Honoring The Green – St Patrick’s Day

Green has been extensively employed by our railroads almost since their inception. The exact color and shades that railroads frequently utilized underscored open spaces and tranquility. Early steam locomotives often displayed a riot of color accented with polished brass and copper fittings. Frequently green was used as a base color for the boiler, cab and tender. Early records and drawings of 4-4-0 American class locomotives bare that out as illustrated by the Highland Light. The recent back-dating and cosmetic restoration of B&O #25 (known as the William Mason from 1927-2014) restored its original dominate green paint scheme.

The bright and colorful steam locomotives proved to be difficult to keep clean and maintain and railroads sought other colors to lower maintenance. Most eventually migrated to gloss black but black also showed road dirt and was not entirely successful. The Pennsylvania Railroad made “Dark Green Locomotive Enamel” standard by the 1880s. That shade of dark green (almost black) was selected not for the desire of color, but road dirt and grime were not that noticeable on that “not quite black” color. PRR was often a slave to tradition and their own shade of green remained “standard locomotive finish” until the diesel age but oddly, got a brief reprieve during the early years of Penn Central when that troubled entity discovered problems with “Jet Black Gloss” paint they first employed.

Rolling stock too once displayed various shades of green for different purposes. As the early primitive passenger cars evolved into more elaborate form in the Victorian age, bright liveries were also embraced to enhance visual impact. The bright and colorful passenger equipment also was difficult to maintain and “coach green” became the widely accepted choice. That shade of green, sometimes called “Forest Green” proved to lower train maintenance yet remained visually appealing to passengers.

Pullman Company, much like the PRR was focused on complete market penetration supported by intense standardization. In its infancy, Pullman accommodated the railroads that leased their sleeping train cars by painting the cars to suit the colors that each railroad favored. But once the Pullman monopoly was solidly in place, Pullman cars were painted first in forest green but were painted Olive Green by World War I. Critics speculated that Pullman got a deal for surplus Army paint left over from the War. True or not, Pullman cars were so treated until the advent of lightweight, streamlined train of the 1930s. For reasons lost to time, three railroads remained holdouts to Pullman olive green: the PRR, C&NW and the Milwaukee Road.

Green reappeared on the boiler jackets of selected steam power trains between 1900 and 1930. New York Central-owned Boston & Albany made Bottle Green standard until 1930. In 1927 B&O painted their class P7 locomotives Oliver Green and in 1929 the Jersey Central painted several pacific locomotives Nile Green to power an experimental passenger train The Bullet.

The public’s tastes and newer design concepts regulated the extensive use of green to the back burner in the 1930s but in the 1950s and 1960s the color was employed selectively once again. The New York Central introduced Jade Green in the early 1960s and later Penn Central fielded their own variation of green.

So celebrate the hobby by adding some green to your model railroad with green toy trains. Our inventory offers many accurate and colorful examples from all eras. Our Model Train Stuff staff is squarely focused on constantly improving that selection and your experience as a valued customer.

(M B Klein, FAW)