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Jon's Trailways History Corner

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Installment Six

The Rockies

Within the first few months of operation, the fledgling Trailways association welcomed three additional members, all in the Rocky Mountain region and all railroad owned, related of course to the Santa Fe, Burlington and Missouri Pacific.

RIO GRANDE MOTORWAY - As early as 1926, the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad began to apply for permits to operate bus service in conjunction with its rail passenger service. Principle shareholders in the D&RGW Railroad were the Missouri Pacific and the Western Pacific Railroads. Running through scenic but sparsely populated areas as it crossed the Rockies, the D&RGW Railroad's main value was as a bridge carrier, coming into its own after the conversion from narrow gauge to standard gauge. At first the bus operations served as branch line feeders to the railroad, but by 1935, Rio Grande Motorway duplicated the parent railroad's rail service and served virtually every sizeable city in Colorado and extending westward to Salt Lake City, a route that was obtained when Southern Kansas Stage Lines sold its Pueblo-Grand Junction-Salt Lake City route to the Rio Grande. Through the years they had acquired such carriers as Western Slope Motorway, San Luis Valley Bus Co. and Inland Pacific Stages amongst others.

Membership in the Trailways organization occurred in late 1936 and Rio Grande Motorway assumed a major role as a bridge carrier for other Trailways members.

DENVER-COLORADO SPRINGS-PUEBLO MOTORWAY - DCSP Motorway's ownership was divided amongst three parties. Rio Grande Motorway owned 50%, the Colorado & Southern Railway (subsidiary of the Burlington) who owned 25% and I. B. James, owner of Denver Interurban Bus Co., who operated locally between Denver and Boulder. In 1935 the Burlington bought out James' interest giving them 50% interest balancing the Rio Grande's 50% and James became general manager of the entire Burlington bus operation.

Originally, DCSP only operated as far south as Pueblo, but in 1929, Southern Colorado Motor Way was purchased giving DCSP routes from Pueblo to Walsenburg and also from Pueblo to Canyon City and Pueblo to La Junta. With this route structure, DCSP would operate into the late 50's when, due to the American Buslines' driver's strike, American was put on notice by the Wyoming commission that unless they operated the certificates in Wyoming they would loose them and the routes were turned over to DCSP as their northern division.

DENVER-SALT LAKE-PACIFIC STAGES - The short route across the Rockies to Salt Lake was via a new improved highway built during the early 1930's which was yet to be paved, U.S. Highway 40 via Craig, Colorado and traversing the Continental Divide at Berthoud Pass (pronounced Berth-thud) at 11,315 feet. DSLP Stages was formed by three companies, each holding a one-third interest, the Rio Grande, Burlington and the Missouri Pacific in 1935 when existing routes of the other company's were put into the new DSLP.

Because of it's one-third ownership, Burlington's Omaha to Denver line fed into the DSLP schedules at Denver for passengers continuing westward.

Both the DCSP and DSLP came into Trailways at the same time as the Rio Grande, in late 1936 and all three carriers turned away from Yellow Coach and White buses and began buying ACF Brills, following the lead of other Trailways members.

There are six attached pictures, two representing each company. I would call your attention to the picture of the Rio Grande GM PDA-4101, delivered new in 1948 and which were the Rio Grande's first diesels and return to GM buses. The buses were ordered by Rio Grande but were delivered just prior to the sale to Continental and while pictures of them in Continental livery are common, this is the only picture I've ever seen with the buses marked Rio Grande Trailways, so it's a rare beast.

The other unusual picture is of DSLP bus number 50, a 1935 Yellow Coach V-T-845. It is shown on a VERY cold day, February 19, 1939, in a snow bank after having failed to negotiate a hair pin turn on the west side of Berthoud Pass on U.S. Hwy. 40, despite having tire chains on. It was operating a skier's special from Denver to Winter Park. Somehow, anything I ever went through as a driver pales in comparison.


