July 9, 1905 - Scott Special

ATSF 485 (4-6-0) in San Bernardino, 1928 photo by R. P. Middlebrook (S. Kistler Collection). No. 485 was one of 20 Engines used for the 1905 Scott Special.

The Scott Special was the brainchild of Walter Edward Perry Scott, also known as Death Valley Scotty.  Or, maybe it was a publicity stunt by the Santa Fe Railroad.  We'll never really know.

It was reported that Scott met with the Santa Fe's General Passenger Agent, J. J. Byrne, at the railroad's office in Los Angeles on July 8, 1905.  Arrangements were made, thanks to a deposit from Scott of $5,500 in cash. The two agreed on a 46-hour schedule from Los Angeles to Chicago that would begin the following day.

Scott's money ($10,000) apparently came from a gold mine promoter named E. B. Gaylord. 

The passenger list for the train included: Scott himself, his wife, Ella Josephine ("Jack") Millius, Frank N. Holman, and Charles E. Van Loan, a writer for the Los Angeles Examiner.

There were 19 steam engine changes during the 2,265 mile trip from Los Angeles to Chicago.  

However, the three cars pulled by the various engines, made the entire trip: baggage car #210, dining car #1407 and a Pullam car, the Muskegon.

The Special made the trip in 44 hours and 54 minutes, breaking all previous records. 

It was not until the 1936 introduction of the Super Chief that Santa Fe trains would regularly exceed the speeds seen on the Scott Special.

Note: In a chapter about Santa Fe's "quest for speed" in EuDaly's Santa Fe 1992 Annual, he talks about the Scott Special, and how it was really just a publicity stunt set up and paid for by the Santa Fe. The run was real enough, but the "official" backstory peddled to the press doesn't bear much resemblence to reality. 

ATSF 1010 (2-6-2), the only surviving engine (Needles to Seligman), is at the California State Railroad Museum.