Union Pacific Passenger Trains

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This page was last updated on August 19, 2022.

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On this page you will find information about many of Union Pacific's named but non-Streamliner passenger trains.

The Butte Special

Salt Lake City, Utah to Butte, Montana

Shown in Salt Lake City newspaper ads as early as 1918 as the Butte-Portland Special.

Trains 29 (Butte Special) and 30 (Salt Lake Special) as early as 1930; changed to Trains 35 and 36 after May 1957.

"At Silver Bow, a Northern Pacific Geep would be placed on the point and the NP crew would run the train into Butte. I don't know whether the units were fully "laced up", but a BN fireman once told me that someone once forgot to retract the deadbolts in the UP E-unit's nose door at Silver Bow and they had to stop the train to rectify the situation, before they could proceed." (Craig Lacey, August 18, 2022, Facebook)

On January 22, 1968, Union Pacific applied to the federal Interstate Commerce Commission for permission to discontinue The Butte Special, Trains 35 and 36. Protested by Utah Public Service Commission. (Ogden Standard Examiner, December 20, 1967)

On May 16, 1968, the federal ICC denied Union Pacific's request to discontinue The Butte Special, stating in its decision that the train was the last passenger train between Salt Lake City and Butte, and its operation should be continued for the public good.

April 2, 1970
"UP Asks To Halt 2 Montana Trains -- Union Pacific Railroad today announced it wants to discontinue operating trains 35 and 36 between Salt Lake City, and Butte, Mont., effective May 13. The notices will be filed with the Interstate Commerce Commission about April 10. U. P. asked to discontinue the two train runs two years ago and was denied its application by the ICC. However, the company was permitted to reduce operations to three round trips weekly, and ordered the running of the trains on a trial basis. Edd H. Bailey, U. P. president, said two years experience showed that the two trains averaged only 24 passengers per mile while space was provided for 110 passengers on each trip. Union rules require 15 crewmen, each receiving a day's pay, to move the train over the 433 miles from Salt Lake City to Butte, and another 15 men on the return trip. "We are in effect, paying 15 men to move 24 passengers 433 miles." said Bailey. "A bus can do the same thing with only two men."" (Deseret News, April 2, 1970)

"Along with the New Orleans-Jacksonville Gulf Wind, the Butte Special was the last train in the U.S. to have open sections (until Amtrak Day 5/1/1971 when it finished its last run). One of the six open sections was converted to a dining table and the one across from it to a small kitchen where the sleeping car porter could prepare a light dinner. By the time I rode it in 1970 they were no longer using the stove and were only serving cold sandwiches, etc. But they still sold brandy and cigars." (Trainorders.com, December 14, 2014)

"The train was turned on wye east of depot in Butte during its 12 hour layover. There was a presentation at the NPRHA convention several years ago in Butte by a person who lived next to tracks as a kid in the 1960s who remembered watching it being turned. I can't remember for sure, but it may have even been an NP switch crew who turned it. Also I have seen quite a few pictures of the Butte Special in Butte, and the locomotives were always turned to lead either in the morning from Salt Lake (NP eastbound), or in the evening when preparing to depart for Salt Lake (NP westbound). The train made fairly tight connections with the NP North Coast Limited to and from the east in Butte. The Butte Special did run until Amtrak, albeit 3 days per week the last few years. One of my regrets is that I never had the opportunity to ride that train." (Trainorders.com, January 31, 2020)

(An excellent summary of Union Pacific's Butte Special passenger service, with photos, is in Thornton Waite's "The Butte Special" article in the Summer 2009, Volume 23, Number 3, issue of The Streamliner, published by Union Pacific Historical Society)

(Read Thornton Waite's updated article about UP's Butte Special)

The Challenger

1935 to 1947; 1954 to 1971

"The Challenger passenger trains, known as "Everybody's Limited," were introduced in the middle of the Depression in an attempt to draw ridership back to the rails. The equipment was spartan and the meal service was advertised as "three meals for under a dollar a day." There was good food and plenty of it, but it wasn't the first-class fare of the streamliners, where one meal might cost $1.25. The introduction of the Challenger also marked the advent of registered-nurse-stewardess service in August 1935. These single women were charged with first-aid service for the entire train, but their main function was to assist women with small children and children traveling alone. They were paid $125 per month plus expenses. The track also featured exclusive coaches for women and children at the head of the train, thus eliminating the need for men to even walk through the cars." (Union Pacific Railroad, description for Heritage Fleet Dome Car "Challenger")

"The Challenger began service on August 21, 1935 as an all-heavyweight train between Chicago and Los Angeles. Between July and November 1937 Pullman-Standard delivered a group of lightweight Chair cars and twin-unit dining cars for this train; some of these units were built for Southern Pacific ownership in-as-much as a San Francisco Challenger had been inaugurated on September 15th of that year. Each twin-unit diner, consisting of a dormitory-kitchen unit articulated to a 68-seat dining room car, was identified by a single number which embraced both units." (Wayner, Car Names Numbers and Consists, 1972, page 148)

"The five twin-unit dormitory-kitchen-dining cars (5100-5104) were withdrawn from CHALLENGER service. Four were assigned to CITY OF LOS ANGELES consists (replacing dining and cafe-lounge cars which had gone to the CITY OF PORTLAND) and the fifth, plus the pair of single-unit diners built in 1937 for the DAYLIGHT, furnished the food service for the two new CITY OF SAN FRANCISCO trains created for the inception of daily operation in September 1947." (Wayner, Car Names Numbers and Consists, 1972, page 160)

When the Challenger was reestablished in late 1954 it included the first of the 7000-series Dome Coach cars, numbered as 7000-7004. When the 9000-series Dome Observation cars were delivered in February and March 1955 (with the last one coming in early April), the five cars numbered as 9010-9014 were assigned to the Challenger train.