Click Here for photo (RGM-179_37P)

Click Here for photo (RGW-581_PDA4101)

Click Here for photo (DCSP-21-37P)

Click Here for photo (DCSP-47_IC41)

Click Here for photo (DSLP-50)

Click Here for photo (DSLP-404_IC41)

Installment Seven

5-Star Luxury Service Part 1

There have been comments over the years that until Jim Kerrigan's tenure at Trailways Inc., the company originally known as Continental Trailways from Dallas was largely a "me too" type of operation following Greyhound and not an innovator.  In some respects that's true, however in early 1956 M. E. Moore took a bold step forward and began luxury bus service complete with an airline style hostess, reserved seats, pillows, magazines, music, use of an electric razor, lavatory equipped buses and food service.  He called it 5-Star Luxury Service and the first schedules didn't operate out of Dallas but ran on Continental Western Lines between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Response was immediate and the schedules were running at near capacity from almost the beginning.

The earliest 5-Star schedules did not operate with Eagles, but with ACF Brill IC-41's as shown by Continental Western 4549 in the attached photo. Where these buses came from is a matter of conjecture however my best guess is that they came from six 1947 IC-41's bought by American Buslines and outfitted as lav equipped buffet cars and which were later repainted as 5-Star Luxury Service units.

Of course food service on board a bus was the main attraction.  The menu included chilled fruit juices (tomato, orange and grapefruit), hot consommé, assorted sandwiches, donuts, cookies and various beverages (coffee, hot chocolate, iced or hot tea, milk and soft drinks).  The additional 5-Star service charge between Los Angeles and San Francisco, a and a half hour run in 1956, was only $2.00 and included all you cared to eat.

The service became so popular that in August 1956 an additional route was inaugurated on the west coast between Los Angeles and Seattle via Sacramento and Portland.

Also in 1956, Moore was developing the prototype Golden Eagle with Kässbohrer of Ulm, Germany.  It ran originally as bus 800, then 1800 and finally 11300.  When it was retired it wasn't offered for sale as a used bus or saved for historical purposes but was scrapped.  Attached is an exterior shot and two pictures of the interior, one of the galley and the other of the rear lounge area.

In 1961, Moore took a deep breath and began operating a 5-Star schedule between New York City and Los Angeles, via Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Kansas City, Wichita and Albuquerque.  The hot shot schedule took 64 hours and was operated by American, Midwest, Central and Western Lines.  The buses used were the production models coming from Germany. produced in 1957 and 1958 as shown in the picture of Continental American 6804 on a demonstration tour prior to beginning service.  The extra fare was $9.00, coast-to-coast which also included breakfast every morning off the bus!  In 1963, Continental built 31 Model 01 Golden Eagles and the new buses were immediately assigned to the New York City to Los Angeles run and also to a new coast-to-coast 5-Star run from New York City to San Francisco via Chicago and Salt Lake City.  Bus 6819 was one of those 1963 Golden Eagles

In the early years, the following Continental routes saw 5-Star Luxury Service schedules......

Los Angeles-San Francisco

Los Angeles-Sacramento-Portland-Seattle

Los Angeles-Las Vegas


Kansas City-Wichita


Memphis-Jackson-New Orleans


Memphis-Little Rock-Texarkana-Dallas

New York City-St. Louis-Albuquerque-Los Angeles (via Kansas City or Oklahoma City)

New York City-Chicago-Omaha-Salt Lake City-San Francisco

While top management at Continental and the traveling public loved the service, middle management at Continental was less than thrilled. Supervising the catering of the schedules was annoying but manageable, however dealing with the hostesses was an additional problem.  Because there were limited amounts of the service, home terminals for the hostesses were concentrated in hub cities so that there would be enough work to justify a hostess extra board.  Memphis was a prime example with hostesses working out of there to Atlanta, Biloxi, New Orleans and Texarkana, Los Angeles and Dallas were similarly situated.  Then, of course, there was the problem of trying to keep the drivers and other employees separated from the "girls." If this seems unusually prudish and intrusive, keep in mind that in this time period, TV's "I Love Lucy Show" wasn't even allowed to use the word "pregnant" on the air!

In the upcoming part 2, more 5-Star pictures and the 5_Star Service operated by non-Continental companies.


