Hogwarts Express for real
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Tomorrow night I will be conductor on a recreation of Hogwarts Express being done in Duluth by Northern Lights Books and the North Shore Scenic Railway. I will provide an update after the trip.
Here is an article I wrote after HP6 came out. It was bought by one of the railfan mags in the states but was not printed for technical reasons.
Back in the summer of 2003, Anita Zager was a muggle with a problem. It was a very unusual problem for a muggle, since it involved many wizards and witches, 6,000 mostly human runners, and the biggest publishing success story in recent history.
The problem had been caused by a number of factors, including Harry Potter, the popular Wizard-in-training creation of British author J. K. Rowling. The creative solution, first offered by her husband, Tim, has brought nationwide attention to this bookstore owner from Northern Minnesota, because the solution put Harry Potter on the tracks of the Northern Pacific Railway, and on the platform of an NP caboose.
Now, Harry Potter is known to be a train rider. On most years, just before the start of another term at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Harry and his friends must go to King's Cross Station, one of the major railroad terminals in London, and find his way to platform 9â‰¤. Once there, he and the other scholars board a special train that takes them on a day-long journey to their school.
The train, which has been featured in the Harry Potter movies, is a ten-wheeler steam locomotive built in 1937 by Swindon, one of the major locomotive factories in the British Isles. It is painted red, as is the following train of typical English passenger carriages from the middle of the Twentieth Century.
Such a train was not available on short notice when Harry Potter was coming to Duluth, Minnesota. But there were other trains and a beautiful old railroad station that could do the job.
The problem that Anita Zager faced in 2003 was an unusual one. Anita operates Northern Lights Books, a family business located in the Canal Park section of Duluth, not far from the city's famous lift bridge. It is also a short distance from the tracks of the North Shore Scenic Railway, a tourist-carrying passenger railroad that operates from Duluth to Two Harbors, 25 scenic miles along or near the shore of Lake Superior.
Duluth has many community events in the course of a year, but one of the biggest, and the one that literally stops traffic, is Grandmaâ€šs Marathon, a 26 mile footrace that runs from Two Harbors to Canal Park in Duluth each summer. It attracts thousands of runners and causes the closing of many Duluth streets for the greater part of a business day, one Saturday each year. The trouble for Anita was that the 2003 Marathon, one of the biggest days of the year in Duluth, was to be run on the same day that the long-awaited Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was to be released. The Marathon runners would pass down the street directly in front of Northern Lights Books, preventing all but the most determined customers from getting to her store. It would be a great day for the several other booksellers in Duluth. For Anita, it was something you wouldn't wish on a Dursley or a Malfoy. Well, maybe a Malfoy.
Tim Zager is a railfan, a sometimes officer of the Lake Superior Railroad Museum, and a qualified train crew member on the North Shore Scenic Railway. He suggested to his wife that since the Harry Potter books always have a sequence featuring a train, it would be appropriate to have a train deliver the hundreds of copies of Order of the Phoenix that Anita expected to sell. They could then celebrate the arrival of the book by throwing an event in the ample space of Duluth Union Depot. It was an idea worthy of Professor Dumbledore.
Duluth Union Depot was built in 1893 to serve several of the many railroads that operated in the city of 100,000 on the shores of Lake Superior. The building is one of eight railroad stations that once served Duluth. The building is of Norman Architecture with yellow brick, multiple floors, and a tower at the two front corners. You enter from Michigan Avenue on the near west side of the town's main business district. You could buy tickets, look for something to read on your train trip, and have a meal or a snack at the lunch counter while you were at street level. If you climbed the stairs, you could visit the offices of several railroad executives and supervisors based in Duluth or apply for a job on the Northern Pacific. If you got to one of the towers you could see where several men dispatched the trains Northern Pacific ran to Minneapolis, Staples, or Ashland. If you descended two flights of stairs, you would reach the tracks. These seven tracks hosted
passenger trains with names like Gopher and Badger and Arrowhead and the Skally Job. The Duluth trains were mostly short-distance trains running to Minneapolis-Saint Paul, to Staples, Minnesota, where connections could be made with trains running to the Pacific Coast, to Grand Forks, North Dakota, to several of the mining towns on the Mesabi and Vermillion iron ranges, and to Ashland, Wisconsin.
