Above, No. 3401 is loaded
in San Antonio in preparation for a trip to Dallas and the filming of
Home Ties, a made-for-TV movie starring Jason Robards.
Photo by Tom Marsh.
Santa Fe placed its order for
3401 and sister car No. 3402 with the Budd Co. in August 1937, and the
streamlined cars were delivered in April 1938. Originally
to the Kansas Cityan and Chicagoan, the 3401 eventually
service on many ATSF trains, including the Chicago to Houston Texas
Chief. The 3401 is one of the earliest streamlined RPO cars
for any railroad.
The 1960s saw the end of most
with the U.S. Post Office for carriage of mail. As the mail moved
to trucks and airplanes, many of the cars were scrapped. A number
of Santa Fe cars were sold to the Penn Central, which continued RPO
on the Northeat's shorter hauls for some years after the Post Office
quit using RPOs on most railroads. Fortunately for the museum,
3401 was not sold, and Santa Fe donated the car in 1968.
In 1988, Gulf Coast Chapter NRHS
marked No. 3401's
50th birthday with a special celebration at the Gulf Coast Railroad
The U.S. Postal Service was on hand in the car to cancel special covers
commemorating No. 3401's postal career.
Above, a view of the interior.
Below, the movie train enroute to
an A-B-A set of Texas Southern F-units. The stainless steel
cars were used in the actual filming.
Norm Schultze photo from the Gary
3401 in the aftermath of 2008's Hurricane Ike. Fortunately, the tree
fell on the strong roof of the 3401, rather than on the more fragile SP
sign from Grand Central Station.