Click Here for photo (CWL-4549)

Click Here for photo (CBS-800_SetraGE_Prototype)

Click Here for photo (CBS-800_GE_Lounge)

Click Here for photo (CBS-800_GE_Galley)

Click Here for photo (Kassbohrer-Golden-Eagle)

Click Here for photo (ABL-6819_GE01)

Installment Eight

Five Star Luxury Service-Part 2

As Continental's Five Star Service got under way and established, the Trailways carriers on the east coast took the plunge and established 5-Star service in the heavy traffic patterns in that section of the country. Additionally, Continental added additional routes after they acquired most of the eastern carriers around 1968......

*Safeway Trailways

Washington-Baltimore-New York City


Philadelphia-New York City

*Virginia Trailways


*Trailways of New England

New York City-Boston-Portland

New York City-Hartford-Springfield

*Carolina Trailways

Richmond-Norfolk-Virginia Beach


(portion of Washington-Atlanta 5-Star)

*Adirondack Trailways

New York City-Albany-Glens Falls

New York City-Albany-Schenectady

*Tamiami Trailways

Tampa-Sarasota-Ft. Lauderdale-Miami

and under Continental ownership

*Queen City Trailways

Charlotte-Anderson (portion of Washington-Atlanta 5-Star)

*Smoky Mountain Trailways

Anderson-Atlanta (portion of Washington-Atlanta 5-Star)

*Continental Southern Lines

Memphis-Nashville (portion of Memphis-Knoxville 5-Star)

*Tennessee Trailways

Nashville-Knoxville (portion of Memphis-Knoxville 5-Star)

....and in the Southwest and west

*Continental Bus System

Dallas-Ft. Worth-Stephenville (portion of Dallas-Brownsville 5-Star)

Dallas Houston-Corpus Christi (portion of Dallas-Brownsville 5-Star)

*Continental Dixie Lines

Dallas-Ardmore (portion of Dallas-Oklahoma City 5-Star)

*Union Bus Lines

Stephenville-San Antonio-Brownsville (portion of Dallas-Brownsville 5-Star)

Corpus Christi-Brownsville (portion of Dallas-Brownsville 5-Star)

*Oklahoma Transportation Co.

Ardmore-Oklahoma City (portion of Dallas-Oklahoma City 5-Star)

Denver-Colorado Springs

*Pueblo Trailways

Cheyenne-Denver-Pueblo Vancouver

*Seattle Trailways

Seattle-Vancouver (portion of Los Angeles-Vancouver 5 Star)

For the non-Continental companies (at the time of start up) the nucleus was Safeway Trailways in Washington. Their original service was operated with GM PD-4104's, later supplemented with PD-4106's until they purchased a number of 1963 Golden Eagles for Safeway and Trailways of New England. On the exterior, the 4104's and 4106's were only distinguishable by the gold belt line instead of the normal red. Attached is the cover panel of one of their special schedules. The additional fare between New York City and Washington or Boston was $1.10 and from New York City to Portland, ME was $1.65. Norfolk to Washington service charge was $1.00. When Adirondack began their 5-Star Service, it was with leased Safeway 4104's and after they'd gotten their feet wet, they bought three Golden Eagles in 1963. Tamiami's 5-Star began in the early 60's, and the suggestion was made to their management to do as Adirondack had done and lease a couple of Safeway's cars that were already converted, however for some reason or another, Tamiami elected to convert two of their PD-4106's, again painting the belt line gold to identify the special buses.

None of the GM coaches used for 5-Star service ever had a rear lounge area, likewise the 1963 Golden Eagles purchased by Safeway, TNE and Adirondack lacked the lounge, the thinking being that the trip times were so short that the lounge area would present little benefit for the passengers and could be better used for revenue seating. The Washington-Atlanta and Knoxville-Memphis schedules, however, used Golden Eagles with the lounge and card table arrangement in the rear. Of all the carriers, only two never did more than running the service, Carolina and Oklahoma Transportation. Neither carrier ever owned their own 5-Star cars nor did they employ their own hostesses. On the Washington-Atlanta run the girls all worked for Queen City and were based in Charlotte, and for the Norfolk service, the girls worked for Safeway and were based in Washington, DC.

