Chesapeake & Ohio's Pere Marquettes

  • Model: BK-03-348

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Chesapeake & Ohio's Pere Marquettes
by Thomas W, Dixon, Jr.

This book was published back in  2004 and we have sold many, but it hasn't been advertised for a while (and we have some left). Therefore, we thought to call your attention to it since there was been considerable interest in the Pere Marquette now that the PM Historical Society is gain getting up and running.

 The book covers one of the most interesting of the immediate post-WWII streamliners in great detail. Since it was the very first streamliner inaugurated after the end of the war with all new equipment (N&W's Powhatan Arrow came earlier but used older pre-war cars), it got a great deal of national and region attention.

The concept was simple, run two sets of 7-car consists between Grand Rapids and Detroit three times per day on expedited schedules. This was to help C&O (and PM) Chairman Robert R. Young's contention that the public could be brought back to the rails if new, good, well-appointed trains could be run on frequent schedules. It was, in essence, a test for what he wanted to do with the C&O.

PM was, at the time, in September, 1946, still a separate company, so all the cars and engines were styled for it. The trains were named for the railway itself.  Each had a consist of new lightweight streamlined cars. They were arranged with a dining car in the middle and coaches on each side. The diner had its kitchen in the car's center so dining rooms could be arranged on each side.

They were powered by EMD E7 locomotives. A great deal of preparatory engineering work was done to get the roadway ready for the trains running at higher than normal speeds.

The staffing of the diner with "Hostesses" was anew concept. Seldom, if ever, had a railroad diner been staffed by women.

The train was inaugurated with great fanfare and went on to reverse the decline in passenger traffic between the two cities and actually increased it by a large margin. The trains were hailed as a great success, but by 1950 some of the luster was gone as the original 1946 cars were sold and replaced by some of the C&O cars purchased in 1950. Meanwhile the PM had merged with C&O in 1947.

Though the ridership remained strong it soon faltered and by 1970 the trains were down to a single engine and one or two cars. Amtrak eliminated the routes entirely.

The book has photos of each car, mechanical diagrams, and data. Publicity photos show the train's inauguration and many fine scenes of it in use.  A detailed text with tables and data demonstrates how the trains operated, and shows their initial success and decline. Covered as well as the PM trains placed in service Grand Rapids-Chicago in 1948 using cars originally intended for C&O's ultra train THE CHESSIE.

A color section has many action photos of the trains in use, mainly in the 1960s.

Softbound, 92 pages, 100-lb paper; 130 photos and illustrations.

The book was reviewed when it was first published by famed passenger train historian Robert Wayner as an excellent treatment.

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