Classic Streamliners - TRAINCYCLOPEDIA
The Wabash relaunched the Blue Bird as a streamlined train on February 26, 1950, with all-new Budd Company "Vista-Dome" dome cars and E-unit diesel locomotives from Electro-Motive Diesel. The new train carried Wabash's standard blue-gray-white livery. The Wabash referred to the Blue Bird as a "Domeliner" in contemporary advertising. Amenities on the new train included radio and "recorded musical programs"; coach passengers had access to the "Coffee Shop Club". The new equipment cost the Wabash $1,500,000; it was the first dome train to operate between Chicago and St. Louis.
N&W E8A 3815 (former Wabash No. 1015) with Train 121, the "Domeliner" Blue Bird, at speed north of Bement, Illinois at sunset on May 1, 1966. Photo by Roger Puta.
Interior of a Wabash Blue Bird coach car, circa 1950's.
The Blue Bird
The Wabash introduced a heavyweight Blue Bird on the Chicago–St. Louis run in 1938. The train was painted blue-gold, previously reserved for the Wabash's Banner Blue.
Interior of the "Vista-Dome" dome parlor-observation car.
The Blue Bird's Club Lounge car, circa 1950s.
The 1950 lightweight consist included six cars: a baggage-lunch counter-lounge, three "Vista-Dome" dome coaches, a dining car, and a "Vista-Dome" dome parlor-observation car. The Budd Company manufactured all six cars, although the interior of the parlor-observation car was designed according to Pullman Plan No. 9525. Strong demand led the Wabash to add another dome parlor-lounge in 1952. Pullman-Standard delivered the car, which included the "Blue Bird Room", an eleven-seat private dining room.
The Blue Bird used the Wabash's line between Chicago and St. Louis. In March 1950 northbound No. 24 departed St. Louis Union Station at 8:55 AM and arrived at Chicago Dearborn Station at 2:05 PM. The equipment set returned as southbound No. 21 the same day, departing Chicago at 4:45 PM and arriving in St. Louis at 10:10 PM. Intermediate stops included Englewood in Chicago, Forrest, Decatur, Taylorville, Litchfield and Granite City in Illinois, and the Wabash's Delmar Boulevard station in St. Louis itself. At the time two other Wabash trains operated on the route: the Banner Blue, which operated a reverse schedule, and the overnight Midnight.
The Blue Bird's "Vista-Dome" dome parlor-observation car, circa 1950s.
The Norfolk and Western Railway leased the Wabash in 1964 but continued to operate the Blue Bird. This changed in 1968 when the N&W truncated the Blue Bird to Decatur, Illinois, still departing from Chicago. This new service was named City of Decatur and operated until the formation of Amtrak in 1971.
Purchases through our Merchant Links and Store help to defray the costs of operating the non-profit Classic Streamliners website, and at no additional cost to you. All of the staff at Classic Streamliners are unpaid volunteers who have all devoted thousands of hours of their own time to bring the site into fruition. We would like to sincerely thank all those who have already helped support this worthy cause. For more information click HERE.
Text: wikipedia.org. Images: Public Domain; http://www.commons.wikimedia.org (unless otherwise specified) and 17 U.S. Code § 107 fair use. References: Lewis, Robert G. The Handbook of American Railroads. New York: Simmons-Boardman Publishing Corporation, 1951, 2nd Edition 1956. Site Map Contact webmaster HERE.