Southern Pacific inaugurated its streamliner service between Houston and Dallas in 1937. The two sets of equipment were dispatched from each terminal in the morning as the Hustler, making all local stops along the way. Then, at the end of the line, they were turned and sent back as the mile-a-minute Sunbeam express. Originally the Sunbeam was scheduled non-stop (although, being steam-hauled, you could expect to have water stops every fifty miles or so), but by the time of this timetable it had shoehorned in flag stops at College Station and Ennis. While Diesel locomotives were making inroads on Southern Pacific's passenger services by 1950, reports indicate that the Sunbeam and Hustler were still running behind steam at least part of the time.

From the pages of the Official Guide, August 1950

Southern Pacific Lines herald

The Sunbeam
The Hustler

Southern Pacific Lines
August 20, 1950

1 3 Connecting Train Number 6 4
12 30A 9 00P Dp 0 New Orleans, LA (Union Station) (CT) C R Ar 6 45A 7 30A
7 30A 7 20A Ar 363 Houston, TX (Grand Central Sta.) (CT) C Dp 8 30P 9 45P
13 15 Train Number 16 14
Daily Daily Miles Services Daily Daily
4 45P 8 00A Dp 0 Houston, TX (Grand Central Sta.) (CT) C Ar 2 05P 9 25P
F 11 Fairbanks, TX F
F 35 Hockley, TX F
F 40 Waller, TX F
F 44 Prairie View, TX C F
8 53A 50 Hempstead, TX F 1 06P
F 61 Courtney, TX F
9 17A 70 Navasota, TX C 12 43P
F 79 Millican, TX F
F 88 Wellborn, TX F
F 6 12P 9 50A 94 College Station, TX (See Note) C 12 10P F 7 54P
10 00A 99 Bryan, TX C 11 56A
F 106 Benchley, TX F
10 25A 120 Hearne, TX C 11 30A
10 36A 127 Calvert, TX C 11 16A
11 00A 142 Bremond, TX C 11 00A
F11 13A 152 Kosse, TX F10 42A
F11 22A 160 Thornton, TX F10 31A
11 35A 168 Groesbeeck, TX C 10 20A
11 50A 180 Mexia, TX C 10 03A
11 59A 187 Wortham, TX C 9 52A
F12 10P 197 Richland, TX F 9 41A
12 28P 209 Corsicana, TX C 9 28A
F 12 55P Ar 230 Ennis, TX (See Note) C Dp 9 00A F
1 00P Dp Ar 8 55A
F 1 11P 238 Palmer, TX F 8 44A
F 1 21P 245 Ferris, TX F 8 35A
F 253 Hutchins, TX F
9 10P 1 50P Ar 264 Dallas, TX (Union Sta.) (CT) C R Dp 8 10A 5 00P

Train 13: 2 stops, 4:25, 59.8 MPHTrain 14: 2 stops, 4:25, 59.8 MPH

Train 15: 26 stops, 5:50, 45.3 MPHTrain 16: 26 stops, 5:55, 44.6 MPH

Note for Nos. 13 and 14 at College Station: "Stops on flag to receive or discharge revenue passengers only to and from Houston and Dallas or beyond; no baggage handled to or from this station.

Note for Nos. 13 and 14 at Ennis: "Will entrain or detrain revenue passengers to or from Ennis to Dallas, College Station, Houston or beyond. No baggage will be checked to or from Ennis; will be handled on other train.

All Cars Air-Conditioned.

Chair Cars...Houston to Dallas.
Parlor Car...Houston to Dallas (operated by Southern Pacific). Car 130.
Diner-Lounge-Observation Car...Houston to Dallas. Car 131.
All seats in parlor car on the SUNBEAM must be reserved in advance.

All Cars Air-Conditioned.

Chair Cars...Dallas to Houston.
Parlor Car...Dallas to Houston (operated by Southern Pacific). Car 140.
Diner-Lounge-Observation Car...Dallas to Houston. Car 141.
All seats in parlor car on the SUNBEAM must be reserved in advance.

Train 15—Hustler. Daily—With Streamlined Equipment.
All Cars Air-Conditioned.

Chair Cars...Houston to Dallas.

Observation-Lounge-Dining Car (Economy priced Coffee Shop Service)...Houston to Dallas. Car 150.

All seats in Observation-Lounge Car on The Hustler must be reserved in advance (operated by Southern Pacific).

Train 16—Hustler. Daily—With Streamlined Equipment.
All Cars Air-Conditioned.

Chair Cars...Dallas to Houston.

Observation-Lounge-Dining Car (Economy priced Coffee Shop Service)...Dallas to Houston. Car 160.

All seats in Observation-Lounge Car on The Hustler must be reserved in advance (operated by Southern Pacific).

I have an interesting traveler's report about this train from a Mr. Clyde Howard. It seems that as a six-year-old in 1950 his grandmother took him to the station in Dallas to send him back to Houston. As his family lived closer to Houston's Union Station, they were in the habit of riding the Rock Island or Burlington trains back and forth (which see). Well, when Grandma arrived at the station in Dallas, the first thing she saw was a departure board showing a five o'clock train departing for Houston. Clyde objected that it was the wrong train, but Grandma was insistent. The departure time was right, the destination was right, so that was the train she put him on. Once onboard, he kept protesting to everyone who would listen, but they all put his complaints down to fear of traveling alone for the first time.

It WAS the wrong train. To be specific, it was the Sunbeam. Clyde relates that he didn't as yet know the railroad or train names, but he did know that the "red trains" went to one station and the "silver trains" went to another—and that his parents would expect him to be on a silver train. All the way to Houston he kept fuming about not being taken seriously, but he was comforted by the thought that "the train people won't let anything happen to me."

And he was right. The SP conductor, concerned that a genuine mixup might have occured, called ahead during a water stop to notify Houston that an unaccompanied minor might be arriving at the station unexpectedly, and a passenger agent was waiting to meet Clyde there when he arrived. Meantime, when Grandma got home she mentioned to Grandpa that Clyde had complained that he was being put on the "wrong train". Grandpa asked her, "Well, which train DID you put him on?" When a flustered Grandma couldn't remember for sure, that prompted a long-distance call to Houston to alert Clyde's parents that he might be arriving on a different train. While his parents still went to Union Station to meet the Sam Houston Zephyr, they sent a neighbor to the Southern Pacific's station to keep an eye on the arriving Sunbeam. And so all ended well.

While the thought of putting an unaccompanied six-year-old on a long distance train today would probably prompt a call to the nearest child welfare agency, in that day and age it didn't even raise an eyebrow. I have heard stories of unaccompanied pre-teens who were even sent on overnight sleeping car journeys on their own with only their tickets and a couple of dollars for the dining car. It was a different world.