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Link - article by Avi Abrams

Streamlined Train Wonders of the Art Deco Era

Don't miss our previous article Super High Speed Trains in Japan and France. Here is another collection of cool and technologically splendid trains that caught our attention recently.

You know how they say: "1000 destinations to travel, before you die", "1000 awesome things to try, before you die", "1000 ways to prepare pasta, before you die" (really, they should sell a book "One simple way to prepare a poisonous mushroom, before you die"). But we agree, there are multiple worthy activities to undertake in your lifetime. Learning about awesome trains and railroads is one of them.

(images via LIFE MAgazine 1, National Geographic, November 1939, 2)

The gorgeous streamlined steam and diesel locomotives from the 1920s-1930s scream "steampunk" and "dieselpunk" to anyone who can appreciate it, and also provide an ample field for research for train historians and collectors. This was the era of The Mighty Streamlined Machine, and it plainly shows even in black-and-white photographs that remained. Here is the glamorous "Broadway Limited" Express:

(image credit: Andy Romano)

Milwaukee Road Hiawatha F6 Engine competes with the Packard LeBaron V-12 Coupe:

(art by Jack Juratovic, "Road and Track", November 1935 - via)

F7 competes with Duesenberg:

(art by Jack Juratovic, "Road and Track", November 1935 - via)

Many streamlined mighty engines prowled the nation at the time, including ones on C&NW (Chicago & North Western), the Hiawathas on the Milwaukee Road, the Aeoles steam engines on the Burlington Route (as backup to the famous Zephyrs):

(images via)

And of course, "20th Century Limited" on the NYC (New York Central System):

Milwaukee Hiawatha's Skytop Panoramic Room:

(images via 1, 2)

Union Pacific strange-looking M-10000, and another Union Pacific streamliner:

Pennsylvania Railroad Locomotive (Designer Raymond Loewy) from 1939:

(images via)

To see more great examples of streamlined locomotives, go to this great site.

Back in England, the A4 4468 Mallard, one of the A4 series from LNER's Express Pacific, reached the world speed record for a steam locomotive (202.58 km/h) in 1938.

(images via 1, 2)

More Mallards: 60022 engine (illustration by Robert Ayton from 'The Story of Railways', 1961) and LNER Gresley A4 Pacific:

(images via)

Soviet Railways S-ZhD 2-3-2v (left), and А691 4-6-2 locomotive of the Italian State Railway (right). Top speed - 150 km/h, built in 1939:

(images via 1, )

NMBS/SNCB: 12.004 was a streamlined 4-4-2 passenger locomotive of the Belgian National Railroads. Top speed 100 mph in 1939 -

(photo by Marc Petit)

These engines were living, breathing mysteries of steam and iron. Many years from their heyday, the wonder still remains:

(photo by National Geographic, November 1939, via)

Interesting Train Art and Concepts

Retrofuture concept for a gigantic passenger train, introduced in 1947 (Note the spacious interiors and huge bed options) - more info:

(images via)

"Mine Clearing of Arctic Regions", by Vladimir Kufeld (click to see the bigger version):

(image credit: Vladimir Kufeld)

Another unholy union: huge steam locomotive and a World War I battleship, by Marco Edel Rolandi (click to see the bigger version):

(image credit: http://anacardo.cgsociety.org/gallery/340944/)

The idea is not new - here is a Victorian postcard, featuring even weirder Combined Ship & Railway Locomotive (from Hildebrand's, a turn-of-the-20th-century German chocolate company):

(image via)

Here is the steampunk church / train hybrid, courtesy Silverwhite

(image credit: Silverwhite)

Futuristic train by Benedict Campbell:

(image credit: Benedict Campbell)

All Sorts of Train-Related Coolness

A bunch of mining steam trains in China:

(image via)

Even more interesting convergence of trains - Triple Railway Crossing in Richmond, Virginia:

(photo by National Geographic, November 1939, via)

Interesting locomotive spotted in Omsk, Russia. It doubles up as a power station: built in 1960, it can generate 300 kWatts -

(image via)

Another weird Russian locomotive - with an engine from small Moskvich car, photo taken in Krasnoyarsk in the 1960s:

(photo by Yury Lucevich, via)

How about Tama the Cat as a train conductor in Japan? More info can be found here, but it seems that this cat boosted local economy by at least $10 million in tourist visits. Here is the obligatory cat image "I'm in ur stashion, chekin ur tikits":

(image via)

"Unloading Passengers" (photo by Bob Avery) -

(image credit: Bob Avery, Railpictures.net)

Steam Engines Used as Street Trams in the Czech Republic, especially neat-looking in the winter's traffic:

(photos by Michal Uhler)

Backyard Train - Russian version of Thomas the Tank Engine? It seems that this miniature train is a good helper in household construction:

Is this train broken? -

No, it's not broken in any way, this is the Mt Washington, New England, cog train, designed to go on a steep incline (more info)

(images via)





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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please cover the nuclear/electric sourced, electric bullet train networks of China and their infrastructure, the rice and veggies society they support - Americans need to see this!

