After the Post Office mail contracts were summarily canceled in September 1967 Santa Fe found itself, in the words of one commentator, with "too many Chiefs and not enough passengers." Santa Fe president John S. Reed announced, in his October 1967 "Eulogy to the Chiefs", that Santa Fe would seek to discontinue all passenger service excepting the Super Chief/El Capitan, the San Francisco Chief, the Texas Chief and the San Diegans.

With the exception of Santa Fe's remaining short hops and mixed locals, no train's neck was farther out on the chopping block than the Grand Canyon. Its "stop at every crossroads" local scheduling had been obsolete for passenger purposes since the rise of the automobile in the 1920s. There had been some justification for it while mail and express business had been significant—parcel post doesn't take kindly to being hooked "on the fly"—but with the cancellation of mail contracts and with REA Express steadily losing market share to newcomers like UPS, the Grand Canyon was quite simply a financial black hole.

The train would lose its name in early 1968 after the Fred Harvey company was sold and Santa Fe filed to end all service to the Grand Canyon national park. However, it would continue in operation. The railroad pressed the Interstate Commerce Commission for permission to axe numbers 23 and 24 and reroute the San Francisco Chief into Los Angeles in its stead, ending all service in the San Joaquin Valley. The ICC turned them down.[*] And so, as an afterthought of days gone by, the train soldiered on into 1971.

From the pages of the Official Guide, April 1971

Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Ry. herald

Trains 23 and 24

Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Ry.
March, 1971

23 Train Number 24
9 00A Dp 0.0 Chicago, IL (Dearborn Sta.) (CT) C R Ar 9 00P
F 9 21A
12.8 McCook, IL

8 32P
F 9 26A
17.4 Willow Springs, IL

F 8 24P
25.1 Lemont, IL

F 9 39A
29.3 Romeo, IL

32.7 Lockport, IL

9 55A
37.5 Joliet, IL C R
8 04P
48.2 Drummond, IL

52.7 Lorenzo, IL

58.1 Coal City, IL C
7 40P
66.0 Mazon, IL

F10 24A
70.7 Verona, IL

F 7 26P
74.7 Kinsman, IL

79.7 Ransom, IL

F10 35A
84.3 Kernan, IL

10 45A
89.5 Streator, IL C
7 08P
F10 52A
95.7 Ancona, IL

F 6 58P
F11 04A
109.8 Toluca, IL C
6 45P
115.8 La Rose, IL

120.7 Wilbern, IL

11 25A
129.8 Chillicothe, IL C R
6 20P

Edelstein, IL

F 6 05P
144.4 Princeville, IL

F11 43A
148.0 Monica, IL

F 5 52P

Laura, IL

F11 51A
158.1 Williamsfield, IL

F 5 44P
163.0 Dahinda, IL

165.7 Appleton, IL

12 15P
177.2 Galesburg, IL C R
5 25P
185.7 Cameron, IL

189.9 Nemo, IL

F12 29P
191.6 Ormonde, IL

F 5 08P
196.8 Ponemah, IL

201.2 Smithshire, IL


Media, IL

F12 46P
208.6 Stronghurst, IL C
F 4 53P
F12 54P
218.6 Lomax, IL

F 4 44P
224.5 Dallas City, IL

1 25P
232.4 Fort Madison, IA C
4 25P
255.3 Revere, MO

F 1 55P
261.9 Medill, MO

F 3 47P
270.9 Wyaconda, MO C
F 2 12P
276.2 Gorin, MO

F 3 32P
281.1 Rutledge, MO

F 2 32P
289.2 Baring, MO C
F 3 17P
2 58P
311.1 La Plata, MO C
2 55P
321.2 Elmer, MO

F 3 13P
327.9 Ethel, MO

F 2 38P
339.7 Bucklin, MO

3 35P
345.6 Marceline, MO C
2 20P
F 3 49P
358.9 Mendon, MO

F 2 07P
F 4 02P
372.5 Bosworth, MO

F 1 57P
4 17P
384.7 Carrollton, MO C
1 44P
394.9 Norborne, MO C
F 4 34P
403.7 Hardin, MO C
F 1 26P
4 42P
409.6 Henrietta, MO C
1 20P
F 4 59P
425.0 Sibley, MO

5 40P Ar 449.4 Kansas City, MO C R Dp 12 30P
211 Connecting Train Number 212
6 05P
0.0 Kansas City, MO (CT) C R
12 10P
8 20P
126.2 Chanute, KS C
9 45A
11 00P
255.9 Tulsa, OK (111 S. Elgin St.) (CT) C
7 15A
6 00P Dp 449.4 Kansas City, MO C R Ar 12 15P
459.4 Morris, KS

462.5 Holliday, KS

6 40P
489.1 Lawrence, KS C
11 15A
7 15P
515.2 Topeka, KS C R
10 40A
F 7 50P
549.7 Osage City, KS C
F 9 55A
8 30P
576.6 Emporia, KS C
9 25A
587.9 Saffordville, KS

