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highest top speed of the old nyc to chicago trains?


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#21 s10mk

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Posted 31 March 2017 - 09:27 PM

Agreed. Back then, the ICC had oversight for railroad safety, as well as economic regulation, and it was less stringent then today's regulators.
Back then, engineer's who could "get a train over the road", making up time on late trains, were looked upon with favor...
Back then,there was no "random" substance screenings.
There were locomotive speed recorder's, but as said, rule's were indeed more...flexible. :)

Sort of reminds me of the PRRs Lindberg train race from Washington DC to NYC

#22 Carolyn Jane

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Posted 31 March 2017 - 09:58 PM

 

I read a recent article that said that plane travel is also slower now than it was at the beginning of the jet age.  Back in the day, prices were pretty much set by government, so airlines competed on time.  Now that everybody just wants the lowest fare, planes are using lower cruise speeds to save fuel.


I just checked current flight times from DFW to LAX. If you pick a nonstop, it takes 3 hours and 30 minutes. You could make the same flight (well, from Love Field; DFW wasn't built yet) in a piston - powered DC-7 in 4:45 back in April of 1959. Of course, today's one-way coach fare is only about $127; back in the day it was $60.30 plus tax or over $530 in today's dollars taking inflation into account. However, for that $530 you did get a decent meal....

 

And more legroom...CJ



#23 Bob Dylan

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Posted 01 April 2017 - 12:06 AM

The biggest advantage the 20th Century had over the Broadway Ltd., in addition to the Water Level Route, ( see North by Northwest with Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint) and the Beautiful NY Central Cars, was walking down the Classy Red Carpet at Grand Central Terminal.( although Penn Station in NYC was a jewel of a Station also back in the day)

I never got to ride the Broadway😣, either Pre or Post A Day, but rode plenty of trains into and out of GTC and NYP both Pre and Post A Day.
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#24 dlagrua

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Posted 01 April 2017 - 08:35 AM

I've read that on the old PRR Broadway Ltd route going to Chicago through Crestline, Lima, Ft Wayne, Valpariso, and Gary it hit 90 mph on the straightaway sections.  That route was just rebuilt and reopened for freight service but incapable of those speeds today. It makes for an interesting argument for restoration of passenger service but I doubt that we will see it in the near future. 



#25 ehbowen

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Posted 01 April 2017 - 09:47 AM

I've read that on the old PRR Broadway Ltd route going to Chicago through Crestline, Lima, Ft Wayne, Valpariso, and Gary it hit 90 mph on the straightaway sections.  That route was just rebuilt and reopened for freight service but incapable of those speeds today. It makes for an interesting argument for restoration of passenger service but I doubt that we will see it in the near future. 

 

Unless the physical alignment of the right-of-way has changed (which I seriously doubt), there is no reason it couldn't host passenger service at the same speed provided a comparatively little bit of money is spent to bring track conditions up to Class 5 and install a suitable signaling system.


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#26 railiner

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Posted 01 April 2017 - 01:45 PM

Rivalry between the old NYC and PRR on the premier New York - Chicago route is of legend...

While the best (IMHO) incarnations of The Broadway Limited and the Twentieth Century Limited, were the new for 1938 streamlined editions.  The PRR cars and engines were styled by Raymond Loewy, and the Central's by Henry Dreyfuss, both tops in industrial design.

 

Which route had the advantage?  The Central advertised its "Water Level Route --you can sleep" (some wags referred to it as the "sewer level route) :P.

The PRR advertised its 53 mile shorter routing over "The finest, smoothest, and heaviest railroad (155 pound per yard rail) in America --you can sleep-restfully".

 

Both trains received a mid-century upgrade in 1949 with new postwar cars.   


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#27 Anderson

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Posted 01 April 2017 - 05:49 PM

I actually had a discussion with someone on this: The Century had the advantage as long as both trains held an extra fare charge (there are stories of the Broadway going out empty in the late 30s).  Once the Broadway dropped its extra fare, it took the lead and never really let it go.  Both trains were roughly on par with one another in terms of timetable and amenities, so when the Pennsy was able to use the cover of WW2 to drop the extra fare charge and simply not bring it back they were able to "backdoor" some price competition.


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#28 Texan Eagle

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Posted 02 April 2017 - 12:10 AM

At one time on a side note you could go to Chicago from New York on six different routings on five railroads. And the competition was fierce.
 

 

What were the six routings? Which were each of the route's premier trains, and how long did each one of them take to go from NYC --> Chicago?



