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Author Topic: The Atlantic & Southern Saturday Report  (Read 31075 times)


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Re: The Atlantic & Southern Saturday Report
« Reply #570 on: March 28, 2020, 02:41:47 PM »
A question for you southeastern boys.

I grew up in Chicago and my dad worked the tariff offices for the Q from 35 to 81. In the early fifties, 53-55-57, we would take the train to Atlanta to visit my mom's older brother and my cousins.  Usually in the summer at the early end of July.

We took a coach out of Chicago and connected up to something going south at Cincinnati.  My recollection was that it was called the Royal Palm.  Who ran that train? Southern or ACL?

We always took coach as my dad didn't have a Pullman pass until he made management in the early 60's. 



In more modern times the Southern ran the Royal Palm from Cincinnati to Jacksonville with one of the stops in Atlanta. From Jax. south, the FEC ran it to Miami.

Tom ;D
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Tom Langford


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Re: The Atlantic & Southern Saturday Report
« Reply #571 on: April 04, 2020, 04:53:23 PM »
Saturday Report - April 4, 2020

The fires are out and the roundhouse is dark today.  While the A&S is not running, the CEO is busy bossing the maintenance department in the matter of refurbishing steam engines.

    Your reporter had a weak story to tell today and, being a perfectionist, decided to take a chance and find a better topic. 

    He reached out and found the March 1940 edition of Railroad Magazine and, lo and behold, the story of the ACL Champion's first-run popped out from the middle of the issue.  The author was a writer for the magazine and managed to ride in the cab of the diesel from Washington, D.C. to some point south of Alexandria, Va.  A first-hand account of the whole trip is too long for this report, but the highlights can be "selectively compressed." 

                                                                                         The Champion's First Run - New York to Miami - 1939


   The Edward G. Budd Manufacturing Company built four practically identical sets of seven-passenger cars, two of which went to the Atlantic Coast Line for use on the Champion, and two of which went to the FEC.  One of the FEC sets was assigned to the Miami to Jacksonville Henry M. Flagler.  The other set, including motive power, went to pool service on the Champion.
    The original train's consist included a combination car, a dinner, four full-size coaches, and a tavarn-observation car.  The latter car was described as "possessing one of the most striking, and at the same time, tastefully arranged interiors as yeat achieved by any coach designer.  Since the entire rear end of the car is devoted to unrestricted lounging space, it is definitely a goodwill proposition as far as seat revenue is concerned." 


                                                                                     This must have been a publicity photograph. 
    The author described the motive power as a single diesel unit manufactured by GM's Electro-Motive Corporation.  "They are standard 2000 horsepower machines, similar to previous GM engines, but featuring the new Mars headlight.  As is more or less generally known, this device supplements the regular headlight, tracing a repetitious figure eight in advance of the locomotive as an arrestive warning to motorists adn pedestrians.  It may also be controlled by hand, and directed, for instance, to the inside of a curve, where normal headlight visibility is inadequate."  The ACL and the FEC pooled motive power and one of the FEC's red and yellow E-units provided power for the first trip from Washington to Miami. 
    The Champion's name was selected after a nation-wide contest won by Miss Bettsy Creighton, a Pittsburgh secretary.  Miss Creighton received a prize of $300.00 and two tickets on the Champion's first run to Miami. She also christened the train at Washington Union Station.  (This must have been sort of the 1939 version of "five minutes of fame.") 
    The Champ's December 1 "memorable first run" began at New York's Penn Station, pulling away from "a synthetic, but attractive setting of potted palms and drooping Spanish moss."  Passenger managers from the various railroads over which the Champion would travel attended the first-run ceremony, along with Edward G. Budd, himself, who beamed with pride at his company's latest masterpiece.  The departure was somewhat anti-climatical in that a Pennsylvania GG1 Electric hauled the train to Washington, where, for its formal dedication, the "FEC power coupled on for publicity photos."
    The ceremonies at Washington delayed the Champ's departure by six minutes, but ACL's Road Foreman of Engines, John Lewis, accompanied by N. J. Wash, the oldest in-service engineer on the RF&P eased her out of Union Station.  Wash had 48 years of service behind him and he bid on this run to make his first inspection run in a diesel cab. 
    The trip to Florida was somewhat eventful in that south of Alexandria, one of the two diesel prime movers "cut out for a matter of some moments while a slight operating adjustment was made.  (This was not unusual.  There were mechanical problems with the engines until the bugs were worked out.  A retired ACL engineer from Sanford told your reporter years ago that they used to couple up three E-units together, hoping at least two of them would remain operational.)   
    Miss Creighton was called upon to perform another christening on the Champ's first-run out of Miami.  The FEC handled the train on that trip too, but an ACL herald was pasted over the FEC herald on the red and yellow E-3 for the publicity photos.  (See photograph.)  ACL's purple and silver E unit took over at Jacksonville.

                                                             Here is Betty Creighton christening the Champ in Miami.  Notice the FEC striping and the ACL herald.

    As time went by, the Champion added Pullman Standard sleepers and the train was divided at Jacksonville into the East Coast and West Coast sections.   Eventually, the FEC got out of the passenger business and the ACL brought the train from Jacksonville to south of Orlando, where it split into East and West sections at Auburndale.  Your reporter remembers the Champ, powered by three E-6's and 18 to 21 cars, coming through Orlando in the 1950s as numbers 91 and 92.


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Re: The Atlantic & Southern Saturday Report
« Reply #572 on: April 04, 2020, 06:00:00 PM »
Our first 7 months of marriage in 1972 were spent in an apartment in Springfield. VA backing onto the Southern Railroad's mainline. Southern didn't joint Amtrak, so each evening we'd get to see the Southern Crescent heading south and shortly before breakfast, the northbound train would pass. You could set timepieces on these schedules. I know this isn't ACL/FEC, but the memories of those trains is still great.
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Re: The Atlantic & Southern Saturday Report
« Reply #573 on: April 04, 2020, 07:02:23 PM »
Great history story Bill. Stay safe butty.
Curt Webb
The Late Great Pennsylvania Railroad
Freelanced PRR Bellevue Subdivision


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Re: The Atlantic & Southern Saturday Report
« Reply #574 on: April 05, 2020, 10:55:20 AM »
Great history Bill.....I used to take the Champ from Ft. Lauderdale to New Jersey every summer and a few Christmases in the 50's and 60's.....great fun.  :)
Gregory P. DeMayo
General Construction Superintendent Emeritus
St. Louis & Denver Railroad
Longwood, FL