Ever the innovator, Santa Fe was one of the pioneers in intermodal freight service, an enterprise that (at one time or another) included a tugboat fleet and an airline, the short-lived Santa Fe Skyway. A bus line allowed the company to extend passenger transportation service to areas not accessible by rail, and ferry boats on the San Francisco Bay allowed travellers to complete their westward journeys all the way to the Pacific Ocean. The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway officially ceased operations on December 31, 1995 when it merged with the Burlington Northern Railroad to form the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway.
Crews continued working westward, reaching Dodge City on September 5 1872. With this connection, the Santa Fe was able to compete for cattle transportation with the Kansas Pacific Railway. Construction continued, and the Santa Fe opened the last section of track between Topeka and the Colorado/Kansas border on December 23 1873. The Santa Fe's tracks reached Pueblo, Colorado on March 1 1876. Serving Pueblo opened a number of new freight opportunities for the railroad as it now could haul coal from Colorado eastward.(Early history)
Building across Kansas and eastern Colorado may have been technologically simple as there weren't many large natural obstacles in the way (certainly not as many as the railroad was about to encounter further west), but the Santa Fe found it almost economically impossible because of the sparse population in the area. To combat this problem, the Santa Fe set up real estate offices in the area and vigorously promoted settlement across Kansas on the land that was granted to the railroad by Congress in 1863. The Santa Fe offered discounted passenger fares to anyone who travelled west on the railroad to inspect the land; if the land was subsequently purchased by the traveller, the railroad applied the passenger's ticket price toward the sale of the land. Now that the railroad had built across the plains and had a customer base providing income for the firm, it was time to turn its attention toward the difficult terrain of the Rocky Mountains.
Leadville was the most productive of all of the Colorado mining regions. Mining in the area began in 1859, first for gold and then two decades later for silver. Several of the Santa Fe's board of directors (along with President Strong) sought to capitalize on the need to supply the mining towns of Colorado and northern New Mexico with food, equipment, and other supplies. To that end, Santa Fe sought to extend its route westward from Pueblo along the Arkansas River, and through the Royal Gorge in 1877. Royal Gorge was a bottleneck along the Arkansas too narrow for both the Santa Fe and the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad to pass through, and there was no other reasonable access to the South Park area; thus, a race ensued to build rail access through the Gorge. Physical confrontations led to two years of armed conflict, essentially low-level guerrilla warfare between the two companies that came to be known as the Royal Gorge Railroad War. Federal intervention prompted an out-of-court settlement on February 2, 1880 in the form of the so-called "Treaty of Boston" wherein the D&RG was allowed to complete its line and lease it for use by the Santa Fe. The D&RG paid an estimated $1.4 million to Santa Fe for its work within the Gorge and agreed not to extend its line to Santa Fe, while the AT&SF agreed to forgo its planned routes to Denver and Leadville.
Also looking to the south, an initial outlay of $20,000 was authorized on February 26, 1878 for the construction of a rail line south from Trinidad in order to "..seize and hold Raton Pass." The location of the route was nearly as crucial to the venture's success as was the actual track construction. W. R. "Ray" Morley, a former civil engineer for the (D&RG) hired by the AT&SF in 1877, was given his first assignment to secretly plot a route through the pass (it was feared that any activity in the area would lead the D&RG to construct a narrow gauge line over the Pass). Additionally, Strong learned that the Southern Pacific Railroad (SP) had introduced legislation to block the Santa Fe's entry into New Mexico. Undaunted, Strong obtained a charter for the New Mexico and Southern Pacific Railroad Company and immediately sent A. A. Robinson to Raton Pass. From February to December of 1878 work crews struggled to build the line between La Junta and Raton, and the first Santa Fe train entered New Mexico on December 7.
While construction over the Rockies was slow and difficult due to the logistics involved, in some instances armed conflicts with competitors arose (such as with the D&RG in Colorado and New Mexico, and — after capturing the Raton Pass — the SP in Arizona and California, as exemplified in the "frog war" between SP and Santa Fe subsidiary the California Southern Railroad at Colton, California in September of 1883). The troubles for the railroad went far beyond skirmishes with rival railroads, however. In the late 1880s, George C. Magoun, who had worked his way to become Chairman of the Board of Directors for the railroad, was progressively losing his own health. In 1889 the railroad's stock price, which was closely linked in the public's eye with the successes of the railroad's chairman, fell from nearly $140 per share to around $20 per share. Magoun's health continued to deteriorate along with the stock price and Magoun died on December 20, 1893. The Santa Fe entered receivership three days later on December 23 1893, with J. W. Reinhart, John J. McCook and Joseph C. Wilson appointed as receivers. Union Pacific was another rival, but not that much of one, Union Pacific, or UP, was also in the western expansion and also was a route through the Rocky Mountains for industrial strength.
A brief look at some key figures comparing the railroad's extent between 1870 and 1945 shows just how much the railroad had grown:
|Gross operating revenue||$182,580||$528,080,530|
|Total track length||62 miles (100 km)||13,115 miles (21,107 km)|
|Freight carried||98,920 tons||59,565,100 tons|
|Unpowered rolling stock owned||141|| 81,974 freight cars|
1,436 passenger cars
The Southern Pacific Santa Fe Railroad (SPSF) was a proposed merger between the parent companies of the Southern Pacific and Santa Fe railroads announced on December 23, 1983. As a part of the joining of the two firms, all of the rail and non-rail assets owned by Santa Fe Industries and the Southern Pacific Transportation Company was placed under the control of a holding company, the Santa Fe–Southern Pacific Corporation. The merger was subsequently denied by the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) on the basis that it would create too many duplicate routes.
The companies were so confident that the merger would be approved they began repainting locomotives and non-revenue rolling stock in a new unified paint scheme. After the ICC's denial, railfans joked that SPSF really stood for "Shouldn't Paint So Fast". While the Southern Pacific was sold off, all of the California real estate holdings were consolidated in a new company, Catellus Development Corporation, making it the State's largest private land owner. Some time later, Catellus would purchase the Union Pacific Railroad's interest in the Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal (LAUPT).
The Santa Fe was widely known for its passenger train service in the first half of the 20th century. The Santa Fe introduced many innovations in passenger rail travel, among these the "Pleasure Domes" of the Super Chief (billed as the "...only dome car[s] between Chicago and Los Angeles" when they were introduced in 1951) and the "Big Dome"-Lounge cars and double-decker "Hi-Level" cars of the El Capitan, which entered revenue service in 1954. The Santa Fe was among the first railroads to add dining cars to its passenger train consists in 1891, following the examples of the Northern Pacific and Union Pacific Railroads. Dining along the Santa Fe was often a memorable experience, whether it be on-board in a dining car, or at one of the many Harvey House restaurants that were strategically located throughout the system.
In general, the same train name was used for both directions of a particular train. The exceptions to this rule included the Chicagoan and Kansas Cityan trains (both names referred to the same service, but the Chicagoan was the eastbound version, while the Kansas Cityan was the westbound version), and the Eastern Express and West Texas Express. All of the Santa Fe's trains that terminated in Chicago did so at Dearborn Station. Trains terminating in Los Angeles arrived at Santa Fe's La Grande Station until May, 1939, when the Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal (LAUPT) was opened.
To reach smaller communities, the railroad often operated Rail Diesel Cars (RDCs) for communities on the railroad, and bus connections were provided throughout the system via Santa Fe Trailways buses to other locations. These smaller trains generally were not named, only the train numbers were used to differentiate services.
The ubiquitous passenger service inspired the title of the 1946 Academy-Award-winning Johnny Mercer tune "On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe." The song was written in 1945 for the film The Harvey Girls, a story about the waitresses of the Fred Harvey Company's restaurants. It was sung in the film by Judy Garland and recorded by many other singers, including Bing Crosby. In the 1970s, the ATSF used Crosby's version in a commercial.
Santa Fe's first set of diesel-electric passenger locomotives was placed in service on the Super Chief in 1936, and consisted of a pair of blunt-nosed units (EMD 1800 hp B-B) designated as Nos. 1 and 1A. The upper portion of the sides and ends of the units were painted gold, while the lower section was a dark olive green color; an olive stripe also ran along the sides and widened as it crossed the front of the locomotive.
Riveted to the sides of the units were metal plaques bearing a large "Indian Head" logo, which owed its origin to the 1926 Chief "drumhead" logo. "Super Chief" was emblazoned on a plaque located on the front. The rooftop was light slate gray, rimmed by a red pinstripe. This unique combination of colors was referred to as the Golden Olive paint scheme Before entering service, Sterling McDonald's General Motors "Styling Department" augmented the look with the addition of red and blue striping along both the sides and ends of the units in order to enhance their appearance.
