A Selection of Hallmark Ornaments: Lionel Locomotives
21 artifacts in this set
The New York Central Railroad proudly advertised its New York-Chicago mainline as the Water Level Route. NYC followed a smooth path along the Hudson River, the Erie Canal, and Lake Erie's south shore rather than rival Pennsylvania Railroad's rugged route over the Allegheny Mountains. Fittingly, NYC used Hudson as the name for its large fleet of 4-6-4 type steam locomotives.
The Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway unveiled a striking red, yellow and silver paint scheme on its diesel-electric locomotives in 1937. The design remains among the most loved in American railroading -- partly for its association with Santa Fe's glamorous Chicago-Los Angeles passenger trains, and partly for its longtime use on electric train sets from Lionel and other manufacturers.
Industrial designer Raymond Loewy collaborated with the Pennsylvania Railroad on several projects, from station buildings to locomotives. Loewy's body design for the GG1 electric locomotive, introduced in 1935, looked equally sleek in front of high-speed passenger trains or slow freights along PRR's electrified New York-Washington mainline. The last GG1 was retired in 1983 -- nearly 50 years after the design's debut.
The Norfolk & Western Railway operated a 2,200-mile system located primarily in Virginia and West Virginia. The company built its first J-class steam locomotives in 1941. They were designed to haul the passenger trains operated by N&W, and those operated in combination with the Southern Railway. These beautifully streamlined locomotives could hustle trains at more than 100 miles per hour.
Many railroads introduced streamlined locomotives and cars in the 1930s. The new equipment reflected then-popular design trends. It also helped attract riders at a time when American railroads were fighting both the Great Depression and growing competition from improved highways. Wartime restrictions on gas and tires brought a surge of new rail passengers, but that surge proved temporary.
The Western & Atlantic Railroad's General featured in one of the Civil War's more ambitious sabotage efforts. Union spies captured the locomotive at Big Shanty, Georgia, on April 12, 1862. The raiders planned to destroy the W&A mainline between Atlanta and Chattanooga, but they caused only minor damage before they were caught by Confederate forces.
By the time of the Civil War Centennial in the 1960s, the Western & Atlantic -- along with the General -- belonged to the Louisville & Nashville Railroad. L&N restored the General to operating condition and sent it on a tour of the railroad's 10,400-mile system. During the restoration, L&N converted the General to burn oil instead of wood or coal.
Chessie System traced its earliest corporate roots to the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, chartered in 1827. The company celebrated its 150th birthday with a 19-car excursion train that toured its 11,300-mile network in the summers of 1977 and 1978. The Chessie Steam Special was pulled by a 4-8-4 steam locomotive built in 1945 for the Reading Railroad.
Chessie System was formed in 1973 by a merger of the Chesapeake & Ohio, Baltimore & Ohio, and Western Maryland railroads. The company took its name from Chessie the cat, who appeared in a memorable series of Chesapeake & Ohio Railway advertisements starting in 1933. Chessie's feline silhouette appeared inside the "C" in Chessie System's logo.
The Central Railroad of New Jersey operated its fast Blue Comet train between Jersey City (across the Hudson River from New York City) and Atlantic City from 1929 to 1941. The train's blue color scheme was evocative of the blue sea at Atlantic City's popular boardwalk and beaches. "Comet" referred to the train's top speed near 100 miles per hour.
Lionel introduced its version of the Blue Comet in 1930. Apart from the name and color, the model bore little resemblance to the real train -- evidenced by Lionel's oil tender as opposed to the real locomotive's coal tender. Lionel co-founder Joshua Lionel Cowen was a frequent passenger on Jersey Central's Blue Comet.
The Southern Pacific Railroad introduced the Coast Daylight in 1937. The train's name promoted its key attraction: daylight travel along the beautiful California coastline between San Francisco and Los Angeles. The Coast Daylight boasted handsome red, orange and black locomotives and cars, which justified SP advertisements that called it the most beautiful train in the world.
Steam locomotives required two basic elements: water, and fuel that could be burned to turn that water into steam. Most 20th-century American steam locomotives burned coal, but the Southern Pacific's steam locomotives burned oil. Suitable coal was hard to find in the western United States, while California's booming oil fields were plentiful.
Hiawatha was the name given to top trains on the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific Railroad (popularly known as the Milwaukee Road). It came from the Ojibwe hero in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's 1855 poem The Song of Hiawatha. The Milwaukee Road's Twin Cities Hiawatha made the 420-mile run from Chicago to Minneapolis in about six and a half hours.
Postwar interstate highways and jet airplanes decimated railroad ridership. The Milwaukee Road commissioned industrial designer Brooks Stevens to create streamlined lounge cars for the Twin Cities Hiawatha, hoping to lure passengers back. It didn't work. Congress formed Amtrak to take over America's struggling passenger trains in 1971. Amtrak now uses the Hiawatha name on its Chicago-Milwaukee trains.
Locomotives of the B6 class were widely used on the Pennsylvania Railroad for switching -- moving cars around the railyard when building or disassembling trains. The 0-6-0 wheel arrangement, with no leading or trailing wheels, concentrated all the locomotive's weight on its six driving wheels. This produced high traction at the low operating speeds used in railyards.
The B6's tender also had special features for switching service. Steps along the tender's sloping deck allowed crewmembers to climb in and out of the cab, and footboards on the back provided convenient perches on which to ride. The large spotlight illuminated the locomotive's path during its frequent reverse moves at night.
Union Pacific's 55 turbine locomotives were among the more unusual and impressive sights on American railroads. Each was equipped with a gas turbine engine -- similar to jet airplane engines -- that powered electric generators to turn the wheels. One turbine locomotive could pull more than 700 loaded freight cars. The "Veranda" nickname came from the walkways along the locomotive's sides.
Union Pacific's turbine locomotives burned Bunker C fuel oil. Initially, Bunker C was less expensive than the diesel fuel used by conventional diesel-electric locomotives. But the thick oil had to be heated when pumped from special tenders. Bunker C's price advantage evaporated as the plastics industry began using the heavy oil. UP retired its last turbines in 1969.
From 1947 to 1949, the Freedom Train visited all 48 states. More than 3.5 million people toured its exhibit cars, which showcased important documents and artifacts from American history. The train was pulled by a long-nosed ALCO PA diesel-electric locomotive. It was a high-profile assignment for diesel-electric power, then in the process of replacing steam on American railroads.
Industrial designer Henry Dreyfuss created a "lighting stripe" paint scheme for the New York Central's diesel-electric locomotives. It was particularly striking on engines pulling NYC's premier 20th Century Limited. The first-class express train raced 960 miles between New York and Chicago in 16 hours. In 1959, the 20th Century Limited made a memorable appearance in Alfred Hitchcock's North by Northwest.