After the Post Office mail contracts were summarily canceled in September 1967 Santa Fe found itself, in the words of one commentator, with "too many Chiefs and not enough passengers." Santa Fe president John S. Reed announced, in his October 1967 "Eulogy to the Chiefs", that Santa Fe would seek to discontinue all passenger service excepting the Super Chief/El Capitan, the San Francisco Chief, the Texas Chief and the San Diegans.

With the exception of Santa Fe's remaining short hops and mixed locals, no train's neck was farther out on the chopping block than the Grand Canyon. Its "stop at every crossroads" local scheduling had been obsolete for passenger purposes since the rise of the automobile in the 1920s. There had been some justification for it while mail and express business had been significant—parcel post doesn't take kindly to being hooked "on the fly"—but with the cancellation of mail contracts and with REA Express steadily losing market share to newcomers like UPS, the Grand Canyon was quite simply a financial black hole.

The train would lose its name in early 1968 after the Fred Harvey company was sold and Santa Fe filed to end all service to the Grand Canyon national park. However, it would continue in operation. The railroad pressed the Interstate Commerce Commission for permission to axe numbers 23 and 24 and reroute the San Francisco Chief into Los Angeles in its stead, ending all service in the San Joaquin Valley. The ICC turned them down.[*] And so, as an afterthought of days gone by, the train soldiered on into 1971.

