Welcome to Fall a time for slowing down and relaxing. The Summer travel rush is behind us, and we are starting to close in on the holiday travel season, but we have time yet. As we get deeper into Fall those of us who love trains begin to move from watching trains and getting out to the sights they once haunted, to keeping inside in a train related world of our own. That’s right it’s the time of year for serious railfan’s to turn to model railroading.
The world of model railroading has a lot of interesting stories that connect it to the real world of railroading. It’s not uncommon to hear stories about model railroaders researching detail for their lines and uncovering some forgotten piece of history about the railways and areas they base their layouts on. I don’t have a layout myself but I do have a nice O-gauge collection, as you can guess my collection has a lot of Santa Fe pieces in it. My dream layout would be an abbreviated version of Route 66 from Chicago to LA, and focus on Santa Fe and the other railways that paralleled much of the route. Of course every time I put it down on paper I realize even abbreviated by landmarks the layout would still be huge, especially in O-gauge. But my dream layout has already had me doing a lot of research on the trains, terrain, sidings, and consists I want to have on it, and that research has taught me a lot about both the Santa Fe and Route 66.
Of course my obsession with the Super Chief and some of Santa Fe’s other passenger trains has aimed me towards a lot of unique data. For instance one thing I was always curious about are the locomotives Santa Fe used to pull its famous passenger trains. In the world of O-gauge we see Santa Fe’s trains being pulled by E-Units, F-Units, Alco FA’s, PA’s, DL’s, Shark Noses, Centipedes, and other locomotives. So I had to get down to brass tacks and find out what Santa Fe really used to pull its legendary trains. Then I found a piece of information I thought I never would find or expect.
You see in the world of model railroading there are legends as well, and Super Chief is one of them here too. But the most iconic of all of them is Lionel’s pulled by F3’s. The F3 was first modeled and sold by Lionel in 1948 in the Warbonnet livery, and within a few short years after that it began to sell aluminum streamlined cars to complete the Super Chief's look. In 1959 Lionel would release one of its best complete versions of the Super Chief, but it would fall short in comparison to the complete Super Chief A-B-B-A Lionel Centennial Super Chief set it would release in 2000, a set still highly sought after and that you would be lucky to get your hands on for $1500.
But here is the thing about Lionel and the Super Chief, Santa Fe didn’t use F3’s for pulling its passenger trains. I mean don’t get me wrong Santa Fe did use the F3, but usually for its freight operations. The F3 wouldn’t have been uncommon to see in the blue and yellow livery colors, or in the “Yellow” bonnet colors, but it never appeared in the regular Warbonnet colors, or at the head of Santa Fe’s passenger trains.
No, I am openly willing to admit I could be wrong, since Santa Fe used a variety of locomotives to pull its trains like, E1’s, FT’s, PA’s, DL-109’s, and F7’s, but from what I’ve read and researched it doesn’t look as if the Electric Train King and icon actually pulled the train it is associated with the most in real life. Somewhat ironic! But if you can prove me wrong send those pictures my way I would love to see them.