#29 Devil's Advocate

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Posted 02 April 2017 - 01:18 AM

I read a recent article that said that plane travel is also slower now than it was at the beginning of the jet age.  Back in the day, prices were pretty much set by government, so airlines competed on time.  Now that everybody just wants the lowest fare, planes are using lower cruise speeds to save fuel.


I just checked current flight times from DFW to LAX. If you pick a nonstop, it takes 3 hours and 30 minutes. You could make the same flight (well, from Love Field; DFW wasn't built yet) in a piston - powered DC-7 in 4:45 back in April of 1959. Of course, today's one-way coach fare is only about $127; back in the day it was $60.30 plus tax or over $530 in today's dollars taking inflation into account. However, for that $530 you did get a decent meal....

And more legroom...CJ

 
Coach legroom is indeed very poor today, but you can still get plenty of legroom in first class for $530 if you buy in advance during the APEX purchasing window. Meals aren't as nice or elaborate as before deregulation but airports have many more services than they did in the piston days and most healthy people can easily go three or four hours without a meal regardless. Modern turbofan aircraft are designed to fly slightly slower than early turbojet aircraft but are still much faster than piston aircraft. They're also much quieter and smoother. Flight durations are measured differently today so you cannot compare them directly by simple schedule time.

I used to be with ‘it,’ but then they changed what ‘it’ was. Now what I’m with isn’t ‘it,’ and what’s ‘it’ seems weird and scary.


#30 railiner

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Posted 02 April 2017 - 07:26 PM

Perhaps the ultimate argument for those that say say airline speeds don't matter that much.... the demise of the Concorde, with no successor apparent...
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#31 ehbowen

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Posted 03 April 2017 - 12:31 AM

 

At one time on a side note you could go to Chicago from New York on six different routings on five railroads. And the competition was fierce.
 

 

What were the six routings? Which were each of the route's premier trains, and how long did each one of them take to go from NYC --> Chicago?

 

 

In order of increasing time...and decreasing [approximate] popularity for bumper-to-bumper travelers, but even the Erie and Lackawanna had a steady captive audience among the small towns along their lines:

  1. Pennsylvania Railroad. The 900 lb. gorilla of the market. Fast and frequent service from Chicago and St. Louis to New York, Washington, and just about every city between them along the Northeast Corridor. Premium train NYC-CHI: Broadway Limited. 15:45 westbound; 15:30 eastbound.
  2. New York Central - Water Level Route (Via Cleveland). An 850 lb. gorilla to match the Pennsy. Didn't reach south of New York City (although there were branch lines into central and western Pennsylvania) but offered through service from Boston and New York to Chicago & St. Louis. Premium train NYC-CHI: 20th Century Limited. More popular than the Broadway, at least until after WWII. 15:45 both ways.
  3. New York Central - Michigan Central Route (Via Detroit and the Canadian corridor): An alternate route for Chicago-bound travelers. Premium train: The Wolverine. 17:40 westbound; 17:35 eastbound.
  4. Baltimore & Ohio  - Via Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, and Pittsburgh. This scrappy fighter threw in the towel north of Baltimore in the mid-1950s. Premium train: Capitol Limited. 20:45 westbound; 20:40 eastbound.
  5. Lackawanna/Nickel Plate - I think this railroad combination had a lot more potential than history shows. The Lackawanna had a fairly fast and much more direct route from New York (Hoboken, NJ) to Buffalo via Scranton, Binghamton and Elmira. The Nickel Plate ran from Buffalo to Chicago through Erie, Cleveland and Fort Wayne, Indiana. Lackawanna's pride was the famous Phoebe Snow while Nickel Plate hosted the eponymous Nickel Plate Limited. However, while these and other trains exchanged through cars they did not connect with each other at Buffalo. The closest thing to a true through train, as best I've been able to find, on this route was the Westerner/New Yorker (westbound/eastbound). 21:05 westbound; 20:25 eastbound.
  6. Erie Railroad - Via a meandering route from Jersey City through Port Jervis, Binghamton, Salamanca, Youngstown, and Lima, Ohio. Never heard of those towns? Neither have I. Premium train: The Erie Limited. 23:35 westbound; 24:09 eastbound.

Edited by ehbowen, 03 April 2017 - 10:25 AM.

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#32 jphjaxfl

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Posted 03 April 2017 - 06:30 AM

 

 

At one time on a side note you could go to Chicago from New York on six different routings on five railroads. And the competition was fierce.
 

 

What were the six routings? Which were each of the route's premier trains, and how long did each one of them take to go from NYC --> Chicago?

