Serving Chicago, Kansas City, Albuquerque, Los Angeles, and intermediate points
Amtrak train numbers: 3 and 4
Predecessor railroad train numbers: Santa Fe 17 and 18
The Santa Fe Railway's Super Chief was the premier train of the Western United States, an all-sleeping car train that ran on a fast 39 1/2-hour schedule between Chicago and Los Angeles for most of its life.
The Super Chief was inaugurated in 1936 as an upgraded version of the Santa Fe's Chief (which continued as a regular train on the same route). The equipment was upgraded again in the early 1950s, adding a dome car lounge known as the Turquoise Room, among other amenities.
Beginning in the late 1950s, during slow periods, the Super Chief began to run as a combined train with its all-coach counterpart, the El Capitan, albeit with passengers prevented from going between the two parts of the train.
However, during the summer and through most of December, due to heavy passenger loads at those times of year, the two trains operated separately almost up until the Amtrak takeover in 1971. The Santa Fe originally wanted to turn all of their trains over to Amtrak except the Super Chief/El Capitan, but the law said joining Amtrak was an all or nothing proposition. Although coach and sleeping car passengers could now mingle freely, Amtrak continued using the combined Super Chief/El Capitan name for their Chicago-Los Angeles train until 1973, when the train became solely known as the Super Chief.
Because they began shuffling around all of the equipment inherited from most of the nation's railroads among their trains, Amtrak's trains became homogeneous, without special services such as the Turquoise Room. It was partly for that reason that in 1974, the Santa Fe felt the train was no longer up to "Super Chief" standards and withdrew their permission for Amtrak to use their registered trademark "Chief." The train's name became Southwest Limited.
Condensed historical timetables:
READ DOWN READ UP
(1956) (1972) (1972) (1956)
7:00P 6:30P Dp Chicago Ar 1:30P 12:30P
2:45A 2:10A Kansas City 5:50A 4:50A
5:25P 5:15P Albuquerque 1:20P 12:25P
8:30A 9:05A Ar Los Angeles Dp 7:30P 7:00P
The Amtrak Train Names Project