U.S., Amtrak and others: Something cool for the sweltering August dog days of summer

Before there was an Amtrak Sunset Limited east of New Orleans from 1993 to 2005, from 1949 to 1971 there was the jointly operated daily Gulf Wind from the Seaboard Air Line Railroad and the Louisville & Nashville Railroad which ran from New Orleans to Jacksonville, Florida. Both railroads contributed to the equipment pool. The consist had a baggage car, coaches, a diner and a round-end observation car. Internet photo above was taken in 1966 at the Jacksonville, Florida terminal.
Advertising artwork from 1956 for the Super Dome Hiawathas. Internet image.

By J. Bruce Richardson, Corridor Rail Development Corporation; August 19, 2022

This was the way things were when it came to passenger railroad advertising. The railroads advertised their passenger trains which bore the company name and reputation. Before the interstate highway and jet age, passenger trains were still popular in post-war America.

The selection of advertisements and artwork shared here has no agenda and does not apologize for how people and trains were displayed for the time in history represented by actual period pieces. It is merely a reflection of a time when railroads operated passenger trains and competed for passengers.

Enjoy the selection during these August dog days of summer.

Just as Amtrak’s Sunset Limited brought passengers from the west from 1993 to 2005, the predecessor Gulf Wind performed the same chore between New Orleans and Jacksonville, Florida, forwarding Sunset passengers to Jacksonville for other north/south connections. The Gulf Wind lasted from its 1949 inaugural until the day before Amtrak Day on May 1, 1971. Here is the 1971 Seaboard Coast Line timetable page for the Gulf Wind. Internet image.
World War II was over and the Pennsylvania Railroad welcomed its employees home and back to work. Many soldiers and sailors happily traded their wartime uniforms for their employers’ uniforms. Internet image.
The Electro-Motive Division of GM was turning out new locomotives at a heavy rate in 1948 and bragged about their power hauling streamlined passenger trains at 100 miles per hour. Internet image.
By 1948 Union Pacific Railroad fielded a full roster of streamliners including the City of Los Angeles, City of San Francisco, City of Portland, City of Denver and City of St. Louis. UP wanted you to know travel on their trains was “smooth as silk.” Internet image.
Amtrak in the 1970s churned out a lot of paper advertising such as the 1975 brochure above. In the off-season, Amtrak operated the former Seaboard Coast Line stablemates the Silver Meteor and Champion as one Florida service train with two sections. The 18 car train split southbound in Jacksonville with one section going to Miami and one section to Tampa and on to St. Petersburg. In the consist were coaches, a “recreation lounge,” Slumbercoach, diner, “Bedroom Lounge” and sleeping cars. Internet image.
Budd built 398 Rail Diesel Cars – RDCs – from 1949 to 1962. The railroad bean counters loved them; inexpensive to operate and maintain, did not need a lot of crew members, and if there was only a handful of passengers, one car was enough. On heavy travel days, use two RDCs together. The sturdy and impressive RDCs are still in active service today in North America, including those operated by VIA Rail Canada. Internet image.
Western Pacific was not modest about its part of the California Zephyr. And, it was the Zephyr. Why be modest when you have one of the best trains in the country? Internet image.
Post-war streamliners with dome cars were “the thing” in the 1950s and 60s. The Southern Pacific boasted they had unique homemade domes. Internet image.
In the East in 1948 the New York Central was busy outfitting its 20th Century Limited streamliner with new equipment, including what it called the “Lookout Lounge.” The New York Central heavily advertised for businessman travel between New York City and Chicago. Internet image.
During the heavyweight era in 1937, the Pullman Company had its own advertising campaigns for sleeping car passengers, often touting the safety of riding the train. Internet image.
Americans were ready for vacation travel by 1948 and New York Central was pleased to offer new, luxury coaches to accommodate their passengers. Internet image.
A 1959 North Coast Limited timetable cover; of course the dome car is heavily featured. Internet image.
The Atlantic Coast Line in 1954 was in hot competition with the Seaboard Air Line for New York to Florida passengers. The ACL had the famed winter season Florida Special as well as the daily East and West Coast Champions, the Vacationer, Havana Special, Palmetto and Everglades. South of Jacksonville the ACL trains were handled into Miami by the Florida East Coast Railway via St. Augustine, Daytona Beach, Cocoa, Melbourne, Stuart, West Palm Beach, and the relatively new town of Fort Lauderdale. Internet image.
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