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Santa Fe’s Scout, 1936-1948

Santa Fe’s Scout, 1936-1948

Fred Klein, 2010

The Scout was Santa Fe’s primary heavyweight budget passenger train that covered its route between Chicago and Los Angeles. It carried coach chair cars (for reclining sleeping) and budget Pullman tourist cars with 16 curtained sections. The Scout began service in 1916, the train was suspended during the depression from 1931 until 1936, and the last run was in 1948 when the El Capitan became daily and was able to take over the budget coach business. After World War II, the public was tired of old-fashioned heavyweight trains and Pullman berth sleepers, so the days of trains like the Scout were numbered.

 

The Scout had a reputation for being for budget conscious families. I think the following quote from The Trains We Rode about the Scout says more about Lucius Beebe’s tastes than about the train: “The Santa Fe…maintained service designed primarily to solve the age-old problem of mothers with nursing infants and children of uncontrollable age who had made life a burden since the first coming of the steamcars. If special inducements such as reduced fares, budget priced meals and tolerant porters could attract the infantile trade, the management figured it would remove a ponderable menace to the tranquility and repose of travel on its more adult trains. The Scout, as the rolling nursery was named, remained in service for well over a decade, a mobile nightmare of diaper changes and the inconvenient feeding habits of the very young and, although it was a sort of negative blessing, was appreciated by travelers in search of abated tumults aboard The Chief, Super Chief and California Limited.”

 

The Scout was pulled by a 4-6-4 Hudson locomotive across the flat plains, and helper locomotives were used to cross the mountain passes. Santa Fe’s famous “Blue Goose” streamlined Hudson (actually #3460, built in 1937) was in the locomotive pool with other ordinary Hudsons, and sometimes it was assigned to the Scout. The Blue Goose was scrapped in 1956, long after the last run of the Scout. My model of the Blue Goose is by Con cor, who used the 1938 streamlined Twentieth Century Limited locomotive as a prototype, but changed to nose of the model to match the Blue Goose. The model is not a bad likeness for the Blue Goose, but it is a lousy runner and can barely pull a few cars let alone a train the length of the Scout. During the war and after 1940, FT diesel locomotives were available, and an ABBA model set of FTs or a better model steamer would be needed to pull this train.

 

In 1941, Santa Fe purchased some lightweight Budd coaches in the series 3137-3150, and some of these were assigned to the Scout. I added two to this train even though they were not in the published consist. The Con cor Budd coach is a decent model of this Budd coach.

 

The Scout near Richmond, California in the 1930s or 40s. Apparently the Scout had a San Francisco section in addition to Los Angeles. This is the only labeled photo I can find, but it does not show the train very well. Photo from Beebe and Clegg The Trains We Rode, page 86, Rail Photo Service.

 

No plastic models of heavyweight Scout type chair cars have ever been made, but it is still possible to make a convincing train. Pullman’s two-tone grey (a slightly darker grey in the window band bordered by small silver stripes) was used by the Union Pacific and others as well as the Santa Fe. Fortunately, Rivarossi issued UP heavyweight cars in this grey color scheme. The Scout cars also had a brightly colored insignia showing an Indian scout on horseback in the lower center of the car. Scout decals are made by Microscale, and I made this Scout train by relettering Rivarossi UP heavyweight cars. The Scout had chair cars with reclining seats and larger picture windows than standard heavyweight coaches. I simulated these chair cars by cutting out the narrow center support of the standard coach windows to make large picture windows like the Scout. I have two Pecos River brass cars that accurately show the Scout prototype car and paint scheme. To kitbash the windows and repaint Scout chair cars from scratch is beyond my modeling skills, and I am satisfied with relettering the factory painted grey cars using the Microscale Scout decal sheet.

 

The consist of this Scout train was published by Wayner in both his 1940s and 1923-1973 consist books of a train departing Chicago on October 8, 1943. The train is thus swollen with wartime traffic. The Scout is the class of inexpensive train that soldiers frequently rode during wartime.

 

Prototype car

Prototype name

Model car

Model name

4-6-4 steam locomotive

ATSF 3464

4-6-4 Blue goose steam

ATSF 3461

Baggage

ATSF 292

Baggage

ATSF 1114

Coach

ATSF 3004

Chair-smoker w/AC

1030-1049

Coach

ATSF 3073

Coach (chair)

ATSF 3066

Coach

ATSF 3074

Coach (chair)

ATSF 3100

Coach

ATSF 3064

Chair w/AC

3050-3069

Coach

ATSF 3038

Coach (chair)

ATSF 3064

Coach (lwt)

ATSF 3137-3150

Coach (lwt)

ATSF 3071

Coach (lwt)

ATSF 3137-3150

Coach (lwt)

