Alton Limited Heavyweight Passenger Train 10413
Chicago & Alton Railway
Brooks/Alco Class P-5 4-6-2
6-Car Set
Independence, Missouri

No. 10413 Brooks/Alco Class P-5 4-6-2 "Pacific" Type Steam Locomotive, heading up the "Alton Limited" Heavyweight Passenger Train

Chicago & Alton Railway

In 1854 George Mortimer Pullman (1831-1897) and his friend Benjamin Field received a patent in Chicago for a folding upper berth as an improvement over the rudimentary, in fact almost non-existent, railway sleeping accommodations of the day.  Pullman soon contracted with the Chicago & Mississippi Railroad to rebuild two coaches into more comfortable sleeping cars, using the railroad's own shops. The cars were completed in 1859 and immediately entered service between Bloomington, Illinois, and Chicago. This led to an improved "sleeper," named "Pioneer," and it went into service in 1865. "Pioneer" featured an innovative (and patented) concept - facing seats that extended and slid together to form a comfortable lower berth. The Pullman reputation was boosted considerably when Mrs. Abraham Lincoln was said to choose "Pioneer" as her car on the slain President's funeral train in 1865, but as a matter of fact Mary Todd Lincoln was ill in Washington and did not make the trip. The "Pioneer" was a part of the funeral train only in a ceremonial role between Chicago and Springfield on May 2, 1865, but it was not ready for regular service until May 25, three weeks after the passage of Lincoln's funeral train (see No. 10688). By this time the railway was known as the Chicago & Alton Railroad, changed to the Chicago & Alton Railway in 1900 (see page 4).

The Chicago & Alton was the first American railroad to be equipped with sleeping cars (Pullman), which it used in its service from Chicago southwest through Springfield to St. Louis (by 1864) and Kansas City (by 1879).

The Chicago & Alton's flagship train in the busy Chicago-St. Louis corridor was the "Alton Limited," inaugurated in 1899, and re-equipped in 1905 and 1924. The vivid maroon-and-red colors applied to the "Alton Limited" earned it the nickname "The Red Train." Notable was the Pullman-built "Chicago" Parlor/Observation car, an unusually long car at 90 feet, accommodating a Japanese tea room and a library, delivered as part of the million dollar 1924 upgrade (two trainsets).  Trip time Chicago-St. Louis was 6 1/2 hours (280 miles).  In 1924, the brightly painted "Alton Limited" was referred to as "The Handsomest Train In the World."  Each of the two trains included  a Railway Post Office Car, a Baggage/Smoker, two Chair Cars with reclining seats, a Dining Car, three Parlor Cars with pivoting chairs, and a Parlor/Observation Car.  .

Beginning in 1903, 4-6-2 "Pacific"-type steam locomotives headed up the "Alton Limited." "Pacific"-type locomotives were introduced to American railroads in 1901 by the Baldwin Locomotive Works (established 1831 in Philadelphia) and the Brooks Locomotive Works (established 1869 in Dunkirk, New York). The "Pacifics" represented an improvement over the earlier 4-4-2 "Atlantic"-types (see Nos. 10397 and 10399) in that they had larger fireboxes for more power and two additional driving wheels for better traction. The "Pacifics" proved to be very successful on America's railroads: 6,800 were built by various manufacturers between 1901 and 1930.

Brooks Locomotive Works was merged into the American Locomotive Company (Alco) in 1901, and the plant continued to build locomotives until 1928 under the Alco name. Alco began the manufacture of "Pacific"-type locomotives in 1902, with many being built at the Brooks shops. The Brooks/Alco Class P-5 "Pacific" No. 657 that is the subject of this history (No. 10413) represents one of the last class of "Pacifics" built for the Chicago & Alton, manufactured by Alco at the Brooks facility in 1913 as one of ten delivered to the C&A at that time.

As late as 1947, the "Pacific"-led "Alton Limited" heavyweight train was still in operation, although by that time the *Alton Railroad had merged into the Gulf, Mobile & Ohio Railroad (1947). In 1947, the GM&O streamlined the "Alton Limited" with new lightweight cars from American Car & Foundry, replacing the venerable "Pacifics" with more efficient Alco/General Electric and Electro-Motive diesel locomotives. It is interesting to note that GM&O adopted Alton's handsome maroon-and-red livery after 1947 for its crack streamliners, including the famed "Rebel" fleet and "Abraham Lincoln" (see Nos. 10725 and 10728). In 1958, GM&O shortened the "Alton Limited's" name to "Limited," which was discontinued when Amtrak took over passenger operations in May, 1971.

No. 10413 represents an accurate scale model of Chicago & Alton's Brooks/Alco Class P-5 4-6-2 "Pacific"-type steam locomotive No. 657, heading up the 6-car heavyweight train "Alton Limited" (No. 10414) as it would have been seen on its daylight run Chicago-St. Louis 1924-1947. The locomotive and cars are in "0" gauge by K-Line.

*In 1834, a few visionaries in Springfield, Illinois, including a young legislator named Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865), proposed laying tracks to connect Springfield with the Mississippi River. The first rails were laid in 1850 at Alton, Illinois, on the Mississippi, and two years later, on September 9, 1852, the first train made its 72-mile maiden run to Springfield. By 1858, rails had been extended to Chicago, and the railroad was known as the Chicago, Alton & St. Louis Railroad, the name changed by then from the original Chicago & Mississippi Railroad. In 1861 it became the Chicago & Alton Railroad, reaching St. Louis in 1864. Finally, an extension to Kansas City was laid in 1879, completing the railroad's famed "triangle" of service between the Midwest's three great cities - Chicago, St. Louis, and Kansas City. The Chicago & Alton Railroad was reorganized in 1900 and renamed the Chicago & Alton Railway, which it remained until 1931, when the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad took possession of the Chicago & Alton and renamed it the Alton Railroad.  Then, in 1947, the Alton Railroad merged into the Gulf, Mobile & Ohio Railroad (see Nos. 10442 & 10725), ending the "Alton" association with these rails after almost a century.

© 2015 The Lawrence Scripps Wilkinson Foundation

This train has been adopted.

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