The Oklahoma City-Dallas 5-star was operated in conjunction with Oklahoma Transportation, a non-Trailways company. Since the buses ran non-stop, a driver change at Ardmore wasn't possible and an arrangement was worked out with OT and Continental Dixie drivers to equalize the mileage, each pulling the run all the way through for part of the year. OT driver Fred Rayman remembers the day when he was presented with an unexpected problem. Not far north of Dallas in a particularly vicious thunder storm, lightning struck within feet of the rear of the bus. Shortly thereafter the hostess came forward and whispered to Fred that the bolt had scared her so badly she'd wet herself. She continued the trip to OKC sans panties and gracious fellow that Fred is, he hasn't mentioned this until now to spare her feelings! Two Dixie Golden Eagles were used, 123012 and 12302 and one is captured in a pic here as an attachment.

Unique as Golden Eagles were the four Super Golden Eagles assigned to D.C.S.P. Lines and run between Cheyenne, Denver, Colorado Springs and Pueblo. They were 1958 models and came about a year into Continental's experience with the Kässbohrer Setra Eagles. The 55 passenger buses were powered by a Rolls Royce diesel with an independent diesel engine in the trailing unit powering the air conditioning. The transmission was a Z-F (German) 6-speed, semi-automatic electric affair, similar to what was being put in the 40 foot Eagles at the time. The galley was located on the turntable area between the forward power unit and the trailer. The rear wheels on the trailer tracked the forward unit so that it turned in a shorter area than the 40 foot Eagles did. After their career on D.C.S.P., the four buses were transferred to Continental Western Lines and ran from Los Angeles to San Francisco under a special permit from the State of California since they were over length.

When Holiday Inns bought Continental, they modified the name to Golden Holiday 5-Star Service and expanded it, adding stops at Holiday Inns in addition to using the bus stations. Holiday Inns vision when they bought Continental from Moore was of red and cream Eagles pulling up at Holiday Inns each night and passengers spending the night at the Inn. It didn't take long for that notion to sour and thereafter, the bus company was put on the market, eventually purchased by Pittsburgh financier Henry Hillman in 1979, by that time all the 5-Star service was long gone.

Strangely speaking, they were most successful in the east and in particular on Safeway and Trailways of New England, however after a work stoppage on Safeway in the early 70's the service was never reinstated. It was decided that it didn't generate enough in revenue to make it worth the hassle to run it. Catering the service was never a great problem as the food and drinks served came from the terminal restaurants on the routes, however it was just one more detail to keep up with. The major headache for operations was dealing with another employee on the bus. The shop didn't care for the buses because they took priority over everything else that was going on, since only "that bus", the Golden Eagle could go on that schedule. The ticket agents and information clerks were terribly keen on it after they'd been running as they realized that quoting and selling it was just a lot of extra work.

The last Golden Eagle set up as a 5-Star car was Continental Panhandle's 1971 Model 05, 42303. The bus originally ran in the New York City-St, Louis-Los Angeles service but since that schedule's end, it's been used as a charter car out of Panhandle's Amarillo home base. With the sale of the Heket family's 50% interest to Greyhound, the bus was donated to the National Museum of Transport in Hershey, PA, where it will be preserved in its original configuration and on public display.


Click Here for photo (CWL4901A)

Click Here for photo (5-Star_61TT)

Click Here for photo (TNE-TN909_GE01)

Click Here for photo (TCC-39303_GE05)

Click Here for photo (CPL-42303_GE05)

Click Here for photo (CDL12302_GE05)

Followup Questions:

[Doug asked]

Concerning 5 Star Service, do you know anything about food inspections?   The caterers preparing and holding perishable items would definitely have been checked.

What about the galley on the bus?  Can you all imagine the food inspector checking the temperature in the galley's refrigerator somewhere between Omaha and Salt Lake?  It's NOT 45 degrees or less. STOP the bus now!!!