ATSF 3088

Coach

ATSF 3038

Coach (chair)

ATSF 3064

Diner

ATSF 1463

Diner

ATSF 1442

Buffet-lounge

ATSF 1535

Lounge (from 12-1)

ATSF 1535

14 sections (hwt)

Pullman 3044

12 sect-1 drawing rm

Pullman 3039

16 sect tourist (hwt)

Pullman 4097

12 sect-1 drawing rm

Pullman 3041

14 sections (hwt)

Pullman 3043

12 sect-1 drawing rm

Pullman 3067

16 sect tourist (hwt)

Pullman 4096

16 sect (on coach)

Pullman 4143

6 sect-1 dr-4 dbr

Attakapa Tribe

12 sect-1 drawing rm

Pullman 3100

8 sect-1 dr-4 comp

Centholm

12 sect-1 drawing rm

Pullman 3041

14 sections (hwt)

Havasu

12 sect-1 drawing rm

Pullman 3100

6 sect-6 rmt-4 dbr (lwt)

Tesque Valley

6 sect-6 rmt-4 dbr (lwt)

Pecos Valley

Observation w/drumhd

ATSF 1532

 

Power, head end and coaches

The locomotive is Santa Fe’s famous Blue Goose 4-6-4. The Con cor model is an acceptable substitute for the prototype, but is a lousy runner and could never pull this train or even a part of it. Use a good 4-6-4, 4-6-2 or a set of FT diesels instead. The Scout usually had a baggage car, which was never painted gray but was always painted Pullman or coach green. The 80’ Rivarossi baggage car shown is prototypical to the Santa Fe. The first coach is an accurate Pecos River Brass model of a coach with smoker and air conditioning decorated for the Scout. I put it as the first coach so passengers would not endure smoke unless they went to the head of the train. The second chair car is a factory painted but re-lettered Rivarossi coach with the center supports of the windows cut out to simulate a chair car. The colorful placard in the center of the car is unique to the Scout.

 

Coach section

The consist has 6 or 7 coaches between the smoking car and the diner. The first car above is a re-lettered Rivarossi coach, followed by a Pecos River Brass chair car factory decorated for the Scout. The next two cars are Budd coaches which the Santa Fe received in 1941. The prototype for the Budd cars is the California Zephyr, but the Santa Fe coaches are very similar. I re-decaled the two Con cor Budd cars to match the Scout.

 

Dining and lounge section

The dining car follows another chair car. The Rivarossi diner shown above is a Santa Fe prototype, and is probably close or exact to the car used on the Scout, but I have not found a photograph to verify this. A buffet-lounge car followed the diner. I do not have a model of this car, but I made a stand-in for a lounge by cutting the window supports out of a 12-1 sleeper to simulate picture windows in a central lounge area. It seems one diner (plus some buffet service) would not be enough for the passengers in such a long train, but this is an economy train. Santa Fe trains in the Scout’s early years did not have diners, when passengers had to chow down during half hour stops at the Harvey Houses located along the way.

 

First Pullman section

The Scout had four tourist sleepers (14-section and 16-section) after the food cars. Beds in tourist cars sold for a rate less than a standard Pullman berth or bedroom, but still more than a coach seat. Plastic models of tourist cars don’t exist, but I use 12 section-1 drawing room sleepers as substitutes. In fact, some 12-1’s were converted into tourist sleepers. One of the cars in the picture above is a coach decorated to represent a 16 section tourist car.

 

Second Pullman section

The next Pullman section had the better, non-tourist Pullman sleepers with some larger bedrooms. The published consist (see above) lists a 6 section-1 drawing room-4 double bedroom and an 8 section-1 drawing room-4 compartment named car. I have only 12 section-1 drawing room Pullmans in the Scout paint scheme, which will have to substitute. The last car of the 1943 Scout was a newer, lightweight 6 section-6 roomette-4 double bedroom sleeper in the Valley series built by Pullman Standard in 1942. Fortunately, a prototypical model of the 6-6-4 Valley car in two-tone gray paint is available from Centralia Car Shops.

 

Earlier versions of the Scout ended with a heavyweight observation car. This car was probably withdrawn at the start of World War II, as were most of the lounge cars in the United States, to offer more revenue seats for the higher passenger demand and to cut costs for the war effort. The Scout tail sign does look good on a brass open platform railing.

 

REFERENCES

Beebe, Lucius and Charles Clegg. The Trains We Rode, Promontory Press, 1965.

Microscale decal sheet 60-127.

Wayner, Howard. Passenger train consists 1923-1973, Wayner publications.

Wayner, Howard. Passenger train consists of the 1940s, Wayner publications.

Zimmerman, Karl. Santa Fe Streamliners: The Chiefs and Their Tribesmen, Quadrant Press, 1987.

 



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