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Wartime Restrictions on Passenger Travel

Stuck in the house and can’t travel anywhere? Wondering what the limitations are on seat availability when you can travel again? Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? While the cause for travel restrictions today is due to a pandemic, during the late 1930s to the mid-late 1940s it was caused by war. During World War II, passenger…

Stopping a Train

It takes a lot to stop a train—distance, speed, and most importantly, the brakes. Throughout the early days of railroads, more than 650 patents were given to inventors for train brakes. Some were effective, others not so much. In the mid-1800s, railroads relied heavily on handbrakes and sturdy brakemen to bring trains to a stop….

Rollin’ and Regulation

The 1800s were a booming time in the history of the United States railroad industry. The nation was expanding west, and the frontier began to close. Following the Civil War and the Transcontinental Railroad completion, a major driving factor in the country’s economic growth was the railroad industry. Privately owned and unregulated, railroads controlled the…

Union Pacific Challenger: Big Boy’s ‘Little’ Brother

The Big Boy is by far Union Pacific Railroad’s most notorious steam locomotive. From its sheer size to the strength the engine boasts, it is a favorite engine for many railroad fans. However, the Union Pacific Challenger would pave the way as the ‘little’ brother for the famed steam engine.  Looking for new locomotives that…

Clearing Snow, Railroad Style!

Snow removal on the railroad is a job that has been around since the earliest railroads themselves. Railroads were expensive investments; it was a given that they should operate all year long. However, once Old Man Winter starts spreading the snow around, it is exceedingly difficult for trains to run on the rails. Some trains…

Brotherhood of the Sleeping Car Porters: Pioneers in Civil Rights Movement

a man standing next to a suitcaseTwo members of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters carry luggage from a sleeping car in this 1946 photo. The life of a Pullman Porter was far from perfect. In…

This Week in Railroad History – The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers

November 6th, 1855: On this date in railroad history, 68 engineers from 13 states representing 45 railroads met in Baltimore, Maryland to organize the National Protective Association of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers of the United States, say that three times fast, forming the nation’s first railroad union. In 1863 it became known as the Brotherhood…

Railroad Uniforms and Accessories 

There is nothing like boarding the train to take you to a far off destination. The elegant brightwork of the coaches, the steam coming off of the cylinders of the locomotive, and of course, the smartly dressed conductor who was ready to punch your ticket. A finely dressed conductor was one of the first things…

The Epitome of Grace

The Harvey Girls came first, followed by the Zephyrette’s. These female pioneers in customer service on the railroads. They were the epitome of grace. When the United States focused on westward expansion, the Transcontinental Railroad completion would connect the coasts, and one businessman focused on travelers’ comforts. Fred Harvey opened a series of diners he…