Around the Country in Railroad Art

As the weather starts to warm up, perhaps you’ve been thinking about vacation. There are plenty of cool spots that one can visit, all by train. As we’ve certainly covered on the blog before, America’s railroads had in their employ both painters and illustrators to create works to entice travelers. Leslie Ragan is certainly one of my favorites – he worked for the New York Central as well as the Budd Company – and about this time last year we were posting some of his spring-like imagery.

This time I thought it would be fun to take a tour of the country through railroad art. There are countless examples of awesome posters and ads, but these are some of my favorites. Perhaps it will even give you some ideas on places to travel this year.

Maybe a nice shorter trip will be in order? Cape Cod, New England, Atlantic City and even Washington DC are all possibilities. Artist Sascha Maurer designed for both the New Haven and the Pennsylvania Railroads. The New England and the Atlantic City art below was designed by Maurer. Ben Nason also designed an array of posters for the New Haven Railroad, including the Cape Cod poster below.

  
  

Maybe you’d like to travel to a different city, a litter further away? Maybe you should visit Cincinnati!

Despite the fact that I’m not a big fan of the Pennsy, you it is impossible to not love this poster by Mitchell Markovitz.

Chicago is always a lovely place to visit!
  

Did I say tour the country? I lied. Maybe a visit to Canada is in order?
 

Now who doesn’t love a nice trip to America’s National Parks, the Pacific Northwest, or even California? Maurice Logan, William and Kenneth Willmarth designed some of these lovely views of the western United States.
   
  
  

Maybe a nice jaunt to the southwest? Artists Don Perceval and Oscar Bryn created these lovely posters for the Santa Fe.
   

Are mountains more your thing? Austrian artist Gustav Krollmann worked on these lovely designs…
 

Oh forget it, let’s just go everywhere! The awesome Amtrak posters designed by illustrator David Klein in 1973 make me want to see the entire country. Klein has a large body of work that is travel-themed, stretched over his entire career. His most known works were for Trans World Airlines, but he also produced work for Holland America Cruises and travel website Orbitz. Klein’s undeniably gorgeous work made railroads once again appear glamorous, just as they were in yesteryear.

 
  

Now that we’ve traveled around the country through railroad art, are you planning to take a vacation to some interesting locale? Are you going to go by train? Let us know in the comments!

Niagara Falls and the Falls Incline Railway

At some point during my whole Africa trip, I’ll be visiting Victoria Falls. I’ve been warned that the area is utterly commercialized. After having visited Niagara Falls last year, I’m hardly surprised. The whole thing I think was a shock for me, after having visited Iguaçu Falls in Brasil. Brasilians like to claim that Eleanor Roosevelt said that Iguaçu made Niagara look like a “leaky faucet,” but I’ve seen no evidence as to whether she actually said that, or it was a mere story. Either way, Iguaçu is pretty big, and it is also pretty wild. I remember lots of jungle, being warned that onças (I had to look this up – Jaguars) have been sighted in the area, and there were plenty of quatis (small, racoon-type mammal) wandering around as well. The jungle surrounding the falls is a national park, and thus preserved.

And if you’ve ever been to Niagara Falls, well, you know that it is totally the opposite there. The area surrounding the falls is commercialized to the extreme – casinos, shops, arcades, fun houses, restaurants – hell, they even put neon lights on the water at night, and shoot off fireworks. I think I almost felt a little dirty by being there – a whore partaking in the rampant consumerism. I’m not sure how Victoria Falls is going to be, but somehow I can imagine that it is somewhere in between these two extremes. The touristy hotel I’ll be staying at, within walking distance of the falls, seconds as a casino – oh lord.

While I was at Niagara, I did manage to take a few photos of the Incline Railway there. Incline railways have existed along the Niagara for over 200 years, but for the most part have now been replaced by elevators. Most of the incline railways were to take people down to the water level, but the solitary remaining one transports people from a parking area to the “main level” where tickets are sold for the various tours and boats – how wonderfully commercial. Called the “Falls Incline Railway” – it claims to be the slowest incline railway in the world, an appropriately stupid claim-to-fame for an attraction in that city (you can find other moronic record holders in the Ripley’s museum and the Guinness World Records museum in town). The top speed for this bad boy is 190 feet per minute, and the track is 170 feet in length with a gauge of slightly over six feet.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to post some images and work on my record for running the slowest mile in the entire world…

  
 
  
   
 
 
 
 

Photos from the Toronto Railway Heritage Centre

A few weeks (months!) ago I began going through all of my yet-unposted photographs, and presented some shots from the old roundhouse in Toronto. That roundhouse is currently occupied by three different organizations, the brewery which I previously featured, a furniture store, and the Toronto Railway Heritage Centre. The TRHC is a relatively young organization, and the first part of their museum proper, in Roundhouse Park, opened in May of last year. I got a chance to visit the place at the start of their opening season, and took a ride on their mini railway. I also took lots of pictures – and procrastinated in posting them. So a few months shy of a year, here they are.

Volunteers are still working hard to make Roundhouse Park a great museum devoted to rail history in Canada. The significant feature of the park, the John Street Roundhouse, was completed in 1931, and used by the Canadian Pacific Railway up until 1986. It was eventually donated to the city of Toronto. A 60,000-gallon water tower exists in its original location (the water tower had to be moved during construction of the parking garage for the Convention Centre, which is underneath Roundhouse Park. Portions of the roundhouse were also dismantled and then reconstructed), now painted with the Steamwhistle Brewing logo.

Also located in the park are Don Station and Cabin D. Don Station was constructed in 1896 and was originally located alongside the Don River. The station was relocated to Roundhouse Park, and serves as a point to purchase tickets for the 7.25″ gauge miniature railway. Cabin D was also originally built in 1896, by the Grand Trunk Railway, and it coordinated track switches and signal lights. It was also relocated to Roundhouse Park.

All of these facilities in the park are beginning to look amazing, and the miniature railway serves as a fun way to tour the grounds. Don Station once again serves as a station, as opposed to the boarded up shell it once was before being moved to the park. Writing about places like the Railway Heritage Centre, the Milton on Hudson station, and even the Danbury Railway Museum, I’m always amazed by the sheer determination of rail-interested volunteers. The Toronto Railway Heritage Centre is certainly shaping up to be quite a wonderful place, and if you ever happen to be in the Toronto area, I highly recommend it.