"The Tennessean"
The Equipment

Phil Gosney Collection
Initial train consist. Taken from publication "Car Names, Numbers and Consists" Published by Robert Wayner in 1972.

Car assignments for The Tennessean from 1941-1966

Phil Gosney Collection
Pullman Standard builders photo of named Baggage-Mail car "Grand Junction"

Phil Gosney Collection
Pullman Standard builders photo of 52 seat Partitioned Coach (Segregated) "South Carolina". This was a 4 vestibule car with section for Negro passengers on "The Southerner" train. Three identical cars named: "Pulaski", "Loudon" and "Morristown" were the cars used on "The Tennessean".

Phil Gosney Collection
Pullman Standard builders photo of Dining Car "Chattanooga". Note name of car on upper bulkhead.

Phil Gosney Collection
Pullman Standard builders photo of Tavern-Lounge Observation car 1150-"Washington"
Phil Gosney Collection
Pullman Standard builders photo of Lounge Room, looking forward from Observation end, in car "Washington". Note name on upper bulkhead.
Phil Gosney Collection
Pullman Standard builders photo of Tavern section of "Tavern-Observation Lounge", car "Washington" forward portion.

Phil Gosney Collection
Brochure published by Pullman Standard covering the new equipment for The Southerner and The Tennessean.

The Tennessean – equipment assignments – 1941 to 1966
Compiled by Bill Pollard

Car assignments

Specialty Cars

The initial consists for the Tennessean included a flat-end observation-tavern car operating between Washington and Memphis.  This car, unlike other Southern observation cars, was flat-ended with a diaphragm to allow downline sleepers to be picked up and carried behind the observation car.   The first timetables featuring the Tennessean described this car as an observation-tavern.  By 1944, this car was described as an 18-seat buffet coach; in 1946-47 the description was an 18-seat observation-tavern.  It is believed that this change in description was due to an order from the Office of Defense Transportation which instructed all railroads to discontinue operating full lounge cars because of capacity issues during World War II.  Southern complied with this order by selling the 18 lounge car seats as coach seats, thus the revised timetable listing.

By 1949-1953, the listing was for simply a tavern-lounge, the practice of selling the lounge seats as coach inventory having ended with the conclusion of World War II.  1954-1957 timetables described this car as a tavern-lounge-coach.  It is currently believed that the original observation cars had been replaced by Budd (built 1949) 34-seat coach-lounge cars during this period.  The original observation cars were stored for a period of time and then dismantled in 1957, with the trucks being used on coach “kits” purchased from Pullman and finished by Southern Railway.  The tavern-lounge-coaches operated Washington-Memphis in January 1957, but was cut back to a Knoxville-Memphis operation in February and discontinued entirely by June 1957.

Full dining car service was initially provided between Washington and Chattanooga.  In late 1946, the dining car run was shortened to Washington and Knoxville.  In mid-1958, the full diner was replaced by a diner-lounge, still operating Washington-Knoxville.  In late 1964, the diner-lounge was shared with other trains, resulting in a complicated train assignment.  Service was provided in both directions between Washington and Monroe and between Bristol and Knoxville, but only northbound between Bristol and Roanoke.  The Washington-Monroe car was gone by mid-1965, the Bristol-Knoxville car by early 1966, leaving only the Bristol-Roanoke (northbound only) segment until the Tennessean consolidation with the Pelican in October 1966.


The 22-seat baggage-dorm-coach (operating Washington-Memphis) was perhaps the Tennessean’s most unique type of coach.  By mid-1944, this car was designated as simply a 22-seat coach-baggage car.  Additional research is needed to determine if the dorm space was actually converted to baggage, or if this change was merely a simplified timetable listing.  The 22-seat coach-baggage continued to be listed in March 1964, but was absent in April 1964.  This change may be due to car retirement or to a simplification of timetable consist listings.

In order to comply with Jim Crow laws, the original Tennessean carried a 52-seat partition coach between Washington and Memphis.  This car was last listed in mid-1957, presumably as a result of legislation mandating the end of segregation.

Through Washington-Memphis coaches, either 52-seat or 56-seat, were carried from the time the Tennessean was inaugurated until the time the train was consolidated with the Pelican in late 1966.  After that time, the Tennessean carried only Chattanooga-Memphis coaches, and through passengers were required to change cars at Chattanooga.

Pullman sleeping car service

Pullman service between Bristol and Memphis was initiated using 10 section-3 double bedroom heavyweight cars.  Complaints about no Pullman service east/north of Bristol resulted in this car being extended to operate Washington-Memphis, effective June 23, 1941.  By June 1946, this route had been extended to New York-Memphis, via the PRR north of Washington.  By May 1950, the heavyweight car had been replaced by 14-4 streamlined sleepers, and this configuration was maintained until the New York-Memphis service was discontinued in May 1959.  [The competing New York-Memphis through Pullman service on the PRR-L&N via Cincinnati, had been discontinued after the Summer 1956 season.]

A second Washington-Memphis sleeper line was operational by 10-1949, initially using 12 section-1 drawing room cars.  14-4 streamlined cars were assigned to this route by May 1950.  In late 1952, the 14-4 cars were replaced with 10 section-1 drawing room-2 compartment cars, and the route was then discontinued altogether by mid-1955.  When the New York-Memphis route was discontinued in May 1959, the Washington-Memphis route was reinstated, using 14-4 streamlined cars.  This route was shortened to Memphis-Bristol in 1962, and the 14-4 cars were replaced by 10-6 sleepers.  The route was again shortened, to Memphis-Knoxville in late 1964, before being discontinued altogether in January 1966.

Through Pullman car service from Bristol to Nashville, via Chattanooga and the NC&StL Railroad, existed on the Tennessean from the time the train was inaugurated, initially using 12 section-1 drawing room cars.  Between ca. 1943 and ca. 1948, this car operated Washington-Nashville.  By August 1951, 10 section-1 compartment-2 double bedroom cars were assigned to the service.  Through Bristol-Nashville Pullman service ended in late 1957.

Knoxville to Memphis Pullman cars were not part of the original plan for the Tennessean.  The volume of traffic between those cities and the desirability of having a setout car to mitigate against the inconvenient train times at Knoxville resulted in the addition of a Knoxville sleeper by 1944.  Service was originally provided by 12 section-1 drawing room cars, then 10 section-1 compartment-2 double bedroom cars starting in 1950.  Between 1955 and May 1958, the route fluctuated between Knoxville and Bristol as the eastern endpoint, before returning to a Knoxville endpoint.  A 10 roomette-5 double bedroom car was briefly used in late 1958 before 10-6 streamlined cars were assigned.  The route was discontinued in late 1959, but returned again in late 1964 following truncation of the Washington/Bristol-Memphis route, as noted above.   

The shortest Pullman car route carried by the Tennessean was Chattanooga to Memphis, 12 section-1 drawing room cars being carried from the time the train was inaugurated until 1949.  In 1950, 10 section-1 compartment-2 double bedroom cars protected the service, and by 1951, the assigned cars were 8 section-1 compartment restaurant lounge cars.  In 1953 and 1954 (and perhaps earlier), the cars assigned to this service were Old Elm Club and Rochester Club, both owned by Chicago Great Western, but leased to Pullman. [In 1950, these cars were in service on CGW trains 23-24 between Minneapolis-Kansas City, but they were discontinued soon thereafter as part of an austerity program instituted by William Deramus III.]   These sleeper-lounge cars remained in service on the Tennessean through August 14, 1955, being replaced the following day by 10 section-3 double bedroom cars.  The Chattanooga-Memphis sleepers were discontinued in 1956.

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