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Museum of the American Railroad

Museum of the American Railroad

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Museum of the American Railroad

4/5 (1 évaluation)
137 pages
27 minutes
Mar 7, 2016


Establishing its collection as the Age of Steam exhibit at Dallas's Fair Park in 1963, the Museum of the American Railroad would go on to acquire over 45 locomotives and railcars. By 2006, the museum needed to move from its first home to a larger facility to allow more space to exhibit the collection of railcars, documents, and other artifacts. One of the keystone pieces is the GG-1 electric locomotive that pulled Robert Kennedy's funeral train in 1968. It has been restored to its original Pennsylvania Railroad appearance. The museum also houses the Centennial--the world's largest diesel-electric locomotive--as well as the rare and famous Santa Fe Alco PA-1 locomotive, acquired from the Smithsonian Institution.
Mar 7, 2016

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Visitors are immersed into the world of Pullman and passenger trains by viewing a sleeping car, parlor club car, and dining car. The Museum of the American Railroad takes great pride in being the steward of this significant aspect of our local and national history. Museum staff and volunteers work every day at preserving, presenting, and honoring the nation's railroad legacy. The images and artifacts included in this book are representative of the many rare and unique pieces housed at the museum.

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Museum of the American Railroad - Museum of the American Railroad



Perhaps no other invention had a more profound effect on our nation during the late 19th and early 20th centuries than the railroad. The expansion of the United States is inextricably tied to the development of railroads—the two grew hand-in-hand.

Along with railroads came the latest technology of the Industrial Age—steam! This powerful, dangerous, and wondrous source of energy was harnessed to propel people and goods across a burgeoning nation. The steam locomotive took on a life of its own with its loud exhaust, plumes of smoke, and invasive, yet reassuring, whistle.

The first few decades of the 20th century saw railroads rise to supremacy in the US transportation network, touching every aspect of commerce, industry, and politics. By 1920, the Pennsylvania Railroad, considered the Standard of the World, was the largest corporate entity in existence and employed more people than the federal government. This era saw trains crisscrossing the nation, fueling rapid expansion and defending our nation during World Wars I and II.

As rapidly as steam ascended to prominence as the primary driver of American industry, it began to decline as new technologies were introduced. By the close of World War II, diesel-electric locomotives began to displace steam on the railroads. With its low operating and maintenance costs, diesel allowed railroads to eliminate legions of mechanical forces and significantly reduce labor costs. As a result, main line steam all but vanished by 1960.

Along with the decline in steam, the era of passenger trains also waned—a victim of interstate highways and air travel. The once-common green Pullman cars, and the newer stainless-steel streamliners, were rapidly disappearing. The older heavyweight Pullman cars were found lining the tracks near large train stations awaiting their turn on the scrap line.

The effort to save this vanishing form of transportation and the way of life it represented arose out of the imminence of its disappearance in the early 1960s. This was the genesis of what is now the Museum of the American Railroad. It began as an attraction at the 1963 State Fair of Texas, the Age of Steam Exhibit. The name was taken from the title of a book by Lucius Beebe, a prolific writer who brought style and romance to the experience of rail travel. Joseph Rucker Jr., then assistant general manager of the State Fair of Texas, thought the name most appropriate for the new attraction. Rucker, a well-known Dallasite, had traveled exclusively by rail throughout his life.

The creation of the exhibit can be traced back to the acquisition of two key pieces of Dallas railroad history in the summer of 1963—Dallas’s oldest surviving railroad structure, the c. 1900 Houston & Texas Central Eakin Street Yard Office, and Dallas Union Terminal’s 1923 Baldwin steam locomotive No. 7. Through those efforts, the paths of two influential Dallas individuals crossed—Joseph Rucker Jr. and Everett DeGolyer Jr., a prominent Dallas resident and student of railroad and western history. DeGolyer, whose father served on the Southern Pacific Railroad’s board, had recently formed the Southwest Railroad Historical Society (SRHS), a nonprofit literary group. The society played a key role in the early development of the museum and subsequent acquisitions.

The small exhibit was well received by fairgoers as part of that year’s theme, Our American Heritage. The SRHS provided volunteers during subsequent fairs, as well as on Sundays throughout the year. The Age of Steam Exhibit became a regular favorite at the fairgrounds.

The venerable old trains exist today because of the hard work and dedication of a relatively small number of people over the years. The founders of the museum realized that not only had the era of luxurious steam-powered passenger trains come to a close, but little remained of their existence. Over the next several years, they continued to save what precious few pieces of equipment were left. Some were graciously donated by the railroads upon retirement, and others were literally pulled from the scrap lines. They are the survivors—the fortunate ones—perhaps a little rough, but tangible evidence

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