 

 

In order of increasing time...and decreasing [approximate] popularity for bumper-to-bumper travelers, but even the Erie and Lackawanna had a steady captive audience among the small towns along their lines:

  1. Pennsylvania Railroad. The 900 lb. gorilla of the market. Fast and frequent service from Chicago and St. Louis to New York, Washington, and just about every city between them along the Northeast Corridor. Premium train NYC-CHI: Broadway Limited. 15:45 westbound; 15:30 eastbound.
  2. New York Central - Water Level Route (Via Cleveland). An 850 lb. gorilla to match the Pennsy. Didn't reach south of New York City (although there were branch lines into central and western Pennsylvania) but offered through service from Boston and New York to Chicago & St. Louis. Premium train NYC-CHI: 20th Century Limited. More popular than the Broadway, at least until after WWII. 15:45 both ways.
  3. New York Central - Michigan Central Route (Via Detroit and the Canadian corridor): An alternate route for Chicago-bound travelers. Premium train: The Wolverine. 17:40 westbound; 17:35 eastbound.
  4. Baltimore & Ohio  - Via Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, and Pittsburgh. This scrappy fighter threw in the towel north of Baltimore in the mid-1950s. Premium train: Capitol Limited. 20:45 westbound; 20:40 eastbound.
  5. Lackawanna/Nickel Plate - I think this railroad combination had a lot more potential than history shows. The Lackawanna had a fairly fast and much more direct route from New York (Hoboken, NJ) to Buffalo via Scranton, Binghamton and Elmira. The Nickel Plate ran from Buffalo to Chicago through Erie, Cleveland and Fort Wayne, Indiana. Lackawanna's pride was the famous Phoebe Snow while Nickel Plate hosted the eponymous Nickel Plate Limited. However, while these and other trains exchanged through cars they did not connect with each other at Buffalo. The closest thing to a true through train, as best I've been able to find, on this route was the Westerner/New Yorker (westbound/eastbound). 21:05 westbound; 20:25 eastbound.
  6. Erie Railroad - Via a meandering route from Jersey City through Port Jervis, Binghamton, Salamanca, Youngstown, and Lima, Ohio. Never heard of those towns? Neither have I. Premium train: The Erie Limited. 23:35 westbound; 24:09 eastbound.

 

The Grand Trunk Western and Lehigh Valley also had through trains from Chicago to New York via Canada and Buffalo at one time.  The Nickel Plate-Lackawanna also had the City of Chicago and City of Cleveland from Chicago to Hoboken in addition to the Westerner New Yorker.  Nickel Plate built streamlined cars for the through trains after WWII, some of which survived through Amtrak.



#33 Philly Amtrak Fan

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Posted 03 April 2017 - 06:40 AM

 

 

At one time on a side note you could go to Chicago from New York on six different routings on five railroads. And the competition was fierce.
 

 

What were the six routings? Which were each of the route's premier trains, and how long did each one of them take to go from NYC --> Chicago?

 

 

In order of increasing time...and decreasing [approximate] popularity for bumper-to-bumper travelers, but even the Erie and Lackawanna had a steady captive audience among the small towns along their lines:

  1. Pennsylvania Railroad. The 900 lb. gorilla of the market. Fast and frequent service from Chicago and St. Louis to New York, Washington, and just about every city between them along the Northeast Corridor. Premium train NYC-CHI: Broadway Limited. 15:45 westbound; 15:30 eastbound.
  2. New York Central - Water Level Route (Via Cleveland). An 850 lb. gorilla to match the Pennsy. Didn't reach south of New York City (although there were branch lines into central and western Pennsylvania) but offered through service from Boston and New York to Chicago & St. Louis. Premium train NYC-CHI: 20th Century Limited. More popular than the Broadway, at least until after WWII. 15:45 both ways.
  3. New York Central - Michigan Central Route (Via Detroit and the Canadian corridor): An alternate route for Chicago-bound travelers. Premium train: The Wolverine. 17:40 westbound; 17:35 eastbound.
  4. Baltimore & Ohio  - Via Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, and Pittsburgh. This scrappy fighter threw in the towel north of Baltimore in the mid-1950s. Premium train: Capitol Limited. 20:45 westbound; 20:40 eastbound.
  5. Lackawanna/Nickel Plate - I think this railroad combination had a lot more potential than history shows. The Lackawanna had a fairly fast and much more direct route from New York (Hoboken, NJ) to Buffalo via Scranton, Binghamton and Elmira. The Nickel Plate ran from Buffalo to Chicago through Erie, Cleveland and Fort Wayne, Indiana. Lackawanna's pride was the famous Phoebe Snow while Nickel Plate hosted the eponymous Nickel Plate Limited. However, while these and other trains exchanged through cars they did not connect with each other at Buffalo. The closest thing to a true through train, as best I've been able to find, on this route was the Westerner/New Yorker (westbound/eastbound). 21:05 westbound; 20:25 eastbound.
  6. Erie Railroad - Via a meandering route from Jersey City through Port Jervis, Binghamton, Salamanca, Youngstown, and Lima, Ohio. Never heard of those towns? Neither have I. Premium train: The Erie Limited. 23:35 westbound; 24:09 eastbound.

