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Chicago & Northwestern’s Twin Cities 400, 1939-1963

Chicago & North Western’s Twin Cities 400, 1939-1963

Fred Klein, 2010

Train travel between Chicago and Minneapolis was very competitive, and Chicago & Northwestern, Chicago Burlington & Quincy, and The Milwaukee Road all had trains vying for passengers. CNW’s most famous train was the Twin Cities 400, introduced in 1935 and named because it travelled the 400 miles in 400 minutes, about 6 ½ hours. It was the fastest railroad on that route, and reached speeds in excess of 112 mph on some stretches. It was an express train with limited stops. At first it ran with refurbished heavyweight equipment, but new streamlined E3 diesel locomotives and cars arrived in 1939. Meanwhile, between the same end cities, the CBQ ran the Twin Cities Zephyrs starting in 1935 and the Milwaukee Road fielded the Hiawathas in 1935. Initially called “The 400”, the Chicago to Minneapolis/St. Paul train was renamed the Twin Cities 400 in 1941 because “400” was applied to the names of many of its other high speed trains. Train numbers 400 and 401 were reserved for the Twin Cities 400s. A CNW train called the “Viking” also ran the route making all stops and taking 12 hours. The Twin Cities 400 was eventually cancelled in 1963.

 

The two ten-car Twin Cities 400 trains were built by Pullman Standard and seated 486 Passengers. They left in the morning and were always day trains. The coaches had reclining seats, and first class passengers in the 22-seat parlor car had plush, swiveling seats. New coaches of a similar design were substituted in 1946.

 

The CNW coaches were distinctive and had nearly square windows, unlike coaches from other railroads. The CNW later sold some of these square-window coaches to other railroads like the Great Northern and the Chicago Burlington & Quincy. These 56-seat C&NW coaches also ran in some of UP’s City trains painted Armor Yellow. The other cars (baggage-tavern-lunch counter, diner, parlor and observation) also had mostly squarish windows.

 

Description: CNW35.jpg

The Twin Cities 400 on its Chicago debut outside of North Western terminal. CNW photo from Heimburger’s The American Streamliner: Prewar Years, page 120.

 

Modeling the 400 trains with factory decorated cars only became possible with the recent 2010 introduction of the CNW 56-seat coach from Centralia Car Shops. The coach is so distinctive that CNW paint on other generic coaches does not look right. The diner and observation cars in the train pictured below are stand-in cars until the correct square-window cars are available. The baggage-tavern-lunch car is also not available commercially, but I substitute a baggage car and limit the passengers eating choices. To my knowledge, no metal car sides are available for the baggage-lunch, diner or observation. I made a goofy diner stand-in with square windows by adding styrene strips as window partitions on a factory painted Con cor model of a Budd dome car, splitting the very wide windows on that car, and adding a flat roof. No factory made observation car has the distinctive semi-round end of the 400’s observation. The factory painted observation models I have are Con cor’s generic boat-shaped observation car (not a good substitute) and Atlas/Rivarossi’s smooth side square-end observation. The Atlas/Rivarossi car is based on the observation car from Pennsylvania’s Broadway Limited and is a slightly better but still poor stand-in to the actual CNW observation. Centralia has planned cars for the baggage-tavern-lunch counter and parlor cars that are not yet available. Des Plaines hobbies might have made plastic car sides for baggage-tavern and parlor car kits at one time.

 

The consist of the Twin Cities 400 did not vary much through its lifetime. The prototype cars listed below are from Wayner’s Passenger Train Consists, 1923-1973 for a train arriving at Milwaukee on February 6, 1957. Except for locomotive power, the original 1939 “400” was very similar. The initial train had two E3 diesels, but the E6 model looks almost identical. Mixing E3s, E6s, E7s (starting in 947) and E8s was common in later years.

 

Prototype car

Prototype name

Model car

Model number

Brand

prototypical?

E3A diesel

CNW 5001B

E6A diesel

CNW 5006A

Life like

yes

E8A diesel

CNW 5022B

E6A diesel

CNW 5006A

Life like

yes

72' Baggage

CNW 8910

Walthers

substitution

Baggage-tavern-lunch

CNW 7501

None avail

Coach 56-seat

CNW 3432

Coach 56-seat

CNW 3413

Intermtn

yes

Coach 56-seat

CNW 3473

Coach 56-seat

CNW 3414

Intermtn

yes

Coach 56-seat

CNW 3470

Coach 56-seat

CNW 3411

Intermtn

yes

Coach 56-seat

CNW 3421

Coach 56-seat

CNW 3415

Intermtn

yes

Coach 56-seat

CNW 3411

Coach 56-seat

CNW 3414

Intermtn

yes

Diner

CNW 6951

Custom

CNW 6950

Con cor

no

Parlor 22-seat

CNW 6512

Coach

CNW 3400

Intermtn

similar

Observation-parlor

CNW 7200

Observation

CNW 7200

decal Atlas

no

 

Power and baggage

400-42-1a.jpg

400-42-1b.jpg

The model E6 looks very much like the original E3, except the model only has one headlight and the prototype has two. The Twin Cities 400 had two A units (CNW did not have B units). I do not have a baggage-tavern-lunch counter model, so I substitute a c1950 PS baggage car in its place made by Walthers.

 

Coach section

Description: 400-42-2.jpg

He five 56-seat coaches are prototypical Centralia car Shops models.

 

Diner, parlor, observation

Description: 400-42-3a.jpg

Description: 400-42-3b.jpg

Description: 400-42-4.jpg400-42-5.jpgDescription: 191.jpgDescription: 197.jpg

The diner is a goofy stand-in car with square windows I made by adding styrene strips as window partitions on a factory painted Con cor model of a Budd dome car, splitting the very wide windows on that car, and adding a flat roof. After the diner came a parlor car for first class passengers, modeled by a similar-appearing coach. I use a square end observation (an Atlas/Rivarossi model of a Broadway Limited observation car) as a stand in for the distinctive CNW round-end observation. I cut an extra window in the observation car. The roofs of the cars were green, unlike the gray on the model, but roofs appeared weathered gray in photographs. The Life like E6 diesel is a good likeness for the CNW E3 and E6 locomotives, except the prototype had two headlights.

 

REFERENCES

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twin_Cities_400

Dorin, Patrick. Chicago and North Western Passenger Train Equipment, TLC Publishing, 2001.

Heimburger, Don and Carl Byron. The American Streamliner: Prewar Years, Heimburger House Publishing, 1996.

Randall, David and William Anderson. The Official Pullman-Standard Library: Vol. 9 Chicago and North Western, Railway Production Classics, 1990.

Scribbins, Jim. The 400 Story, PTJ Books, 1982.

 

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