Monday, June 2, 2014

Glorious Failure

Streamliners. Let's face it - they were a failure.  But, it wasn't their fault.

They did exactly what they were supposed to do.

They were fast.  Railroads pushed speeds up to 90 and 100 mph in many places, reducing running times.

They were sleek.  No exposed rivets.  Long expanses of fluted stainless steel.  Smooth, curved noses on locomotives to break the wind on the front end of the trains.

They were colorful.  Whole trains with matched livery in every color of the rainbow.

They were efficient.  More people per car using clever arrangement of space in sleeping cars and coaches.  Lightweight, aerodynamic designs required less energy to move along the track.

They were comfortable. Smooth riding suspensions and climate controlled interiors provided comfort unavailable in any other mode of land travel.

They just couldn't keep up with airplanes or go as many places as cars.  The huge investment the railroads made in streamliners didn't pay off.  The passengers abandoned passenger trains in droves after WWII.  The Streamliners were failures kept running by an overzealous ICC, and, in their current state, by Amtrak.

But, they were glorious machines none-the-less.  You can investigate the schedules of these famous trains here:

Some of the locomotives that pulled these streamliners have survived the years pulling commuter trains, business trains for the freight railroads, excursions for tourist lines and in museums, stuffed and mounted.  Many have been restored to their original appearance in the past ten or twenty years and many are fully operational.

The North Carolina Transportation Museum followed up on their NS Heritage/Birthday party in July 2012 with a Streamliners at Spencer locomotive event in 2014.  They gathered up 26 locomotives from around the country and put on magnificent show May 29 to June 1.

They had short train rides, Amtrak and NCDOT display trains, a photo freight, a handful of nice modular model railroads, exhibits and displays by the locomotive owners, a gift shop, but most of all, 26 streamlined locomotives shined up and ready for action.

I went on the last day.  The weather was nearly perfect.  Here's what I saw...

NS was the official presenting sponsor of the event.  One of their two F9s present.

Super shiny Wabash E-8 sits next to the museum's own FP7

Post-streamline era F40PH (now just an unpowered cab car)

DL&W F3 A and B unit.  Other A unit was in roundhouse open for cab tours.

Erie 833 looking like new (except for the ditch lights)

Erie 833 in it's former life as CR 4022.  Here on loan to NJT passing over Navasink River.

FP9 resting on whisker track

Inside the roundhouse

My son, Dan, spotted this cools shot while we were strolling in the roundhouse.

NCDOT's very nicely done rebuild PS coaches used for Piedmont Service trains

Started life with the Santa Fe.  Made famous by the D&H.  Nearly destroyed in Mexico.  Ressurected by Doyle McCormack in Oregon as a NKP "Bluebird".  Alco PA1 still looks great!

 Very classy paint job adorns CN FPA4
Cousin in Dundas Ontario circa 1959 (Fred Oltmann photo)

Bennet Levin's classy E-8  looking speedy with matching passenger cars.

PRR 5809 in it's prior life as CR 4020 at Juniata Locomotive Shop

NCDOT display train. Really sharp rebuild PS coaches and modern day streamlined F59 locomotive!


Six "bulldogs" in a row.  E8, E8, F9, FL9, F7, F7.

Museum's E8 in line for cab tours

Sharp looking F3 open for cab tour

Gleaming stainless steel on CB&Q E5 "Silver Pilot" 

Inside the engine compartment of an F unit

Cab of CB&Q 9911A shows that it's still operational

Streamlined steam.  N&W 611 on display next to NS F9 4271

Blue and gray for a road that straddled the Mason-Dixon Line.  No coincidence!

Classic "tuxedo" paint scheme

ACL once operated the 100 mph, 24 hr, NY to Miami Champion.  This E3 looks like it's doing 100 mph standing still!

Yup.  It went through all those states.

New Haven owned all 60 FL9s.  They could run on electric third rail to get into New York Central's Grand Central and Pennsylvania Railroad's Penn Station with the diesel shut down.  This one is well restored - including third rail shoe beam, brackets and shoes.

Irony?  Pan Am, the arch enemy of streamliners is now a regional railroad.  The logo fits nicely on the nose and under the cab window.  It still makes me shake my head when I see it, though.

Once I heard "Silver Pilot" was coming, I had to go.  Zephyrs were the epitome of Streamliners.  The Pioneer Zepher was the first and CB&Q kept the stainless steel magic going for decades.

The progenitor of all streamliners, "Pioneer Zephyr" now on display at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago

Ed Ellis's Iowa Pacific in Illinois Central colors.  "Number boards" are stickers.  Makes me think of "Lightening McQueen" from the Pixar movie.

Union Pacific always gets things right.  This E9 looks and runs great.

I remember you well as D&H 18.

Now NKP 190, D&H 18 sits in Albany-Rensselaer station in 1975.

A pair of E8s sitting in the sun.


GE's version of a modern day streamliner, the P42 "Genesis" monocoque carbody on Amtrak's Veteran's memorial locomotive.

Next year, the 611 will be hot!  Looks pretty good, cold...

"The diesel that did it", EMD's original "streamlined" freight locomotive sits next to Soo Line F7.  The 103 was the first locomotive get EMD's classic "bulldog" nose.

Two tone green with yellow wings.

"Follow the flag" onto the turntable

Lots of color

White flags for the extra.  B&O 722 gets ready to haul the short train rides on the grounds.

Anthracite Road Streamliners

Maybe not as iconic as five gold leaf stripes, the simplified single stripe with large, shadowed keystone and large lettering looks just fine on a tuscan red E8.

A couple of Fs

Streamlined styling carries through to the tender.

Three cabs occupied

Like a caboose on a freight train is like a period on the end of a sentence, the tail car defines the end of a streamliner.
Here is the crem-de-la-crem of tail cars.
This is Wick Moorman's ex-20th Century Obs car, Sandy Creek.
He once told me he collected models of passenger cars.  Guess he's now modelling 12" to the foot!

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