Wheels A'Rolling - Theme Of Big Railroad Fair, Published 28 August 1948
DEADWOOD CENTRAL This is the Deadwood Central Railroad, which runs the length of the fair grounds at the Chicago Railroad Fair. The narrow gauge line, reminiscent of railroading in the old wild west, has an ancient locomotive trimmed with red, while gaudy red and yellow cars are continually jammed with passengers. Cars are named after such fabulous characters as Sitting: Bull, Calamity Jane, Buffalo Bill. Poker Alice, Wild Bill Hickock, and Annie Oakley.
Wheels A'Rolling that's the theme of the Railroad Fair now running full blast on the air-conditioned shores of Lake Michigan at Chicago. Far from between just a roundhouse and railway depot performance, it runs the whole gamut from the arrival of Lillian Russell in an open horse drawn cab to Lincoln's farewll speech at Springfield, and from a sort of kiddy car streamliner for the three-year-olds to a real Pueblo Indian village. Old Faithful is there, giving off geyser-like every hour on schedule, while, if you wish, you can walk amid the grille work and palm-girt patios of New Orlean's famous Vieux Carre. Lastly, there is the famous narrow gauge railway, running the length of the fair, called the Dead-wood Central.
The Deadwood Central ss made up of cars that used to run up the sides, of the mountains in Colorado almost 80 years ago The Burlington Railway has laid some tracks, and with a picturesque red-trimmed engine, gives thousands of passengers, who fight to pay their ten cents, a ride along the length of the fair. The coaches, a gaudy yellow and red, have the nostalgic names of yesterday's Wild West, such as Poker Alice, Sitting Bull, Calamity Jane, and Wild Bill Hickok. To see the Deadwood Central, then glance at the streamliners, is to see how far railroading has advanced in that time.
Get Your FillIf you like engines, you'll get your fill of them. While most of the spectacular ones are to be found in the pageant, of which more in the next lesson, you will find them ranging all the way from The Stourbridge Lion of 1829, to the Union Pacific's wartime. Big Boy. Big Boy is the biggest engine there is. Then there has been imported from Chatanooga's Union Station the engine "General" which was kidnapped by northern spies in the Civil War. and for which the kidnapper paid with his lift.
I think one of the most popular items at the fair with the ladies is the meal aboard the dining car belonging to the Golden State, which is a streamlined train of the Rock Island between Chicago and Los Angeles. This diner is called a "Fiesta Car" and the name of our particular car is El Cafe.
To get in, you have to place your name well in advance. Once in, you sit facing the whole of the fair with its changing kaleidoscope of faces and events, and on the others, the entrancing blue green waters of Lake Michigan. I sat at a table with three ladies, one of whom was Miss Jennie Turnham. The meal started off with clam juice cocktail, then swung into roast guinea hen with wild rice and southern you-all yams. (Yum yum). The salad was a California confection, with grapes involved. Dessert offered many possibilities such as rum icing cake, melons, and ice cream I had melon and ice cream, saw the cake too late.
The car is finished in hand carved mission style wood, is redolent of Mexico, and instead of the conventional roof has a yellow and red awning effect. Life can be beautiful on the Rock Island.
There was one little streamliner which ran knee high through the trees, run by a high school girl as engineer, while children two to five were given a ride in it. They didn't want to get out at the end.
Have Glass RoofsI think Ottawa people would thrill at the Vista Dome cars, which have glass roofs. You can climb up the stairs, and sit in a parlor car and watch the scenery go by. The Train of Tomorrow has even got diner where you can eat under glass up on top of the car.
For a locomotive fan, the fair of course was one long thrill. Practically all the big new power was represented, from those drawn by enormously powerful Pennsylvania 5500 class ( 4-4-4 4 engines) to sturdy little wood burners with pastel shades painted, on their tenders, haunting reminders of the day when the wild west was young, and every mile of track was built by workers who didn't know if the Indians would get them by night or not.
The Grand Trunk Western (that's our own Canadian National) has on exhibit a combination snow loader and melter. It seemed a bit out of place in that blazing sun on that cloudless day, but January will be here soon enough,
You could go to the new Rio Grande Western coach and see movies of the Royal Gorge on its incredible journey up over Tennessee Pass at 10,242 feet (highest any transcontinental train touches today) or, you could walk for hours through fancy new coaches, with their soft seats, exquisite wash room appointments, and delightful color schemes. To make it all the more pleasant, everything is air conditioned.
Thousands Of WomenOne last thing before we move along to see the pageant in front of the grandstand One might think this was a man's show Not so There were thousands of women there, and more children than you can imagine It proves that a Railroad Fair was long overdue, that people after all are crazy over trains, and it just takes such a show to bring them. The railway oficials who started it all are gratifyingly amazed, and the 16,000,000 attendance so far indicates the nature of their amazement. The Railroad Fair is to be extended, and far sighted people are wondering if it would not be a good idea to have it next year, somewhere else. In my next, we'll see the Wheels A'Rolling Pageant, before the gorgeous backdrop of Lake Michigan itself.
DRIVING LAST SPIKE It was the Central Pacific that kept its rendezvous with the Union Pacific where the two railways finally met in 1869 at Promontory Point, Utah, north of Great Salt Lake. The continent of North America was at last traversed by rail, and here the final spike was driven. This is the Jupiter, the CP. engine (later the Southern Pacific) standing by while a re-enactment of driving that last spike is carried out.