It s the Super Chief! The Super Chief ...Train of the Stars is an unusual book by an unusual author, who wrote it longhand sitting with his left arm hooked to a dialysis machine. That was better than sitting there fuming, which some were doing, Stan Repp said. I had my notes beside me and wrote on paper held by a clip board placed on my lap. Those notes are the secret of the meticulous detail in this volume of more than 250 pages published by Golden West Books of San Marino. And he saw a lot as he rode the Santa Fe s Super Chief on its inaugural run from Chicago to Los Angeles, leaving at 7:15 p.m. on May 12, 1936. He made full notes on people, what they did and ate, and often what they wore. Repp also went along on the Super Chief s record run from Los Angeles to Chicago in May of 1937. Writing with elegant flourishes straight out of the Lucius Beebe era, his report recreates the excitement of a tingling race against time. The Super Chief pulled into Chicago s Dearborn Station 2 hours and 56 minutes ahead of the regular schedule of 39 hours and 45 minutes. That may not seem like much to a generation used to jet plane speeds, but it was phenomenal 40 years ago. The elapsed time for the 2,227.3 miles gave and average speed of 60.8 miles per hour, but the actual running time average was 64 miles per hour. The Super Chief often touched 100 miles an hour. No one ever knew how fast it could go. Engineers on a test run hit 150 miles an hour, then slowed for fear of jumping the track, Repp writes. On that record run the Super Chief stopped at Pasadena to pick up W. K. Etter and other Santa Fe brass that lived in San Marino. Pasadena, mentioned frequently in the book, was one of only two regular passenger stops made by the train between Los Angeles and Chicago. The other was Kansas City. Pasadena was the station used by the motion picture stars and other studio people on their trips across the country. The book has many photographs of the Super Chief in various phases of its development and in action, including one showing it zipping through a Pasadena orange grove at 100 miles per hour. Many of the pictures are rare and previously unpublished. For those who lived in the era of the Super Chief, the book is a nostalgic treat. For later generations, it is a delightful view of an earlier time, a remarkable train, of how it was made, of its operation and of the famous movie stars and others who rode it. This is a must have for any train enthusiast s library. Review written by Harold N. Hubbard, Pasadena Star News Staff Writer. Sunday, September 7, 1980
Art and Book Section --Pasadena Star News Art and Books
About the Author
Born in Buffalo, New York in 1919, Stan Repp has, from the tenderest age, admired, been intrigued by, and just plain reveled in railway [passenger cars and the people who rode in them. He frequented and found fascination in coach yards, commissaries, supply rooms, paint shops, designers studios, Pullman-Dining-Lounge cars (peopled and deserted), diesel cabs and repair tracks, engineers homes, sooty depots, back-country crossings, and, best of all, trips aboard the Super Chief. Thirty five years an illustrator, Repp sketched and painted trains favoring those eminently appealing accommodations, observation cards and, of course, the variety of name-signs which adorned them. A Californian since 1936, Repp, who lived by the sea, laments the passing of gentler and less contrived times, misses real trains, and is glad, as are many old-timers that he was around in the halcyon days of the passenger cars, most prominently, most remarkable, most memorably those which comprised the first lightweight Super Chief.