The station was used by trains of the Northern Pacific, the Great Northern, and the Duluth, Missabe & Iron Range lines. It also had its own personal railroad, the Duluth Union Depot & Transfer Company, which owned about three miles of adjacent track and one little yellow and red diesel locomotive that switched and assembled passenger cars into outbound trains.
Passenger train service to Duluth ended in May, 1969, with the operation of the last Duluth-to-Staples train. Most of the other stations in Duluth were demolished. Many of the railroad tracks near the station were covered over by the concrete of an interstate highway. But the depot building and a few access tracks remained. They were saved when community leaders decided the building was suited for an arts and cultural center, with space for a few old trains in the basement. Arts organizations located their offices in the building. An art museum, a theatre, a children's museum, gift shops and a re-creation of a main street in a northern town gradually became features of the building. Amtrak rented space in the building for eight years to serve the North Star to Chicago and the Arrowhead to the Twin Cities.
The collection of trains in the basement kept growing: passenger cars, freight cars, a log loader, a wrecking crane, a palatial private car used by railroad executives, a railway post office car, the first steam locomotives of the Northern Pacific and of the Great Northern, a few run of the mill steam and diesel freight locomotives that had been used in the area, a multi-unit electric locomotive from Montana, and one of the largest steam locomotives in the world. Some of this equipment was used on a variety of passenger schedules. Trains ran to the Lester River bridge on the east edge of the city; others ran to Two Harbors, and still others to intermediate points. There were occasional expensive dinner trains, economy beer and pizza trains, and special trains for parties, class trips, and weddings.
And then there was the Hogwarts express.
There was an ample supply of railroad equipment and a covered trainshed to keep any visiting wizards and muggles protected from the rain. The idea caught on, and over 500 Potter fans, some of them muggles, attended the ceremony for the fifth Harry Potter book.
For the release of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, there was no repeat of the racing problem. The Marathon had been run in June. A dog show at the nearby convention center was the only conflicting event in Duluth, but dogs were not incompatible with wizards. The grand old railway depot had been such a perfect location for the previous release, the building looking like it could be part of a branch campus of Hogwarts, that Northern Lights Books selected it as the site for the next event. Work started early, with all employees at the bookstore brought into the planning. Another fifty, volunteers who were friends and or customers of the store, joined the planning.
Sometime in June, 1,500 pounds of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince arrived in Duluth. The books in their specialized shipping boxes were loaded into a caboose at the railroad museum. Some advertising was bought, and a press release went out to area media.
July 15 was a hot and muggly night in Duluth. Broken clouds offered an occasional glimpse of a first quarter moon. The forecast hinted at rain as the eventvolunteers started to arrive at the depot. Finishing touches were applied to a decorating project that transformed the depot's main waiting room into a model of the Hogwarts Dining Hall. There were trays of treats to prepare and a stack of Potter related crossword puzzles, find a word puzzles, and trivia questions to place on the dining tables. There were special effects to arrange downstairs and potions and creatures to distribute. Most of the volunteers arrived in costume, many homemade with considerable skill, some assembled from existing wardrobes. Many of the customers displayed equal skill.
At 10:00 PM, the station doors were opened. Potter fans first walked a gauntlet of witches and wizards acting as security and guides, ticket sellers and ticket takers. The front house staff included one token muggle in business casual clothing. Down the entry corridor, the fans were stopped at the entrance to the dining hall by the portrait of the fat lady. She demanded a password from everyone entering, and routinely changed the password at whim. The fat lady took pleasure reprimanding anyone trying to enter while using a cell phone. Eventually 730 Potter fans arrived for the event.
After passing the portrait, guests entered the dining hall, where chocolate frogs, Bertie Botts jelly beans, and more mundane treats like pretzels and Pepsi were available. Across the room, a Potter trivia contest with evolving panels of contestants and a sorting hat ran through the evening. The Gabriel String Quarter performed a variety of wizardry music and classical pieces like the Masterpiece Theme and Handel's Arrival of the Queen of Sheba from their station by a waiting room fireplace. The fireplace contained a prominent sign prohibiting floo travel.
