Golden Age of Rail Travel

flickr.com restaurant car- Eastern Oriental Luxury Train simon pielow                From 1900 to 1950’s is regarded as the golden age of Rail Travel. We had an all-time high mileage in 1916 with 254,037 miles. George Pullman and Pullman Car Company started in 1867 and was the premier manufacturer by the 20th century. The base for the company was in Pullman, Illinois and was best known for his sleepers. A sleeper is, in this case, the train that holds all of the beds.

Many of the largest and most renowned passenger train stations were built during this period. Many of these stations still stand today but a few have been completely destroyed. Freight trains during this period carried 98 percent of the intercity passenger traffic and 77 percent of intercity freight traffic. During the 1930’s, they came out with aluminum cars that were lighter so it was easier for the locomotive to pull and was not as hard on the tracks.

Built in 1934, Burlington’s Zephyr 9900 train set was one of the most famous streamlined passenger trains. It broke the speed record for the travel distance between Denver and Chicago with a 1,000+ mile distance going non-stop in only thirteen hours and five minutes. It paved the way for all of the other famous streamlined passenger trains which included almost the entire 100+ Class I railroads.

This success of the Railway was short-lived because of mobile cars being more reliable and convenient. It didn’t help when the Ford Model T was only $260. The industries of airplanes, buses, and trucks also ate away at the industry of Rail Travel. Directly following WWII, passenger rail traffic dropped significantly and it could not recover despite coming out with new fleets of equipment. The Golden Age quickly ended which resulted in Amtrak in 1971.

Sources:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/14589121@N00/4947807129/

http://www.american-rails.com/golden-age-of-railroading.html

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