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Houston Tinplate Operators Society - Lionel, Trains, Layouts: Newsletter

Newsletter: June 1998

In this issue:


by Jim Herron

In the final installment of Fallen Flags, we continue our review of the mergers, abandonments, bankruptcies and absorbtions of Class I railroads in the past fifty-two years:

  • Lehigh Valley (A GREAT RAILROAD), the 1,100 mile "Route of the Black Diamond" (anthracite coal) in the Northeast, filed for bankruptcy in 1970. Lehigh Valley folded into Conrail in April 1976.
  • Erie Lackawanna - a 1960 merger of the Delaware Lackawanna & Western into the Erie Railroad forming a 3,190 mile route system. It was declared bankrupt in 1972 and went into Conrail in 1976.
  • Lehigh & Hudson River Railroad - a 95-mile route was forced into Penn Central in 1969 and in 1976 wound up in Conrail.
  • Penn Central - a 19,000 mile merger of the Pennsylvania, New York Central and New Haven Railroads ended in April of 1976. It was split into Conrail taking up its freight system and the formation of Amtrak for its passenger service.
  • Jersey Central Lines - a 573-mile route (Central R.R. of N.J.) filed for bankruptcy in 1967 and was swept into Conrail in 1976. Passenger service was taken up by state-owned N. J. Transit.
  • Reading Lines - a 1,277 mile hodge podge, the route of John O'Hara's novels, was a major coal hauler. It went bankrupt in 1971 and lasted until 1976 when it entered the Conrail system.
  • Pennsylvania - Reading Shoreline R. R. - a 322-mile line folded into Conrail in 1976.
  • Ann Arbor R. R. - a single track 293-mile line went bankrupt in 1973.
  • Detroit, Toledo & Shore Line - 50 miles of double track. Grand Trunk Western absorbed it in October of 1981.
  • Illinois Terminal R. R. Co. - a 447-mile primary freight hauler was sold to Norfolk & Western in September 1981.
  • Toledo, Peoria & Western - a 24- mile system was bought by S. F. & P. R. R. In 1979 and absorbed by A. T. & S. F. in 1979 and by the Santa Fe in 1983.
  • Minneapolis, Northfield & Southern - a 77-mile interurban freight hauler was bought by Soo Line in June 1982.
  • Georgia & West Point - a 302-mile Georgia railroad was bought by Seaboard Coast Line in 1983.
  • Louisville & Nashville - this 5,645 mile system overshadowed parent Atlantic Coast Line in size in 1966. It is credited with beginning the modern merger movement when in 1955 it absorbed NC & St. Louis. It became a victim of the Seaboard System in 1983.
  • Seaboard Coast Line - a 9,000 mile route lost passenger lines to Amtrak. Its subsidiaries, Clinchfield, L & N and Georgia West Point became a part of CSX in 1983.
  • Clinchfield R.R. - a 306-mile route was absorbed into S.C.L. in 1977 and got lost in the CSX absorption in 1983.
  • Quanah, Acme & Pacific - a 119- mile subsidiary of Frisco went to Burlington Northern in 1981.
  • Rock Island - a poor man's Burlington, it had a 7,000 mile route system. It died a quiet death through liquidation in 1980.
  • Frisco - a 4,388-mile route, it was absorbed in 1980 by the Burlington Northern.
  • Western Pacific - the California Zephyr route went to Union Pacific in a mega merger with Mo Pac In 1982.
  • Southern Pacific - got caught up in the mega merger craze and its parallel route system was taken over by Union Pacific in 1995 (not very smoothly, I might add!).
  • Santa Fe - a great route system and probably the most well-known railroad in America was taken over by profitable Burlington Northern to become BNSF.
  • CSX - a combination of the B & O, C & O, Chessie System, Seaboard Coast Line and a conglomeration of other railroads was formed in 1978, after the mergers.

Conrail and Amtrak are still going. Amtrak is just barely remaining operative through the largesse of U. S. taxpayer subsidies, and is under continuous congressional scrutiny. Conrail will be parceled out between CSX & Norfolk Southern before the end of the year, ending the government's participation in cargo hauling. The Conrail logo and colors will be added to the fallen flags.

Since World War II, we have seen:

  • the transition from steam to diesel
  • a significant decrease in the number of route miles
  • the elimination of a myriad of regional and transcontinental streamlined passenger trains, most local passenger service and countless depots
  • the loss ultimately of the railroads that made the U. S. great.

Considering that 125 Class I railroads existed during World War II, there are now but a few emblems and railroads left. Most of those are freight haulers. It is also painfully obvious that, as in the case of the U.P./S.P. merger, bigger hasn't always meant better.

Parts I and II of Fallen Flags can be found in this year's February and April issues of the HTOS newsletter.


by Walt Sklenar

K-Line Collectors Club members have the opportunity through the year 2001 to build an impressive collection of streamlined passenger cars adorned in the red and silver colors of the Golden State. Here is a brief history of what is probably the least known of the passenger trains that ran between Los Angeles and Chicago during the heyday of travel by rail.

Service on the Golden State began in 1902 and terminated in 1968. For most of its history, the train ran strictly between Los Angeles and Chicago - the route was on the Southern Pacific between Los Angeles and Tucumcari, New Mexico, then on the Rock Island to Chicago. For a short time after World War II, daily sleeper-car service was added between Chicago and New York, via either the New York Central or Pennsy on an alternating basis.