From the pages of the Official Guide, April 1971

Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Ry. herald

Trains 23 and 24

Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Ry.
March, 1971

23 Train Number 24
Daily Miles Services Daily
9 00A Dp 0.0 Chicago, IL (Dearborn Sta.) (CT) C R Ar 9 00P
F 9 21A 12.8 McCook, IL 8 32P
F 9 26A 17.4 Willow Springs, IL F 8 24P
F 25.1 Lemont, IL F
F 9 39A 29.3 Romeo, IL
F 32.7 Lockport, IL F
9 55A 37.5 Joliet, IL C R 8 04P
F 48.2 Drummond, IL
F 52.7 Lorenzo, IL
F 58.1 Coal City, IL C 7 40P
F 66.0 Mazon, IL F
F10 24A 70.7 Verona, IL F 7 26P
F 74.7 Kinsman, IL F
F 79.7 Ransom, IL F
F10 35A 84.3 Kernan, IL F
10 45A 89.5 Streator, IL C 7 08P
F10 52A 95.7 Ancona, IL F 6 58P
F11 04A 109.8 Toluca, IL C 6 45P
F 115.8 La Rose, IL F
F 120.7 Wilbern, IL F
11 25A 129.8 Chillicothe, IL C R 6 20P
Edelstein, IL F 6 05P
F 144.4 Princeville, IL F
F11 43A 148.0 Monica, IL F 5 52P
Laura, IL F
F11 51A 158.1 Williamsfield, IL F 5 44P
F 163.0 Dahinda, IL F
F 165.7 Appleton, IL F
12 15P 177.2 Galesburg, IL C R 5 25P
F 185.7 Cameron, IL F
F 189.9 Nemo, IL
F12 29P 191.6 Ormonde, IL F 5 08P
F 196.8 Ponemah, IL F
F 201.2 Smithshire, IL F
Media, IL F
F12 46P 208.6 Stronghurst, IL C F 4 53P
F12 54P 218.6 Lomax, IL F 4 44P
F 224.5 Dallas City, IL F
1 25P 232.4 Fort Madison, IA C 4 25P
F 255.3 Revere, MO
F 1 55P 261.9 Medill, MO F 3 47P
F 270.9 Wyaconda, MO C F
F 2 12P 276.2 Gorin, MO F 3 32P
F 281.1 Rutledge, MO F
F 2 32P 289.2 Baring, MO C F 3 17P
2 58P 311.1 La Plata, MO C 2 55P
F 321.2 Elmer, MO F
F 3 13P 327.9 Ethel, MO F 2 38P
F 339.7 Bucklin, MO F
3 35P 345.6 Marceline, MO C 2 20P
F 3 49P 358.9 Mendon, MO F 2 07P
F 4 02P 372.5 Bosworth, MO F 1 57P
4 17P 384.7 Carrollton, MO C 1 44P
F 394.9 Norborne, MO C F
F 4 34P 403.7 Hardin, MO C F 1 26P
4 42P 409.6 Henrietta, MO C 1 20P
F 4 59P 425.0 Sibley, MO
5 40P Ar 449.4 Kansas City, MO C R Dp 12 30P
211 Connecting Train Number 212
6 05P 0.0 Kansas City, MO (CT) C R 12 10P
8 20P 126.2 Chanute, KS C 9 45A
11 00P 255.9 Tulsa, OK (111 S. Elgin St.) (CT) C 7 15A
6 00P Dp 449.4 Kansas City, MO C R Ar 12 15P
F 459.4 Morris, KS
F 462.5 Holliday, KS
6 40P 489.1 Lawrence, KS C 11 15A
7 15P 515.2 Topeka, KS C R 10 40A
F 7 50P 549.7 Osage City, KS C F 9 55A
8 30P 576.6 Emporia, KS C 9 25A
F 587.9 Saffordville, KS F
F 8 45P 596.2 Strong City, KS C F 9 01A
F 602.8 Elmdale, KS F
F 8 56P 610.1 Clements, KS F 8 49A
F 615.2 Cedar Point, KS F
F 9 05P 621.4 Florence, KS C F 8 40A
F 9 14P 632.8 Peabody, KS C F 8 31A
F 9 23P 642.8 Walton, KS F 8 23A
9 40P Ar 649.6 Newton, KS C R Dp 8 15A
9 45P Dp Ar 8 05A
F 9 55P 659.1 Halstead, KS C F 7 43A
F10 03P 668.6 Burrton, KS F 7 35A
10 30P 682.5 Hutchinson, KS C R 7 20A
F10 41P 693.4 Partridge, KS F 7 06A
F10 46P 699.6 Abbyville, KS F 7 01A
F10 51P 705.2 Plevna, KS F 6 56A
F10 56P 710.9 Sylvia, KS F 6 51A
F11 00P 715.6 Zenith, KS F 6 46A
F11 06P 721.5 Stafford, KS C F 6 40A
F11 17P 730.5 St. John, KS C F 6 32A
F11 26P 742.1 Macksville, KS F 6 20A
F11 31P 749.4 Belpre, KS F 6 15A
11 58P 766.9 Kinsley, KS C 6 01A
F 774.9 Offerle, KS
F 786.3 Spearville, KS F 5 50A
F12 25A 794.9 Wright, KS F 5 44A
1 05A Ar 802.7 Dodge City, KS (CT) C R Dp 5 35A
12 10A Dp Dodge City, KS (MT) Ar 4 30A
F12 21A 811.7 Howell, KS F 4 08A
F12 30A 821.4 Cimarron, KS 3 59A
F12 35A 827.5 Ingalls, KS F 3 53A
F12 40A 834.2 Charleston, KS F 3 47A
F12 45A 840.3 Pierceville, KS F 3 42A
1 05A 852.6 Garden City, KS C 3 30A
F 1 18A 867.2 Deerfield, KS F 3 13A
1 28A 874.5 Lakin, KS F 3 07A
F 1 44A 892.4 Kendall, KS F 2 51A
1 59A 904.1 Syracuse, KS C 2 41A
F 2 12A 919.0 Coolidge, KS F 2 28A
2 21A 925.1 Holly, CO C 2 21A
F 2 30A 935.5 Granada, CO F 2 10A
2 46A 952.5 Lamar, CO C 1 55A
F 2 54A 960.6 Prowers, CO F 1 44A
F 3 03A 971.7 Caddoa, CO F 1 36A
3 16A 986.2 Las Animas, CO C 1 22A
3 45A Ar 1005.1 La Junta, CO
(Denver, Colorado Springs via bus)
C Dp 1 00A
4 00A Dp Ar 12 40A
F 4 42A 1050.1 Thatcher, CO F11 53P
5 18A 1086.5 Trinidad, CO C 11 15P
6 13A Ar 1109.3 Raton, NM C Dp 10 15P
6 18A Dp Ar 10 10P
F 6 42A 1135.5 Maxwell, NM F 9 40P
6 55A 1148.9 Springer, NM F 9 27P
F 7 18A 1175.0 Wagon Mound, NM F 9 02P
8 05A Ar 1219.1 Las Vegas, NM C Dp 8 15P
8 08A Dp Ar 8 10P
F 8 52A 1248.2 Ribera, NM F 7 23P
F 9 15A 1264.4 Rowe, NM F 7 01P
F 9 28A 1273.6 Glorieta, NM F 6 50P
9 50A 1283.3 Lamy, NM (Santa Fe via on-call taxi) C 6 25P
F10 07A 1300.1 Los Cerrillos, NM F 6 03P
F10 21A 1313.7 Domingo, NM F 5 46P
F10 37A 1334.2 Bernalillo, NM F 5 30P
11 00A Ar 1350.5 Albuquerque, NM C Dp 5 10P
11 10A Dp Ar 5 00P
F 1421.2 Laguna, NM X F 3 45P
12 54P 1448.6 Grants, NM C X 3 20P
2 00P Ar 1510.8 Gallup, NM C Dp 2 20P
2 05P Dp Ar 2 15P
3 23P 1605.7 Holbrook, AZ C X 1 00P
4 00P Ar 1638.0 Winslow, AZ C Dp 12 30P
4 35P Dp Ar 12 15P
5 45P 1696.5 Flagstaff, AZ (Grand Canyon via bus) 11 15A
7 25P Ar 1780.5 Seligman, AZ C Dp 9 25A
7 30P Dp Ar 9 20A
8 58P 1868.1 Kingman, AZ (MT) (Las Vegas, NV via bus) C 7 40A
9 00P Ar 1929.2 Needles, CA (PT) C Dp 5 10A
9 05P Dp Ar 5 00A
11 40P Ar 2096.8 Barstow, CA C Dp 2 00A
Through Sleeper Chicago-Los Angeles (via Amarillo and Belen)
1 Connecting Train Number 2
10 00A Dp 0.0 Chicago, IL (Dearborn Sta.) (CT) C R Ar 8 00P
6 20P Dp 449.4 Kansas City, MO C R Ar 11 45A
5 50A Dp 1022.7 Amarillo, TX (CT) C Ar 12 05A
11 59A Dp 1367.1 Belen, NM (MT) C Ar 3 45P
11 35P Ar 2097.1 Barstow, CA (PT) C Dp 1 45A
1 00A Dp 2096.8 Barstow, CA C Ar 1 10A
F 1 45A 2133.3 Victorville, CA C X 12 35A
3 20A Ar 2177.7 San Bernardino, CA C Dp 11 10P
3 30A Dp Ar 11 00P
4 20A 2203.0 Pomona, CA C 10 20P
5 20A 2228.1 Pasadena, CA C 9 40P
6 00A Ar 2237.2 Los Angeles, CA (Union Psgr. Tml.) (PT) C Dp 9 00P
74 Connecting Train Number 77
7 30A Dp 0.0 Los Angeles, CA (Union Psgr. Tml.) (PT) C Ar 6 55P
8 10A Ar 28.2 Anaheim, CA C Dp 6 05P
10 25A Ar 127.5 San Diego, CA (PT) C Dp 4 00P

