Welcome to Vintage Railroad Postcards!

Thank you for stopping by! This is the blog for the Russell P. Panecki Collection of vintage railroad-related postcards. The entire collection consists of nearly one thousand so far with images dating from circa 1904 to the 1950s. To leave a comment, ask a question, to contribute or correct historical information, a comment box is located to the left for your convenience.

Each page, including this homepage, has an index located in the lower portion of the page. In addition to the index, posts were updated with historical information, new postcards added from storage files, while some posts were completely rewritten or edited for corrections. Three articles have been added and are worth reading. They include how vintage postcards were made, the history of Pennsylvania Station, and the history of Grand Central Terminal.

My apologies, but the postcards in my collection and on this blog are not available for sale, copying, or for contribution to projects. Please keep in mind that I reserve all rights to the images and content of this blog.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Wabash "Blue Bird"

The Wabash Railroad never had an extensive passenger fleet, although it did provide high-quality, city-to-city service with trains such as the Banner Blue Limited and Midnight Special. Perhaps most legendary, however, was the Wabash Cannon Ball. In 1938, the Wabash introduced the heavyweight-car Blue Bird passenger train on the Chicago–St. Louis route in 1938 and used Wabash's line between Chicago and St. Louis. The train was painted in a blue-gold color scheme that was previously used on the railroad's Banner Blue.

In 1950 the Wabash re-launched the Blue Bird as a streamlined train with all-new light weight equipment including the Budd Company "Vista-Dome" cars, E7A diesel locomotives from the Electro-Motive Division of General Motors, and carried Wabash's standard blue-gray-white paint scheme as seen in the postcard below showing the same colors on the diesels used to power the City of Kansas City.

The first dome train to operate between Chicago and St. Louis, Wabash referred to the new Blue Bird as a "Domeliner". The train consisted of six cars including a combination baggage/lunch counter/lounge car, three dome coaches, a dining car, and a dome parlor-observation car. The Budd Company manufactured all six cars, although the interior of the parlor-observation car was designed by Pullman. Strong demand led the Wabash to add another dome parlor-lounge in 1952. Pullman-Standard delivered the car, which included the eleven seat, private dining Blue Bird Room. The new equipment cost the Wabash $1,500,000. The railroad went on to acquire a group of EMD's new E8 diesel locomotive models as an upgrade to the train's motive power. According to the railroad's official 1950 timetable the trains #24 (northbound) and #21 (southbound) could make the run between the two cities in just over 5 hours carrying an average train speed around 55 mph.

The Blue Bird used the Wabash's line between Chicago and St. Louis. Leaving northbound, train #24 departed St. Louis' Union Station at 8:55 AM and arrived at Chicago's Dearborn Station at 2:05 PM. The equipment set returned as southbound #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. The two other Wabash trains that ran on the same route were the Banner Blue, which operated a reverse schedule as the Blue Bird, and the overnight train Midnight.

In the following railroad-issued postcard set we can read some of the amenities to be enjoyed on the Blue Bird such as automatically opening doors, air conditioning, and anti-glare glass in the dome cars.


eginning in the late 1950s, the Wabash was taken over by mergers sadly ending the time of the Domeliners. After some ten years of Pennsylvania Railroad ownership, it eventually became part of the Norfolk & Western system in the 1960s. The Blue Bird remained on N&W's timetable until Amtrak took over all intercity passenger rail operations on May 1, 1971.

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