A Harry Potter store run by a crew of witches operated at the spot where the station lunch counter functioned until 1967. Professor McGonagall held court where ticket buyers used to line up to pay the fare, inviting guests to meet her pet, a small and well-behaved screech owl from Cleveland named Archimedes. The ticket seller area held extra stocks of bread racks full of chocolate frogs.
For two hours muggles and wizards mingled. There were many Harry Potter look-a-likes, several very good Hermione Grangers, one excellent Hagrid, and a man in a ratty overcoat bearing a sign: "Unemployed Wizard: Will cast spells for food." T-shirts bore messages like I Speak Parseltongue and Walking in a Wiccan Wonderland.
At track level, a local high school chemistry teacher and her top students performed magic like dust explosions and color changes of substances, the effects often accompanied by approved Hogwarts magic words. On the opposite side of track six, a magical creatures display with snakes and slugs and scorpions was offered. Further back, a fortune teller plied her trade throughout the evening. All around were the trains. Some were open for exploration where you could get a pull-the-throttle and lean-out-the-window experience.
Starting at 11:00 PM, Ken Bueler, depot executive director, took occasional breaks from his role as a very busy house-elf to announce the progress of the train approaching Duluth, passing through nearby towns and then through neighborhoods along the Missabe route. Book buyers were advised to assemble on the platform for track 6, which, for this night anyway, was Platform 9 â‰¤.
The train itself had really not moved very far. The engine was an industrial diesel switcher, a 45 tonner built by General Electric in 1952, operated by remote control, and used to switch a power plant owned by Minnesota Power and Light. It would push Northern Pacific caboose 1311, a wooden caboose built in 1913 that had trailed Minnesota freight trains for 60 or more years.
Anticipation grew rapidly after Bueler announced the train had passed the Fitger Brewery, one mile from the depot. All the guests crowded the platforms along track 6. Some museum staffers attempted to start a dry ice fog machine. A costumed Potter stand-in and a local model railroader, who was conductor for a night, walked the back way out to the train.
At two minutes to midnight, you could hear the sound of a diesel engine if you listened closely. A shrill and not very strong whistle confirmed the event. There were cheers, and a chanting of Harry!!! Harry!!! as Kevin Acker, a museum and scenic railway manager, opened the doors for track six and the short train backed into Duluth Union Depot. Its cargo was hundreds of books, many stacked for easy viewing through the caboose windows, and a smiling Harry Potter on the rear platform.
The rest of the night is all the sounds of turning pages. A long line waits to climb the caboose steps to claim their book from Harry Potter. Beside the caboose stand three costumed dementors, eagerly reading the first chapter.
It's a different world out there after I leave the depot, a muggle world slowly closing down for the night. Over at Perkins, I stop for breakfast. There are a few fishermen heading north, a couple of state troopers taking their meal break, a waitress who thinks all this Harry Potter stuff is madness.
But just behind the pancake house there is a railroad track, and the rumor is, come the release of the final Harry Potter book, the Hogwarts Express will run down that track. And the next time, the public, even muggles, will be invited to ride the train.
When I watch the Harry Potter films I'm always disappointed at how little of the train we get to see, although I suppose those of us who are more interested in a steam loco than a bunch of juvenile wizards are in a rather small minority.
Maybe this thread is an opportunity to share whatever insights and information we have on the real Hogwarts Express?
I believe the current locomotive is the second one that was painted red for the films - I can't remember what happened to the first one. I believe the current one is Great Western Railways Hall class "Olton Hall" number 5972. The loco still seems to be carrying its original number, but the name plates on the side have been replaced with "Hogwarts Castle". There are some pictures here
The carriages used in the film were vandalised with graffiti a couple of years back.
I seem to remember that there was some controversy amongst railfans in the UK when 5972 continued to run in red, as that's a colour that the original loco would never have carried. Purists would probably also argue that GWR locos did not use Kings Cross Station and it would have been more appropriate to use an LNER loco. I must say a red-painted streamlined A4 Pacific would certainly be something to see! But then again, it's just fantasy, Platform 9 3/4 doesn't really exist (does it?), and it's good to see anything that introduces steam to a new generation who have never experienced it before, whether it be Thomas the Tank Engine or the Hogwarts Express.