 

 

And today it is...

 

1. NYC Water Route

 

2. B&O (with transfer if you want to get to NYC)

 

3. C&O

 

Where's the PRR? Good question...


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#34 ehbowen

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Posted 03 April 2017 - 07:20 AM

The Grand Trunk Western and Lehigh Valley also had through trains from Chicago to New York via Canada and Buffalo at one time.  The Nickel Plate-Lackawanna also had the City of Chicago and City of Cleveland from Chicago to Hoboken in addition to the Westerner New Yorker.  Nickel Plate built streamlined cars for the through trains after WWII, some of which survived through Amtrak.


The Lehigh Valley, in conjunction with Canadian National, operated a train from New York to Toronto called the Maple Leaf. The Canadian National, in conjunction with their subsidiary Grand Trunk Western, operated a completely separate train from Chicago to Montreal (via Toronto) which was also called the Maple Leaf. [I say completely separate, but I haven't checked every timetable for every year; it is possible that for a short time the schedules of the two trains were tweaked to connect.]

 

The City of Chicago (westbound) and the City of Cleveland (eastbound) were just new names for the Nickel Plate Limited, effective in 1954. They still served only the Chicago-Buffalo run, although some through cars were exchanged with the Lackawanna at Buffalo. The only true through trains on the route which I have found were the Westerner/New Yorker.


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#35 Seaboard92

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Posted 03 April 2017 - 09:15 AM

And I believe between all of those routes there were some 40-50 options daily. Which is quite impressive.

Today here is what the routes serve as.
DLW abandoned the cutoff in New Jersey to PA.

NKP active mainline.

Erie abandoned from a point in Ohio to Indiana.

NYC active mainline.
NYC-CS-MC abandoned between BUF and DET

B&O active mainline.

PRR half mainline half shortline.
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#36 railiner

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Posted 03 April 2017 - 09:39 AM

There was also service on the Wabash from Chicago to Buffalo, via trackage rights from Detroit across Ontario.

And for the "E M Frimbo's" out there, there was the "Alphabet Route"...
Jersey Central, Reading, Western Maryland, Pittsburgh and West Virginia, Wheeling and Lake Erie, Ann Arbor, or Pete Marquette....

Speaking of Frimbo, at one time you could get from NYC to Chicago entirely on electric interurban railways... :)
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#37 Texan Eagle

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Posted 03 April 2017 - 11:33 AM

In order of increasing time...and decreasing [approximate] popularity for bumper-to-bumper travelers, but even the Erie and Lackawanna had a steady captive audience among the small towns along their lines:


  • Pennsylvania Railroad. The 900 lb. gorilla of the market. Fast and frequent service from Chicago and St. Louis to New York, Washington, and just about every city between them along the Northeast Corridor. Premium train NYC-CHI: Broadway Limited. 15:45 westbound; 15:30 eastbound.
  • New York Central - Water Level Route (Via Cleveland). An 850 lb. gorilla to match the Pennsy. Didn't reach south of New York City (although there were branch lines into central and western Pennsylvania) but offered through service from Boston and New York to Chicago & St. Louis. Premium train NYC-CHI: 20th Century Limited. More popular than the Broadway, at least until after WWII. 15:45 both ways.
  • New York Central - Michigan Central Route (Via Detroit and the Canadian corridor): An alternate route for Chicago-bound travelers. Premium train: The Wolverine. 17:40 westbound; 17:35 eastbound.
  • Baltimore & Ohio  - Via Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, and Pittsburgh. This scrappy fighter threw in the towel north of Baltimore in the mid-1950s. Premium train: Capitol Limited. 20:45 westbound; 20:40 eastbound.
  • Lackawanna/Nickel Plate - I think this railroad combination had a lot more potential than history shows. The Lackawanna had a fairly fast and much more direct route from New York (Hoboken, NJ) to Buffalo via Scranton, Binghamton and Elmira. The Nickel Plate ran from Buffalo to Chicago through Erie, Cleveland and Fort Wayne, Indiana. Lackawanna's pride was the famous Phoebe Snow while Nickel Plate hosted the eponymous Nickel Plate Limited. However, while these and other trains exchanged through cars they did not connect with each other at Buffalo. The closest thing to a true through train, as best I've been able to find, on this route was the Westerner/New Yorker (westbound/eastbound). 21:05 westbound; 20:25 eastbound.
  • Erie Railroad - Via a meandering route from Jersey City through Port Jervis, Binghamton, Salamanca, Youngstown, and Lima, Ohio. Never heard of those towns? Neither have I. Premium train: The Erie Limited. 23:35 westbound; 24:09 eastbound.

