The Train Of Tomorrow Like A Dream On Wheels , Published 26 September 1949
I rode the Train of Tomorrow yesterday.
This gorgeous $2,000,000 blue and silver streamliner is easily the finest train ever to come into Canada. It looks as if it were something dreamed up by Hollywood, but actually was tossed together by those dull old fellows, General Motors. With glass-filled astra domes astride the top of the roofs, where you could sit deep in cushions, hoist a glass of buttermilk toward the sky and watch the scenery at a mile-and-a-half a minute, you felt you were not travelling but instead you had been a good boy, always had done the things your city editor had told you to do, and here you were already in heaven. You didn't ride, you wafted through the sky like nobody in Arabian Nights ever did. This was your own personal Magic Carpet. Only when you looked out and saw the word Osgoode did you come back to this world, and realize it was not heaven but Carleton County.
The Train of Tomorrow, to get down to facts which is hard when you want to relapse into rhapsodies, is a streamline four-car vision of delight pulled by one diesel engine. That it can probably go 120 miles an hour is interesting but not important, that it logged 95 yesterday around Trenton is interesting, that it whooped it up at Merrickville at 75 MPH was at least stimulating. This train doesn't know its own strength, and rolled gently through the historic counties of Lanark, Grenville and Carleton yesterday under wraps.
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The front car is a chair car, and is known as Star Dust. It has an astra dome, which is the old fasioned freight cupola, all prettied up. While it will actually accommodate 72 persons you feel almost as if you are in a private car; up there at the top of the train. I could not get it out of my head that you could ride in such a car as this, in United States, this very day, at a cheaper rate per mile than you pay in the old hearses certain railways run out of Ottawa today. The Burlington Route, to mention one, operates astra dome cars or vista domes as they call them on their California Zephyr daily. When will we ever come tp that in Canada?
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The Sky View diner is something to knock the eyes off even the most jaded sophisticate. Who could imagine a dining salon, private, suitable for anything from two to ten people, tucked away cosily "downstairs" on the train. This in contrast to eating under the sky, up in the astra dome. Or, to be conventional, in the strangely shaped but most practical dining tables set catti-cornered in the main floor of the diner. Dishes attractive enough to thrill a ceramics expert, and the first all-electric kitchen on train wheels. are only part of an almost fantastic diner.
The Dream Cloud sleeping car, with its many levels, could easily be something Walt Disney devised You go down into drawing rooms that make the latest word seem like an ancient fable. You step down on illuminated glass steps, and as you gaze around, you wonder if you will wake up. Only the balding dome of Kenneth MacGillivray, the GM trouble shooter, reminds you that you are really awake.
If you are not already entranced by this dream on wheels by the time you get to the last car, be prepared to shed the last shreds of reality for the portals of Make- Believe as you glide into Moon Glow. This is the observation car. The observation end is delightful but as a long time veteran of twice two dozen streamline trips, this merely had the easy familiar ity a Hollywood star has with orchids. The General Motors sales talk refers to "counterparts of smart supper clubs." That is an understatement if ever I saw one This car is the kind of car you never want to leave, you don't believe it is true, and you are always afraid to move, lest you wake up, break the spell, and be told the paper's been calling you.
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While the sky ride undoubtedly is the biggest thrill, it is hard to express to those who have not seen Sam McLaughlin's train, the exciting things like ramps from one level of the train to another, the stimulating pastel shades, the beautiful furniture, the fancy Open Sesame doors, the half a hundred stunning sights that follow one upon another. There just hasn't ever been anything like it in Canada before. The General Motors train is as far ahead of anything we've got in Canada as television is ahead of the magic lantern.
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I boarded the Train of Tomorrow at Smiths Falls, where thousands of people turned out to see her. In Ottawa, her arrival was for some reason mostly unheralded, and only those who saw her by accident watched the dreamliner go by. Many of those who saw didn't believe their eyes anyway.
The Train of Tomorrow rolled out of Smiths Falls, limbered herself up a bit, took Rosedale on the fly, and then gave the people of Merrickville, home of Harry McLean, a real thrill. Then highball again, till we got the slow order outside Bedell, where we made the left-hand switchover to the Ottawa line. Silliest creature of the afternoon was a woman at Kemptville who held her hands over her ears in the belief that the noise of the diesel would deafen her. Prize for indifference was the man out near Ellwood, who stood with his back to the train as it went by.
Up there in the astra dome, the glories of Eastern Ontario, attired in their autumnal garb of red, yellow, and gold, were eye balm, rivalled the train itself, as nature did her best to out-do the best licks General Motors had given their streamliner. Then, ahead of her down, she coasted to 15 miles an hour, and came into Ottawa, an exciting sight to see. The tragedy was that there were almost none to see her, and why the whole business was not advertised sky high I'll never tell you. We should have had 50,000 out to see this super snake on wheels.
W. J. Creighton, travelling engineer, acted as pilot man while the experienced General Motors crew brought her in. Behind the draw bar was Conductor Ivan Harris of Smiths Falls; while the brakemen were V. J. Doyle and P. W. Burt, also of the Falls. The CPR are taking some members of Parliament out on her today, then the Canadian National gets hold of her on Thursday for a run down to Montreal. Meanwhile, it will be on exhibition in the yards off Besserer Street.
Mayor Bourtjue made the trip. "This," he said enthusiastically at the end of the trip, "is going to revolutionize railroading." The mayor was never a better prophet