(with Little Rock's Union Station trainshed photos)

Gene Hull (photos below the story)

In the beginning, America had a magnificent expanse of land to develop into a mighty nation. It was far too large for multi-horse (or oxen) teams pulling huge, wide-tired freight wagons and pony express riders delivering the mail. The ultimate answer was the importation of the railroad from the “Mother Country.”

By 1830 railroads came to life all over the country. By 1840, revised individual parts of the steam locomotive grew into the strictly American locomotive, which became so well know. As the standard of living improved, the railroads kept pace. Heavyweight passenger cars provided comfort equal to that of a fine hotel. Passenger could see the amazing beauty of America in comfort.

After the restriction of travel during World War II, fine government-sponsored highways spread across the country to provide pathways for equally fine private automobiles, giving convenience and fallibility, plus competition for the trains.

Progress and prosperity were deadly enemies of the railroads. The roads were handling heavy, bulky freight, and dong fairly well, especially items not suitable for other methods of transportation, such as automobiles. Passengers provided a much lesser percentage of profit, but railroads must be given credit for trying to save them from new, fancy automobiles and airplanes.

Industrial designers produced a practically new word for the English language: STREAMLINE. This word was easily demonstrated by a fish swimming effortlessly through water. Another new innovation was created by General Motors executive, C. R. Osburn, a dome car. A sort of passenger car with a cupola. General Motors and Pullman teamed up to include both new ideas in their TRAIN OF TOMORROW in 1947.

This epitome of speed and comfort attracted passengers quickly. Soon, other railroads created their own sample of this “magic pill” to cure the debilitating passenger train “sickness.” Major railroads created their own version of “people haulers.” Santa Fe CHIEFS; Union Pacific’s CITIES; Missouri Pacific’s EAGLES; Rock Island ROCKETS. The brief and less famous railroads got in the act, Boston & Maine GREEN DIAMOND.

In 1944, railroads hauled 75 percent of all commercial passengers; this shrank to 47 percent in 1950, and by 1960 it was down to 29 percent. Even the rolling-hotel luxury of the finest streamliners could not slow the desertion of the passengers.

In May 1971, the MISSOURI RIVER EAGLE, the Missouri Pacific’s first streamliner, made its final run.

Nationwide, rail passenger service was a “sick patient,” struggling to stay alive. It grew weaker, and the last mainline passenger train in Arkansas, Missouri Pacific Train No. 1, rolled into Little Rock a few minutes after its scheduled time of 12:30 a.m. on May 1, 1971.

It was annulled.

The “operation” of economic survival of the railroad was successful, but the “patient” died.

Following are some photos of Little Rock's Union Station and before and after shots of the old concourse as it was demolished. Most photos were taken by the author, Gene Hull, but Ken Ziegenbein took some photos of the station and tracks as it looks today (November 29, 2007) to give a 'then and now' perspective.

-Alco PA No. 8030 heading for Union Station in Little Rock, Arkansas to take Missouri Pacific Train No. 7 to Texas in July 1953. (Gene Hull photo).
   Got the following additional information on this left photo from Steve Goen (TZ on Railspot): "Take a look at the EMD E unit trailing behind the ALCO PA in the first shot and again in the shot coming off the Baring Cross Bridge.It's the MP E unit (E3 or E6) that only had one prime mover and included a small baggage compartment where the rear engine would have normally been located. This "specially ordered" unit was for the MP's DELTA EAGLE servic efrom Memphis, down thru the Mississippi River valley along eastern Arkansas and Louisiana. The train was a vest pocket version of the EAGLE and because of the extremely flat terrain, they decided that only one prime mover would be needed. So a small baggage compartment was included in the rear. Truely a one of a kind.
   You can clearly see the small baggage door on the side of the EMD unit and note the absence of roof vents along the rear portion of the roof. If I'm not mistaken the MP later rebuilt the unit after the demise of the Delta Eagle and added a second prime mover.
Also, got this from the Trainorders website: " It was Mopac # 7100. Classified by EMC as an AA6. Built in August 1940  It was 1/2 an E6 and was the last motorcar type loco built by EMC. Mopac considered it a locomotive while EMC called it a "1000 HP Motorcar" Soon the name was changed to EMD after General Motors bought the locomotive builder. Scrapped Feb. 1962. - That is an unusual photo- paired with a PA. Very neat! - Keith Turley, Azusa, California."
RIGHT PHOTO -Identical scene (sans the PA) taken on November 29, 2007. (Ken Ziegenbein photo) 

Cropped and enlarged portion of scene above showing the trainshed in 1953.

LEFT-Portions of the concourse of the Missouri Pacific Union Station at Little Rock survived about two years after the last passenger train (in 1971). This scene was in the summer of 1973. That part of the concourse to the right of this scene had already been demolished in 1967, according to Bill Pollard. (Gene Hull photo). RIGHT-Same area as seen on November 29, 2007 (Ken Ziegenbein photo)

LEFT-The sheltering umbrellas along the concrete walkways beside the tracks at Union Station were being removed. The concourse and stairs (background) were the last to come down. (Summer 1973 by Gene Hull). RIGHT-Same scene on November 19, 2007. (Ken Ziegenbein photo)

Inside the Little Rock concourse in 1961, taken from the end of the concourse, looing toward the station. “The ‘sickness’ of passenger service on the Missouri Pacific in Arkansas was apparent long before it ‘died.’ In September 1961, the lonesome figure of a man (at left) is seen shuffling along the concourse of the Union Station in Little Rock.” (Gene Hull photo)

This is where the councourse/walkway used to be attached to the station, taken from the Amtrak platform looking toward the station on November 29, 2007. This locatoin is now the Amtrak station for Little Rock, and as of this writing, Amtrak's Texas Eagle stops here twice each night, about 11:30 p.m. and 3:10 a.m. Little Rock has always been a 'middle of the night' stop for passenger trains. (photo by Ken Ziegenbein)

Here's a front scene of PA 8030 as it approached Union Station after crossing the Baring Cross bridge in 1953. (Gene Hull photo)

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