Home > ALL POSTS > GOODBYE 1929: The Death of the Roaring Twenties. HELLO 2011: The beginning of the second great recession a.k.a. “depression”…? History does repeat itself.

GOODBYE 1929: The Death of the Roaring Twenties. HELLO 2011: The beginning of the second great recession a.k.a. “depression”…? History does repeat itself.


Pictured here are seven sections of the California Limited ready to depart from Los Angeles for Chicago in 1929.


A “section” meant an extra train.  There were six extra all-Pullman trains leaving Southern California — a total of seven trains, with over a 1000 passengers, and nearly 100 pullman, dining and observation cars.

GOODBYE 1929: The Death of the Roaring Twenties. HELLO 2011: The beginning of the second great recession a.k.a. “depression”…?

History does repeat itself.


A Pullman porter makes up a berth (the lower of a sleeping car section) in the 1920s.

In 1929, passengers were traveling all over America.  Over 100,000 passengers a night were accommodated by the Pullman Company in sleeping cars.   There were over 35 million revenue passengers in 1929 along.   For each passenger there were crisp linen, green curtains, a clothes hammock and a smiling white-jacketed porter.


Santa Fe’s CALIFORNIA LIMITED heading for Los Angeles and Hollywood in the 1920s.

Many were aboard Santa Fe’s all-Pullman Deluxe CALIFORNIA LIMITED when the crash hit.  Passengers went from millionaires to paupers as the train headed across New Mexico and Kansas.

We all know that history repeats, but do we really believe that?  Time will tell.

A wonderful new youTube video on the 1929 Crash.  It looks like a “retro” version of the current crash.  Partying, the crash and then poverty.  Only the times have changed.

In 1929, many people were traveling aboard Santa Fe’s all Pullman train, the deluxe California Limited (eventually to be replaced as the deluxe train by the Chief and then the Super Chief in the 1930s), from Chicago to Los Angels when Wall Street Crashed.


The dining car on the CALIFORNIA LIMITED.

Waiters stand at attention in  the dining car.  The dining car steward is seen in the background.  All waiters aboard American trains were African-Americans.  Like Pullman porters they struggled with low salaries and management resistance toward unionization.  They relied heavily on tips and were the backbone of the African-American middle class.

californialimited0115.jpg The California Limited was one of the named passenger trains of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway.

The All-Pullman train was a true “workhorse” of the railroad.

It was assigned train Nos. 3 & 4, and its route ran from Chicago, Illinois to Los Angeles, California.

Operating seven sections of the Limited was common, and during peak travel periods as many as 23 westbound and 22 eastbound sections departed in a single day.


Lounge Car – With the dining car steward supervising waiters who were serving passengers tea and cake.  There was no liquor served aboard the trains during the 1920s.  Prohibition was the law.  But bootlegged booze was common.

The line was conceived by company president Allen Manvel as a means to “…signify completion of the basic [Santa Fe] system…”


When “Deluxe” was Deluxe.

Manvel felt he could attract business and enhance the prestige of the railroad by establishing daily, first-class service from Chicago to the West Coast.


All single room Pullman Car.

The California Limited, billed as the “Finest Train West of Chicago,” made its first run on November 27, 1892, with five separate trainsets making continuous round trips on a 2½-day schedule (each way).


Publicity shot of a single room.  Waiting for a sophisticated lady passenger.

The California Limited was the first of Santa Fe’s name trains to feature Fred Harvey Company meal service en route. The later trains also offered all of the amenities of the day including air conditioning, an onboard barber, beautician, steam-operated clothing press, even a shower-bath.

200px-atsf_california_limited_combined.pngThe Limited was also the first train in the Santa Fe system to have its observation cars fitted with illuminated “drumheads,” which bore the train’s name juxtaposed over the company’s logo.

The California Limited was permanently removed from service on June 15, 1954, giving it the distinction of having had the longest tenure of any train making the Chicago-Los Angeles run within the Santa Fe system.

californialid0144.jpgThe Pullman Company, founded by George M. Pullman, provided nearly all the overnight sleeping accommodations aboard American trains.  They were the largest employer of Africa-Americans who were porters, maids and buffet car attendants on the deluxe Pullman limited trains.  At one time they numbered over 8,000.

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