The Kässbohrer units didn't have mechanical refrigerators, they had ice boxes!  The only instance of problems was when the 5-Star ran thru from LA to Vancouver, BC, Canada and Canadian regs wouldn't allow food to be brought into Canada. Nothing stayed on the bus that was perishable.  The buses were catered by the terminal restaurants enroute.  I don't ever remember spoilage being a problem.  The sandwiches would have been the only thing and at the end of the run whatever was left all came off.  Course, we're talking about 30+ years ago before we got to be fanatics about such things.

[Doug Wilkerson wondered] > One question. Having looked at the routes listed, did the Eastern > Lines ever consider operating 5 Star along the Atlantic States Routes > from Raleigh or Charlotte south to Florida?  It's just strange to see > Raleigh and Fayetteville, both huge Trailways towns, omitted from a > major Trailways service.

I don't believe it was ever discussed for several reasons. Carolina would have participated, but not actively, just as a passive pool member.  Carolina knew they were sitting on a strategic bridge, Fayetteville-Richmond or Danville-Charlotte, and they knew they didn't have to do anything except let the other carriers bring business to them, thus, other than running the bus, they were passive in most all other ways. Also.with the exception of the Atlanta-Washington service and Tamiami's schedule from Tampa to Miami, 5-Star service was never particularly popular in the south, if for no other reason, the demographics of who rode the bus.

Five Star schedules were primarily daylight runs.  The Atlanta-Washington trip left each end at 9 AM and pulled into the other end at 9 PM.  The only exceptions to this rule were the NYC-California runs and the North-south service on the west coast.  Bus riders in the south were for the most part black folks who liked to leave after work, ride all night and get there in the morning.  Other than a pillow, little else on the 5-Star was of use in the middle of the night and besides, their box of cold chicken the brought with them was better than a ham sandwich catered by the Bus Terminal Restaurant.  That said, these folks were also on a budget and the idea of extra fare didn't fly well.  Largely, the passengers you did see on the 5-Stars were white, women traveling alone or unaccompanied children being shuttled between parents with the hostess being used as a baby sitter.

Finally, the only possible 5-Star run that would have been considered would have been Miami to New York City, although such a run would have done much better coming around via the Tamiami Trail up the west coast of Florida and via Tampa/St. Petersburg.  Trailways never had the New York business out of Miami, Greyhound did, but they did have it on the Florida west coast where Tamiami was very strong.


[Doug Wilkerson asked]

Did the Virginia Beach-Richmond 5 Star connect at Richmond with the northbound and southbound Washington- Atlanta 5 Star?

No, they didn't operate at the same time. The Washington-Richmond-Norfolk-Virginia Beach 5-Star service ran with 4104's, was gone by the time Safeway and TNE took delivery of their first Golden Eagles in 1963. The Washington to Atlanta 5-Star didn't begin until August 1969. when three Golden Eagles were delivered to Virginia (34301), Queen City (35301) and Smoky Mountain (36301) in July. Here's Virginia 34301 in November 1972, being operated by Carolina Trailways, leaving Petersburg, VA at 11:40 AM headed south to Charlotte and Atlanta.


Click Here for photo (VSL-34301_GE05)

Dick Shelley asked.....  

In your list of 5-star companies you mention Seattle-Vancouver Trailways (portion of LA-Vancouver 5-star).  I don't recall this company profiled in the Trailways 60th Anniversary booklet.  Can you give a little history and route structure?  How are they related to the present Western Trailways of Canada, which I believe runs between Vancouver and Seattle?  

The original operator of Trailways' service between Seattle and Vancouver was a Canadian company, Vancouver-Seattle Bus Lines Ltd, owned by a fellow named Keogh.  He secured rights from British Columbia's Motor Carrier Commission (there was no Canadian equivilant of the ICC) from Vancouver via the Massey Tunnel and Richmond to the US-Canadian border at White Rock, BC over BC Hwy. 99 and from the ICC from the border at Blaine, WA to Seattle over I-5 and also US Hwy. 99.  In the US, the rights were closed doors, no intermediate stops and in both countries they failed to ask for or receive package express rights.  They did, howewver, get incidental ICC interstate charter rights out of metro Seattle.  In Vancouver the company also operated the airport bus service, a lucrative business that they had been involved in prior to getting the Seattle run.  

