by Mike Skibbe

In 2011, Kato released an 11-car passenger set of Union Pacific’s City of Los Angeles (COLA) domeliner.  The set as issued by Kato is appropriate for mid-1956.  We thought it would be appropriate to do a little research on the City of Los Angeles (Train 103 westbound and 104 eastbound) and see what changes occured to the consist over the years.

Mid-1955 to April-1956

(Delivery of Dome Diners and Dome Observation Lounge Cars)

ACF delivered new Dome Diners and Dome Observation-Lounges to the Union Pacific in 1955 marking the beginning of the Domeliner era of the COLA.  The City of Portland (COP) was equipped with the first deliveries, with the COLA receiving it’s 5 Dome Diner and 5 Dome Observation-Lounges mid-year. In the February 1956 Official Guide of the Railways we get a picture of the City of Los Angeles as it existed during this period.  Below is an excerpt of the equipment table found in the Union Pacific section of the guide.

The Dome Observation-Lounge (for sleeping car passengers only) and the Dome Dining Car (club and a la carte service) are included.  Additional meal service and lounge space for coach passengers was offered in a Cafe Lounge Car.  Connecting sleepers, either from New York via Chicago (PRR or NYC alternate days 10-6 sleepers) or the Twin Cities via Omaha (C&NW 6-6-4 sleeper) are called out here.  Unfortunately, specific sleeping cars aren’t called out for the Chicago to Los Angeles UP cars.  However, if we dig into the Official Guide a little deeper, we find that the Milwaukee Road section has some additional information as the COLA traveled Milwaukee Road rails from Chicago to Omaha.

Here we see a 10-6 and a 4-4-2 sleeper specifically called out along with the rest of the expected coach/lounge/meal service cars.

So, starting with a Kato City of Los Angeles set, the following changes could be made to slightly backdate the consist:

Remove: 5-Bedroom Buffet Lounge (Not delivered until Apr ’56)
Add: Kato (Broadway Ltd set) or Walther’s PRR Rapids series 10-6 Sleeper repainted in UP colors with Pennsylvania lettering (transcon car) and named Tippecanoe Rapids or Stoney Rapids.
Add: Centralia Car Shops UP Imperial series 4-4-2 sleeper (CCS-6801)
Optional: The 11 Double Bedroom Sleeper (Placid series) were delivered 2/56-3/56.  You can leave the included Kato car in or out depending on your exact time period.
Optional: Kato previously released UP 6-6-4 sleepers in their smoothside series.  Include one if you are modeling the Omaha to Los Angeles portion of the train.

April-1956 to late-1956

(Delivery of 5-Bedroom Buffet Lounge Cars)

Kato included a City series 5-Bedroom Buffet Lounge car in their COLA set, so this period is the match for the Kato consist as packaged.  However, the transcontinental service from New York via Chicago on the PRR or NYC (alternate days) was still in effect.  Therefore, a transcon 10-6 could be added to the set.  The Kato or Walther’s PRR Rapids series 10-6 in UP colors would still be the best choice in N scale.

Also, Union Pacific took delivery of Ocean series 5-2-2 sleepers in May 1956.  We found evidence that these were assigned to the COLA as early as February of 1957, so likely they were assigned from delivery.  Kato did not included a model of these cars, but one would be an appropriate addition.  American Model Builders offered laser cut acrylic car sides to model a UP Ocean series car as their kit #5005.

Late-1956 to 1960

(Bye-bye Dome Obs…)

Unfortunately, Union Pacific decided to rebuild the Dome Observation Lounge cars into mid-train Dome Lounges late in 1956.  This involved a new rear door, removal of the neon tail sign, and blanking of the end windows.  It was then placed aft of the Dome Diner in the consist to remain as a lounge for sleeping car passengers.  Through sleeping car service between New York and Los Angeles is noted as being discontinued January 16, 1957, in the February 1957 Official Guide.  Other changes to the consist are evident in this issue of the guide:

There are a few items of note compared to the previous Official Guide excerpts.  The 5-Bedroom Lounge (Club) and 11 Double Bedroom sleepers are now included.  The May 1956 delivered Ocean series 5 Double Bedroom, 2 Compartment, 2 Drawing Room (5-2-2) are shown as well.  And despite UP advertising showing depictions of the Dome Observations Lounges still in ’57, the Dome Lounge version is clearly listed without its ‘observation’ tag.  Yes, it’s in mid-train service now.  Nothing more than a red light hung on the last sleeper marks the end of the train now.

One would also assume, from this listing, that the Cafe Lounge was no longer in service for coach passengers.  In fact, no coach service is listed at all.  Could it be that in February of 1957 coach service was only available on the Challenger, UP’s other daily Chicago-Los Angeles Domeliner?

In an attempt to answer this question, we located a June-September 1957 UP time table.

So, there is a seasonal change as the coach service is listed here along with more detail about specific sleepers.  And the Cafe Lounge car is back.  Beginning in 1956 the City of Los Angeles and Challenger were combined in the off season and run as separate trains during the peak travel season.

