(Barbershop and Stewardess Service links near bottom of this page)
of the Overland Trail (well, it use to be brief) former
Southern Pacific club lounge 2981. We'll also include some thoughts
and history regarding the San Francisco Overland, the barbershop and
stewardess functions on the Overland Trail ... as well as similar
services offered by other railroads. Plus, we'll include interesting
information from the cars "modern history" ... while the
car has been under the care of the Hatrick family. After all, the
Hatricks have owned the car nearly as long as SP had it! (Southern
Pacific owned the car for 24 years, the Hatrick's have owned the car
for 22 years ... as of 2009 ... and counting)
Overland Trail is a 39 seat Club Lounge with Barbershop and Shower.
It was built by the Pullman Standard Car Manufacturing Company for
delivery to the Southern Pacific Railroad in December of 1949.
Numbered SP 2981, the car was specifically ordered in October of '47
for the San Francisco Overland, a train jointly operated by the
Southern Pacific, Union Pacific, and the Chicago & North Western
railroads between Chicago, IL and Oakland, (San Francisco) CA.
of six sisters (built to Lot 6806, Plan 7580), cars 2981, 2982, and
2983 were assigned to the San Francisco Overland,
cars 2984 and 2985 (ordered June '46) were assigned to the Golden
State. Car 2986 (ordered August 47) found itself assigned to the City
of San Francisco. This car order (Lot 6806, which included cars of
many different configurations) was actually part of a larger order of
lot numbers 6805, 6815 and 6816. Between 1946 and 1954, the Southern
Pacific purchased 261 new passenger cars at a cost of $48 million
dollars (the Overland Trail cost approximately $200,000 when built).
In 1949 and 1950 the Southern Pacific placed more new streamlined
cars into service than any other two year period in the company's
history. In 1950 alone, 119 new cars were placed in service.
The Southern Pacific, along
with many other major railroads, anticipated delivery of their cars
right after the war ... they were eager to re-equip their worn out
equipment after tremendous overuse during W.W.II. However, the demand
for consumer goods, combined with continued post war material
shortages, and rail car manufactures giving precedence to freight car
orders, delayed delivery of passenger cars for several years.
Southern Pacific club-lounge
2981, the first of the six barbershop lounges, was outshopped from
the Pullman plant in Chicago, Ill. in December of 1949. The lounge
car was a standard 85 foot long car measuring 10 feet wide and
13'6" tall. It was delivered in an elegant two-tone gray paint
scheme (with white stripes separating the grays).
The interior features a
stunning Streamline Moderne 39 seat main salon with 16 seats at 4
tables with the balance of the seating made up of loose club chairs.
A most gracious
quarter-circle bar adorns one end of the lounge and is surrounded by
deeply etched, diamond patterned decorative mirrors and etched glass
partition "wings" (with a pine bough motif), while photo
murals are featured on each side of the doorway at the other end of
the lounge (opposite the bar) and depict Mount Lassen to the left and
El Capitan at Yosemite to the right. Murals, applied to many
different cars from this order, featured scenic highlights at
locations all along the Southern Pacific's vast system. The murals
were part of the Southern Pacific's promotion of tourist travel
through-out Southern Pacific territory.
During this period the
company spent one million dollars annually on advertising, primarily
on billboard ads reading "Next Time Take The Train."
As stated, the 2981, 2982,
2983 and 2986 were originally assigned to the "Overland
Route" which was the path of the original, historic
transcontinental railroad. The transcontinental railroad was a joint
project by SP predecessor Central Pacific which built from
Sacramento, California east, and the Union Pacific Railroad which
built west from Omaha, Nebraska. This route was completed joining
east and west with the historic driving of the golden spike at
Promontory, Utah on May 10, 1869. The third member of the
"Overland Route" was the Chicago and Northwestern filling
the gap between Omaha and Chicago. This total route covered 1,780
miles from Chicago to Oakland.
To elaborate on the joint
operation, the San Francisco Overland was operated by the Southern
Pacific from San Francisco/Oakland to Ogden Utah.
The train was operated
by the Union Pacific Railroad from Ogden to Omaha. The Chicago &
Northwestern Railroad handled the final leg of service from Omaha to
Chicago (the Milwaukee Road handled C&NW's portion from the mid
1950's to the Amtrak era). By September of 1950, the timetable shows
train number 27, the west bound San Francisco Overland leaving
Chicago at 8:00 PM daily, and arriving in San Francisco 48 hours and
55 minutes later at 6:55 PM. The final 35-minute leg of the journey
from Oakland Pier to San Francisco was by the Southern Pacific Ferry.
After a sixteen hour layover, the counter part, train number 28,
would depart San Francisco at 11:00 AM and arrive in Chicago at 1:00
PM two days later. A section of the San Francisco Overland would
continue from Ogden to Denver, Kansas City and St. Louis.
next page >>
and Stewardess information below
side sill repair of the Overland Trail (coming soon)
family, select crew members bio's (coming soon)
Click on the
"Stewardess sign" for more
Overland Trail is equipped with (what is
thought to be) the sole operating streamliner era railroad barbershop
in the world. Once a common feature aboard the premier trains of old
... the railroad barbershop succumbed to the realities of the jet age
in the mid 50s. The honor of carrying the last barbershop probably
falls to the famous Super Chief, flagship of the former Atchison,
Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. The train, affectionately known as
The Train to the Stars, because of its Hollywood
celebrity patrons, lost several premium services on January 10th 1954
including the barbershop.
Before the jetage,
the business traveler made up a very important percentage of the
railroads ridership ... and they needed to arrive at their
destination clean, well groomed and dapper, if they
wanted to make that sale. The onboard barbershop made all
that possible as quite typically, the barber not only provided the
tonsorial arts at speed, but also presided over a shower bath and
cloths pressing services as well. Click on the
"Barbershop sign" for more...
Overland Trail was built with a special double bedroom that was
originally designated as the quarters for the stewardess/nurse
assigned to the San Francisco Overland.
bedroom quarters on board the Overland:
Although the car was built after the war, the room is typical of
prewar construction -- that is, the sink and toilet are in the same
room as the bed. Most post war cars featured a toilet annex in each
multi-bed room that helped ease the awkwardness of using the
facilities while the room was occupied by your travelling companion.
The room was designed with the very popular "full width"
(perpendicular to the length of the car) lower sofa berth (which
folded down for night use) plus the upper which folded away into the
upper wall when not needed.
LARail.com, Inc. Last updated 1/9/09