Posts Tagged ‘New York Central passenger trains’

Toledo CUT in Waning Days of Passenger Service

May 6, 2015


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Thanks for posting the shots of this year’s National Train Day in Toledo. Great shots.

Your image of Amtrak No. 406 inspired me to travel back to Toledo nearly 50 years ago.

Here are two shots from a trip Mike Ondecker, John Woodworth and I took to Toledo (and beyond) on Nov. 29, 1968.

The top image shows Chesapeake & Ohio 4021 and its train awaiting departure.

The bottom image has New York Central 4024 and its Penn Central train waiting next to Baltimore & Ohio 1438 with its C&O train.

While I can’t identify the trains, I do remember the feeling I had when I saw the property. At least one track had been removed and the few trains still using the station were a sad commentary on one of the last major passenger stations built.

Article and Photographs by Robert Farkas

20th Century Ltd. Rolling Again on Broadway

March 24, 2015

The Twentieth Century Limited is again speeding from Chicago to New York, but on the stage and not the rails of the former New York Central.

It’s a musical production titled On The Twentieth Century and it opened on March 15 at the, ahem, American Airlines Theater in New York City. It was the speed of the airlines, after all, that helped to put the Century out of business in December 1967.

But from the time that it was launched in June 1902, the train, along with its chief competitor the Broadway Limited of the Pennsylvania Railroad, defined fast luxury travel.

The musical is set in the 1930s.  Oscar Jaffee is a theater producer who has just seen his latest effort close in Chicago after its first act. It was his fourth consecutive flop.

He is desperately pursuing his former protégée and lover Lily Garland, who left him to become a movie goddess. Oscar hopes to get Lily to underwrite his next production as well as win back her heart.

Oscar and Lily have both boarded the Century in Chicago and he has 16 hours to get her to agree to sign a contract.

But he must overcome the antics of Andy Karl (Lily’s boy toy), a rival producer, and Letitia Peabody Primrose (a rich philanthropist).

All of this is portrayed on a set designed to resemble the interior of the train. Scenes are played out in sleeping car compartments, in the dining car and in the lounge car. The play opens on the platform of Chicago’s LaSalle Street Station.

The set includes a large art deco rendering of the streamlined locomotive that pulled the train.

The musical has been described as part operetta, part farce and part screwball comedy.

The latest production of On the Twentieth Century is a revival of a play that was first performed in February 1978.

That production, which won two Tony Awards, was inspired by the 1934 movie Twentieth Century, which itself was inspired by a 1932 play of the same name by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur. Hech and MacArthur were in turn inspired by an unpublished play written by Charles Bruce Millholand.

The latest Broadway production of On the Twentieth Century features Kristin Chenoweth as Lily and Peter Gallagher as Oscar.

A Day on the New York Central in the Steam Era

February 10, 2013
Boston & Albany A1a Berkshire No. 1403 and an H6a Mike lead a New York Central freight at Syracuse, N.Y. in August 1946.

Boston & Albany A1a Berkshire No. 1403 and an H6a Mike lead a New York Central freight at Syracuse, N.Y. in August 1946.

In 1946, my Mom and her husband, Jack, journeyed to Syracuse, N.Y., from our hometown, Oswego, to visit the annual New York State Fair. Of course, they took me along.

Sometime during the day, we stopped on an overpass over the New York Central mainline. The overpass was located in North Port Byron, N.Y., about 30 miles west of Syracuse. It had become family practice to allow me a little time to view the local railroad scene wherever we went.

The New York Central trains were steam powered in 1946; diesels had not even been installed on the point of the Central’s passenger fleet.

I had my mom’s Kodak box camera because I did not own a camera yet. The box camera had two frosted viewports, about 1/2 x 3/4 inch in size.

The slow speed shutter was lever stroked one way, then back for the second exposure. If you did both, you got two images, one on top of the other. The 620 film advance was by manual crank.

Three trains came by during our brief visit: two freights and the Empire State Express, the premier NYC daytime passenger train. I blazed away, barely able to see the images in the viewfinders. When the Empire zoomed by, I ran across the road to get the going away shot.

Years later, at a railfan night at Al Staufer’s, Al saw the images, liked them, and borrowed them for his new book The Thoroughbreds.

The two Empire images were published in the 1974 book on Page 227. The freight photo of the Boston & Albany A1a Berkshire and H6a Mike taken the same day in 1946 was also published on Page 45.

The 1924 Lima B&A A1 Berkshire was the first 2-8-4 produced. They started the “Super Power” era and the design prompted the NYC Hudsons.

The odds against those slow shutter speed images being produced in a major publication were quite high. However, Al saw and liked them and the rest is history. It just illustrates the axiom “never pass up a photo opportunity” because you never know where it might end up.

Article and Photographs by Richard Jacobs

New York Central train No. 51, the westbound "Empire State Express," charges through Syracuse at 80 mph in August 1946.

New York Central train No. 51, the westbound “Empire State Express,” charges through at 80 mph in August 1946.

NYC's "Empire State Express" going away westbound at Syracuse in an August 1946 photo.

NYC’s “Empire State Express” going away westbound in an August 1946 photo.


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