Train No. 16, the Texas Chief, led by 302L, departs Norman, OK, June 1, 1970. The train is steam generator car equipped. Photo by F.L. Becht.

(Audio-Visual Designs, Earlton, NY, Public domain, via W. Lenheim Collection)

 

Texas Chief drumhead.

TEXAS CHIEF

The Texas Chief was a passenger train operated by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway between Chicago, Illinois, and Galveston, Texas. It was the first Santa Fe "Chief" outside the Chicago–Los Angeles routes. The Santa Fe conveyed the Texas Chief to Amtrak in 1971, which renamed it the Lone Star in 1974. The train was discontinued in 1979.

 

The Dallas section of the "Texas Chief" train No. 116, northbound, departing from Dallas on the afternoon of January 8, 1956. (["Texas Chief" leaving Dallas]photographJanuary 8, 1956; (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth28628/m1/1/?q=Texas%20Chiefaccessed July 22, 2023), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Museum of the American Railroad.)

Passengers, both young and old are enjoying the comfort of the lounge car in the consist of the Santa Fe's "Texas Chief" train No. 15, southbound, enroute from Chicago to Texas. ([Dining car on Santa Fe's "Texas Chief"]photograph1956~; (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth28688/m1/1/?q=Texas%20Chiefaccessed July 22, 2023), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Museum of the American Railroad.)

 

Dinner being served in the dining car of the Santa Fe's "Texas Chief" train No. 15, southbound, enroute from Chicago to Dallas, Ft. Worth, and Houston. ([Dining car on Santa Fe's "Texas Chief"]photograph1956~; (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth28688/m1/1/?q=Texas%20Chiefaccessed July 22, 2023), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Museum of the American Railroad.)

History

Santa Fe

See also: Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway: Passenger Service

The Santa Fe introduced the Texas Chief on April 3, 1948. The train competed with the Texas Eagle (Missouri Pacific Railroad) and the Texas Special (Missouri–Kansas–Texas Railroad/St. Louis–San Francisco Railway). The journey from Chicago to Galveston required 26 hours 15 minutes, ten hours faster the previous service on the route. Service to Dallas, Texas, began on December 5, 1955. Patronage was strong; historian Keith L. Bryant Jr. credited the Texas Chief with causing the withdrawal of the Texas Special. The Texas Chief was the first major train outside the Chicago–Los Angeles route to carry the "Chief" moniker popularized by the Chief and Super Chief.

 

Santa Fe's "Texas Chief" train No. 15, southbound, arriving at the Gainesville depot at 11:50 am on February 12, 1954.

(Plummer, Roger S. ["Texas Chief" arriving at the Gainesville Depot]photographFebruary 12, 1954; (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth28623/m1/1/?q=Texas%20Chiefaccessed July 22, 2023), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Museum of the American Railroad.)

 

Amtrak

See also: Lone Star (Amtrak train)

The general decline in passenger traffic in the 1960s led to cutbacks on the Texas Chief. Service south of Houston, Texas, ended in April 1967. The Dallas section ended on August 4, 1968.

Amtrak retained the Texas Chief between Chicago and Houston. Santa Fe was planning to discontinue the service unless it was included in the new national system. In 1973 Amtrak proposed re-routing the Texas Chief to serve Dallas. This new route would use the Southern Pacific between Dallas and Houston. Opposition from the SP killed the plan. In 1974 the Santa Fe withdrew permission to use the name due to a perceived decline in service, so Amtrak renamed it the Lone Star.

 

In Dearborn Station, Chicago, the Santa Fe's "Texas Chief" train No. 15, southbound awaits the departure signal as the "El Capitan" train No. 17, westbound, with a full-length Dome car, departs for California. (Meitz, Frank. [Two trains at Dearborn Station, Chicago]photograph1952~; (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth28689/m1/1/?q=Texas%20Chiefaccessed July 22, 2023), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Museum of the American Railroad.)

Winding through the rugged countryside near Washita Canyon in Oklahoma, the Santa Fe's "Texas Chief" powered by four diesel units and a consist of eleven cars, rolls southward towards Fort Worth, Dallas, Houston, and Galveston, Texas, circa 1956. (["Texas Chief" in Oklahoma]photograph1956; (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth28626/m1/1/?q=Texas%20Chiefaccessed July 22, 2023), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Museum of the American Railroad.)

 

The Dallas section of the Texas Chief in 1964. Last car shown is the Palm Dome, an American Car & Foundry 10-6 (10 roomette, 6 bedroom), which was originally built for the 1951 Super Chief. (Creator: DeGolyer, Everett L. (Everett Lee), 1923-1977, SMU Central University Libraries, No restrictions, via Wikimedia Commons, cropped)

Rolling stock

The Texas Chief debuted with new equipment, including coaches, Pullman sleeping cars, a dining car, and a lounge. In 1966 the Santa Fe assigned its 10 new GE U28CG diesel locomotives to the Texas Chief. After 1968 excess Hi-Level coaches from the El Capitan and San Francisco Chief could be found on the Texas Chief, along with Big Dome full-length dome lounges from the discontinued Chief.

The Texas Chief featured a wide variety of equipment during its short Amtrak tenure. In addition to ex-Santa Fe equipment such as Hi-Level coaches and Big Domes, Amtrak assigned Vista-Dome dormitory-buffet-lounge-observation cars from the former California Zephyr.

 

Overview

Service type: Inter-city rail
First service: April 3, 1948
Last service: May 19, 1974
Successor: Lone Star
Former operators: Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway (1948–1971); Amtrak (1971–1974)
Route Termini: Chicago, Illinois / Galveston, Texas
Distance traveled: 1,410 miles (2,270 km)
Service frequency: Daily
Train numbers: 15 (west), 16 (east)
On-board services
Seating arrangements: Chair cars (also: ladies lounge and men's dressing room) (1950)
Sleeping arrangements: Sections, roomettes, double bedroom, drawing rooms, compartment
Catering facilities: Dining car
Observation facilities: Lounge car