City of Los Angeles (train)

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City of Los Angeles
UP-CNW City of Los Angeles combined.png
932 arr laupt - Flickr - drewj1946.jpg
UP #932, an EMD E8, leads the City of Los Angeles into Union Station in Los Angeles in March 1971, just prior to discontinuance.
Service typeInter-city rail
LocaleWestern United States
First serviceMay 15, 1936
Last serviceMay 2, 1971
Former operator(s)
StartChicago, Illinois
EndLos Angeles, California
Average journey time
  • 40 hours, 45 minutes (Chicago - Los Angeles)
  • 40 hours, 30 minutes (Los Angeles - Chicago)
Service frequencyDaily
Train number(s)
  • 103 (Chicago - Los Angeles)
  • 104 (Los Angeles - Chicago)
Line(s) usedOverland Route
On-board services
Class(es)Coach Class
Sleeping arrangements
  • Streamlined Sleeping cars
  • Double Bedrooms
  • Drawing Rooms
  • Compartments
  • Roommates
Catering facilities
  • Cafe Lounge Car
  • Dome Dining Car
Observation facilitiesDome lounge
Baggage facilitiesLimited handling
Track gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Operating speed
  • 56.4 mph (Chicago - Los Angeles)
  • 56.8 mph (Los Angeles - Chicago)

The City of Los Angeles was a streamlined passenger train between Chicago, Illinois, and Los Angeles, California via Omaha, Nebraska, and Ogden, Utah. Between Omaha and Los Angeles it ran on the Union Pacific Railroad; east of Omaha it ran on the Chicago and North Western Railway until October 1955 and on the Milwaukee Road thereafter. The train had number 103 westbound and number 104 eastbound.

This train was the top-of-the-line for UP, which marketed it as a competitor to the Super Chief, a streamlined passenger train on the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway, and the Golden State, a streamlined passenger train jointly operated by the Rock Island and Southern Pacific railroads. Many of the train's cars bore the names of locales in and around its namesake city.

CNW / UP used one of two three-unit sets of EMC E2 locomotives as motive power beginning in 1937. The UP scored a public relations coup in the mid-1950s when the City of Los Angeles was featured in two episodes of the popular television series I Love Lucy. In 1955 the Milwaukee Road assumed the service, replacing the Chicago and North Western between Chicago and Omaha. Actor Ronald Reagan often traveled on this train and even did a full page print ad for it that appeared in the National Geographic magazine. In a cost-cutting move, the City of Los Angeles was combined with the City of San Francisco in 1960.



The E2-powered train circa 1941. Slate gray crudely painted over originally brown roof.
1944 advertisement. Winged emblem has replaced badge plates. Roof trim complete.
Circa 1955 westbound at Hermosa, WY.
  • May 15, 1936: City of Los Angeles makes its first run between Chicago, Illinois and Los Angeles, California. One trainset (the M-10002) leaves each terminal five times a month.
  • December 1937: 14-car 791-ton train powered by three EMC E2s replaces the older trainset, reassigned as City of Portland.
  • July 1938: Former City of San Francisco trainset M-10004 joins service, allowing departures ten times a month.
  • March 1939: New train powered by two unit EMC E3 set enters service, replacing M-10004; frequency remains ten departures per month. The Hollywood, a lounge car built for the City of Los Angeles, is the first passenger car with an interior built entirely of synthetic materials, including the newly invented formica (plastic) and naugahyde.
  • July 1941: EMC E6 three unit set replaces E3 set; consist of train expanded to 14 cars.
  • 1947: City of Los Angeles begins running daily.
  • 1955: Astra Dome dome cars are added to the City of Los Angeles. The Milwaukee Road takes over operation of the City of Los Angeles from the Chicago and North Western Railway between Chicago and Omaha.
  • 1956: Challenger and City of Los Angeles are combined and operate on the City of Los Angeles schedule. (The Challenger operated on its own schedule during a couple of summers thereafter.)
  • 1970: Dome dining cars retired and replaced with standard flat top cars.
  • May 1, 1971: Amtrak takes over long-distance passenger operations in the United States.
  • May 2, 1971: UP-operated long-distance rail service ends when the City of Los Angeles arrives at Los Angeles Union Station.[1]

In 1976 Amtrak created the short-lived Las Vegas Limited service which ran from Los Angeles to Las Vegas from May 21 to August 6, 1976. In 1979, the Desert Wind was introduced, mostly following the City of Los Angeles' route between Los Angeles to Ogden, Utah, where it connected to the Oakland-Chicago San Francisco Zephyr, once again offering Chicago-Los Angeles through-service. he Desert Wind ceased operation in 1997.

Other railroad uses of the name City of Los Angeles[edit]

The City of Los Angeles name has also been applied to a 48-seat diner built by the St. Louis Car Company in 1949. The car was originally UP No. 4808 and is currently owned and operated by the Union Pacific as part of their excursion fleet.


