Union Pacific Combination Baggage-Passenger Cars

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By Clive Carter

Combination Baggage-Passenger cars were interesting vehicles - nearly all were remodeled from redundant equipment and they normally ran on branch lines. Wooden combines were used until the introduction of remodeled steel cars at the beginning of the 1930s. Almost 150 ran on the Union Pacific System at one time or another. They are summarized here along with a few that had mail facilities.

[photo] Union Pacific train 382 nears Huntington, Oregon, on the Homestead Branch on January 2, 1934. Baggage-Passenger car No. 2801 trails the consist. This wooden car was rebuilt from Utah Central coach 20 about 1892 with a 20' 7" baggage comportment and served the UP until 1940.

Running Numbers

In 1885 the Union Pacific assigned running numbers in the 700 series to the combines, each company in the System being assigned a block of numbers; for example, the OSL used Nos. 724-732. Companies acquired later were accommodated in the same way, their rolling stock being renumbered appropriately. When the OSL and OR&N temporarily left the System in the mid-l890s, both companies renumbered their equipment. In 1914 a new scheme was implemented, the UP, OSL and OWR&N Baggage-Passenger combines being given numbers in the 2700, 2800 and 2900 series, respectively; those with a mail compartment were assigned to the 2500 (UP) and 2600 ( OSL) series. Official records show almost universal application of the new numbers during the following year. Just prior to this time, combines operated by the UP had been renumbered in a transient 1400 series scheme. When the Los Angeles & Salt Lake RR joined the UP, its combines were renumbered into the 4800 series. An additional complication in the numbering story was that the UP often transferred numbers from retired cars to new conversions, the same number thus being used twice or even three times.

Wooden Combines

Table l provides a summary of the wooden combines owned by the UP and associates. Companies that the permanently departed the System during the 1890s receivership period were excluded. Essentially all the information came from official records.

Only a handful was bought new from Pullman. Union Pacific received two 50' Baggage-Passenger combines in 1890. The LA&SL had also had received five 70' cars in 1902-1904 with arch pattern windows, a vestibule at the passenger end and six-wheel trucks. They operated in the Mail-Baggage-Passenger role for some time, finally losing their mail room.

[photo] Passenger-Baggage No. 2704 was in service at Greeley, Colorado, on March 28, 1936. This car was remodeled in 1907 from on 1884-built coach and retired in May, 1938.

[photo] Passenger-Baggage No. 2715, remodeled from a coach built in 1870, was at Salina, Kansas, on March 5, 1939. Equipped with a running board on the roof, it remained in service until the end of 1940.

[photo] Although the lettering on this Baggage-Passenger car is faint, it is No. 752. This car was originally fitted out with a 24'10" mail apartment, but was rebuilt in 1915 to Baggage-Passenger No. 2722 and retired in 1918.

By far the largest number were remodeled from obsolete Coaches or Chair cars built by various manufacturers and typically 20-35 years old when converted - the actual age depended on the pool of suitable candidates at the time. Availability also determined the size of the combines; after 1900 most were about 50' long. Notably, at least fifteen came from a group of 51'6" Coaches rebuilt from UP Emigrant cars bought in 1888.

Open ends and 4-wheel trucks were common features; exceptions are noted in Table 1.

In addition, the OR&N remodeled several 60' vestibule cars, these being among the last wooden type done. Unusual choices were 70' cars carried on six-wheel trucks - the OSL utilized three Diners while the UP, OSL and OWR&N converted the last of their composite Baggage-Buffet models and the LA&SL selected a 70' Coach.

Remodeling required removal of seats, windows and other passenger facilities from one end and construction of a baggage compartment with a door on each side. Baggage length generally lay in the 15'-26" range, but larger compartments were also built. The rest of the car was essentially unaltered: passenger accommodation was typically 20-30 seats for 50' cars and 40-50 seats in larger models, with toilet facilities. Batches appeared intermittently; typically 2-5 conversions (per year) in years when the fleet needed replacements, or enlarging in response to traffic needs. No doubt each company's workshops did the work.

Oil lights alone were used until 1910. Subsequently, any cars selected for conversion that had gaslights normally kept them, oil lights being added.

When the last conversion was turned out in 1927 the wooden fleet had reached peak size two years earlier:

47 Union Pacific
12 Oregon Short Line
13 O-WR&N
5 Los Angeles & Salt Lake
77 Total

Just about all were retired during the next dozen years. Only three wooden combines remained by 1941; the final one was condemned in 1949.

[photo] San Pedro, Los Angeles & Salt Lake No.53 pauses at Panaca, Nevada, midway out the 33-mile Pioche Branch from Caliente, with the daily local train about 1909. Trailing the 4-6-0 is Baggage-Passenger car SP, LA&SL No. 7. No. 7 was built by Osgood Bradley in 1890, renumbered 4850 in 19 15 and retired circa 1925.

Steel Combines

Six steel 60' Mail-Passenger combines purchased ($9,629 each) from Pullman in 1912 were built in the contemporary "Harriman" style, on four-wheel trucks (Table 2). The mail compartment occupied half of the body, the passenger half having a vestibule, toilet and seating for 38 (later 36). Lighting was gas and electric, until the gas equipment was removed around 1927.

The LA&SL ordered two 70' Mail-Baggage- Passenger cars from the same manufacturer the following year (Table 2). This Harriman pair had a 15' mail section and a 38'9" baggage compartment, leaving space for 18 passengers, two toilets and a vestibule. Lighting was the same as the UP cars when new, but by 1941 had been altered so that No. 4800 had electric lights while No. 4801 was gas lit.