This is also a good time to note that although these equipment lists, either from the Official Guide or time tables, are useful for determining the make-up of specific passenger trains, the cars are not listed in the order in which they appeared.  UP generally followed this order: Locomotives, baggage/head end cars, dormitory car, coach section including Cafe Lounge, Dome Diner, Dome Lounge, sleeping cars.

In the Union Pacific Streamliners book by Ranks and Kratville, the following consist is given for June of 1958:

UP City of Los Angeles, June 1958

Type of Car
Mail-Baggage-Express
Baggage Dorm
Dome Coach
Coach
Coach
Coach
Cafe Lounge
10-6 Sleeper
5-Bdrm Club
Dome Diner
Dome Lounge
11 Bedroom
5-2-2 Sleeper
4-4-2 Sleeper
10-6 Sleeper
10-6 Sleeper
…. Between
Chicago-Los Angeles
Chicago-Los Angeles
Chicago-Los Angeles
Chicago-Los Angeles
Chicago-Los Angeles
Omaha-Los Angeles
Omaha-Los Angeles
Omaha-Los Angeles
Chicago-Los Angeles
Chicago-Los Angeles
Chicago-Los Angeles
Chicago-Los Angeles
Chicago-Los Angeles
Chicago-Los Angeles
Chicago-Los Angeles
Chicago-Los Angeles
…. N Scale Model
Kato COLA Storage Mail
Kato COLA Baggage-Dormitory
Kato Dome Coach
Kato 44-Seat Coach
Kato 44-Seat Coach
Kato 44-Seat Coach
Kato COLA Club Lounge
Kato COLA 10-6 Sleeper
Kato COLA 5DB-Lounge
Kato COLA Dome Diner
(Modified) Kato COLA Dome Lounge
Kato COLA 11 DB Sleeper
AMB Kit #5005 5-2-2 Sleeper
Centralia Car Shops #6801 4-4-2
Kato COLA 10-6 Sleeper
Kato COLA 10-6 Sleeper

1960-1967

(The combined City of Los Angeles-City of San Francisco)

In a cost savings move, the Union Pacific combined the City of Los Angeles with the City of San Francisco between Chicago and Ogden beginning September 25, 1960.  At Ogden, the cars for Los Angeles would continue on the UP while the cars for Oakland/San Francisco would be transfered to Southern Pacific rails to complete their journey.  During the summer, at peak traffic, the combined train would be run in two sections, with First 103/104 handling first class accommodations and Second 103/104 handling the coach traffic.  As it was UP practice to run the train number in the number boards, you can see “1-104” or “2-104” when the train was being run in two sections.  This is evidenced in the two excellent photos by Bob Krone below.  These were taken on the morning of June 13, 1963, just outside of Chicago in the suburb of Elmwood Park, IL.  At this point the train is on Milwaukee Road trackage, and thus, is Milwaukee Road Train 104.

June 13, 1963: Milwaukee Road Train 1-104 passing through Elmwood Park, IL on the way to Chicago. Bob Krone photo.

June 13, 1963: Milwaukee Road Train 2-104 passing through Elmwood Park, IL on the way to Chicago. Bob Krone photo.

Mid-1967

(“Final season in full bloom” -Fred Frailey)

Fred Frailey devotes a chapter to the UP’s retreat in the final years before Amtrak in his book Twilight of the Great Trains.  He plots the consist of the City of Los Angeles in the summer of 1967.  At this time, the COLA was combined with the City of San Francisco between Chicago and Ogden.  The combined train ran in two sections.  “First 103” handled first class passengers while “Second 103” handled the coach passengers.  The consists out of Chicago were as follows:

First 103: UP City of Los Angeles-City of San Francisco, Summer 1967

Type of Car
Storage Mail
Storage Mail
Storage Mail
RPO
Baggage-Mail
Baggage-Dormitory
Sleeper (10-6)
Sleeper (10-6)
Sleeper (11 DB)
Sleeper (5-2-2)
Dome Diner
Dome Lounge
Sleeper (11 DB)
Sleeper (4-4-2)
Sleeper (10-6)
Sleeper (10-6)
…. Between
Chicago-Oakland
Chicago-Oakland
Chicago-Oakland
Chicago-Oakland
Chicago-Los Angeles
Chicago-Los Angeles
Chicago-Los Angeles
Chicago-Los Angeles
Chicago-Los Angeles
Chicago-Los Angeles
Chicago-Los Angeles
Chicago-Los Angeles
Chicago-Los Angeles
Chicago-Oakland
Chicago-Oakland
Chicago-Oakland
…. N Scale Model
Kato COLA Storage Mail
Kato COLA Storage Mail
Kato COLA Storage Mail
Kato Smoothside RPO
Kato Smoothside Baggage?
Kato COLA Baggage-Dormitory
Kato COLA 10-6 Sleeper
Kato COLA 10-6 Sleeper
Kato COLA 11 DB Sleeper
AMB Kit #5005 5-2-2 Sleeper
Kato COLA Dome Diner
(Modified) Kato COLA Dome Lounge
Kato COLA 11 DB Sleeper
Centralia Car Shops #6801 4-4-2
Kato COLA 10-6 Sleeper
Kato COLA 10-6 Sleeper

