Kevin’s Komments 03/12/2024

Again, I’ve gone quite a while without a good study! 

I did a study on streamlined locos a few years ago.  But a series of colorized photos has caught my eye recently.  So…Here’s a review of streamliners—most photos are in color or colorized! 

The Reading Crusader is either coming into Philadelphia’s Reading Terminal after a run from Jersey City, or it’s pulling out for servicing.  There was only one 5-car train set, so crews were busy cleaning up after each leg of the set’s 2 routes. There was an extra engine with stainless steel cladding, so each engine could cover 1 route while the other got serviced.  The Reading RR provided this service along with the Central of New Jersey RR.  Service included a ferry to lower Manhattan.  This is one of the shrouded Pacific class (4-6-2) locos that pulled the train in the ‘30s & ‘40s.  The Pacifics were replaced in the early ‘50s by EMD FP7s.  The train had a round-ended observation car at both ends so that they didn’t have to turn the train at the terminals.  The Crusader remained in service until 1981.

NYC’s Mercury was their entry into the streamliner market.  Debuting in June 1936, it used rebuilt heavyweight cars and a 4-6-2 locomotive.  The Mercury was the name used for a family of daytime streamliner passenger trains operating between midwestern cities. The Mercury train sets were designed by the noted industrial designer Henry Dreyfuss and are considered a prime example of Streamline Moderne design.

The first Mercury, operating on a daily roundtrip between Cleveland and Detroit, was introduced on July 15, 1936. The Chicago Mercury, between Chicago and Detroit, and the Cincinnati Mercury, between Cincinnati and Detroit, followed. The Mercuries lasted until the 1950s, with the final survivor, the original Cleveland Mercury, making its last run on July 11, 1959.

A fourth train, the James Whitcomb Riley between Chicago and Cincinnati, used the same design for its train sets and is considered part of the Mercury family, although it did not bear the Mercury name. The Riley debuted in 1941 and lasted into the Amtrak era, though no longer as a streamliner.

1936 – New York Central “Mercury” Train.

The success of the Mercury led to Dreyfuss getting the commission for the 1938 redesign of NYC’s flagship, the 20th Century Limited, one of the most famous trains in the United States of America.  Here’s a picture of a fleet of the Dreyfuss Hudsons that pulled the 20th Century Limited.

The 4-6-4 Hudson was developed by the NYC in the 1920s, hence its name.  They first developed the Hudson Class J-1 (non-streamlined) in 1929.  Later, two of the J-1s were shrouded.  An interesting relationship with the CNor: Thirty J-1s were delivered to the Big Four, which was running the CNor at the time.  The class J-3 was referred to as the Super Hudsons.  One of the J-3 Super Hudsons, #5412, drifted onto the CNor track at Bryan for an excursion trip to Toledo in 1954.  Here’s a pic of #5412 – unfortunately not one of the shrouded J-3s.

In comparison, here’s a better look at a Dreyfuss J-3 Super Hudson.

Later, two of the Super Hudsons were re-shrouded in 1941 for the Empire Express. Note the stainless steel panels on the loco and cars.

The Chicago and North Western Railway’s Class E-2 was a 4-6-2 “Pacific” type locomotive built by the ALCO in Schenectady, in 1923. Twelve were originally built, and all were later converted.  Four of these locomotives gained the Class E-2-a designation in late 1934 when they were converted to burn oil instead of coal, upgraded with larger drivers, and had other changes made in order to run at higher speeds in preparation for pulling the Twin Cities-Chicago 400 the next year. The other eight were converted to Class E-2-b, which was similar except they remained coal-fired.

The E-2-a was among the fastest steam locomotives in the world in 1935. It was recorded running in excess of 108 miles per hour (174 km/h) on a fall evening that year as it raced the 85 miles (137 km) from Milwaukee to Chicago in 65 minutes, attaining its highest speeds between Highland Park and Evanston.  While fast for its day, it was not quite a match for the Milwaukee Road class A (Atlantic, 4-4-2) and later class F7 engines (4-6-4 steamers, not the EMD F7 diesel electrics), which ran the rival Hiawatha.

Another look at a Milwaukee Class E-2-a Pacific.

Speaking of the Hiawatha, Milwaukee Road 4-4-2 #1 steams out of Chicago with Train #101, the westbound afternoon Hiawatha (Chicago – Twin Cities), on August 12, 1939.  A typical consist included the famous “Tip-Top-Tap” restaurant-buffet (the first to ever feature a cocktail bar aboard a train) directly behind the Atlantic, followed by three coaches, a standard-parlor, and a “Beaver Tail” parlor-observation. Soon, the train will be reaching speeds of 100 mph.  Otto Perry photo/colorized by Patty Allison.

Following the Class A 4-4-2s, Milwaukee began using Class F7 “Baltics” (essentially Hudsons 4-6-4s) to pull the Hiawatha.  The Class F7s are in contention for the fastest steam locomotives built.  It was recorded during a heavy snow storm that an F7 pulling the Hiawatha recorded a top speed of 125 mph, with sustained speeds over 120 mph.  Photo circa 1945.

In a photo that appears to have been taken soon after the rebuilding of the locomotive was completed, we see the streamlined C&O’s 4-6-4 #490 (Class L-1) at the railroad’s Huntington, West Virginia, engine shops, circa 1947.  #490 started as an ALCO (Richmond)-built C&O Class F-19 Pacific, 4-6-2, in 1926.  As a Class F-19, in the ‘30s, it pulled the Sportsman between Washington and Cincinnati and the George Washington between Washington and Louisville.  It was rebuilt in 1947 to try and restart the streamlined passenger service out of Washington.  But it never ended up running the replacement for the Sportsman or George Washington.  Instead, it was relegated to secondary passenger service.  #490 is the only L-1 that still exists; it’s in the B&O museum as a static display.  (Check the picture.) (Need a wheel set?)

