Chesapeake & Ohio Passenger Service 1847-1971
By Thomas W. Dixon, Jr.
Hardbound, 224 pages, fully illustrated, 100-lb. Coated paper.
This book by noted C&O historian and C&O Historical Society founder T. W. Dixon, Jr., details the history of passenger train service on the C&O beginning with the Virginia Central in the 1840s and ending with Amtrak’s takeover in 1971. Much of the information has never before been published, especially in the earlier period. The history is most detailed in the period 1920-1971, the era of the heavyweight steel passenger equipment and the lightweight streamlined cars, the heaviest and most powerful steam locomotives, and the iconic E8 diesels. Mail, express, dining car, sleeping car, and ancillary service all are covered, as well as motive power, cars, schedules, consists, methods of operation, stations, staff/personnel, advertising, and all the elements that went to make the C&O’s passenger trains not only highly efficient and successful, but also widely known and respected. Though passengers accounted for only 5% of C&O’s revenue in the mid-20th century, the company lavished a great deal of attention on it, feeling that to truly be a first class railway, C&O had to have the very best passenger service. Innovations starting in the 1880s and leading up into the 1950s, put C&O at the forefront of passenger service development from an operational and technological viewpoint. In the final decades C&O absorbed the passenger losses in the belief that the passenger train was the best advertising available. All this is documented and explained in a cogent chronological text supplemented with maps, diagrams, charts, tables, timetable reproductions, ads, menus, as well as photos both from general sources and from the C&O’s own publicity photographers in the 1930-1960s era.