Roll Model: All Aboard the Crimson Limited (Part 1)

On February 25, 1913 Northern Texas Traction Company placed an order with St. Louis Car Co. to build four cars—nos. 25-28—for NTTC’s interurban electric rail service between Fort Worth and Dallas.

Car no. 25 of that order was built as a motorcar, meaning that it both pulled a trailer car and carried passengers. In this 1929 NTTC interurban ad in the Dallas Morning News, the car on the left is a motorcar pulling a trailer car.

Like most centenarians, car no. 25 has had a varied life. From 1913 to 1934 it shuttled passengers between Fort Worth and Dallas.

In 1925, as competition from the automobile increased, NTTC began its Crimson Limited interurban service, offering passengers express service. Crimson Limited trains did not stop at the local stops between Fort Worth and Dallas. Car no. 25 was given a promotion: It became a Crimson Limited car.

NTTC urged Fort Worth residents to ride the Crimson Limited—stocked with “plenty of ice water”—to Dallas to cheer on the Fort Worth Cats, who had won the Texas League pennant and the Dixie Series in 1924.

NTTC urged Star-Telegram readers to take the Crimson Limited and streetcars to the Southwestern Exposition and Fat Stock Show. Remember: The Will Rogers complex had not yet been built. The stock show was held on the North Side. The “Gold Medal Road” refers to the fact that in 1924 NTTC had won the Charles A. Coffin gold medal.

crimson coffin

Coffin had been the first CEO of General Electric, and GE established the Charles A. Coffin medal to recognize achievement in electric railway service.

This ad, with the motorcar shown on the right, focuses on the “refinements” of the Crimson Limited cars, including parlor and “salounge” chairs and “special conveniences for the ladies.” Dallas Morning News ad is from 1926.

crimson 1927 NTT Crimson Limited Brochure Cover1From a 1927 brochure. The Crimson Limited did not run on the Cleburne interurban line. (From Pete Charlton’s “1000+ Lost Antique Maps of Texas & the Southwest on DVD-ROM.”)

To promote the Crimson Limited service, NTTC organized a Crimson Limited amateur baseball team, the Crimson Limited specialty orchestra, and the Crimson Limited Serenaders. The orchestra and singers performed on WBAP radio. Under “WBAP Program,” note that after the NTTC entertainers performed, the orchestra of Montgomery Ward performed.

The eight circles on this 1925 Rogers map indicate local interurban stops in east Fort Worth. The Cleburne line branched off and ran south on the left side of the map. (Map from Pete Charlton’s “The Lost Antique Maps of Texas: Fort Worth & Tarrant County, Volume 2” CD.)

After W. T. Waggoner opened his Arlington Downs, NTTC offered Crimson Limited service to the track.

By 1929 NTTC operated fourteen Crimson Limited trains daily to Dallas.

But the interurban reached the end of its line in December 1934, as this clip from the December 2 Dallas Morning News shows. To add insult to penury, the interurban’s right-of-way was to be converted to use by its competition: automobiles. When NTTC sold its Crimson Limited cars (“formerly the pride of the interurban service”) and the rest of its rolling stock, car no. 25, like so many others, was repurposed in civilian life. Some cars were used for storage, some as diners, etc.

Car no. 25 was among four cars from the interurban that were hauled to a farm at Eagle Mountain Lake. Car no. 25 and two of the others were arranged in a U shape and converted into a residence.

Home, sweet trolley: Beyond the bulkhead of car no. 25 you can see the refrigerator, range, counter, cabinets, and sink faucet of the kitchen. (Photo by Texas State Railroad.)

A house inside a house: Eventually the three cars were enclosed by roofing and siding. There’s a streetcar in there behind the miniblinds. Lee Lavell of the T transit system and North Texas Historic Transportation supervised restoration of car no. 25. Lavell said that extra skin over the car protected it from the elements and helped keep it in restorable condition. (Photo by Texas State Railroad.)

Car no. 25 sat at the lake for sixty years before it was obtained by the T of Fort Worth. Having shed its cocoon, car no. 25 was moved to the Texas & Pacific passenger terminal. (Photo by Texas State Railroad.)

Like Ezekiel, car no. 25 hung suspended between Heaven and Earth as it was lowered at the Texas & Pacific terminal for restoration. (Photo by Lee Lavell.)

Make connections here to Part 2:

Roll Model: All Aboard the Crimson Limited (Part 2)

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One Response to Roll Model: All Aboard the Crimson Limited (Part 1)

  1. Pingback: “Speed With Safety” on the Crimson Limited — 1930 | Flashback : Dallas

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