Sunbeam (passenger train)
|System||Texas and New Orleans Railroad
|Line length||264 miles (425 km)|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm)|
The Sunbeam was a named passenger train between Houston and Dallas on the Texas and New Orleans Railroad (T&NO), a subsidiary of the Southern Pacific Railroad (SP). The train carried number 13 northbound and number 14 southbound.
It began in 1925 as a heavyweight train. In June 1926 it took 6-1/2 hours each way, leaving Houston at noon and Dallas at 1325; in August 1937 it scheduled fifteen regular and flag stops in the 6-1/2 hour run. The Sunbeam was re-equipped on September 19, 1937 as a streamlined train in the Daylight paint scheme. The T&NO streamlined three P-14 class 4-6-2 Pacific locomotives and painted them and their Vanderbilt tenders in Daylight colors.
Initial streamliner schedule over the 264 miles was 4 hours 45 minutes. Beginning June 1, 1938 the train made no passenger stops between the two largest cities in Texas, and the schedule was trimmed by twenty minutes to 4 hours 25 minutes (265 minutes) each way. The schedule was intended to match the competition, the Burlington-Rock Island's Texas Rocket and Sam Houston Zephyr that ran 249.6 miles between Houston and Dallas in 250 minutes.
The Sunbeam operated in tandem with its slower sibling, the Hustler. In August 1938 the streamlined Hustler left each city at 0800 and arrived at 1400, having made most local stops. Each consist then returned as the Sunbeam, leaving Houston at 1645 and Dallas at 1700. By 1941 flag stops at Ennis and College Station had been added to the Sunbeam's schedule, but the 265-minute schedule continued into the 1950s.
With the advent of T&NO/SP's Diesel locomotive fleet postwar, ALCO PAs were often assigned to the Sunbeam. In 1954 the Hustler was discontinued; in January 1955 the Sunbeam left Houston in the morning and returned from Dallas on its afternoon schedule. It was discontinued later that year.
- Photograph of the Sunbeam with streamlined Pacific locomotive and Vanderbilt tender, circa 1940, from The Portal to Texas History, University of North Texas Libraries.
- Photograph of the Sunbeam at Dallas in 1950, from The Portal to Texas History, University of North Texas Libraries.
- Photograph of the Sunbeam, led by Alco PA units, en route to Houston in 1952, from The Portal to Texas History, University of North Texas Libraries.
- Photograph of the Sunbeam leaving Dallas on Oct. 5, 1952, from The Portal to Texas History, University of North Texas Libraries.
- Photograph of the Sunbeam leaving Houston on Aug. 9, 1953, from The Portal to Texas History, University of North Texas Libraries.