Another recently discovered photo, dated April 16, 1955, shows a 9000-series Dome Observation on the tail end of The Challenger train at DeKalb, Illinois. The train's "drumhead" tail sign displayed the neon-lighted "Challenger Domeliner."

The fifteen 9000-series Dome Observation cars were ordered by UP in March 1954 as part of a $10 million order from American Car & Foundry for 35 dome cars that included ten 7000-series Dome Coach cars and ten 8000-series Dome Diner cars. The Challenger train received five Dome Coaches (7000-7004) and five Dome Observation cars (9010-9014).

In May 1955 the five Dome Observation cars assigned to The Challenger were reassigned to the City of St. Louis. The new assignment on this train, and its multiple consist changes along its route, made the shortcoming of the tail-end observation apparent and before the end of 1956 the entire fleet of fifteen cars were pulled out of service and were modified for mid-train service.

David Seidel wrote the following about UP's Challenger trains on October 15, 2008:

On the UP, as a rule, the Pullman (sleeper) section operated first and on the timetable schedule; with the coach section following some 10-30 minutes behind. The UP mainly ran two sections of the COLA in the early 1960s over summer and holidays travel times.

It should be noted that the UP had a streamlined coach Chicago-LA train, the "Challenger" trains 107 & 108. After 1956 the "Challenger" was combined with the COLA which was mainly a Pullman train but did carry a coach or two.   During the summer and holiday travel times of the late 1950s the railroad would just run the "Challenger" as a separate train: technically a different train (as it carried train 107 & 108), but in practice a 2nd "coach" section of the COLA. In the early 1960s the railroad began showing them as 1st and 2nd 103 & 104 trains.

The following comes from Dick Harley, in an email dated February 5, 2009:

Both the LA and SF Challengers had six day turn-around schedules. Both trains often ran in two or more sections - splitting the chair cars and the tourist Pullmans. All sections had diners. After 1937 they were a mix of lightweight and heavyweight equipment.

The five UP articulated Dorm-Kitchen-Diners were assigned only to the LA Challenger. Normally, diners did not continue through to foreign roads, so they had faster turn-around. I can't put my hand on my 1930s UP make-up lists right now, so I can't tell you how long the UP dining car runs were.

More info on these cars and The Challenger trains can be found in:

  • "The Official Pullman Library - Vol.14" by Randall & Anderson
  • "Union Pacific's Challenger" by Dorin
  • The UPHS magazine "The Streamliner" articles by John Carroll in Vol. 9, No. 4 and Vol. 10, No. 1

Dick Harley wrote the following, in an email dated February 8, 2009:

Lightweight equipment built for "The Challenger" trains in the 1930s and 1940s includes:

  • UP 5100-5104 Articulated Dormitory-Kitchen-Diner
  • UP 5200-5211 Women's Chair Car
  • UP 5300-5327 Chair Car
  • UP 5351-5365 Chair Car
  • C&NW 6132-6147 Chair Car
  • C&NW 6160-6166 Women's Chair Car
  • SP 2414/15, 2416/17 Articulated Chair Car
  • SP 2424-2429 Chair Car
  • SP 2489-2491 Chair Car

Timeline (1935-1947)

July 11, 1935
Second section to Los Angeles Limited, Trains 7 and 8

August 21, 1935
Challenger name adopted; still as a second section to Los Angeles Limited, made up of coaches and tourist sleeping cars.

Typical consist was:

May 12, 1936
Assigned separate train numbers, No. 717 and 818

July 21, 1936
Due to their popularity, the Challenger trains began operating in two separate sections.

September 15, 1937
San Francisco Challenger established, Trains 87 and 88; Trains 717 and 818 became Los Angeles Challenger.

In 1937 the Challenger trains were equipped with twin-unit dining cars. One car of the articulated pair was the kitchen and dormitory space for crew members, and the other car was the dining space. The twin-unit diners were capable of serving 700 to 800 meals per day.

February 4, 1941
The Challenger trains were operated regularly as a combination train with the Pony Express. There were three Challenger trains: San Francisco Challenger, Los Angeles Challenger, Portland Rose Challenger.

January 25, 1942
Los Angeles Challenger changed to Trains 7 and 8; Los Angeles Limited became Trains 37 and 38

April 8, 1944
SP diners on both sections of trains 87-88 (The Challenger) changed to operate to Ogden only instead of to Green River

On May 11, 1946, the following cars were to be used as regularly assigned, or as helper cars in Challenger service, and were to be marked as such:

June 2, 1946
San Francisco Challenger changed to Trains 23 and 24

May 14, 1947
Los Angeles Challenger withdrawn

October 1, 1947
San Francisco Challenger withdrawn; Trains 23 and 24 changed to Gold Coast

"During the War and until November 1, and May 14, 1947 respectively, the San Francisco and Los Angeles Challengers had operated with a mixture of light and heavyweight equipment and steam power. On January 10, 1954 the Los Angeles Challenger was re-established between Chicago and Los Angeles with streamlined equipment and diesel power. Its schedule was also 20-1/2 hrs. to a respectable 39 hrs. 45 min. It replaced the Los Angeles Limited which had operated since December 17, 1905 between Los Angeles and Chicago." (Ranks and Kratville, Union Pacific Streamliners, page 327)

