Fast facts about the C&O George Washington – coming soon in HO from WalthersProto®
For folks lucky enough to ride C&O’s George Washington in the streamline era, getting there really was half the fun! A relaxed atmosphere unique among name trains and long-standing traditions of superb service made every rider feel welcome. With the arrival of brand-new lightweight cars in 1950, George, as he was known to his many friends began some of the best and busiest years of his long career.
Following the introduction of Walthers newest name train, the C&O George Washington, we’d like to share with you some interesting facts we learned during the development of this train. The George has a rather topsy-turvy story, and here are some of the highlights:
The George Washington was the C&O’s flagship for almost 40 years, and along the way it established a reputation for service that was second to none. Taking full advantage of growing public excitement over George Washington’s 200th birthday celebrations planned for 1932, C&O began laying the groundwork for its new train in 1931. While the C&O served several cities associated with Washington in his lifetime, the PR department proclaimed him the railroad’s first president (via his connection to an early canal company with later ties to the railroad) and launched a major campaign rebranding itself as “George Washington’s Railroad.”
Introduced on April 30, 1932, the mostly new consist was America’s second train to feature air conditioning – Baltimore & Ohio’s Capitol Limited beat it by a week. Popular from the start, it quickly rose to become the line’s flagship, overshadowing the Fast Flying Virginian (FFV) and was soon known simply as the George. Befitting its status, it carried train numbers one and two in public and employee timetables.
Overnight service was offered between Washington, DC and Cincinnati, Ohio, with stops at key southern cities. Connecting service was also provided to the famous Greenbrier and Homestead Hotel resorts in West Virginia; with no major highways and only a small hobby airport nearby George was the best way to get there well into the jet age.
Plans to streamline all C&O trains began in 1946 with a massive order for 284 lightweight cars from Pullman-Standard. Postwar economic factors led to cutbacks, but C&O accepted most of the 52-seat coaches (80 ordered, 59 retained) and 10-6 sleepers (75 ordered, 56 retained) that became the road’s signature streamlined equipment. As a result of the sales, similar cars were found on the IC, DRGW, and B&O and eventually on other railroads as well.
Assigned to George and other trains after deliveries began in 1950, these unique C&O coaches and sleepers had custom-designed interiors inspired by wartime rider surveys. Coaches featured a curved glass center partition to break-up the “bowling alley” floor plan found in standard cars, which also resulted in blank panels on the exterior. Where most 10-6 sleepers were built with the expensive bedrooms on one end, the C&O City series put all of them in the center, well away from the noise and vibration of the wheels. Outside, these sleepers were unusual in that they carried both names and numbers.
After they were cut from the Pullman order as a further cost-cutting move, C&O simply repainted heavyweight mail, baggage and dining cars to match the new yellow, blue and stainless steel lightweights and continued to use some right to the end in 1971. George operated with heavyweight diners until 1960 when three Budd mid-train Lunch Counter-Dining-Observation cars (built for George’s intended daytime companion, the Chessie, which never entered service) were assigned. These were replaced in 1962 by rebuilt mid-train Pullman Diner-Dormitories, which remained George’s standard food service cars through 1971 and are part of our HO model of the train.
E8A units were delivered in two orders from 1950-1953; no B units were purchased. The first 10 arrived painted similarly to new F7s entering freight service, but management felt this didn’t go well with its new passenger scheme. All 10 were repainted very shortly after delivery (photos are rare) and the next 20 arrived in proper passenger colors. These would remain standard passenger power through 1971.
One of the most operations-oriented trains for modelers, George was probably the hardest working passenger train in America by the late 1950s. Numerous cars and entire sections were set off and picked up along its route, operating as separate trains to serve Louisville, Detroit and Newport News, as well as Chicago via the NYC and New York City via the PRR. George eventually took over the duties of the FFV and Sportsman and on some portions of the run, 16 cars were standard. A third E unit (all were rebuilt with nose-mounted MU equipment) was added to move the heavier train through the mountains, and to power one of the sections. If you want to model a passenger train that features online switching and consist changes, the George is the train for you.
As the C&O and B&O joined forces in the early 1960s, passenger services were consolidated. No effort was made to keep cars on their home rails, and George began sporting a mix of equipment. As a result, sections of the train now ran as far west as Chicago and St. Louis.
One the eve of Amtrak, George had the honor of being the last C&O passenger train in service. Much of its scenic route is still served today by Amtrak’s Cardinal.
There’s still time to make this great new train part of your operations or collections! Reserve yours today at https://www.walthers.com/products/name-trains/george-washington