The City of Los Angeles began running in 1936 using the articulated M-10002 trainset. Behind the two power units were an RPO-baggage car, a baggage-dormitory-kitchen, a diner-lounge, an 11-section sleeping car, a 7-double bedroom 2-compartment sleeper, two more 11-section sleepers, a 48-seat coach, and a 38-seat coach-buffet car. All the passenger-carrying cars were air-conditioned.[2] The Union Pacific replaced it with a non-articulated train in late 1937. A trio of EMC E2 diesel locomotives pulled a baggage-dormitory car, two 52-seat coaches, a coffee shop-kitchen car, a dining car, a dormitory-buffet lounge, seven sleeping cars of varying configurations, and a buffet-lounge-observation car.[3] Union Pacific added a second articulated trainset in 1938, the M-10004. Its configuration was similar to the M-10002: two power units, a baggage-dormitory, 40- and 48-seat coaches, a coffee-shop kitchen, a diner, an 11-section sleeper, two 7-double bedroom 2-compartment sleepers, two more 11-section sleepers, and a buffet-lounge-observation car.[4] The second articulated trainset was replaced with an eleven car non-articulated train powered by an EMC E3 twin locomotive set in March 1939. In July 1941 the E3 locomotive set was replaced with a three unit E6 set and the consist expanded to 14 cars. The two three-locomotive, 14 car trains were joined after the end of the war by new E7-powered trains, establishing daily service in 1947. The E2 locomotives were traded in 1953.

A typical City of Los Angeles train consist around 1955 included:

Station stops[edit]

Station stops, 1950[5][edit]

  • Chicago, IL (Chicago & North Western)
  • Clinton, IA
  • Cedar Rapids, IA
  • Ames, IA
  • Boone, IA
  • Omaha, NE (Union Pacific)
  • Fremont, NE (departing passengers only)
  • Columbus, NE (departing passengers only)
  • Kearney, NE (departing passengers only)
  • Grand Island, NE
  • North Platte, NE
  • Sidney, NE
  • Cheyenne, WY
  • Laramie, WY
  • Rawlins, WY
  • Green River, WY
  • Evanston, WY
  • Ogden, UT
  • Salt Lake City, UT
  • Milford, UT
  • Las Vegas, NV
  • San Bernardino, CA
  • Riverside, CA
  • East Los Angeles, CA
  • Los Angeles, CA

Time Table[edit]

Sample Time Tables, 1947 - 1953[edit]

Read Down
Condensed Schedules

All trains daily

Read Up
City of Los Angeles
City of Los Angeles
Sep. 11, 1949 May, 1950 Sep. 27, 1953 Sep. 27, 1953 May, 1950 Sep. 11, 1949
7.15 7.15 7.15 Lv. Chicago   C.& N.W. Ar. 10.40 +2 10.40 +2 10.45 +2
3.00 +1 3.00 +1 3.00 +1 Ar. Omaha   C.& N.W. Lv. 2.50 +2 2.50 +2 2.50 +2
3.10 +1 3.10 +1 3.10 +1 Lv. Omaha   Un. Pac. Ar. 2.40 +2 2.40 +2 2.40 +2
9.25 +1 9.25 +1 9.25 +1 Ar. Cheyenne Lv. 6.30 +1 6.30 +1 6.30 +1
9.35 +1 9.35 +1 9.35 +1 Lv. Cheyenne Ar. 6.20 +1 6.20 +1 6.20 +1
6.20 +1 6.20 +1 6.15 +1 Ar. Ogden Lv. 9.45 +1 9.45 +1 9.40 +1
6.30 +1 6.30 +1 6.25 +1 Lv. Ogden Ar. 9.35 +1 9.35 +1 9.30 +1
7.10 +1 7.10 +1 7.10 +1 Ar. Salt Lake City Lv. 8.50 +1 8.50 +1 8.50 +1
7.20 +1 7.20 +1 7.20 +1 Lv. Salt Lake City Ar. 8.40 +1 8.40 +1 8.40 +1
9.00 +2 9.00 +2 9.00 +2 Ar. Los Angeles Lv. 5.00 5.00 5.00
39 h 45 m 39 h 45 m 39 h 45 m ---Elapsed Time--- 39 h 40 m 39 h 40 m 39 h 40 m

Bold numbers indicate P.M.
+1 indicates the day after departure
+2 indicates two days after departure

Compare the run time to that of Amtrak's Desert Wind in 1979: Westbound (train 35) 48 hours and 30 minutes. Eastbound (train 36) 48 hours and 00 minutes.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ See Solomon, Brian, Railroad Color History: Union Pacific Railroad, p. 72 (photo of last westbound City of Los Angeles taken at Las Vegas on May 2, 1971). MBI Publishing, 2000.
  2. ^ Wayner 1972, pp. 140–141
  3. ^ Wayner 1972, p. 148
  4. ^ Wayner 1972, p. 142
  5. ^ The Official Guide of the Railways, May 1950


  • Ranks, Harold E.; Kratville, William W. (1974). The Union Pacific Streamliners. Kratville Publications, Omaha, NE.
  • Schafer, Mike; Welsh, Joe (1997). Classic American Streamliners. Osceola, Wisconsin: MotorBooks International. ISBN 978-0-7603-0377-1.
  • Solomon, Brian (2000). Union Pacific Railroad. Osceola, Wisconsin: MBI. ISBN 0-7603-0756-3.
  • Wayner, Robert J., ed. (1972). Car Names, Numbers and Consists. New York: Wayner Publications. OCLC 8848690.

External links[edit]