"The five Union Pacific-owned twin-unit dining cars built in 1937 for CHALLENGER service (each with one number for both dormitory-kitchen and dining room units) were assigned to the CHALLENGER STREAMLINER in 1954 with dining room capacity reduced to 52 seats." (Wayner, Car Names Numbers and Consists, 1972, page 164)

Timeline (1954-1971)

January 10, 1954
The Challenger Streamliner service established; Chicago to Los Angeles; Chicago to San Francisco; Trains 107 and 108

December 1954
Changed to The Challenger Domeliner; included addition of 7000-series Dome Chair cars

When they were delivered in December 1954, Dome chair cars 7000-7004 were assigned to CHALLENGER STREAMLINER service, and 7005-7009 were assigned to CITY OF PORTLAND service. (Wayner, Car Names Numbers and Consists, 1972, page 164)

February-March 1955
When the 9000-series Dome Observation cars were delivered in February and March 1955 (with the last one coming in early April), the five cars numbered as 9010-9014 were assigned to the Challenger train.

May 1955
The five Dome Observation cars (9010-9014) were re-assigned from The Challenger to the City of St. Louis.

April 29, 1956
The Challenger Domeliner combined with City of Los Angeles as all-coach second section during summer

"In June 1956 it was announced that the Los Angeles Challenger would henceforth operate as an all-coach train during the summer months and that the COLA would be an all-Pullman train during the same period. The balance of the year, the two trains would be combined as No. 103-104, the COLA." (Ranks and Kratville, Union Pacific Streamliners, 1974, page 328)

September 10, 1960
The Challenger Domeliner permanently combined with City of Los Angeles; still designated Trains 107 and 108

April 30, 1971
The Challenger Domeliner service canceled; not included in Amtrak schedules

The Challenger trains continued to operate until the start of Amtrak on May 1, 1971.

See also: "Union Pacific's Challenger, An Unusual Passenger Train, 1935-1971" by Patrick C. Dorin, TLC Publishing, 2001

See also: John Carroll's two-part article in The Streamliner, published by the Union Pacific Historical Society in 1994-1995

"The Challenger" Part I, The Train, in Volume 9, Number 4
"The Challenger" Part II, The Equipment, in Volume 10, Number 1

The Columbine

May 22, 1930
Service started

The Forty-Niner

July 1937 to July 1941

In conjunction with the World's Fair in San Francisco, the "Overland Route" railroads (C&NW, UP, SP) began what was to be the last regular transcontinental all Pullman service with the "Forty Niner". The train was made up of all Pullman owned equipment -- streamlined heavyweights and a lightweight two car articulated lightweight Sleeper set. The C&NW and the Union Pacific provided streamlined steam locomotives to power the train. Service began out of Chicago on July 8, 1937 and remained in service until July 26, 1941. (David Seidel)

(Read more about The Forty-Niner train)

Gold Coast

Trains 23 and 24, Chicago to Oakland. Changed from San Francisco Challenger sometime between 1946 and 1949. Discontinued by January 1955.

The following comes from an email from Doug Dirks, dated March 7, 2013:

The Gold Coast was a train on the Overland Route with a slow schedule. It was not a glamorous train, and was in the shadow of it's superior trains, the yellow and gray streamliner City of San Francisco and mostly two-tone gray (at least in 1946-50) San Francisco Overland. Also, it traveled over Donner Pass during the night when it was not so easy for railfan photographers to take photographs.

No new diesel locomotives were specifically purchased by SP, UP and the C&NW for the Gold Coast. So, it was regularly assigned the finest steam power of all three railroads. No new passenger cars were specifically purchased for the Gold Coast, so its consists included a most interesting group of rebuilt heavyweight passenger cars and pre-war lightweight hand-me-downs, but the Gold Coast was predominantly heavyweight throughout its rather short existence. The schedule was slow, which allowed switching of head-end and passenger cars with other trains as the Gold Coast made its way across the country. Unlike the COSF and SFO, the Gold Coast did not carry a dormitory car for the crews. Instead SP, UP and C&NW diners and their crews were switched in and out of the consists at various stations along its route.

Although the primary and secondary Overland passenger trains certainly varied in their consists from train to train, from day to day, and from year to year, from its conception the Gold Coast also varied from hour to hour along its route. Although both the COSF and SFO carried fancy paint schemes just after WW II, the Gold Coast was left with the Dark Olive and Pullman Green of the Challenger and Pacific Limited. However, similar to the SFO, it became a "rainbow train" during the years of transition after WW II. But, instead of evolving from two-tone gray into multi-colors, the Gold Coast evolved from green into multi-colors, especially when the UP decided to standardize on its streamliner colors in 1952.

The Idahoan

In a discussion about a photo of Train No. 11, The Idahoan, at The Dalles, John Bromley added the following information about other Union Pacific passenger trains:

Los Angeles Limited

The Los Angeles Limited, as a planned luxury train between Chicago and Los Angeles, was mentioned as early as May 4, 1905, when upon the completion of the SPLA&SL on May 1st, the first through trains began operating between Salt Lake City and Los Angeles.

October 24, 1905
The San Pedro, Los Angeles & Salt Lake railroad announced its new Los Angeles Limited train. The railroad had been operating a train with through service as soon as the route was completed in early May, but the "Los Angeles Limited " name was not formally announced until October.