Remodeling of steel cars into Baggage-Passenger combines began in 1931. This was the first step in bringing the class into line with the rest of the passenger equipment, over 80 percent having steel construction by that time. The oldest steel vehicles had already exceeded 20-years service and some now faced redundancy with a downturn in traffic.

[photo] Mail-Passenger car No. 7 41 (later 2510) built in 1912 and fitted with mail collection equipment.

[photo] UP 2515 at Well s, Nevada, February 22, 1946. Originally Mail-Passenger 746, built by Pullman in 1912, the 60' car was rebuilt as a Baggage' Coach in 1943 and was retired in 1957.

Ten 60' Harriman style Chair class were selected for remodeling (Table 3). Pullman had built two lots for the UP in 1909-1910. A 26'10" baggage compartment was constructed at one end, a number of seats and a small smoking room being removed. A 4'10" wide baggage door was installed on each side and window openings covered with steel panels. Racks, a desk and stove were furnished for the conductor. Thirty seats remained in the leftover passenger compartment for its new role. Passenger amenities included steam heat, a stove and water cooler, together with separate toilets for men and women. Vestibules stayed at both ends. Pintsch gas could be stored in the existing three under floor tanks and although equipped with electric lights, an axle driven generator and batteries were not provided either when new or during conversion. Oil lamps were added as an extra source of lighting.

The job was done by Omaha Shops between 1931 and 1935. Running numbers assigned were 2700-2701, 2741- 2742 and 2744-2749, gaps in the series being occupied by wood combines.

Ten more Chair cars were converted in 1943, coming from the same lots as in the previous program (Table 3). Design was basically the same as before, with minor changes in floor plan and provision of roof ventilators for the baggage compartment. The baggage entry door almost reached the roof, whereas in the first batch it extended only to the letter board. Running numbers, 2702-2711, were previously carried by wooden combines.

The final remodeling program involved the UP Mail-Passenger cars (Nos. 2510-2515) built in 1912. All were converted to Baggage-Passenger in 1943-1944. Post office equipment was stripped out to yield a 30' baggage compartment, the three vertical windows on each side staying in place. The existing passenger compartment was unchanged. This had four windows on each side, compared to five in the converted Chair cars. The lighting system - electric with axle driven generator and batteries - remained.

The official diagram describing the first batch was amended in the mid-1940s to add a window on each side of the baggage compartment. While most were modified in this way, Nos. 2744 and 2749 were not. Another disparity was that certain combines had their passenger window transoms paneled over. Nos. 2700, 02, 04, 05, 09 and 44 had them covered whereas 2703, 08 and 42 did not. Similar treatment of vestibule end windows appears to have been randomly done. Caboose-style curved hand grabs were commonly fitted to the sides, inboard of the vestibules, but not all cars got them. Dark olive green was the original exterior color. Nos. 2700, 02, 06, 45, 47 and 49 are known to have been given the armour yellow and harbor mist gray livery later.

At the completion of the final rebuilding program, there were 26 steel cars (and the final wooden example) active on the UP system. In other words, only about one third of the total that had existed 20 years previously. Most of them were retired during the late 1950s. Seven remained in 1961 including the last of the converted mail type. Six more were withdrawn by 1966, No. 2700 surviving for four more years.

[photo] UP 2705 Cheyenne, Wyoming, May, 1955. Baggage-chair with 68'2" length over buffer, 59'4" inside length. Rebuilt from chair car 1071 at Omaha in 1943. Originally built in 1910. It was retired in 1965.

[photo] UP 2706 was at Kearny, Nebraska, in June 1954 while in service on Stapleton Branch trains 95-96. The car was originally built as Chair car UP 1066 by Pullman in 1910, and was rebuilt in 1943. It was retired in 1960.

Combine Duties

Combines normally operated in mixed train service. The May 1919 public timetable indicates such operation on 42 routes, several requiring a pair of cars to cover the working arrangements. This suggests about fifty combines in regular employment, but a degree of uncertainty must be admitted since a Coach and a Baggage car, coupled together, could equally serve. Services fell to about half during the Depression years and although increased by the 1940s, the freight train caboose now provided passenger accommodation in some instances.

Public timetables issued from this time advertised passenger service on certain branch lines by a "local freight with combination coach-baggage car." This description applied to the following lines in the 1949 timetable:

Lawrence, Kansas - Leavenworth, Kansas
Salina, Kansas - McPherson, Kansas
Ogden, Utah - Malad, Idaho
Cache Jet., Utah - Preston, Idaho
Twin Falls, Idaho - Wells, Nevada
Idaho Falls, Idaho - St. Anthony, Idaho
Shoshone, Idaho - Ketchum, Idaho
Shoshone, Idaho - Hill City, Idaho
Blackfoot, Idaho - Mackay, Idaho

By 1959, most of the remaining fifteen combines were assigned to such duty on OSL branches. They were still advertised to Malad, Mackay, Preston, St. Anthony and Ketchum, as above, while the Ashton-Victor and Payette-Emmett branches in Idaho had been added. Two pairs of combines were similarly required for freight service each way between Nampa, Idaho, and McCall, Idaho and the Ontario-Burns branch in Oregon, respectively.


"Combination Baggage-Passenger Cars" by Clive S. Carter, The Streamliner, Volume 17, Number 4, Fall 2003, page 12 (PDF; 7 pages; 4.8MB)