Our theme this month includes the legend “second section”. Seasoned railroaders know that symbolized traffic that was so heavy that another section of a schedule train was required to handle crowds. Those crowds normally peaked during traditional holidays but became more a part of “standard operations” during summer months. Railroads themselves started early on promotions on-line vacation spots, signature hotels, amusement parks and tranquil lakes. That effort got a major boost during the economic doldrums of the 1930s when the US Government fielded what later became known as the “See America First” promotions. Whether it was for one day, a weekend, or an extended vacation, people took to the rails to explore our Great Nation.
In an era where 50 to 100 miles from home was considered a respectable outing, railroads would work in concert with picnic parks, amusement parks, and local resorts to schedule excursion trains to transport hot passengers to more temperate destinations. Since much of that activity took place on weekends, railroads relied on their dormant fleet of commuter coaches that were principally in weekday service to support that weekend market.
Eastern railroads applied some creative marketing to sell passengers on scenery enroute but as the industrial age enveloped eastern cities and towns, many eastern carriers had a harder time marketing the “scenic vistas” theme. Still, passengers on the New York Central enjoyed the beautiful Hudson River enroute to New York City. (The NYC made certain that the bedrooms all faced the “River” in every consist.) and likewise, passengers on competing PRR continually admired the storied Horseshoe Curve.
Western railroads were more commonly associated with vacation travel due in part by the commanding and expansive western vistas and the imposing National Park System. Those carriers captured much revenue by catering to the “tourist class” which was delivered by way of downgraded Pullman sleeping cars with spartan interiors or coaches that featured seats that could almost be converted into a flatbed, both with ticket prices most families could afford.
But it was the signature trains of the west that made an indelible mark on the record of passenger train excellence. The Super Chief of the Santa Fe, The California Zephyr (a joint Burlington, Rio Grande, Western pacific operation and the “City” series trains of the Union Pacific and the Sunset Limited of the Southern Pacific still represent the high-water mark of rail travel.
So, take some of that time relaxing this summer to explore the endless possibilities within model railroading that extend from the actual motive power and rolling stock to structures and scenery. Consider your own railroad operation and see how your empire can benefit from our product offerings, on sale now, all supported by our acclaimed Rewards Program.
FAW MB Klein, Inc