Will Reduce The Running Time -- Los Angeles, October 24. -- The Los Angeles, San Pedro and Salt Lake Railroad has decided to reduce the running time of its through passenger trains between Los Angeles and Salt Lake to twenty-six hours, which will cut the running time between this city and Chicago to sixty-eight hours. The through limited train which will be put on by the Salt Lake-Union Pacific-Northwestern routes to Chicago, will be known as the "Los Angeles Limited," and the name will appear on every coach of the splendidly equipped train. (Oakland Tribune, October 24, 1905)

Initially planned to begin running on November 26th, a delay three weeks came from Pullman not completing the train's new cars in time for the planned startup. "The cars are being completed now in eastern shops for the initial run." (Salt Lake Herald, November 9, 1905; San Bernardino County Sun, November 12, 1905; Salt Lake Tribune, November 19, 1905)

The actual delay came from Pullman not being able to procure the needed dynamos for electric lighting. (Fresno Morning Republican, November 16, 1905)

Various newspaper items and advertisements suggest the scheduled train did indeed start on November 26th, but the dedicated luxury equipment was not available until mid December.

December 14, 1905
"The first dining car on the Chicago-Los Angeles limited coming east passed through Salt Lake yesterday on its way to Los Angeles, where it will be made up on the train which will arrive in this city on Tuesday." (Deseret News, December 15, 1905)

December 17, 1905
The first Los Angeles Limited luxury all-Pullman passenger train departed Chicago, bound for Los Angeles on a 68-hour schedule. The return trip departed Los Angeles on December 21st. (Jeff Asay, Union Pacific in the Los Angeles Basin, page 84)

The first westbound Los Angeles Limited departed Chicago at 10pm on December 17th, and stopped at Ogden at 2:55pm and at Salt Lake City for a scheduled 10-minute stop at 4:05pm on December 19th. (Salt Lake Telegram, December 18, 1905; Daily Utah State Journal, December 19, 1905)

The first westbound Los Angeles Limited was also the first train to use the newly completed Ninth South passenger main in Salt Lake City, meeting the mainline at Buena Vista. (Salt Lake Tribune, December 20, 1905)

The first eastbound Los Angeles Limited arrived at Salt Lake City at 5:45pm on December 22, 1905. (Salt Lake Telegram, December 23, 1905)

When it was introduced, the Los Angeles Limited was shown as Train No. 7 and No. 8, joining SPLA&SL's already existing No. 1 and No. 2, the Los Angeles Express. (Salt Lake Telegram, December 19, 1905)

The Los Angeles Limited was the first passenger train on Union Pacific to be equipped with electric lights. (Read more about the first electric lights on passenger trains)

Lucius Beebe wrote in his "Overland Limited" book:

As an indication of the success of The Overland Limited as a deluxe flyer on the Chicago-California run, it is notable that a new companion train, The Los Angeles Limited was inaugurated in January 1906 following the route of The Overland as far as Ogden where it diverged toward Southern California over the rails of Senator William Andrews Clark's Los Angeles & Salt Lake line. The Los Angeles Limited was not all-Pullman but provided chair cars over the Chicago & North Western as far as Omaha and both Standard Pullmans and tourist sleepers through to Los Angeles. Its observation lounge cars were specially assigned equipment and bore the train's name on sideboards and in a sort of primeval illuminated drumhead above the observation platform. This special Pullman equipment was interchangeable and sometimes ran in The Overland as is testified in another photograph by Stimson showing The Overland running beside the Humboldt on the Southern Pacific with a Los Angeles Limited observation car in its consist. The Union Pacific, over whose rails the new train was soon to run all the way from Omaha to the Pacific, emphasized its character as a companion to The Overland in its advertising and promotional literature.

In his "Some Classic Trains" book, Arthur Dubin wrote about the Los Angeles Limited:

On December 15, 1905, the Los Angeles Limited was instituted between Chicago and Los Angeles via the C&NW-UP Salt Lake Route (San Pedro, Los Angeles & Salt Lake). It was described as "a palatial train for particular people. . . . The trip between Chicago and the Coast by the Los Angeles Limited is an exposition of what the West stands for — socially, commercially, and from an agricultural standpoint."

The Los Angeles Limited operated until 1954. William Kratville wrote in his "Union Pacific Streamliners" book:

On January 10, 1954 the Los Angeles Challenger was re-established between Chicago and Los Angeles with streamlined equipment and diesel power. It replaced the Los Angeles Limited which had operated since December 17, 1905 between Los Angeles and Chicago.

Mail & Express, Trains 5 and 6

Omaha to Los Angeles

"UP 6 was the LA to Ogden mail train. It left LA about midnight and arrived in Ogden the next evening, say 7pm. About the same time, SP mail train 22 from Oakland would arrive, and the two trains would be consolidated into one huge, (say 18 to 22 car) mail and express train for Omaha and Chicago, with a rider coach or two on the tail. At the same time in Ogden, Westbound train 101, The City of San Francisco would arrive, and it would split into the Los Angeles section and the Oakland (San Francisco) section. And in the middle of all this switching, the Butte Special, from Salt Lake to Butte, would wander in and receive a few cars from train 6 for Pocatello and or Butte. In the morning, the opposite trains would perform the same scenario. In short, an evening in 1963 in Ogden Union Depot was well spent." (Trainorders.com, June 26, 2011)

