A New Train
April 19, 2017
In the late 1930’s all sorts of improvements were coming to transportation. The automobiles of the late 1930’s were quite different than those of merely ten years before. The changes in aircraft was even greater. The new DC-i was just starting to revolutionize passenger air travel. Only a few years before the first passenger air lines had started. On the rails, diesel trains were just starting to replace steam trains.
Here in Colorado the first of the improved passenger trains was the new Rock Island Rocky Mountain Rocket, a three car service between Chicago and Denver, with a connection to Colorado Springs had started. On the Burlington, and the Union Pacific, streamlined diesels were being introduced. The Burlington Zephyr was introduced out of Chicago, and started running to Denver. Passengers from Denver to the south were still using steam trains as far as Dallas. In 1939 a new service was announced to replace this train.
The new train would be larger, and faster, than the first Zephyr, as well as the competition’s Rocket trains. The train would be a shining, Stainless Steel marvel. All new cars, of matching steel, were used behind the engine. The train could travel from Denver, where it met the Chicago Zephyr, to Pueblo at faster than highway speeds. The trip on to Dallas was made under similar conditions. The service was mainly express, with stops only at main stations. It did not need to stop, like the regular steam service, for water and coal. After a few years the Burlington cut back on the steam service and relied mainly on the streamlined trains. It was generally the end of local service to places like Palmer Lake and Fountain. The streamlined Texas Zephyr barely slowed as it passed here. When the demand almost reached its peak during World War II, a few of the older green passenger cars were painted silver to blend in with the stainless steel cars.
It would take the Denver and Rio grande several years to catch up with the Burlington, but the Santa Fe’s service from Denver received some modernization. The main Santa Fe passenger train ran from Chicago to California, cutting through southeast Colorado. A short passenger train met the mainline trains at La Junta and Trinidad. The Missouri Pacific also started a streamlined train from St. Louis to Pueblo and up to Denver. It passed through Fountain every morning going north and every evening going south.