Springtime on the Mainline

The arrival of spring signals the start of a new beginning each year. The magnificent vista of flowers and fresh greenery basking in longer daylight hours are a daily, visual reminder of renewal. That process was especially important several generations ago before more advanced methods of climate control and exocytic destinations were out of reach for all but the very wealthy. The visual world for most was a black and white experience since the popularity and affordability of color film, printing and widespread color promotions was still in the distant future. Accordingly, the color of spring had a profound, positive impact on everyone.

Railroad passenger traffic managers responded to the needs of those seeking relief from the dark, cold winter months by taking vacations or weekend excursions to various popular destinations in more temperate areas of the south and south west. In the era when most of “Big Business” was headquartered in northern locations such as Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Detroit and Chicago, many business executives and families of the upper middle class anticipated these springtime trips as a preface to the longer summer vacations that normally followed in the summer months.

The annual Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington D.C was to many the perfect balance of the admiration of nature’s beauty and respectful allegiance to our great Nation. That relationship was masterfully preserved by the impressive photomural that the Chesapeake & Ohio Lines released in 1935 that featured The George Washington train leaving the Capitol speeding amidst the Cheery Blossoms.  Artist Leslie Ragan capture a similar feeling 15 years later in several paintings commissioned by the Southern Railway to promote the Crescent Limited and Southerner streamliners.

Florida was eternally popular, and the Atlantic Coast Line, Florida East Coast and Seaboard Air Line remained constantly vigilant by releasing a flood of exciting promotions featuring many memorable images of these trains. The V-shaped highway of steel from the train tracks extended from New York and Chicago to Florida and remained highly polished by the constant parade of scheduled passenger trains and special passenger movements. Primary railroads and connecting partners pressed every available passenger car into service to meet that demand.

May signaled the start of racing season and the Triple Crown was anticipated by many travelers. Rail was the primary mode of transport for most sports fans and again, passenger train specials jammed the L&N passenger terminal and adjacent yards in Louisville for the Kentucky Derby. The Preakness and the Belmont Stakes drove similar rail traffic volumes to those locations as well.

Western destinations enjoyed nearly a year-long following but spring also initiated mass travel to the west. Destinations along the Santa Fe, Southern Pacific, Union Pacific and Burlington railways remained popular, and that sustained passenger volume allowed those western carriers to field truly outstanding passenger train service well into the late 1960s. Partners in the Pacific Northwest, Northern Pacific and Great Northern were also in that class of service.

Freight train service changed with spring as well. Locomotive crews in steam days welcomed the return of more temperate weather and the visual renewal of spring was not lost on those men that practiced their profession from the loud, hot and dirty locomotive cab. Mainline icing facilities started gearing up for the increased volumes of perishables made possible by extended growing seasons. Dieselization, streamlined, air-conditioned passenger equipment and more advanced methods of refrigeration lessened the dramatic change in seasons for men in the operating crafts.

Spring is also a great time to consider the operating layout and scenery of your model train. Perhaps you want to consider assembling a great, streamlined name train or add a touch of spring color to your display. You may want to add some symbol of refrigerator car, perishable train or support facility to your railroad. To celebrate the arrival of spring, we have our selection of model scenery products on sale that are supported by our award-winning rewards program. No matter where your feelings and preferences take you on this journey, the family at ModelTrainStuff.com is here to celebrate spring renewal with you.

FAW- M B Klein, Inc.