The early years saw only seasonal and somewhat sporadic service. By the mid-'30s, the operation was well established and featured luxuries typical of that era. Replacement of the heavyweight cars supplied by the SP and RI with lightweight sleepers and diners began during the first part of World War II. By early 1948, the Golden State was dieselized and fully re-equipped as a streamliner in the beautiful red and silver paint scheme.

The Golden State, however, faced obstacles that would ultimately lead to its demise. Beginning in the mid-'30s, it was in direct competition for LA - Chicago patronage with the Santa Fe Super Chief and El Capitan and the Union Pacific City of Los Angeles. These rivals boasted faster service - more than 5 hours under the State's 45-hour schedule. The competition also gathered a fleet of dome cars (coaches, lounge-observation and dining cars) for what were arguably more scenic routes. Finally, the increase in travel by car and plane in the late '50s and '60s forced the Golden State into retirement on April 8, 1968.

In addition to the passenger cars, beginning next year KCC members will have the opportunity to purchase engines from the representative railroads of the Golden State. In the end, there promises to be some impressive O-gauge lash ups of this beautiful streamliner.


by Jim Herron

On a recent trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico, I decided to look into the location of the S. F. Railroad station. Much to my surprise, there was a real railroad operating out of the old freight station. The Santa Fe Southern Railway runs on an 18-mile former Santa Fe branch line between Santa Fe and Lamy, New Mexico.

This branch line was originally laid in 1880, and served primarily to move freight between the two end points. ATSF passenger service was terminated in 1960. In 1992, the line itself was threatened with abandonment. Santa Fe Southern was formed to preserve this small piece of railroad history. It continues to be a working railroad, too.

The Santa Fe Southern shuttles freight cars to the main line of the B. N. S. F. and the Amtrak passenger main line at Lamy. It also carries passengers on a scenic sightseeing and commuter run - currently running three trips per day in season and two off-season. The consist for the 36-mile round trip is a former Santa Fe GP-7 diesel engine, a 1914 refurbished Great Northern Pullman Passenger car, a Santa Fe lounge car named "ACOMA," and an Amtrak passenger coach car.

There is a 90 minute stopover in Lamy, where passengers can have lunch at a Western saloon called the Legal Tender. You step back in time to the 1890's - it has a Western atmosphere, with a long bar, loaded with train memorabilia and local characters. Everyone at the bar wore boots, spurs, hats and dusters. Andrew's eyes bulged at the sight! The food was really good, too.

Rates are fairly reasonable for the whole trip. The round trip without dinner is $21.00 for adults and $5.00 for kids. The trains depart at 10:30 a.m., 3:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. for the moonlight dinner trip. It is open seven days a week except on major holidays. You can also arrange private charters. It is a wonderful day trip. So, if you get the chance, ride a working freight through the high desert, view the scenery and don't forget the T-shirt.


HTOS will be involved in two local trains shows during June and July. San Jacinto Mall will host a Father's day event the weekend of June 20-21. The format should be similar to shows that were held at Memorial City Mall - open to the public during regular mall hours, with layouts scattered throughout the mall area. Local clubs should be well represented. The weekend of July 25-26, the Astroarena plays host to the Great American Train Show (GATS). Show hours are 11 AM to 5 PM both days.

For both of these events, HTOS will be transporting and setting up the portable layout the afternoon or evening prior to both shows - probably after the mall closes June 19 and late afternoon July 24. Mark Whetzel will be coordinating volunteers for both shows. Please give whatever time you can spare.


The Ink Well, a company out of Pennsylvania that produces Lionel licensed miniatures, has several products worth considering for your O-gauge empire. Their latest product is a set of three die-cast road signs with full color artwork from the covers of the 1948, '51 and '54 Lionel catalogs. The signs measure 1 1/2" high by 1 1/3" wide and have nice graphics. Word is there will be two additional sets produced. Other items with Lionel graphics and/or logos include milk cans, oil drums, pipes and lumber loads. The Ink Well also carries a variety of generic miniatures (kerosene drums, lumber loads, pipes, hay bales, etc.). Another neat item line is the Fallen Flags Replicas, 1:43 die-cast '50s pick-up trucks representing over a dozen Fallen Flag railroads. The trucks have opening doors and tailgate, and are nicely decorated in the various roadnames.


The Austin Steam Train Association 1998 excursion season is in full swing, and features more ways to enjoy their beautifully restored 2-10-2 steamer. The schedule includes:

  • The now famous Hill Country Flyer, round trip between Cedar Park and Burnet, departing Cedar Park every Saturday at 10 AM through Thanksgiving. Starting June 7, the Sunday Flyer begins a pair of two-hour runs between Cedar Park and Liberty Hill, leaving at 10 AM and 2 PM.
  • After Thanksgiving, the Flyer goes to the traditional holiday schedule. The train leaves Cedar Park each Saturday and Sunday at 2:30 PM for the "Main Street Bethlehem" display, Christmas lights and shopping in Burnet.
  • The new River City Flyer will offer service through historic downtown Austin the first Friday of each month. Two 1 1/2 hour excursions depart 2 PM and 4 PM. The train goes between Fourth and Red River Streets to Abercrombie Siding (near Lamar and Airport Boulevards) and back.
  • Four Twilight Flyer excursions between Cedar Park and Liberty Hill are in the offing, leaving Cedar Park at 7 PM. The dates are: July 4 (fireworks at Liberty Hill), September 5 (Labor Day weekend), Oct 31 (Halloween murder mystery), and Dec. 31 (New Years' Eve).

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