The CB&Q RR #4000 started as class S-4, 4-6-4, #3002 , built by Baldwin in 1930.  In 1937, it was streamlined and renumbered to #4000.  In the ‘30s, the CB&Q bought a number of EMC (Electro-Motive Corp.) diesels with streamlining to pull their premier passenger trains.  S-4 #4000, now known as Burlington Aeolus, was the steam back-up to the diesels.  These premier trains became known as the Zephyrs.  Aelous was the Greek god of Wind.

The PRR T1, 4-4-4-4 duplex-drive, was introduced in 1942. It was the last and probably the most controversial steamer built for the PRR. By 1948, the PRR began placing diesel locomotives on their primary passenger runs

N&W #600 was a Class J 4-8-4 built in their Roanoke shops in 1941. The Class Js were streamlined and considered the most powerful 4-8-4s ever built. They pulled the premier passenger trains between Norfolk and Cincinnati (along with some other routes) until 1958.

After 1958, the Class Js were relegated to freight service and then retired.  Only #611 avoided being scrapped.  #611 has been restored twice, and I believe it is still operational.  This photo of #611 (by Philip Banks) was taken at the North Carolina Museum of Transportation in 2014, just before her second restoration in 2015.

Baldwin built the Santa Fe built Class 3460 Super-Hudsons (4-6-4) in 1937.  #3460 was streamlined and nicknamed the Blue Goose (the 5 other Class 3460 locos were not streamlined).  The Class 3460s pulled passenger trains from La Junta, CO, to Chicago.  They were oil-fired and substantially larger than previous Class 3450s.  They compared closely to the Milwaukee Class F7s mentioned above, both having 84” drivers.  In December 1937, locomotive #3461 set a world record for the longest single run by a steam locomotive by completing the 2,227 miles from Los Angeles, California, to Chicago without maintenance other than five refueling stops, hauling Train #8, the Fast Mail Express.  An average speed of 45 mph (72 km/h) was obtained, including stops; the maximum speed during the run was 90 mph (140 km/h).

But in this photo, the end is near for the Blue Goose – Santa Fe 4-6-4 #3460, sits in the dead line shortly before she was scrapped in 1956.  It was the only streamlined steam locomotive the AT&SF owned.

Here’s the Southern 4-6-2 #1380 (Ps-4) streamlined by Otto Kuhler in 1941 for the Tennessean.  The SOU ordered the powerful Ps-4 Heavy Pacific class, with the first batches built between 1923 and 1924 by the ALCO Schenectady Works.  These were designed to pull passenger trains from DC to Atlanta, a hilly route that strained the earlier Pacific classes.  These locomotives produce 47,535 lbs of tractive effort, allowing them to pull fourteen passenger cars at 80 miles per hour (130 km/h) on the hilly terrain

Moving away from the steamers – On March 2, 1934, America’s first streamliner began its nationwide tour, Union Pacific’s “M-10000.”  It was the work of Pullman, with power provided via a Winton Engine Company gasoline-distillate prime mover.  The trainset had been ordered in 1933 and delivered on February 25, 1934, featuring a livery dubbed “Canary Yellow” and “Golden Brown” (the yellow was chosen for safety reasons).  Today, it is known as “Armour Yellow” and remains the railroad’s official color.  The train entered regular service on January 31, 1935, where it was regarded simply as, “The Streamliner,” making daily round trips between Kansas City – Salina, Kansas, and Kansas City – Topeka, Kansas.  As part of UP’s city fleet, it became the City of Salina.  The set was scrapped during World War II as part of the war effort. It is seen here at the 1934 Century of Progress International Exposition in Chicago. Photo colorized by Patty Allison.

The General Motors Aerotrain was an experimental direction taken by GM in the mid-1950’s, it was designed by legendary car man Chuck Jordan, the classic 50’s American car influence is clearly apparent.  The engine was attached to a series of GM built 40-seat intercity bus coach bodies that had been modified to run on an air-suspension system, the ride quality was infamous for being a little on the rough side; and sadly, the Aerotrain remained a sole unit, destined to be a curiosity in GM’s long and varied history.

A better look at the locomotive.

A GM Aerotrain ad.

Early “cab” diesels carried the streamlined lines of locomotive design during their era.  Here’s a picture of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy E5A #9913, named the Silver Wings, and a 1941 Pontiac ‘Torpedo.’   (Automobiles also carried the popular streamline design features!)  Photo colorized by Patty Allison.

Fully restored Atlantic Coast Line E3A #501 sits quietly inside the North Carolina Transportation Museum’s roundhouse on July 3, 2012.  Dan Robie photo.

Purple locomotives—who knew?  The Atlantic Coast Line was one of the South’s successful railroads, connecting Richmond, Virginia, with the Carolinas, Georgia, much of Florida, and Montgomery, Alabama.  The legendary styling department at General Motors came up with a handsome purple paint scheme with silver trim for its first-generation diesels.  The livery was ultimately retired in the 1950s as the ACL found it difficult to maintain the purple’s brilliance due to the harsh southern sun.  Seen here is an EMD photo featuring a gorgeous, A-B set of new F7s, circa 1951.

I typically don’t think of Fairbanks Morse locos as having clean, streamlined looks, but here’s one of their many C-liner cab models from the early ‘50s.

Even before the C-liners, this FM OP800 lightweight railcar, built in 1939 by the St. Louis Car Company with a Fairbank Morse prime mover, had lines similar to the shrouded steamers of the ‘30s. (The steamer pictures look nice; I don’t know if the old faded & rusty look goes well with the streamlining!)

Ran out of time – this is another never ending topic.



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