"Train 5&6 carried a LA to Vegas, Cheyenne to Omaha, 6-6-4 Pullman at this time, later changed to LA to Omaha until its removal in 1966. In addition, it carried a Vegas to Ogden, Cheyenne to Omaha cafe-lounge, until their removal in 1967. Thereafter, 5&6 carried only chair cars." (Trainorders.com, June 27, 2011)

"The June 1953 UP timetable carried a note that Train 6 carried a coach for passengers, no diner or sleeper. A 2nd section may not have honored passengers. Train 24, the Gold Coast, which operated an hour ahead of No. 6 would have carried the revenue passengers. But between Rawlins and Laramie, No. 6 overtook No. 24 and operated ahead to Omaha, since it made fewer stops." (Trainorders.com, comment by Ed Von Nordeck on February 25, 2019)

During their years of operation, Trains 5 and 6 originally carried a 6-6-4 Pullman between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, and between Ogden and Cheyenne (nighttime travel) and a cafe-lounge during daylight hours that was changed en route. In the 1960s this operation changed to the Pullman operating between Los Angeles and Omaha. The Pullman came off in 1966 or early 1967. The cafe-lounge remained until shortly after the loss of the mail contracts in late 1967. Rolling stock included reclining seat chair cars, heavyweight cafe lounge, 6-6-4 Pullman, RPO, mail and express cars, both UP and offline. Following the loss of the cafe-lounge, passengers could get meals in Las Vegas, Milford, Ogden and Cheyenne. Timetables allowed a stop (conditionally) at virtually any hamlet or small town along its route. (Trainorders.com, January 27, 2019)

Typical power was usually a three-unit set of 900-class E8 or E9s. (Trainorders.com, January 27, 2019)

During their operation, departure time from Los Angeles was around 10 p.m., with an early morning arrival at Los Angeles around 5 a.m. After arrival at Los Angeles, Pullman passengers could occupy their accommodations until 7 a.m. (Trainorders.com, January 27, 2019)

Following the cancellation of the Postal Service contract in October 1967, the train's consist was one locomotive, two coaches and one baggage car. Prior to October 1967, the train was the principle transcontinental mail and express train, and its consist generally included 30 to 40 mail and express cars and additional motive power as required. (333 ICC 414)

On January 7, 1968, Union Pacific applied to the ICC for permission to discontinue Trains 5 and 6, the passenger-mail train between Los Angeles and Omaha. Protested by Utah Public Service Commission. (Ogden Standard Examiner, December 20, 1967)

ICC Finance Docket 24935, reported in 333 ICC 413; decided on June 20, 1968; decision was that the train's operation should be continued for the public good.

June 24, 1968
The ICC ordered Union Pacific to continue operation of Trains 5 and 6 for another year. The ICC had held hearings in Salt Lake City in April 1968. (Millard County Chronicle [Delta, Utah], June 27, 1968)

June 30, 1969
Trains 5 and 6, the Mail and Express, was discontinued. (Jeff Asay, Union Pacific in the Los Angeles Basin, page 404)

Trains 5 and 6 were shown in the UP Public Timetable dated September 7, 1969, but not in the timetable dated October 30, 1969. (Research by Dick Harley)

October 29, 1969
Trains 5 and 6 were discontinued. (Jeff Asay, email dated August 24, 2012)

David Seidel reported that the ICC ordered UP to continue operating Trains 5 and 6 until October 30, 1969.

Mail & Express, Trains 11 and 12

Trains 11 and 12 were shown in the June 2, 1946 public timetable as "The Portland Rose."

Trains 11 and 12 were shown in the June 11, 1949, January 10, 1954, and June 20, 1954 public timetables as "The Idahoan."

Trains 11 and 12 were shown in the January 9, 1955, June 20, 1955, October 30, 1955, February 1, 1956, and January 16, 1957 public timetables as "Mail & Express" Portland to Green River.

Trains 11 and 12 were shown in the January 11, 1959 public timetable as "Mail & Express" Portland to Pocatello.

According to the July 1960 Official Guide, "Mail and Express No. 12", was scheduled to leave Portland at 7:10 am. According to a note in the Guide, "Nos. 11 and 12 run between Pocatello and Portland. They carry a through coach between Salt Lake City and Portland and a sleeper between Salt Lake City and Nampa, but no dining car. These cars are handled on Trains 35 and 36 between Salt Lake City and Pocatello. At Ogden Trains 35 and 36 connect with Nos. 27 and 28 from and to Omaha."

Trains 35 and 36 were "The Butte Special" between Salt Lake City and Butte, Montana, so Trains 11 and 12 were combined with Trains 35 and 36 between Pocatello and Salt Lake.

Overland Limited

(Read more about UP's early passenger trains)

November 13, 1887
Union Pacific inaugurated service of its Overland Flyer, between Omaha and Ogden, Utah, where passengers and through cars were transferred to the Central Pacific/Southern Pacific.

November 17, 1895
UP changed the name from the Overland Flyer to the Overland Limited. SP met UP's Overland trains at Ogden with its connecting westbound trains operating as the Pacific Express and eastbound trains as the Atlantic Express.

SP adopted the name the Overland Limited for its portion of the Trains 1 and 2, which UP had called its portion of the two trains beginning in November 1895..

By 1906 the electric lighted all-Pullman Overland Limited covered the 1,911 miles along its route in 56 hours.

August 24, 1927
The August 14, 1927 timetable shows that the San Francisco Limited began service as trains 27 and 28.

