BACKGROUND AND HISTORY OF THE OBSERVATION LOUNGE CAR VISTA VALLEY
The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway, often referred to as the Santa Fe or AT&SF, was one of the largest railroads in the United States, operating between Chicago, Illinois and Los Angeles, California. Aside from being a pioneer in freight rail transport, the Santa Fe was also known for its prestigious passenger trains, including the legendary Chicago - Los Angeles Super Chief!
The Super Chief was one of the named passenger trains and the flagship of the Santa Fe Railway. The Super Chief was known as the “Train of the Stars,” because of the celebrities it carried between Chicago and Los Angeles. The Super Chief was inaugurated in May of 1936, and initially operated once a week from both Chicago and Los Angeles. After more cars had been delivered to the Santa Fe, the Super Chief ran twice weekly beginning in 1938 and daily after 1948. Between 1947 and 1951, the Super Chief was re-equipped with new, gleaming stainless steel streamlined passenger cars. Adding to the train’s mystique were its gourmet meals and Hollywood clientele. The Super Chief was world renowned, due to its five star service, five star meals and high speed travel, reaching speeds of 112 miles per hour! With its Super Chief service, the Santa Fe set a standard of excellence that was unprecedented at that time. When Amtrak took over operation of the nation’s passenger service on May 1, 1971, the 35 - year run of the Super Chief on the Santa Fe ended, though Amtrak used the name on the same route for three years, until 1974. Through the years, its passenger list would include many Hollywood stars and national dignitaries. That list included, but was certainly not limited to, Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball, Bob and Dolores Hope, Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis, James Cagney, Judy Garland, Bing Crosby, Zero Mostel, Janet Leigh, Ella Fitzgerald, Paul Newman, Alan Ladd, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Vincent Price, Jimmy Durante, Rosalind Russell, Billy Wilder, Bette Davis, Clark Gable, Ava Gardner, Kirk Douglas, and Eddie Arnold....just to name a few! One of the Super Chief’s most regular customers, Frank Sinatra, would host all who would join him and his party - in the bar car - with dinner and entertainment continuing on until dawn! The train’s appeal was not limited to those in the entertainment industry, as it also played host to numerous former presidents. These included Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Ronald W. Reagan and their wives and families.
The Vista Valley was built in November of 1947 as a Sleeper - Observation Lounge car by the Pullman Company of Chicago, Illinois for the Santa Fe Railway, and served as a ‘tail car’ on the Santa Fe’s premier train, the Super Chief, from the beginning of its service life in 1947, until 1974. The Vista Valley was originally built as a 1 - double bedroom, 4 - drawing room observation lounge car, with a round end that was squared off in 1955 for mid - train service. Aside from the bedroom and drawing rooms, it featured a large lounge area, with windows on the sides and rear of the car, and groupings of comfortable club chairs arranged for passengers’ viewing pleasure and unobstructed sightseeing. The interior was fully appointed in a classic art deco theme of the late 1940’s.
Today, the Vista Valley (now referred to as an Observation Lounge car), retains her original double bedroom and four drawing rooms (now referred to as Deluxe Family Suites), and large lounge area. The Vista Valley is just as famous and historically significant as the Santa Fe’s legendary Super Chief, and stands ready to serve you in proud railroad tradition!
Relive the glory days of coast to coast rail travel aboard the celebrated Vista Valley, where you could occupy a drawing room (Private Family Suite), or the lounge area, just like Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint did in the classic 1959 American thriller film, ‘North By Northwest!’
Experience the magic, thrill and excitement of the Santa Fe Railway’s Super Chief today, as you ride the famed Vista Valley Observation Lounge car on the Seashore Lines!