Keogh's personal family goings on can only be described as sordid, on the order of Payton Place and culminating in a murder.  The company was sold to a fellow named Tom MacDonald who also published the visitor's guide books found in area hotels and motels.  Another fellow named Peter Armstrong had a minority interest.  The name was changed to Pacific Northwest Bus Co. doing business as Trailways Northwest.  MacDonald had no interest in the Seattle schedule and over the objections of the BC MCC, abandoned the schedule rights from Vancouver to the border, retaining the charter authority in BC on a separate certificate.  There was a fly in the ointment though, the company's ability to take charters into the US from Canada was hung on the incidental charter rights which went with the line rights from Blaine to Seattle, and those charter rights couldn't be separated out.  Thus, they were saddled with dead heading a bus to the border once a week and running an empty round trip to Seattle to hold onto the rights so they could pull charters.  

Enter yours truly in 1976-77.  I had worked with the folks in Vancouver when I was with Pacific Trailways in Bend.  I was looking for a bus property to buy and knowing a bit of what was going on, I approached MacDonald about buying VSBL.  It was then I found out that the only thing they had left to sell was the Blaine to Seattle portion, having given up the BC rights.  All they wanted, MacDonald told me, was US charter rights from points on the BC-WA international boundry into the US.  I told them that I could do that and then had to pay a call on the BC MCC to get rights in BC again.  The BC commission was very much in favor of having two carriers on the route and were quite angry with MacDonald and company for abandoning the run.  I was told that hell would freeze over before the rights were reinstated but that what I needed to do was make a fresh application.  After several minutes of conversation I told Mr. Fitch that while we had the money to operate, we didn't have the funds to fight US Greyhound.  He kept telling me to reapply and I repeated my fears about US Greyhound protesting.  Finally, he told me to go ahead and reapply as the BC MCC didn't need Greyhound in the US to tell them when to hold hearings!  In other words, apply and we'll grant it.  After this meeting I was to find out that Armstrong and MacDonald were having war within the company as Armstrong wanted to work the Seattle charter rights...  and the deal with me came apart then. Later, MacDonald got the BC commission to restore his line rights in Canada...  that's how badly the MCC wanted competition there.  

Enter a fellow named Jim McCorkle who was driving for MacDonald on the Seattle run.  They weren't hauling anything and McCorkle kept telling them to hook up with Amtrak.  MacDonald didn't see the opportunity but figured McCorkle was stupid enough to buy the rights and sold the company to Jim and his wife.  They changed the name to Cantrail Coach Lines, doing business as Trailways Northwest.  Jim immediately hooked up with Amtrak which has been their salvation over the years.  Today he has between 15 and 20 coaches, all modern, and is thriving, and now doing business as Western Trailways of Canada since Northwestern Trailways joined NTBS starting a lot of confusion over the name similarities.  

Here are some pictures for you, a Western Flyer Canuck 500, the first bus lettered for the Seattle run.  A Canuck 600 outside the Seattle Trailways terminal on Westlake Ave.  One of VSBL's Eagle 05's and one of Jim McCorkle's current Prevost H-345 coaches.  I might add here that one of VSBL's early problems came when Keogh titled virtually all his Eagles in the US avoiding Canadian taxes and import duties, which meant they could only be used on the line or on charters from Canada into the US.  It was illegal to use them on a charter between two places in Canada, so they would often be turning down Canadian charters with a lot full of their US Eagles sitting idle at the garage out by Vancouver's airport.  

Also, did Northwestern Trailways (Spokane) inherit, buy, revive, or whatever any of Pacific Trailways (Bend) routes?  If not, who did?  

No. Northwestern Stage Lines is owned by Boise-Winnemucca Stages and originally ran from Boise to Lewiston, Idaho.  They expanded into Spokane and then joined Trailways.  Pacific Trailways unraveled like this.....  

Mt. Hood Stages (Niskanen family) -> Baldwin United -> SBE Transportation -> Greyhound  


Click Here for photo (VSBL-105_Canuck500)

Click Here for photo (VSBL-100_E05)

Click Here for photo (VSBL-207_Canuck600)

Click Here for photo (WTC-H345b)

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