May 28, 1928
Other sources show the San Francisco Overland Limited, the Gold Coast Limited, and the Los Angeles Limited all starting on the same day, May 28, 1928

June 1, 1930
The schedule of the Overland Limited was reduced from 58 hours to 56 hours, making the fastest train between Chicago and San Francisco even faster. (Some Classic Trains, page 179)

July 20, 1931
In the July 20, 1931 timetable the Overland Limited and San Francisco Limited were combined as the San Francisco Overland Limited, trains 27 and 28. This was due to the Depression-era changes in service, and to set aside train numbers 1 and 2 for the City of Portland Streamliner M-10001. (Other sources show the date as May 31, 1931.)

Public timetables for June 1946 through June 1955 show the San Francisco Overland, Trains 27 and 28, as being a Chicago to Oakland train.

The public timetables for October 1955 and November 1955 show the San Francisco Overland as trains 27 and 28, but operating only between Omaha and Oakland.

The public timetables for January 1957 and January 1959 both show trains 27 and 28, Omaha to Oakland, but the name has been dropped.

A photo taken on December 26, 1965 show a train leaving Cheyenne westbound, with SDP35s 1407 and 1400 as motive power. The caption reads as follows: "A grand old name in Union Pacific passenger lore, the Overland, westbound Train 27, passes under the C&S overpass at the west end of Cheyenne on December 26, 1965. Led by SDP35s 1407 and 1400, both steam-generator equipped freight units, the train traces its heritage back to 1887 and the Omaha-San Francisco Overland Flyer and later to the luxurious extra-fare Overland Limited. Eventually downgraded and relegated to summer-only service, by 1965 number 27 survives as an express and mail train with a rider coach occupied only by the occasional railfan or railroader on a pass."

Pacific Limited

The name "Pacific Limited," as used for the UP Heritage Fleet sleeper (UPP 4003)," per UP's web site: "Named 'Pacific Limited' to commemorate an all-Pullman electric-lighted train between Chicago and Ogden, Utah, where it split and separate sections went on to either Los Angeles and San Francisco, California. The train operated over Union Pacific between Omaha and Ogden, and between Ogden and Los Angeles. The train ran from 1913 to 1947, when it was combined with the Portland Rose, another all-Pullman train which had added coach service when the streamliners went to daily service."

The first reference to a "Pacific Limited" train between Chicago (C&NW) and Portland, with through sleepers to Denver and San Francisco, was in the March 8, 1890 issue of the Chicago Tribune. Westbound departure at 11 p. m.; eastbound arrival at 1:43 p. m. (online newspaper research)

November 17, 1895
The new schedule for the Pacific Limited shortened the schedule between Chicago and San Francisco by 10 hours, including 2 hours over the C&NW between Chicago and Council Bluffs, 6-1/2 hours over the UP between Council Bluffs and Ogden, and 1/2 hour over the CP between Ogden and San Francisco. (Lincoln Journal Star, November 21, 1895)

April 1, 1913
"April 1 the Milwaukee will have an exclusive train through to the coast over the Union Pacific. This train will pass through Omaha at midnight. No excess fare will be charged, but in connection with it, everything is expected to be first-class. It will carry standard and tourist sleepers only. It will be known as the Pacific Limited." (North Platte Semi-Weekly Tribune, March 7, 1913, citing the Omaha Bee)

March 28, 1935
"Union Pacific Adds Two New Fast Trains -- New and additional train service from its Pacific coast terminals at Los Angeles, San Francisco and Portland to Chicago, Denver, Omaha and Kansas City is to be inaugurated April 1st, according to an announcement by Union Pacific headquarters in Omaha. the new train, to be known as the Pacific Limited, will use but two nights in its jump from any one of its three Pacific coast points to Chicago and Kansas City terminals. Travelers from Salt Lake, Denver and Cheyenne will need but one night in journeying to Chicago or Kansas City." "The new train will be thoroughly modern in all its appointments and completely air conditioned, will be the only train on any railroad departing in the mornings from Los Angeles, San Francisco or Portland and providing through service from these points to Chicago, Denver and Kansas City." "The westbound companion of the Pacific Limited will leave Chicago daily for the Pacific coast at 10:30 a. m. with but two nights en route and with no extra fare." (Morgan County News, March 28, 1935)

The Pony Express

(Read more about UP's Pony Express passenger train)

Portland Rose

(Read more about UP's Portland Rose passenger train)

San Francisco Overland

(Read more about UP's San Francisco Overland psaaenger train)

The Spokane

Spokane to Portland

Treasure Island Special

May 1939 to September 1940

With the opening of the "Golden State International Exposition" in 1939, more service was needed with a seasonal summer all Pullman the "Treasure Island Special". The service began out of Chicago on May 22, 1939, with the consist of the seasonal winter service of the "Orange Blossom Special" until September 25th. On June 22, 1940 the service returned with a mainly lightweight consist which ran until September 16th. (David Seidel)

Treasure Island Special was a completely different train than the 49er, although they ran on the same schedules on alternating days. They ran concurrently for two years. After the Treasure Island Special service ended in 1940, the train's sleepers became the Arizona Limited. California Republic and Bear Flag from the Forty-Niner ran on that train in standard two-tone gray.

Items 3, 4, and 5 were Pullman demo cars and were painted in the demo paint. The 3 railroads liked the colors on the Advance and Progress and adopted them for the 49er, which was always a Pullman owned train.