In a little over a year the EMD E1 (a new and improved streamlined locomotive) would be pulling Super Chief and other passenger consists, resplendent in the now-famous Warbonnet paint scheme devised by Leland Knickerbocker of the GM "Art and Color Section." Its design is protected under , granted on November 9, 1937. It is reminiscent of a Native American ceremonial headdress. The scheme consisted of a red "bonnet" which wrapped around the front of the unit and was bordered by a yellow stripe and black pinstripe. The extent of the bonnet varied according to the locomotive model, and was largely determined by the shape and length of the carbody. The remainder of the unit was either painted silver or was composed of stainless steel panels.
All units wore a nose emblem consisting of an elongated yellow "Circle and Cross" emblem with integral "tabs" on the nose and the sides, outlined and accented with black pinstripes, with variances according to the locomotive model. "SANTA FE" was displayed on the horizontal limb of the cross in black, Art Deco-style lettering. This emblem has come to be known as the "cigar band" due to its uncanny resemblance to the same. On all but the " Erie-built" units (which were essentially run as a demonstrator set), U28CGs, U30CGs, and FP45s, a three-part yellow and black stripe ran up the nose behind the band.
A "Circle and Cross" motif (consisting of a yellow field, with red quadrants, outlined in black) was painted around the side windows on "as-delivered" E1 units. Similar designs were added to E3s, E6s, the DL109/110 locomotive set, and ATSF 1A after it was rebuilt and repainted. The sides of the units typically bore the words "SANTA FE" in black, 5"– or 9"–high extra extended Railroad Roman letters, as well as the "Indian Head" logo , with a few notable exceptions.
Railway identity on diesel locomotives in passenger service:
|Locomotive Type||"Indian Head"||"Circle and Cross"||"Santa Fe"||Logotype||Starting Year||Comments|
|ATSF 1 and 1A||Yes||Yes*||Yes||No||1937||"Circle and Cross" added to No. 1 after rebuild in May 1938|
|EMD E1, E3, & E6||Yes*||Yes||Yes||No||1937||"Indian Head" added to B units at a later date|
|ALCO DL109/110||Yes*||Yes||Yes||No||1941||No "Indian Head" on B unit|
|EMD FT||Yes*||No||Yes||No||1945||"Indian Head" added to B units at a later date|
|ALCO PA / PB||Yes*||No||Yes||No||1946||"Indian Head" added to B units at a later date|
|EMD F3||Yes*||No||Yes||No||1946||"Indian Head" on B units only|
|FM Erie-built||Yes*||No||Yes*||No||1947||"Indian Head" and "SANTA FE" on A units only|
|EMD F7||Yes*||No||Yes*||No||1949||"Indian Head" on B units only; "SANTA FE" added in 1954|
|EMD E8||Yes*||No||Yes||No||1952||"Indian Head" on B units only|
|GE U28CG||No||No||No||Yes||1966||"Santa Fe" logotype in large, red "billboard"-style letters|
|GE U30CG||No||No||Yes*||No||1967||5"–high non-extended "SANTA FE" letters|
|EMD FP45||No||No||Yes*||No||1967||9"–high "SANTA FE" letters|
In later years, Santa Fe adapted the scheme to its gas-electric "doodlebug" units The standard for all of Santa Fe's passenger locomotives, the Warbonnet is considered by many to be the most recognized corporate logo in the railroad industry. Early in the Amtrak Era, Santa Fe embarked on a program to paint over the red bonnet on its F units that were still engaged in hauling passenger consists with yellow (also called Yellowbonnets) or dark blue (nicknamed Bluebonnets) as it no longer wanted to project the image of a passenger carrier.
Diesel locomotives used as switchers between 1935 and 1960 were painted black, with just a thin white or silver horizontal accent stripe (the sills were painted similarly). The letters "A.T.& S.F." were applied in a small font centered on the sides of the unit, as was the standard blue and white "Santa Fe" box logo. After World War II, diagonal white or silver stripes were added to the ends and cab sides to increase the visibility at grade crossings (typically referred to as the Zebra Stripe scheme). "A.T.& S.F." was now placed along the sides of the unit just above the accent stripe, with the blue and white "Santa Fe" box logo below.
Due to the lack of abundant water sources in the American desert, the Santa Fe was among the first railroads to receive large numbers of streamlined diesel locomotives for use in freight service, this in the form of the EMD FT. For the first group of FTs delivered between December, 1940 and March, 1943 (#100–#119) the railroad selected a color scheme consisting of dark blue accented by a pale yellow stripe up the nose, and pale yellow highlights around the cab and along the mesh and framing of openings in the sides of the engine compartment; a thin, red stripe separated the blue areas from the yellow.
