The Challenger was touted for its excellent low-cost dining car meals.

(Union Pacific Railroad, W. Lenheim Collection)


A San Francisco Challenger luggage label. (W. Lenheim Collection)



The San Francisco Challenger was a train operated by Southern Pacific Railroad, Union Pacific Railroad and Chicago and North Western Railroad. Starting in 1936, it ran from Oakland, California to Chicago, Illinois via the Overland Route. Schedule was about 60 hours—three nights and two days. In 1947 it was replaced by the Gold Coast, which was discontinued in January 1955.


San Francisco Challenger Overview

Service type: Inter-city rail
Status: Discontinued
Locale: Western United States
First service: 1936
Last service: 1947
Successor: Gold Coast
Former operators: Chicago and North Western Railway; Union Pacific Railroad; Southern Pacific Railroad
Route Termini: Chicago, Illinois / Oakland, California
Line used: Overland Route
Track gauge 4 ft 8+1⁄2 in (1,435 mm)


See Also:

Challenger — a Union Pacific and Chicago and Northwestern train that ran from Chicago to Los Angeles.

Named Passenger Trains A-K

Named Passenger Trains L-Z