Anonymous therealche said...

How can you cover streamlined steam trains without a piture of the A4 class locos such as 4468 Mallard, the fastest steam loco of all time

Anonymous tewy said...

The pictures from the Czech Republic are taken in Brno - the second lagrest city. There are exhibiton grounds near the city center that are conected to the railway system - mainly for the delivery of large exhibits or other special ocasions (like historical train exhibitions etc...) - it is not a regular street tram line. But you can encounter a train on the street occasionaly (under special traffic police surveilance), that is going to or from the exhibition grounds.

Anonymous Marcus said...

Love this post, man. Your English is getting better, too. I just wonder if it is right to leave out the horrors of the human race for which trains have become a symbol (ie, cattle cars).

Anonymous LittleInsect said...

To go on from what therealche said re: Mallard 4468 Mallard, the fastest steam loco of all time....
You can still travel behind the 60007 Sir Nigel Gresley, the sister loco to the Mallard.
It is often on working loan from the UK National Railway Museum to the North Yorks Moors Railway, and also performs regularly on regular train routes. Detials can be found here http://www.sirnigelgresley.co.uk/
Believe me, it is a real pleasure to travel on a train hauled by such a beautiful, and impressive loco

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here is a nice one you missed from Baltimore.


Anonymous 1379 said...

I saw a cartoon as a kid about trains. It was in a very art deco style. From what i remember of the plot a little boy is in a train yard and he gets knocked unconscious and he has this crazy dream about conducting all the trains. I forgot the name, Does anyone know the name of the film I'm talking about?

It looks like in was made sometime from the 40's to the late 60's.

Blogger Avi Abrams said...

Added the Mallard, absolutely. Baltimore's one is nice, too.

Blogger David Thompson said...

We had a stream train in Victoria, Australia that was introduced in 1937 with the wonderful name of the Spirit of Progress.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Glad you added Mallard; perhaps it would have been good if you could see not only the "Locomotive" but the "Train" as well - it had some very interesting coaches which shared bogies, much like the modern "Eurostar."

And in terms of style, perhaps the rival to the LNER's Mallard is even more beautiful, the recently restored LMS Princess Royal class "Duchess of Hamilton"

Blogger Chris said...

While you have included some pretty impressive locomotives, I am surprised at some of your omissions. Between the world wars DRG (Deutsche Reichsbahn Gesellschaft) produced some pretty amazing locomotives (and one that, with modifications, is the fasted steam locomotive (BR 18 201 at 180km/h) in use today. DRG created such giants as the BR 01.10 (150km/h), BR 03.10 (140km/h) and the mighty BR 05 (175km/h). The latter, in my opinion, outperformed Mallard as its highest performance was checked on level track against Mallard's downhill run (which, incidentally, nearly wrote off the loco. Also very interesting was the BR 61 ABS fitted tank engine (175 km/h)
You can see photos of these locos on Wikipedia. Also see http://www.germansteam.co.uk/FastestLoco/fastestloco.html#05trace (not my site).

Anonymous Ol Smokey said...

And no mention of the Titfield Thunderbolt either: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Titfield_Thunderbolt
Doesn't matter what you post there's going to be hundreds that don't get a mention. Pity, there's so many beautiful locos out there.

Anonymous Tom said...

Awesome post mate! Trains were definitely far more glamourous back in the day than today's utilitarian - although sometimes impressively fast - contraptions. Saw the Mallard last year at York Railway Museum. Didn't they have to bring it to the States to test how fast it could go because British track wasn't straight for long enough? Also check out the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester - free museum and pretty understated, but loads of great stuff including trains and planes.

Blogger peter c said...

thanks for sharing great stuff like these...
For further train series keep an eye on italian trains, you know Italy is famous for its Design, and Italian Designers really did their best in creating pretty unusual locos and trains.
See a complete overview here:
scroll down for category like "FS Elletrotreni",
or spend some time on:
See especially: ETR.220, ETR.300 Settebello, ALe.790, E.424, RALn.60, ALn.56 and much more...

Anonymous Anonymous said...


I think the show you're looking for is "play safe".


Amazing animation for a show from 1936. I grew up on this too.

As always, excellent article DRB. Keep up the good work.

Anonymous Anonymous said...


it was called play safe it was made in 1936 here is a link


Blogger Brighton Toy and Model Museum said...

If this is "Streamlined Trains of the Art Deco Era", you HAVE to include the 1937 and 1939 Coronation Scot.

HAVE to. It's compulsory! :)

There was a blue one with silver speed-stripes, and a red one with gold striping. The red one did a tour of the US in 1939


Blogger Avi Abrams said...

Thank you Brighton Toy - you got fantastic site, and will certainly include this material in next parts!


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