12 artifacts in this set
Located north of Los Angeles, California, the Mount Lowe Railway opened in 1893. It offered passengers a scenic -- and sometimes thrilling -- seven-mile ride up to the top of the San Gabriel Mountains. The railroad struggled with recurring fire and flood damage throughout its existence, and was abandoned after an especially severe flood in 1938.
Around the turn of the twentieth century, thousands of Americans planned sightseeing vacations. They set aside time to simply look at things, often booking tours that transported them into foreign landscapes. From inside or atop a horse-drawn carriage like this, sightseers could absorb their surroundings and transcend the commonplace realities of their lives back home.
By 1900, stagecoach lines connected railroad stations with Wyoming's Yellowstone National Park. The park's unique geological formations -- including Liberty Cap, an unusual hot spring cone marking the northern portion of Yellowstone's Mammoth Hot Springs -- beckoned tourists, who could view the scenic landscape from sightseeing coaches.
Vacationing Americans at the turn of the twentieth century often set aside time to simply look at things -- stagecoach sightseeing excursions transported tourists into new settings, where they could transcend the commonplace realities of life back home. This coaching party surveyed the scenery near Duluth, Minnesota around 1905.
The Rapid Motor Vehicle Company of Pontiac, Michigan produced this twelve-passenger vehicle in 1906. The bus could shuttle travelers to and from hotels and rail depots or provide local sightseeing tours. In 1908, General Motors Company began purchasing Rapid's stock. The purchases of Rapid and other commercial truck companies led to the formation of General Motors Truck Company in 1912.
Cities became a more popular vacation destination around the turn of the 20th century, delighting tourists with the latest modern technology, artistic and scientific curiosities, and live entertainment. Commercial sightseeing tours helped simplify attractions, districts, and landmarks for city tourists. This circa 1910 brochure provided the answer to "How to See Detroit?" -- Dietsche's Sight-Seeing Autos.
Women in a Rolling Chair Pushed by a Male Attendant, Boardwalk at Atlantic City, New Jersey, circa 1930
Rolling chairs, introduced in Atlantic City, New Jersey in 1884, were the only vehicles allowed on the resort town's popular boardwalk. Boardwalk businesses offered the chairs - along with attendants to push them - to tourists for rent. In 1891, Atlantic City began to capitalize on the practice, collecting a $10 licensing fee for each of the chairs.
Vernon N. Johns operated Independence Air Tours in connection with the Dearborn Inn, the hotel adjacent to Ford Airport in Dearborn, Michigan. Note the headphones hanging above each seat. They allowed passengers to hear the tour narrator's commentary. Three engines combined with an uninsulated cabin made a flight in a Ford Tri-Motor a noisy experience.
Greyhound Tour Bus with Visitors at the Century of Progress Exposition, Chicago, Illinois, 1933-1934
Greyhound had the transportation contract for the 1933-1934 Chicago's World's Fair. Sixty of these futuristic buses, designed by the famous industrial designer James J. St. Croix, and built by General Motors, transported fairgoers to the displays and attractions.
Ford Motor Company offered the first public tours of its Rouge factory in 1924. The popular tours stoked the fascination surrounding the plant. Special buses like this one carried visitors around the massive 1,300-acre complex. Panoramic windows along the bus's sides and roof gave passengers a fine view of the industrial spectacle.
The beaches of Atlantic City, New Jersey, have been drawing tourists and pleasure seekers since before the Civil War. The first segment of the city's famous boardwalk opened in 1870. Swimming, boating, resort hotels, nightclubs, and -- in more recent years -- casinos continue to attract visitors from throughout the Mid-Atlantic United States and beyond.
The Henry Ford's Weiser Railroad opened to the public in 1972. The two-mile route took riders on a scenic loop around the perimeter of Greenfield Village. Authentic steam locomotives, maintained and operated by museum staff, pulled the open passenger cars. More than a simple excursion, the railroad's intermediate stations made it a practical transportation link around the village.