F 8 45P
596.2 Strong City, KS C
F 9 01A
602.8 Elmdale, KS

F 8 56P
610.1 Clements, KS

F 8 49A
615.2 Cedar Point, KS

F 9 05P
621.4 Florence, KS C
F 8 40A
F 9 14P
632.8 Peabody, KS C
F 8 31A
F 9 23P
642.8 Walton, KS

F 8 23A
9 40P Ar 649.6 Newton, KS C R Dp 8 15A
9 45P Dp Ar 8 05A
F 9 55P
659.1 Halstead, KS C
F 7 43A
F10 03P
668.6 Burrton, KS

F 7 35A
10 30P
682.5 Hutchinson, KS C R
7 20A
F10 41P
693.4 Partridge, KS

F 7 06A
F10 46P
699.6 Abbyville, KS

F 7 01A
F10 51P
705.2 Plevna, KS

F 6 56A
F10 56P
710.9 Sylvia, KS

F 6 51A
F11 00P
715.6 Zenith, KS

F 6 46A
F11 06P
721.5 Stafford, KS C
F 6 40A
F11 17P
730.5 St. John, KS C
F 6 32A
F11 26P
742.1 Macksville, KS

F 6 20A
F11 31P
749.4 Belpre, KS

F 6 15A
11 58P
766.9 Kinsley, KS C
6 01A
774.9 Offerle, KS

786.3 Spearville, KS

F 5 50A
F12 25A
794.9 Wright, KS

F 5 44A
1 05A Ar 802.7 Dodge City, KS (CT) C R Dp 5 35A
12 10A Dp Dodge City, KS (MT) Ar 4 30A
F12 21A
811.7 Howell, KS

F 4 08A
F12 30A
821.4 Cimarron, KS

3 59A
F12 35A
827.5 Ingalls, KS

F 3 53A
F12 40A
834.2 Charleston, KS

F 3 47A
F12 45A
840.3 Pierceville, KS

F 3 42A
1 05A
852.6 Garden City, KS C
3 30A
F 1 18A
867.2 Deerfield, KS

F 3 13A
1 28A
874.5 Lakin, KS

F 3 07A
F 1 44A
892.4 Kendall, KS

F 2 51A
1 59A
904.1 Syracuse, KS C
2 41A
F 2 12A
919.0 Coolidge, KS

F 2 28A
2 21A
925.1 Holly, CO C
2 21A
F 2 30A
935.5 Granada, CO

F 2 10A
2 46A
952.5 Lamar, CO C
1 55A
F 2 54A
960.6 Prowers, CO

F 1 44A
F 3 03A
971.7 Caddoa, CO

F 1 36A
3 16A
986.2 Las Animas, CO C
1 22A
3 45A Ar 1005.1 La Junta, CO
(Denver, Colorado Springs via bus)
C Dp 1 00A
4 00A Dp Ar 12 40A
F 4 42A
1050.1 Thatcher, CO

F11 53P
5 18A
1086.5 Trinidad, CO C
11 15P
6 13A Ar 1109.3 Raton, NM C Dp 10 15P
6 18A Dp Ar 10 10P
F 6 42A
1135.5 Maxwell, NM

F 9 40P
6 55A
1148.9 Springer, NM

F 9 27P
F 7 18A
1175.0 Wagon Mound, NM

F 9 02P
8 05A Ar 1219.1 Las Vegas, NM C Dp 8 15P
8 08A Dp Ar 8 10P
F 8 52A
1248.2 Ribera, NM

F 7 23P
F 9 15A
1264.4 Rowe, NM

F 7 01P
F 9 28A
1273.6 Glorieta, NM

F 6 50P
9 50A
1283.3 Lamy, NM (Santa Fe via on-call taxi) C
6 25P
F10 07A
1300.1 Los Cerrillos, NM

F 6 03P
F10 21A
1313.7 Domingo, NM

F 5 46P
F10 37A
1334.2 Bernalillo, NM

F 5 30P
11 00A Ar 1350.5 Albuquerque, NM C Dp 5 10P
11 10A Dp Ar 5 00P
1421.2 Laguna, NM X
F 3 45P
12 54P
1448.6 Grants, NM C X
3 20P
2 00P Ar 1510.8 Gallup, NM C Dp 2 20P
2 05P Dp Ar 2 15P
3 23P
1605.7 Holbrook, AZ C X
1 00P
4 00P Ar 1638.0 Winslow, AZ C Dp 12 30P
4 35P Dp Ar 12 15P
5 45P
1696.5 Flagstaff, AZ (Grand Canyon via bus)