1939 "Treasure Island Special":

Car Name Type Year
Long Island HW 1927 Baggage-Dormitory
Glen Farm HW 1929 6 Compartment 3 double Bedroom
Glen Arden HW 1929 6 Compartment 3 double Bedroom
Popular Castle HW 1938 6 Section 6 double Bedroom
C&NW 6934 HW 1927 Diner
Popular City HW 1938 6 Section 6 double Bedroom
Popular Creek HW 1938 6 Section 6 double Bedroom
Milano HW 1917 10 Section 1 Drawing Room 2 Compartment
Popular Brook HW 1938 6 Section 6 double Bedroom
George M Pullman LW 1933 3 Bedroom 1 Compartment 1 Drawing Room Lounge observation

Note: "Milano" was replaced by "Popular Brook" (6 section, 6 double bedroom) on June 22, 1939.

1940 "Treasure Island Special"

Car Name Type Year
C&NW 9301 HW ? Baggage-Dormitory
C&NW 6933 HW 1927 Diner
Imperial Banner LW 1940 4 Compartment 4 double Bedroom 2 Bedroom
Imperial Clipper LW 1940 4 Compartment 4 double Bedroom 2 Bedroom
Cascade Banks LW 1940 10 Roomette 5 double Bedroom
Cascade Basin LW 1940 10 Roomette 5 Bedroom
Cascade Bluff LW 1940 10 Roomette 5 Bedroom
Cascade Boulders LW 1940 10 Roomette 5 Bedroom
George M Pullman LW 1933 3 Bedroom 1 Compartment 1 Drawing Room Lounge observation


-- Cascade Basin was removed from consist in August 1940

The following comes from "Union Pacific Streamliners" by Ranks and Kratville, pages 275, 278, 279, 280, 285:

On Monday, May 22, 1939 a new fast seasonal train, the Treasure Island Special, went into service. It operated via the C&NW, Union Pacific and Southern Pacific between Chicago and San Francisco and was an extra fare ( $10.00), all-Pullman train for the benefit of summer visitors to the Golden Gate International Exposition on Treasure Island, close to the "city by the bay." Like the City of San Francisco (SF 1-2-3) and the Forty-Niner, it provided deluxe service, five round trips a month. The Overland Limited, the Pacific Limited and the San Francisco Challenger were not displaced and continued to operate on a 60 hr. schedule at regular fares.

However this was the heavyweight Pullman-owned equipment that actually began operations on May 22, 1939 (from Chicago) and from San Francisco on May 25, 1939.

The car Geo. M. Pullman (built in 1933) was exhibited in 1933 Chicago's Century of Progress before assignment to the Special.

All eight cars of the original consist (except the Geo. M. Pullman) had been used on the Orange Blossom Special in the 1938-39 winter season runs between New York and Florida. All of them were heavyweights (except the all-aluminum Geo. M. Pullman). The six sleepers had been built in the period 1917-1929 and retained their friction bearings in their new assignment. The three 6 section, 6 double bedroom cars (Popular series) had been rebuilt in 1938 from 12 section, 1 drawing room, 1 compartment cars. They were air conditioned with Pullman mechanical systems and painted two-tone gray with white letters and striping. The 10 section, 1 drawing room, 2 compartment car and the two 6 compartment, 3 drawing room cars had been refurbished, air conditioned and repainted but not remodeled in 1938. The Long Island was originally a lounge-buffet-baggage car, rebuilt into a dormitory-club car and repainted in 1938. The 36 seat diner which made the first round trip on the Special was owned by the Pullman Co. and had been leased to the Seaboard Airline for the winter season New York-Florida runs. Because of a shortage of diners suitable for transcontinental service, this diner operated on the Special until June 4, 1939 when the C&NW diner 6934 emerged from the shops and replaced it. It was the only car in the train without tight-lock couplers.

The all-aluminum Geo. M. Pullman was one of the pioneer lightweight Pullman-built cars. The interior of this 3 bedroom, 1 drawing room observation car was smartly decorated in the latest mode. The exterior was smoothly contoured with curving skirts, rounded rear end, full width diaphragm and a low angled roof with streamlined vents. Originally the car was painted gray (with white lettering) and had a black roof and truck.

The Special discontinued its first season's service with the last trip from Chicago on Friday, September 22, 1939 and the last trip from San Francisco Monday, September 25, 1939.

The initial trip for the Special in the 1940 summer season left Chicago June 19 with a completely different set of equipment than had been used during the 1939 runs. The cars were lightweights and Pullman-owned except for the C&NW cars which were heavyweights and owned by that road.

The Geo. M. Pullman was to have been replaced by the car American Milemaster (2 double bedroom, 1 comp-1 drawing room) as soon as it returned from the New York World's Fair but no record could be found that it ran on the Special. On August 1, 1940 the Cascade Basin was removed from the consist account of light business. This change was instituted by the C&NW.

The Treasure Island Special stopped operating on September 18, 1940 and did not resume operations the following year because the Exposition had ended and there was not enough traffic to justify it.

Most of its Pullmans began operation on the RI-SoP Arizona Limited. The American Milemaster also ran on the Arizona Limited before going to the SoP Lark. It was rebuilt in 1958 by the SoP for mid-train service on the Lark and was sold to EMD in 1965 where it became test car ET 800. The George M. Pullman after running on several other limited trains was sold to the Chicago Great Western in 1952 and was scrapped in 1964.

