Green Diamond

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The Green Diamond of the Illinois Central Railroad
Illinois Central Railroad
The Illinois Central Railroad , sometimes called the Main Line of Mid-America, is a railroad in the central United States, with its primary routes connecting Chicago, Illinois with New Orleans, Louisiana and Birmingham, Alabama. A line also connected Chicago with Sioux City, Iowa...

 was a diesel
Diesel locomotive
A diesel locomotive is a type of railroad locomotive in which the prime mover is a diesel engine, a reciprocating engine operating on the Diesel cycle as invented by Dr. Rudolf Diesel...

A streamliner is a vehicle incorporating streamlining in a shape providing reduced air resistance. The term is applied to high-speed railway trainsets of the 1930s to 1950s, and to their successor "bullet trains". Less commonly, the term is applied to fully faired recumbent bicycles...

 (IC #121) built in 1936 by Pullman-Standard and powered by Electro-Motive Corporation. It was the last streamliner built with the power car
Power car
A power car is a railroad vehicle that is closely related to the locomotive. What differentiates the two is their construction or their use. A true locomotive can be physically separated from its train and does nothing but provide propulsion . A power car, on the other hand, is frequently an...

 articulated with the train; future streamliners featured a matched but separable locomotive
A locomotive is a railway vehicle that provides the motive power for a train. The word originates from the Latin loco – "from a place", ablative of locus, "place" + Medieval Latin motivus, "causing motion", and is a shortened form of the term locomotive engine, first used in the early 19th...

. Its fixed five-car consist was also the end of an era; the popularity of the early streamliners was their undoing, because the trains could not be lengthened or shortened to handle varying loads. The train was painted in a two-tone green livery, "Cypress Green" on the nose and below the window sills with "Cedar Green" above, separated by an aluminum strip. Extensive aluminum trim was applied. The Green Diamond's nickname was the "Tobacco Worm," because of its green color and after the "Tin Worm" nickname of the Union Pacific's first streamliner, the M-10000
The Union Pacific Railroad's M-10000, delivered to the railroad on February 12, 1934, at a cost of $230,997, was the first internal combustion engine, lightweight streamlined express passenger train in the United States. The carbodies and interior fittings were built by Pullman-Standard...


The name was chosen because a green diamond was the Illinois Central's emblem, and because the Diamond Special was the oldest named passenger train on the Chicago, Illinois to St. Louis, Missouri
St. Louis, Missouri
St. Louis is an independent city on the eastern border of Missouri, United States. With a population of 319,294, it was the 58th-largest U.S. city at the 2010 U.S. Census. The Greater St...

, the route the new train would serve. The name was borne within a diamond on the power car sides.

Equipment used

The train's fixed consist was:
  1. Power car including driving cab, 1200 hp Winton 201-A 16-cylinder engine and generator, auxiliary generator, and train heating boiler. Below the floor, the first truck
    A bogie is a wheeled wagon or trolley. In mechanics terms, a bogie is a chassis or framework carrying wheels, attached to a vehicle. It can be fixed in place, as on a cargo truck, mounted on a swivel, as on a railway carriage/car or locomotive, or sprung as in the suspension of a caterpillar...

     was powered, but the second, articulated with the second car, was not. A 725 usgal fuel tank was also mounted between the trucks.
  2. Storage, Baggage and Mail car of which approximately half was the mail compartment.
  3. Coach including conductor
    Conductor (transportation)
    A conductor is a member of a railway train's crew that is responsible for operational and safety duties that do not involve the actual operation of the train. The title of conductor is most associated with railway operations in North America, but the role of conductor is common to railways...

    's office, seating 56.
  4. Coach including restrooms, seating 60.
  5. Diner-Lounge-Observation including restrooms, kitchen, dining area seating 8, and observation lounge seating 20.

All passenger-carrying cars were air-conditioned, with radio communication between them. Full width rubber diaphragms joined the cars, and all cars were articulated (sharing a truck with the neighboring car).

In service, the Green Diamond began each morning with an 8:55 AM departure as Train 50 from St. Louis Union Station, arriving at IC's Central Station in Chicago at 1:50 PM. The train was then turned and serviced, for a 5:00 PM return as Train 51, arriving back in St. Louis by 9:55 PM. Seven stops were made en route, and the train ran to a 4 hour 55 minute schedule, being far the fastest of IC's three trains on that route. Wartime in 1943 added an extra 15 minutes to the schedule to cope with traffic congestion, but the train was otherwise unchanged.

On September 29, 1946, with the full dieselization of all Chicago-St.Louis passenger service, the Green Diamond was changed to train Nos. 20 and 21, the reservation requirement was dropped, and the timetable no longer referred to the train as a distinct trainset. Unsurprisingly, the trainset was withdrawn from service on 1947-02-28, being replaced by a new Green Diamond, an E-unit-hauled streamliner with regular lightweight cars.

The trainset was shipped to the ICRR's shops at Paducah, Kentucky
Paducah, Kentucky
Paducah is the largest city in Kentucky's Jackson Purchase Region and the county seat of McCracken County, Kentucky, United States. It is located at the confluence of the Tennessee River and the Ohio River, halfway between the metropolitan areas of St. Louis, Missouri, to the west and Nashville,...

, for a complete overhaul, which took two months. The train emerged still in two-tone green, but with the Green Diamond names completely removed. It re-entered service on April 27, 1947, as the Miss-Lou (MISSissippi-LOUisiana) between Jackson, Mississippi
Jackson, Mississippi
Jackson is the capital and the most populous city of the US state of Mississippi. It is one of two county seats of Hinds County ,. The population of the city declined from 184,256 at the 2000 census to 173,514 at the 2010 census...

, and New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans is a major United States port and the largest city and metropolitan area in the state of Louisiana. The New Orleans metropolitan area has a population of 1,235,650 as of 2009, the 46th largest in the USA. The New Orleans – Metairie – Bogalusa combined statistical area has a population...

, operating as Trains 27 and 28. It left Jackson at 6:20 AM, arriving in New Orleans at 10:20 AM; the return journey left at 6:20 PM and arrived in Jackson at 10:20 PM.

The trainset was finally retired on August 8, 1950, and sold for scrap.

The historic Green Diamond name continued as the premier passenger train on the Illinois Central's Chicago-St. Louis route until May 1968. On May 19, 1968, the Green Diamond made its final trip into and out of St. Louis, following the decision to discontinue passenger train service south of Springfield
Springfield, Illinois
Springfield is the third and current capital of the US state of Illinois and the county seat of Sangamon County with a population of 117,400 , making it the sixth most populated city in the state and the second most populated Illinois city outside of the Chicago Metropolitan Area...

. The surviving truncated service between Chicago and Springfield was renamed the Governor's Special, and the Green Diamond name was retired.

See also

  • Passenger train service on the Illinois Central Railroad