11 15A
7 25P Ar 1780.5 Seligman, AZ C Dp 9 25A
7 30P Dp Ar 9 20A
8 58P
1868.1 Kingman, AZ (MT) (Las Vegas, NV via bus) C
7 40A
9 00P Ar 1929.2 Needles, CA (PT) C Dp 5 10A
9 05P Dp Ar 5 00A
11 40P Ar 2096.8 Barstow, CA C Dp 2 00A
Through Sleeper Chicago-Los Angeles (via Amarillo and Belen)
1 Connecting Train Number 2
10 00A Dp 0.0 Chicago, IL (Dearborn Sta.) (CT) C R Ar 8 00P
6 20P Dp 449.4 Kansas City, MO C R Ar 11 45A
5 50A Dp 1022.7 Amarillo, TX (CT) C Ar 12 05A
11 59A Dp 1367.1 Belen, NM (MT) C Ar 3 45P
11 35P Ar 2097.1 Barstow, CA (PT) C Dp 1 45A
1 00A Dp 2096.8 Barstow, CA C Ar 1 10A
F 1 45A
2133.3 Victorville, CA C X
12 35A
3 20A Ar 2177.7 San Bernardino, CA C Dp 11 10P
3 30A Dp Ar 11 00P
4 20A
2203.0 Pomona, CA C
10 20P
5 20A
2228.1 Pasadena, CA C
9 40P
6 00A Ar 2237.2 Los Angeles, CA (Union Psgr. Tml.) (PT) C Dp 9 00P
74 Connecting Train Number 77
7 30A Dp 0.0 Los Angeles, CA (Union Psgr. Tml.) (PT) C Ar 6 55P
8 10A Ar 28.2 Anaheim, CA C Dp 6 05P
10 25A Ar 127.5 San Diego, CA (PT) C Dp 4 00P

Train 23 (Chicago-Los Angeles): 101 stops, 47:00, 47.6 MPHTrain 24 (Los Angeles-Chicago): 102 stops, 46:00, 48.6 MPH

NOTE for connecting service to San Diego: "No baggage, remains or pets carried on train Nos. 73, 74, 75 and 78." [Baggage service and lounge car are available on No. 76 departing Los Angeles at 11:00 a.m. and arriving San Diego 1:55 p.m. and on No. 77 shown above.]

Nos. 23 and 24.
Sleeping Car (Barstow-Los Angeles) and Chair Cars.

Chair Cars...Chicago and Los Angeles.

Lunch Counter Dining Car...Chicago and Barstow.

Lounge Car...Chicago and Barstow (during Summer season).

Sleeping Car...Barstow and Los Angeles (on Trains 1 and 2 San Francisco Chief Chicago and Barstow.) (Can be occupied until 8:00 a.m. in Los Angeles.)

Chair Car...Barstow and Los Angeles (on Trains 1 and 2, San Francisco Chief, Chicago and Barstow).

NOTE for all stations west of Albuquerque: "No checked baggage, pets, or remains handled on this train to or from this station." [Checked baggage was not handled on these trains west of Albuquerque. However, although this is not explicitly stated in the timetable, it appears that checked baggage could be transferred to the Super Chief westbound at Albuquerque and vice versa eastbound. The westbound Super Chief operates 3-6 hours behind No. 23, while the eastbound Super Chief operates 1-4 hours ahead of No. 24. Therefore, it seems that same day checked baggage service should be available to stations west of Albuquerque which are also stops for the Super Chief/El Capitan, subject to a few hours delay.]

See the Fare Table in the Ticket Office.

Take another look at that equipment. No through sleeper on most of the route, true, but full onboard food service during all normal meal hours and even a full lounge car had the train survived into the summer travel season. Full checked baggage service east of Albuquerque, with [almost certainly] connecting baggage service to most stops west of that point given a few hours' delay. Compare that schedule against some of the other trains of the period. Over a hundred regular and flag stops listed on the time card, plus an additional thirty or so places where the train might stop...yet it hustles from Chicago to Los Angeles in only 47 hours, or 46 for the return trip. That's faster than the final Golden State and within half an hour of the final City of Los Angeles, and both of those trains represented their operating railroads' very best foot forward. This is Santa Fe's third string—a train that they had been trying to dump for four years! If you wonder why travelers of a certain age with clear memories of the period remove their hats and speak in reverent tones when discussing Santa Fe passenger service, you need look no further.

Number 24 holds the distinction of being the final system owned and operated passenger train to run on the Santa Fe. While the Super Chief/El Capitan and Texas Chief would continue to operate, they shifted to Amtrak ownership and control effective with the first trains dispatched from Union Station on May 1. The last train dispatched by the Santa Fe left Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal at 9:00 p.m. Pacific Time on April 30, 1971. For the next forty-six hours as it hustled along the old Santa Fe trail through Needles, Flagstaff, Albuquerque, Raton Pass, Dodge City, and Kansas City it represented the close of more than a century of tradition. The final Number 24 pulled into Dearborn Station on-time at 9:00 p.m. Central Daylight Time on May 2, and an era came to an end.

Edited To Add: After reviewing the other railroads' timetables, I see that it was the end of an era in more ways than one. Two trains were dispatched after Number 24's departure by founding Amtrak member railroads—the Southern Pacific's Sunset and the Burlington Northern's Western Star, both at 10:00 p.m.—but they both had significantly shorter runs than Santa Fe's final train. The Western Star pulled into its St. Paul terminus at 6:15 p.m. on May 2, while the Sunset arrived New Orleans at 8:10 by the timetable. (I do not have records of actual arrival times for either of these trains.) So, at least by the published schedules, Number 24 was the last regularly scheduled revenue passenger train ever operated by any original Amtrak member railroad. Yes, I do believe that this is significant.