The Utahn

Trains 3 (westbound) and 4 (eastbound); between Cheyenne and Los Angeles

May 1947 to April 1951

Union Pacific's "The Utahn" passenger train was established on May 14, 1947, operating in conjunction with the UP's City of St. Louis (started on June 2, 1946), providing through service from St. Louis to Los Angeles with connections made at Cheyenne, Wyoming. On the same May 14th date, UP began operating its City of Los Angeles on a new daily schedule.

(Read more about UP's City of St. Louis passenger train)

The Utahn replaced an unnamed train, Train 43 and 44, that operated between Omaha and Los Angeles from June 2, 1946 to May 14, 1947. This no-name train was generally short, with head end business, one or two heavyweight coaches, a heavyweight diner, and one or two heavyweight Pullman sleeper cars. It was pulled by 7000-class 4-8-2s and 800-class 4-8-4s. Due to its secondary status, its heavyweight cars were painted in UP's Dark Olive paint.

The Utahn was never one of UP's famous Streamliner trains, and operated with numerous head-end cars. In later years the train did include a few lightweight cars. At first the train used steam motive power, and later it became known for its mix of diesels from Electro-Motive, Alco, and Fairbanks Morse. The train was discontinued in 1951 as UP continued make changes to its passenger train schedules.

The Utahn was discontinued on April 29, 1951, with its service between Cheyenne and Los Angeles being provided by extending the route of the City of St. Louis.

(Read more about the types of cars that were used on The Utahn)

Yellowstone Special

The Yellowstone Park Railroad -- On October 31, 1910, Oregon Short Line took possession of its seven branch feeder lines, comprising 390.5 miles of trackage, mostly in southern Idaho. One of these seven feeder lines was the Yellowstone Park Railroad, organized in September 1905 to build a branch from St. Anthony, Idaho, northeast to Ashton, then to the boundary of Yellowstone National Park. Construction began on October 1905, but it wasn't until June 1909 that the branch reached Yellowstone, at the station that became known as West Yellowstone. The Yellowstone Park Railroad was leased to Oregon Short Line for operation in June 1906, and OSL took full control by deed of sale on October 31, 1910.

June 9, 1907
OSL began running a new train called The Yellowstone Special, scheduled to run between Salt Lake City and the "Idaho end of track," since the Yellowstone Branch was not yet completed to Yellowstone. The new trains was operated as Trains 15 and 16. It was a seasonal train, and was taken off the schedule on December 29, 1907. The train returned to the schedule as a daily train in every year in early June when the Park itself was re-opened for the season.

June 1909
Direct service began to West Yellowstone, with the completion of the branch itself. Originally, the track actually ended right at the park boundary.

A second seasonal daily train, known as the Yellowstone Express, was added in 1922. The route was between Pocatello and West Yellowstone. The Yellowstone Special continued its service between Salt Lake City and West Yellowstone.

June 1931
Beginning for the 1931 season, Union Pacific offered an open-air observation car for passengers between Ashton and West Yellowstone, allowing viewing of the scenic line over Reas Pass.

(The Yellowstone Express train is not mentioned in online newspapers after 1933.)

August 27, 1942
The hotels inside Yellowstone National Park were closed "for the duration" on Thursday August 27, 1942. In response, Union Pacific discontinued passenger service between Ashton and West Yellowstone, but continued service between Ashton and Victor, Idaho.

June 20, 1946
Union Pacific resumed overnight sleeper passenger service between Salt Lake City and West Yellowstone. The Yellowstone Special train operated only between Idaho Falls and West Yellowstone. Overnight sleeper service was also offered between Salt Lake City and Victor, Idaho, the gateway to Grand Teton National Park and Jackson Hole. (Union Pacific public timetable, dated June 2, 1946)

The Yellowstone Special train was discontinued for the 1959 season in August 1959 due to the drop in passengers caused by the earthquake at Hebgen Lake. Although not on the railroad branch, or on any highway that accessed the park, news of the earthquake caused a large decline in visitors to the park.

Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, the increased use of family automobiles to bring visitors to the park brought a general decline in rail passengers. Seasonal (June to September) rail passenger service continued, with direct rail service to West Yellowstone replaced by bus service between Ashton and West Yellowstone after April 1962, then after April 1966, by bus service between Idaho Falls and West Yellowstone, then after June 1968, by bus service between Pocatello and West Yellowstone. This last change remained until 1971.

(Sources include online newspapers, UP public timetables, and Thornton Waite's book, Yellowstone Branch of the Union Pacific)

More Information

"The Forty-Niner" by David Seidel, The Streamliner, Volume 18, Number 4, Fall 2004, pages 7-20.

"The Forty-Niner", Union Pacific Streamliners, by Harold E. Ranks and William W. Kratville (Kratville Publications, Omaha, 1974), pages 243-274.

"The Treasure Island Special", Union Pacific Streamliners, by Harold E. Ranks and William W. Kratville (Kratville Publications, Omaha, 1974), pages 275-286.

The Challenger on Wikipedia

Union Pacific's Challenger, An Unusual Passenger Train - 1935-1971, by Patrick C. Dorin, TLC Publishing, 2001

"The Challenger, Part 1: The Train" by John Carroll, The Streamliner, Volume 9, Number 4, Fall 1994, Union Pacific Historical Society

"Everybody's Limited" by Charles F. A. Mann, Colliers, Volume 98, Number 5, August 1, 1936

The Overland Limited on Wikipedia

UP Passenger Trains, 1946-1959 -- An incomplete list of Union Pacific passenger trains in the post-war period, taken from a very small sampling of public timetables.