Silver Comet Photos : LUSENET : ACL and SAL Railroads Historical Society : One Thread

Looking for pictures of the Silver Comet passenger train that ran between Atlanta and Birmingham in the 40's to 60's. Also,any photos of Rockmart,Hiram, Cedartown, GA with the Silver Comet in them.

-- Kathy Hansen (, August 10, 2000


To supplement Tom Underwood's answer, the Silver Comet was placed in service in May 1947 as the Seaboard's entry into the New York/Washington to Atlanta/Birmingham market. It was originally envisione dto be a full service train matching the Silver Meteor. Three of the Seaboard's six post war tavern observation cars were dedicated for its use and the three ACF 6 double bedroom-lounge cars were also intended for service on the Silver Comet, as they were named for areas served by the train. In the event, the train did not live up to its expectations and the bedroom lounge cars were placed in Meteor service. As an aside, these cars along with the 16 Pullman Standard built sleepers of 1949, were built with corrogated stainless steel roofs in order to match the Budd built consists. Both ACF and P- S had problems fabricating these roofs and the end result was a wavy, uneven roof. Later P-S built cars for the SAL had flat stainless steel roofs. The 1949 P-S and ACF cars were built with Cor-ten steel bodies with stainless steel sheathing.

The Silver Comet was the recipeient of some of the last sleeping cars built in the US however. In 1955, Budd delivered 6 4 section,4 roomette, 5 double bedroom 1 compartment cars to the SAL. These cars ran on the Comet and its connection, the Raleigh-Portsmouth "Tidewater". One of these cars was named the "Cedartown". Others were named "Bay Pines","Southern Pines","Pinehurst","Camden", "Henderson".

In the early 1960's, the Comet was combined with the southbound "Sunland". Its consist was an eclectic mixture of lightweight and heavyweight cars. Leaving Washington, the train usually consisted of a one or two heavyweight coaches which comprised the "Sunland" between Washington and Jacksonville. There were two lightweight coaches, one each for Atlanta and Birmingham, a coach tavern car( this was a car from the first Silver Meteor consists), a lightweight diner and a sleeper. At Raleigh, the Tidewater consists were added to the train. They consisted of a heavyweight coach for Jacksonville, a lightweight coach for Atlanta/Birmingham, a sleeper for Jacksonville and a sleeper for Atlanta/Birmingham. Depending upon the period, the sleepers from Portsmouth were either rebuilt Pullman heavyweights, leased cars from the Wabash, Rock Island, etc. or the aforementioned Budd order.

I rode the Comet many times as a "Sunland" rider going to Florida on a pass. In the later part of the 1960's, it was common to see the Seaboard's SDP-35 units assigned to this train as well as the Sunland. Both trains had heavy mail and express traffic as well. The dining car served good meals and it was nice to sit in the tavern coach afterwards, enjoying a softdrink and trying to socialize.(I was a teenager-read that as MEET GIRLS).

By the time SCL was formed, the Comet was on its last legs and was soon downgraded, first by losing its diner and then the tavern coach. Of course, the Tideland and Sunland connections were also taken off by then.

-- Michael W. Savchak (Savchak, August 15, 2000.

An answer to Ms. Hansen's query has been provided directly to her and is the same as I have posted at this site previously, viz: Bob's Photos in Connecticut. There are certainly others. Can anyone help with further sources? As an aside, here is a quick history of the Silver Comet. The first run out of New York to Birmingham was on May 18, 1947, the first northbound run being on the following day. The Comet, a lightweight train, replaced the heavyweight Cotton States Special which had been created in the mid-1930's. Until mid-1948, the Comet's sleeping cars continued to be heavyweight pending arrival of the aluminum replacements. The Silver Comet continued it's run until after the ACL/SAL merger, the first change being in late 1968 when through running to New York was cut back to Washington DC. About April 1969 the Comet ceased running from Atlanta to Birmingham, the line becoming freight only. In late 1969 the Silver Comet was completely abandoned and the Hamlet-Atlanta line became freight only.

-- Tom Underwood (, August 11, 2000.

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