400-class leg-rest coaches delivered from Pullman-Standard beginning in June 1950. An early-1950s 9th Train would feature "road name" lettering on all non-sleeping cars, wide-spaced PULLMAN lettering on the sleeping cars with road name sublettering (4-inch UNION PACIFIC or 5-inch CHICAGO AND NORTH WESTERN), and COLA train name lettering on Baldy Mountain as previously described.

Postscript

A final lettering change for C&NW-owned cars Baldy Mountain and Hoover Dam (ex-Russian Hill)  was to have taken place in 1954, but may not have been implemented due to operational circumstances. According to a note dated 5/24/54 on Pullman's Painting, Striping & Lettering drawing No. D4857, the COLA train name lettering on these two cars was being changed to 8-inch PULLMAN with 5-inch "C.& N.W." sublettering on both ends of the letterboard. Hoover Dam and Baldy Mountain were withdrawn from COLA assignment for shopping on 5/17/54 and 7/26/54 respectively, with Pennsylvania Railroad cars Metropolitan View and Federal View substituting in their place. This was most likely the end of revenue service for Baldy Mountain and Hoover Dam as both cars were "stored" at Pullman's Calumet shops effective 11/10/54. Meanwhile, the PRR cars continued to operate in COLA service until the delivery of new UP dome-obs-lounge cars in February 1955. Ultimately, the C&NW would soon be out of Overland Route operations completely (displaced by Milwaukee Road on October 30, 1955), and since the railroad had no use for sleeper-obs cars on any of their own overnight trains, Baldy Mountain and Hoover Dam were consequently withdrawn from Pullman lease in February-March 1956 (the cars were retired in 1958 and sold to M.S. Kaplan Company).

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