Wow! This is one of the best posts I have read on this forum. Extremely informative for someone like me who was not alive when all these trains ran in their heyday.

 

The timetable for 20th Century shows a 12 hour non-stop run from Albany to Chicago. Was it really non-stop or did it have technical stops in the middle of the night for crew change and/or watering the locos etc?



#38 ehbowen

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Posted 03 April 2017 - 12:03 PM

Wow! This is one of the best posts I have read on this forum. Extremely informative for someone like me who was not alive when all these trains ran in their heyday.
 
The timetable for 20th Century shows a 12 hour non-stop run from Albany to Chicago. Was it really non-stop or did it have technical stops in the middle of the night for crew change and/or watering the locos etc?


I wasn't alive during their heyday, either. But I've collected a lot of literature from the period, mostly back issues of the Official Guide of the Railways.

 

The 20th Century did make stops for servicing and crew changes, but there were no passenger stops between Albany and Englewood (at least for most of its history). The New York Central, however, did operate a number of other trains which were targeted at specific markets, such as New York to Cleveland. So the cities and towns in "flyover country" were well served, and at much more convenient hours than you find today.


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#39 Texan Eagle

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Posted 03 April 2017 - 01:38 PM

I wasn't alive during their heyday, either. But I've collected a lot of literature from the period, mostly back issues of the Official Guide of the Railways.
 
The 20th Century did make stops for servicing and crew changes, but there were no passenger stops between Albany and Englewood (at least for most of its history). The New York Central, however, did operate a number of other trains which were targeted at specific markets, such as New York to Cleveland. So the cities and towns in "flyover country" were well served, and at much more convenient hours than you find today.


Since you seem to have put a lot of effort into this, do you mind if I ask some follow-up questions?

 

Were all those trains run on steam engines when they had their best timings? Or did any of the routes use diesel or electric locomotives?

 

Where were the service stops for 20th Century between Albany and Chicago?
 



#40 ehbowen

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Posted 03 April 2017 - 01:39 PM

 

  • Lackawanna/Nickel Plate - I think this railroad combination had a lot more potential than history shows. The Lackawanna had a fairly fast and much more direct route from New York (Hoboken, NJ) to Buffalo via Scranton, Binghamton and Elmira. The Nickel Plate ran from Buffalo to Chicago through Erie, Cleveland and Fort Wayne, Indiana. Lackawanna's pride was the famous Phoebe Snow while Nickel Plate hosted the eponymous Nickel Plate Limited. However, while these and other trains exchanged through cars they did not connect with each other at Buffalo. The closest thing to a true through train, as best I've been able to find, on this route was the Westerner/New Yorker (westbound/eastbound). 21:05 westbound; 20:25 eastbound.
  • Erie Railroad - Via a meandering route from Jersey City through Port Jervis, Binghamton, Salamanca, Youngstown, and Lima, Ohio. Never heard of those towns? Neither have I. Premium train: The Erie Limited. 23:35 westbound; 24:09 eastbound.

Wow! This is one of the best posts I have read on this forum. Extremely informative for someone like me who was not alive when all these trains ran in their heyday.

 


To be complete, I should mention that the Erie and the Lackawanna merged in 1960. Eventually (early 1964), they took the streamlined equipment from Lackawanna's Phoebe Snow and placed it into service under that name between Hoboken and Chicago via a hybrid route...former Lackawanna Hoboken-Binghamton; Erie routing westward. (The Erie never operated a fully streamlined train under its own auspices.) The hybrid New York-Chicago Phoebe Snow ran on a 23 hour schedule and was at least somewhat competitive with the other railroads' secondary trains. Travelers' reports I have seen say that it was a pleasant way to make the journey.


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