Because of a labor dispute with the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, who insisted that every cab in a diesel-electric locomotive consist must be manned, FT sets #101-#105 were delivered in A-B-B-B sets, instead of the A-B-B-A sets used by the rest of the Santa Fe's FTs. The Santa Fe quickly prevailed in this labor dispute, and FT sets #106 on were delivered as A-B-B-A sets.
The words "SANTA FE" were applied in yellow in a 5"–high extended font, and centered on the nose was the "Santa Fe" box logo (initially consisting of a blue cross, circle, and square painted on a solid bronze sheet, but subsequently changed to baked steel sheets painted bronze with the blue identifying elements applied on top). Three thin, pale yellow stripes (known as Cat Whiskers) extended from the nose logo around the cab sides. In January, 1951 Santa Fe revised the scheme to consist of three yellow stripes running up the nose, with the addition of a blue and yellow Cigar Band (similar in size and shape to that applied to passenger units); the blue background and elongated yellow "SANTA FE" lettering were retained.
The years 1960 to 1972 saw non-streamlined freight locomotives sporting the Billboard color scheme (sometimes referred to as the Bookends, or Pinstripe scheme) wherein the units were predominantly dark blue with yellow ends and trim, with a single yellow accent pinstripe. The words "Santa Fe" were applied in yellow in a large serif font (logotype) to the sides of the locomotive below the accent stripe (save for yard switchers which displayed the "SANTA FE" in small yellow letters above the accent stripe, somewhat akin to the Zebra Stripe arrangement).
From 1972 to 1996, and even on into the BNSF era, the company adopted a new paint scheme often known among railfans as the Yellowbonnet which placed more yellow on the locomotives (reminiscent of the company's retired Warbonnet scheme), the goal again to ensure higher visibility at grade crossings. The truck assemblies, previously colored black, now received silver paint.
In June, 1989 Santa Fe resurrected the Warbonnet and applied the scheme in a modified fashion to two EMD FP45 units, #5992 and #5998 (this time, displaying "Santa Fe" in large, "billboard"-style red letters across the side). The units were re-designated as #101 and #102 and reentered service on July 4, 1989 as part of the new "Super Fleet" (the first Santa Fe units to be so decorated for freight service). The six remaining FP45 units were thereafter similarly repainted and renumbered. From that point forward, all new locomotives wore the red and silver, and many retained this scheme after the Burlington Northern Santa Fe merger, some with "BNSF" displayed across their sides.
For the initial deliveries of factory new "Super Fleet" equipment, the Santa Fe took delivery of the EMD GP60M, GP60B and General Electric B40-8W, which made the Santa Fe the only US Class I railroad to operate new 4-axle (B-B) freight locomotives equipped with the North American Safety Cab. These units were intended for high-speed intermodal service, but towards the final days of the Santa Fe, could be found working local trains and branchline assignments.
Several experimental and commemorative paint schemes emerged during the Santa Fe's diesel era. One combination was developed and partially implemented in anticipation of a merger between the parent companies of the Santa Fe and Southern Pacific (SP) railroads in 1984. The red, yellow, and black paint scheme (with large red block letters "SF" on the sides and ends of the units) of the proposed Southern Pacific Santa Fe Railroad (SPSF) has come to be somewhat derisively known among railfans as the Kodachrome livery due to the similarity in colors to the boxes containing slide film sold by the Eastman Kodak Company under the same name (Kodachrome film was one of the preferred brands in use by railfans). A common joke among railfans is that "SPSF" really stands for "Shouldn't Paint So Fast." Though the merger application was subsequently denied by the ICC, locomotives bearing this color scheme can still be found occasionally in lease service.
The Santa Fe maintained and operated a fleet of three passenger ferry boats (the San Pablo, the San Pedro, and the Ocean Wave) that connected Oakland with San Francisco by water. The ships traveled the eight miles between the San Francisco Ferry Terminal and the railroad's Point Richmond terminal across the Bay. The service was originally established as a continuation of the company's named passenger train runs such as the Angel and the Saint. The larger two ships (the San Pablo and the San Pedro) carried Fred Harvey Company dining facilities.
The rival Southern Pacific Railroad owned the world's largest ferry fleet (which was subsidized by other railroad activities), at its peak carrying 40 million passengers and 60 million vehicles annually aboard 43 vessels. Santa Fe discontinued ferry service in 1933 due to the effects of the Great Depression; the construction of the San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge initiated the slow decline in demand for SP's ferry service, which was eventually discontinued as well.