Meteor (train)

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The Meteor in 1909.
The Meteor 4500 moved to its permanent position in Tulsa, OK.
The Meteor at left, with the Texas Special as diesel equipped trains and new colors.

The Meteor was a named passenger train operated by the St. Louis-San Francisco Railway (a.k.a. SLSF or "the Frisco"). It ran overnight between Oklahoma City and St. Louis via Tulsa and was later extended to Lawton, Oklahoma on July 18, 1955. The name was shared with a branch line Meteor running between Monett, Missouri, and Paris, Texas. Later this line was truncated to terminate at Fort Smith, Arkansas. These Frisco trains should not be confused with Amtrak's Silver Meteor.

The Meteor began early in the 20th Century; one engineer who joined the Frisco in 1917 recalled that the Meteor was already a well-known train at that time.[1] Initially the trains were pulled by Frisco-class 1300 locomotives, being high-wheeled Baldwin engines with 2-8-0 wheel arrangements.[2] During the late 1930s and into the early years of World War II, Frisco-class 1500 Baldwin engines with 4-8-2 wheel arrangements took over the job.[3]

Frisco-class 4500 locomotives, and specifically locomotives No. 4500, 4501 and 4502, being three of twenty-five Northern class Baldwin 4-8-4s built for Frisco during World War II, were later designated for use on the Meteor. These locomotives were delivered in a distinctive zephyr blue, white and gray paint scheme with "Meteor" spelled out across the tender in bold red lettering. These three passenger engines also saw service pulling the Texas Special. In 1948, Frisco 4501 still in its Meteor livery pulled President Harry S. Truman's whistle stop tour train through his home state of Missouri.

When the Meteor was converted to use diesel locomotives, No. 4500 was re-painted into Frisco's standard black with gold striping and lettering and assigned to passenger trains such as the General Wood and the Will Rogers.

Engine No. 4501 resides at the Museum of the American Railroad, in Frisco, Texas.[4] The cosmetically-restored Engine No. 4500 resides at the Route 66 Historical Village[5] in Tulsa, OK.[6]

The new streamlined, diesel equipped Meteor began westbound operations on May 14, 1948, with its first eastbound train departing Oklahoma City on May 15. At the end of its maiden trip the president of the Frisco, while giving an interview in his private railcar attached to the train, pointed to a glass filled nearly to the brim with water. "Not a drop spilled between St. Louis and Tulsa," he said proudly.[7] Frisco purchased the EMD E7 locomotives and Pullman cars for the Meteor at the same time as they purchased ones for the Texas Special, so the two trains shared a distinctive look; bright red with corrugated aluminum side panels. Frisco bought sets of named cars for each train.

Named cars[edit]

Named trains frequently had named cars; the Frisco named Meteor cars after cities and rivers. Not all cars may have been named, but the ones that were bore their names prominently on their side panels.

Cars used on the Meteor
Car name No. Railroad Type Made Notes
Normandy 251 SLSF combination baggage, 30 ft (9.1 m) mail 1947  
Valley Park 252 SLSF baggage, 30 ft mail 1947  
Manchester 1095 SLSF 34-seat coach, dormitory 1947  
Maplewood 1096 SLSF 34-seat coach, dormitory 1947  
Clayton 1253 SLSF 56-seat coach 1947  
Ferguson 1254 SLSF 56-seat coach 1947  
Kirkwood 1255 SLSF 56-seat coach 1947  
Richmond Heights 1256 SLSF 56-seat coach 1947  
University City 1257 SLSF 56-seat coach 1947  
Webster Groves 1258 SLSF 56-seat coach 1947  
Meramec River 1457 SLSF 14 roomette, 4 bedroom sleeper 1947  
Osage River 1458 SLSF 14 roomette, 4 bedroom sleeper 1947  
Gasconade River 1459 SLSF 14 roomette, 4 bedroom sleeper 1947  
Niangua River 1460 SLSF 14 roomette, 4 bedroom sleeper 1947  
James River 1461 SLSF 14 roomette, 4 bedroom sleeper 1947  
Grand River 1462 SLSF 14 roomette, 4 bedroom sleeper 1947  
Canadian River 1463 SLSF 14 roomette, 4 bedroom sleeper 1947  
Neosho River 1464 SLSF 14 roomette, 4 bedroom sleeper 1947  
Spring River 1465 SLSF 14 roomette, 4 bedroom sleeper 1947  
Cimarron River 1466 SLSF 14 roomette, 4 bedroom sleeper 1947  
Tulsa 1550 SLSF 24-seat diner, 18-seat lounge, observation 1947  
Oklahoma City 1551 SLSF 24-seat diner, 18-seat lounge, observation 1947  
Ladue 1651 SLSF 26-seat coach, buffet, 25-seat lounge 1947  
Huntleigh 1652 SLSF 26-seat coach, buffet, 25-seat lounge 1947  

Models of the Meteor[edit]

  • Hallmark Models, Inc., a model train manufacturer has produced brass E7 diesels and corrugated passenger cars in red and silver without lettering, so that modelers can customize them for either a Meteor or Texas Special train.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Bob Foresman, “Bright memories of Tulsa’s ‘Meteor” Train,” Tulsa World, August 28, 1992, http://www.tulsaworld.com/archives/bright-memories-of-tulsa-s-meteor-train/article_4d777fe2-129a-5e9a-a0e0-9d0ef6c42319.html, Retrieved 6-10-15.
  2. ^ Bob Foresman, “Bright memories of Tulsa’s ‘Meteor” Train,” Tulsa World, August 28, 1992, http://www.tulsaworld.com/archives/bright-memories-of-tulsa-s-meteor-train/article_4d777fe2-129a-5e9a-a0e0-9d0ef6c42319.html, Retrieved 6-10-15. More precisely, 2-8-0s were Frisco-class 1306 engines, not to be confused with the Frisco-class 1350 locomotives which were 2-8-0s converted by Frisco to 2-8-2s in the WWII timeframe. See http://www.steamlocomotive.com/mikado/?page=slsf, Retrieved 6-11-15.
  3. ^ Bob Foresman, “Bright memories of Tulsa’s ‘Meteor” Train,” Tulsa World, August 28, 1992, http://www.tulsaworld.com/archives/bright-memories-of-tulsa-s-meteor-train/article_4d777fe2-129a-5e9a-a0e0-9d0ef6c42319.html, Retrieved 6-10-15.
  4. ^ "Museum of the American Railroad website". Retrieved 2012-07-24. 
  5. ^ "Route 66 Village website". Archived from the original on 2015-07-07. Retrieved 2015-06-11. 
  6. ^ ""Route 66 Village advocates seeking fee waiver", February 23, 2012". The Tulsa World. Retrieved July 24, 2012. 
  7. ^ Bob Foresman, “Bright memories of Tulsa’s ‘Meteor” Train,” Tulsa World, August 28, 1992, http://www.tulsaworld.com/archives/bright-memories-of-tulsa-s-meteor-train/article_4d777fe2-129a-5e9a-a0e0-9d0ef6c42319.html, Retrieved 6-10-15.

External links[edit]