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The Crusader (RDG)
The Crusader was the Reading's most famous passenger train. Due to the rather limited territory that the Reading covered, there really wasn't much need for a named train, but the Crusader did bring attention to the railroad.
The Reading ran from the CNJ Jersey City terminal to the Reading Terminal in Philadelphia. It began service on 02/22/1938. The name Crusader was chosen via a contest held by the railroad. Speed was good, it took a little over 1 1/2 hours to travel from Philly to Jersey City.
Click on promotional material to see full sized image (126K)
The Crusader is best known by the sheet metal covered Pacific G-1sa. This engine was covered with a bright stainless steel sheath. The Reading logo was display in blue at the nose of the engine. Blue stripes down the sides completed the attractive package. The two engines selected for this conversion were #117 & #118.
Click on image to see color promotional picture (80K).
The cars was specially designed for this service. There were 5 custom made steel cars by Budd. It included two rounded observation cars at both ends, two coaches adjacent to the observation cars and a dinning car in the middle. Perhaps the most clever feature of this set was the way the tender wrapped around the rounded observation car. This gave a seamless train set. This remained until the early 1960s when the steel set was replaced by the same coaches used elsewhere on the Reading system. These coaches went on to server many loyal years on the Canadian Pacific Railroad.
When the Reading dieselized a few years later, the Pacifics were replaced by very attractive FP-7 units in 1952. These locomotives were painted in black with green stripes and yellow trim. The green Reading diamond made its first appearance on the nose of these units. The final incarnation of the Crusader was a Budd RDC set that ran from 1962 until the end of the railroad and into the Conrail-era.
When the Jersey Central terminal was closed, these trains operated from Penn Station Newark. These trains were operated with cooperation from SEPTA (Southeast Pennsylvania Transit Authority) until 1981.
The only color pictures I have seen of the Crusader under steam are in the book "Reading Steam - In Color" by Jeremy F. Plant and published by Morning Sun.
The Crusader: 1938-1981