Train 23 (Chicago-Los Angeles): 101 stops, 47:00, 47.6 MPHTrain 24 (Los Angeles-Chicago): 102 stops, 46:00, 48.6 MPH

NOTE for connecting service to San Diego: "No baggage, remains or pets carried on train Nos. 73, 74, 75 and 78." [Baggage service and lounge car are available on No. 76 departing Los Angeles at 11:00 a.m. and arriving San Diego 1:55 p.m. and on No. 77 shown above.]

Nos. 23 and 24.
Sleeping Car (Barstow-Los Angeles) and Chair Cars.

Chair Cars...Chicago and Los Angeles.

Lunch Counter Dining Car...Chicago and Barstow.

Lounge Car...Chicago and Barstow (during Summer season).

Sleeping Car...Barstow and Los Angeles (on Trains 1 and 2 San Francisco Chief Chicago and Barstow.) (Can be occupied until 8:00 a.m. in Los Angeles.)

Chair Car...Barstow and Los Angeles (on Trains 1 and 2, San Francisco Chief, Chicago and Barstow).

NOTE for all stations west of Albuquerque: "No checked baggage, pets, or remains handled on this train to or from this station." [Checked baggage was not handled on these trains west of Albuquerque. However, although this is not explicitly stated in the timetable, it appears that checked baggage could be transferred to the Super Chief westbound at Albuquerque and vice versa eastbound. The westbound Super Chief operates 3-6 hours behind No. 23, while the eastbound Super Chief operates 1-4 hours ahead of No. 24. Therefore, it seems that same day checked baggage service should be available to stations west of Albuquerque which are also stops for the Super Chief/El Capitan, subject to a few hours delay.]

See the Fare Table in the Ticket Office.

Take another look at that equipment. No through sleeper on most of the route, true, but full onboard food service during all normal meal hours and even a full lounge car had the train survived into the summer travel season. Full checked baggage service east of Albuquerque, with [almost certainly] connecting baggage service to most stops west of that point given a few hours' delay. Compare that schedule against some of the other trains of the period. Over a hundred regular and flag stops listed on the time card, plus an additional thirty or so places where the train might stop...yet it hustles from Chicago to Los Angeles in only 47 hours, or 46 for the return trip. That's faster than the final Golden State and within half an hour of the final City of Los Angeles, and both of those trains represented their operating railroads' very best foot forward. This is Santa Fe's third string—a train that they had been trying to dump for four years! If you wonder why travelers of a certain age with clear memories of the period remove their hats and speak in reverent tones when discussing Santa Fe passenger service, you need look no further.

Number 24 holds the distinction of being the final system owned and operated passenger train to run on the Santa Fe. While the Super Chief/El Capitan and Texas Chief would continue to operate, they shifted to Amtrak ownership and control effective with the first trains dispatched from Union Station on May 1. The last train dispatched by the Santa Fe left Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal at 9:00 p.m. Pacific Time on April 30, 1971. For the next forty-six hours as it hustled along the old Santa Fe trail through Needles, Flagstaff, Albuquerque, Raton Pass, Dodge City, and Kansas City it represented the close of more than a century of tradition. The final Number 24 pulled into Dearborn Station on-time at 9:00 p.m. Central Daylight Time on May 2, and an era came to an end.

Edited To Add: After reviewing the other railroads' timetables, I see that it was the end of an era in more ways than one. Two trains were dispatched after Number 24's departure by founding Amtrak member railroads—the Southern Pacific's Sunset and the Burlington Northern's Western Star, both at 10:00 p.m.—but they both had significantly shorter runs than Santa Fe's final train. The Western Star pulled into its St. Paul terminus at 6:15 p.m. on May 2, while the Sunset arrived New Orleans at 8:10 by the timetable. (I do not have records of actual arrival times for either of these trains.) So, at least by the published schedules, Number 24 was the last regularly scheduled revenue passenger train ever operated by any original Amtrak member railroad. Yes, I do believe that this is significant.