Join 3,555 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)

Designer locomotives? You bet.
January 9, 2014 7:18 PM   Subscribe

Steam locomotives weren't always brute machines. About 220 of them in the United States were streamlined for (mostly) competitive reasons. Some of them were masterpieces.
posted by pjern (26 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite

Wow. I want to hollow one of these out (with a few pullmans and a caboose attached) and live in it out in the middle of Arizona somewhere.
posted by Scientist at 7:26 PM on January 9 [2 favorites]

These are fun. I want everything around me to be art deco all of a sudden. This one looks like it could have been the inspiration for some of Bruce McCall's National Lampoon pieces.
posted by sourwookie at 7:28 PM on January 9

I just read Train Travels via Pullman 1950 on my kindle, which really gave me a sense of the grandeur of rail travel prior to easy air travel. (The book has a lot of transcription and editing errors, but it was less than a buck).
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 7:33 PM on January 9 [2 favorites]

The illustrations are better than the actual photos.

Seriously, some of that art is amazing.

also holy crap the ├ćolus
posted by emptythought at 7:35 PM on January 9 [2 favorites]

Interesting that many of them were simply shrouded trains made to look sleek, but really the same old heavyweight steamer. Did travelers really car what the train looked like on the outside or did they car about interior comfort and speed/reliability? Or both?
posted by JohnnyGunn at 7:36 PM on January 9

It's no accident that this phenomenon of streamlining really got going in 1935, after the 1934 introduction of the streamlined (diesel!) Pioneer Zephyr, which put everyone on notice that things just weren't going to be the same in the railroad industry any more.
posted by pjern at 7:42 PM on January 9 [1 favorite]

The Hiawatha always looks so gorgeous.
posted by drezdn at 7:43 PM on January 9

Art moderne was pretty great.
posted by parudox at 7:45 PM on January 9 [2 favorites]

Not to mention the Kalakala, a streamlined ferry.
posted by Rumple at 8:11 PM on January 9

I thought of the Royal Blue crossing the Thomas Viaduct often as I crossed the same bridge twice daily on my commutes. Whole lotta history on those rails.
posted by sonascope at 8:12 PM on January 9

Whoa, that 1937 Royal Blue is freaking gorgeous.
posted by mathowie at 8:16 PM on January 9

This'll be the thread where trainspotting becomes fun then?

These are stunners.
posted by Mezentian at 8:21 PM on January 9 [1 favorite]

The Royal Blue's station in Baltimore, Mount Royal Station, is also pretty gorgeous, and later became an icon of sensitive adaptive reuse by MICA.
posted by sonascope at 8:27 PM on January 9 [2 favorites]

The Norfolk and Western 611 was still running railfan excursions into the 1990s. Here it is on a Charlotte to Asheville run in 1992 (youtube). They are pretty amazing up close as they start moving, or when running full speed.

Now the museum has a campaign to restore it to running condition.
posted by jjj606 at 9:11 PM on January 9

While I'm not unappreciative of the art of streamlined steam locomotives, they've always looked like industrial evil to me. Don't know why, but they give me the creeps.

Streamlined diesels though, I love.
posted by Ickster at 9:26 PM on January 9

These are awesome! I've always loved Art Deco style and a lot of it seems to stem from the 'streamlining' of all sorts of vehicles (I don't really know if that's back-to-front, though).
posted by dg at 10:38 PM on January 9

This is relevant to my interests, but the site's background image makes me nauseated.
posted by Literaryhero at 12:58 AM on January 10

I want everything around me to be art deco all of a suddenways.

posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:37 AM on January 10 [2 favorites]

And none of them quite as beautiful as the LNER A4. (Conflict of interest disclaimer: great-grandfather was an engine driver for the LNER)
posted by Coobeastie at 2:35 AM on January 10

The A4 looks great on the cover of modern life is rubbish by blur.
posted by wilful at 3:37 AM on January 10

I want everything around me to be art deco all of a suddenways.

It's one of the reasons I loved watching Poirot. (And it's not just in the titles.)

I just read Train Travels via Pullman 1950 on my kindle

That "on my kindle" will soon be as quaint as "via Pullman".
posted by pracowity at 6:07 AM on January 10

The Mercury is the Dalek of steam locomotives.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:53 AM on January 10 [1 favorite]

That "on my kindle" will soon be as quaint as "via Pullman".

It sounds like you have opinions about kindles
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 1:59 PM on January 10

No, I mean people just read books, electronic or otherwise. Specifying "on my Kindle" is a bit like saying "from my printed and bound book".
posted by pracowity at 9:35 PM on January 10

Or 'I Googled it' ...
posted by dg at 11:20 PM on January 10

I don't know - maybe "google" will become a genericized trademark and people will be "googling" things long after Google, Inc. goes out of business.
posted by pracowity at 3:57 AM on January 11

« Older ...Ressler... and Dias wafted the scent [of acetop...  |  The History Channel ranked the... Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments