Above, No. 1344 at Galveston shortly after being
the Gulf Coast Railroad Museum. A number of repairs had to be
before the car could be moved to Houston.
No. 1344 was built for Santa Fe's famous
Chief, known as the "Train of the Stars" because of the many
who travelled on the streamliner between Los Angeles and Chicago.
In 1948, the Atchison, Topeka &
Santa Fe Railway
ordered new lounge, dining and sleeping cars for the premier
Chicago to Los Angeles train, the Super Chief. Due to the
post-World War II backlog at car builder Pullman Standard, many of the
cars, including lounge-dormitory car No. 1344, were not delivered until
As originally configured, the 1950
carried the lounge-dormitories behind the new dining car. The
Turquoise Room dome-lounge car ran just ahead of the diner, and these
cars, the dome-lounge, diner and lounge-dormitory, proved Santa Fe’s
that the new Super Chief set “a new world standard in travel.”
three cars incorporated a total of 123 non-revenue seats to pamper the
Super’s first class passengers.
lounge-dormitory cars provided more than just a pleasant place to take
in the scenery, have a drink or write a letter. In addition to 29
lounge seats, the cars included a full-service barber shop, complete
shower. (The barber service was discontinued at an unknown date.)
The crew dormitory space included two toilets, two showers and 18 crew
bunks, all within a space about seven feet wide and just under 30 feet long.
In January 1958, with traffic levels
Santa Fe began running the off-peak season Super Chief and its
all-coach counterpart, El Capitan, on a combined schedule, but with
diners and lounges for coach and Pullman passengers. When the
ran combined, the six lounge-dormitory cars generally were stored and
service only during peak traffic seasons in the summer and at Christmas
when the combined Super Chief/El Capitan ran in two (or sometimes more)
sections. These summer/holiday assignments continued until 1962.
Due to its family fare structure, the
saw an increase in passenger demand in the summers of 1963 and
The train ran in three sections on Mondays and Thursdays, with the
running behind the Super Chief’s first class diner. On other
the cars apparently served El Capitan passengers, running ahead of or behind
the lunch counter diner.
The lounge-dormitory cars worked in
years only when the train ran in two sections during the summer and at
holidays, running behind the diner as originally intended until about
when consist records show the cars running at the front of the train
the baggage cars. During the winter of 1970/1971, the cars
were again stored.
In May 1971, the National Railroad Passenger
or Amtrak, took over operation of most of the nation’ intercity
trains, including the Super Chief/El Capitan. No. 1344 and its
sisters had turned their last wheels for the Santa Fe.
Amtrak acquired most of Santa Fe’s
in 1971, including the Super Chief lounge-dormitories.
as the cars were not immediately needed for service, they were among
first to be refurbished/rebuilt by the new national carrier.
to one published source, the program to rebuild the cars to 31-seat
cars began almost immediately after Amtrak’s formation. No. 1344 became Amtrak No.
The buffet’s installation added food service capabilities to the
In Santa Fe service, the cars had been serviced by attendants working
of the dining cars.
The car’s early 1970s Amtrak interior
intact, adding another dimension to the Houston Railroad Museum
Some “backdating" will take place - a vintage barber chair has been
by the museum for installation in the barber shop, which is
According to a former Amtrak employee,
was regularly assigned to Amtrak trains 15 and 16 operating between
and Chicago from 1973 to 1976. Additional research is needed to
No. 1344’s Amtrak service history and its subsequent travels until its
1999 donation to the museum.