Second 103: UP City of Los Angeles-City of San Francisco, Summer 1967

Type of Car
Baggage-Dormitory
Coach
Coach
Coach
Coach
Coach
Coach
Coffee Shop-Lounge
Dome Coach
Coach
Buffet-Lounge
Coach
Coach
Coach
Coffee Shop-Lounge
Coach
Coach
…. Between
Chicago-Los Angeles
Chicago-Oakland
Chicago-Oakland
Chicago-Oakland
Chicago-Oakland
Chicago-Oakland
Chicago-Oakland
Chicago-Los Angeles
Chicago-Los Angeles
Chicago-Los Angeles
Chicago-Los Angeles
Chicago-Los Angeles
Chicago-Los Angeles
Chicago-Los Angeles
Chicago-Los Angeles
Chicago-Los Angeles
Chicago-Los Angeles
…. N Scale Model
Kato COLA Baggage-Dormitory
Kato 44-Seat Coach
Kato 44-Seat Coach
Kato 44-Seat Coach
Kato 44-Seat Coach
Kato 44-Seat Coach
Kato 44-Seat Coach
Kato COLA Lounge (Stand-in?)
Kato Dome Coach
Kato 44-Seat Coach
AMB Kit #5002 (Lunch Counter Diner)
Kato 44-Seat Coach
Kato 44-Seat Coach
Kato 44-Seat Coach
Kato COLA Lounge (Stand-in?)
Kato 44-Seat Coach
Kato 44-Seat Coach

In the fall of 1967, the combined COLA/COSF was run as a single section and all coach and first class cars were in the same train again.

1968 to 1971

(“All Hail the City of Everywhere” -Fred Frailey)

By September 7, 1969, UP had retreated so much that the City of Los Angeles, City of San Francisco, City of Portland, City of Denver, and City of Kansas City (ex-City of St. Louis but N&W cut service to St. Louis after the Wabash merger) were all combined into one glorious train, the City of Everywhere! (UP never called it this, it’s a railfan moniker) From Cheyenne to Green River, where the City of Everywhere was fully combined, the train reached 27 cars in length and six E-units in an A-B-B-B-B-A lashup unmatched by any other railroad.

UP “City of Everywhere”, Cheyenne to Green River, Summer 1970

Type of Car
Storage Mail
Baggage-Mail
Baggage-Mail
Baggage-Mail
Baggage-Dormitory
Sleeper (10-6)
Sleeper (10-6)
Sleeper (10-6)
Sleeper (10-6)
Sleeper (5-2-2)
Diner
Dome Lounge
Dome Coach
Coach
Coach
Coach
Coach
Coach
Coach
Coach
Diner
Sleeper (dorm)
Coach
Sleeper (10-6)
Dome Coach
Coach
Baggage-Mail
…. Between
Chicago-Oakland
Chicago-Oakland
Kansas City-Los Angeles
Chicago-Los Angeles
Chicago-Los Angeles
Kansas City-Los Angeles
Chicago-Oakland
Chicago-Oakland
Chicago-Los Angeles
Chicago-Los Angeles
Chicago-Los Angeles
Chicago-Los Angeles
Chicago-Los Angeles
Chicago-Los Angeles
Chicago-Oakland
Kansas City-Oakland
Kansas City-Oakland
Kansas City-Los Angeles
Kansas City-Los Angeles
Omaha-Los Angeles
Omaha-Portland
Omaha-Portland
Omaha-Portland
Chicago-Portland
Chicago-Portland
Chicago-Portland
Chicago-Portland
…. N Scale Model
Kato COLA Storage Mail
Kato Smoothside Baggage
Kato Smoothside Baggage
Kato Smoothside Baggage
Kato COLA Baggage-Dormitory
Kato COLA 10-6 Sleeper
Kato COLA 10-6 Sleeper
Kato COLA 10-6 Sleeper
Kato COLA 10-6 Sleeper
AMB Kit #5005 5-2-2 Sleeper
Kato Smoothside UP Diner
(Modified) Kato COLA Dome Lounge
Kato Dome Coach
Kato 44-Seat Coach
Kato 44-Seat Coach
Kato 44-Seat Coach
Kato 44-Seat Coach
Kato 44-Seat Coach
Kato 44-Seat Coach
Kato 44-Seat Coach
Kato Smoothside UP Diner
Scratchbuild
Kato 44-Seat Coach
Kato COLA 10-6 Sleeper
Kato Dome Coach
Kato 44-Seat Coach
Kato Smoothside Baggage

Photographer George W. Hamlin was on hand to catch the second to last and the final train 103’s leaving Chicago just before Amtrak took over.  His photos appear below.

The Second to last Milw/UP #103 departs Chicago near Canal St behind Milw 31A on April 29, 1971.  George W. Hamlin Photo.

UP 912 leads as the final Milw/UP #103 Cities train departs Chicago near Canal Street on April 30, 1971.  George W. Hamlin Photo.

If you have any additions or corrections to suggest for this article, or can share your own model of the City of Los Angeles, please let us know in our forum!



Discuss This in Our Forums…