CBS Radio vocalist Harriet Lee aboard the new Columbian in June 1931.
Route Map of The Columbian.
The Columbian was a named passenger train operated by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. It was the all-coach supplemental train of the all-Pullman Capitol Limited. It operated from 1931 to 1964. The train's initial route was between Jersey City, New Jersey and Washington, D.C., but in 1941 the Columbian route was lengthened to Jersey City – Chicago, Illinois. It was the first air-conditioned train in the United States.
The Columbian between Jersey City and Washington was the first air-conditioned passenger train in North America. Air-conditioned equipment began operating on the train on May 24, 1931. In 1937 the B&O re-equipped the Columbian with cars from the Royal Blue. On December 19, 1941 the B&O extended the Columbian from Washington to Chicago. To support the longer service the Columbian again received cast-offs from the Royal Blue, plus other equipment. The Columbian operated in tandem with the all-Pullman Capitol Limited, running thirty minutes behind. The Capitol Limited conveyed the Columbians coaches between Jersey City and Washington. During World War II the Columbian's consist swelled to 14 cars.
The Columbian at Thomas Viaduct, Relay, Maryland.
The 1950s saw a wave of consolidations as the B&O's passenger services contracted. The Columbian and Ambassador (which served Detroit, Michigan) began joint operation between Washington and Willard, Ohio on January 10, 1954. On December 1, 1957, the Columbian's dining car stopped operating west of Willard. On April 26, 1958, the B&O discontinued all passenger service between Jersey City and Baltimore, Maryland, and thereafter the eastern terminus of the Columbian was Baltimore. At the same time the Columbian and Capitol Limited began joint operation between Washington and Baltimore. On October 26, 1958, this joint operation extended all the way to Willard, ending the independence of both trains. The B&O dropped the Columbian name altogether on April 26, 1964.
The Baltimore and Ohio's "Columbian" passenger train in 1949.
In 1949, a brand new lightweight Columbian train set for travel between Baltimore, Maryland, via Washington to Chicago was built. The consists were ordered from Pullman-Standard for April, 1949 delivery and these two train sets have the distinction of being the only all-new consists built for the B&O in the postwar period. These two eight–car streamlined trains were the first trains in the eastern U.S. to be equipped with dome cars, the "Strata-Dome". Although the pair were intended as a daytime operation between Chicago and Baltimore by way of Washington the two new trains entered overnight service May 5, 1949.
When Amtrak took over train service on May 1, 1971, the B&O's combined Capitol Limited – Columbian was discontinued, along with all other B&O long-distance passenger trains.
Pullman-Standard constructed two lightweight consists for the 1949 iteration of the Columbian. Each consist included a baggage-dormitory-coffee shop, four coaches, Strata-Dome dome coach, dining car, and tavern-observation car. Each coach could seat 56; the dining car had seating space for 36. The new Strata-Domes could seat 24 in the dome area (non-revenue) and 40 in revenue seating below, along with two lounges.
No. 1350 Harpers Ferry baggage-dormitory-coffee shop
No. 5500 Connellsville coach
No. 5502 Gary coach
No. 5550 High Dome Strata-Dome dome coach
No. 1090 Akron dining car
No. 5504 Martinsburg coach
No. 5506 New Castle coach
No. 3315 Chicago tavern-observation
No. 1351 Silver Spring baggage-dormitory-coffee shop
No. 5501 Cumberland coach
No. 5503 La Paz coach
No. 5551 Sky Dome Strata-Dome dome coach
No. 1091 Pittsburgh dining car
No. 5505 McKeesport coach
No. 5507 Youngstown coach
No. 3316 Washington tavern-observation
The B&O added two slumbercoaches to the Columbian's equipment pool in 1958: the Slumberland (No. 7700) and Dreamland (No. 7701). The Columbian lost its tavern-observation cars after it began join operation with the Capitol Limited.
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.