This is a good article, and I am looking forward to your update. The Harry Potter books are huge, so one can see why the trains don't figure prominently in either the books or the trains. But there is a kind of romantic reality in their use in both the books and the movies.
I am under the impression that the Hogwarts trains only operate at the beginning and end of semesters (or school terms, are there two or three in a year?).
Kings Cross Station seems appropriate for a train that I presume is heading north from London, even if the movie uses a Great Western locomotive.
Has anyone seen the movie that has just come out, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix? I haven't, yet.
Has anyone reserved a copy of the final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows? Also, no.
Haven't seen the film yet (waiting for a couple of weeks for the cinema to be slightly less packed) nor ordered the book (waiting for it to come out in paperback or at least to be available more cheaply after the initial rush has passed). I've enjoyed reading most of the Harry Potter books but am not a serious fan.
Last night 420 riders bought tickets on the Hogwarts Express operated by Northern Lights Bookstore in Duluth. The train was led by SD-18 diesel 193 from the Duluth, Missabe & Iron Range Railroad, and the colors of that railroad's locomotive just happen to match the colors of Gryffindor (and also of the University of Minnesota. The train was a baggage car, five coaches (two of them double decker commuter cars) and an old wooden caboose built in 1913.
The release party at the depot drew over 1000. Ticket sales stopped when the reasonable capacity of the terminal building was reached.
Train crew was Frank Kristofferson, engineer, Dan Mackey, Fireman, Dave Umhauer, Conducter and Richard Bergsrud, assistant conductor. Prolific railroad author Patrick Dorin came along as car host and helper. The passenger loading started at 1015 PM on a cool clear night with a first quarter moon. All passengersd were loaded within 15 minutes. The train was then delayed about 5 minutes by a malfunction public address system cable to one car.
We backed out of the station, going west, then switched over to a track that follows the harbor and the shoreline of Lake Superior. The cars were kept dimly lit, with occasional commentary and appropriate music offered over the PA.
The drama occurred near the eastern city limits. At a large clearing, a storm sewer containment structure, the train stopped, and the passengers saw a group of eight costumed death eaters doing a slow dance. Three area students dressed as Harry, Ron and Hermione, emerged from the caboose, ran the length of the interior of the train, detraining at the final coach. They challenged the death eaters, and in a five minute sword and wand combat finally defeated all eight and took possession of a large wooden chest which they carried through the full length of the train to the caboose. The entire dance and combat were illuminated by non-concussive fireworks (it is a quiet residential neighborhood) and railroad safety fusees. Our heroes had just liberated Book 7 from the clutches of the death eaters.
We backed half a mile to Lakeside passing track, ran the engine around to the opposite end of the train, and returned to the terminal. Arrival was 5 minutes after midnight, mostly due to media requested delays. There the passengers and the waiting crowd traded purple tickets for a copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows directly from the hands of Harry Potter (played by local high school teacher Laura Jenson) or his stunt double. It took 45 minutes to distribute the books from the caboose.
I am still recovering from what was a very physical trip. My copy of Book 7 is still at Northern Lights. Anita Zager told me at the end of the trip that I am getting a free copy which will be autographed by all of the principals in the operation of the train. So, please, don't anyone tell me how the book ends.
And this may just be the high point of my 40 years of workin on the railroad.
Sounds like you had a good time. Well done, mate!
Warner Bros are filming another HP movie in the Fort William/Glenfinnan area.... steam loco 5972 is involved.
Published: 13 October, 2007
IT'S a return trip to the West Highlands for the making of the latest Harry Potter movie.
And it was all aboard Hogwart's Express at the weekend for 100 senior pupils from Lochaber High School in Fort William.
They were train passengers, in the roles of "apprentice witches and warlocks", for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
The adolescent extras are mainly 17-year-olds, emphasising the fact that the hero, Harry, has grown up over the years.
On Saturday and Sunday mornings, the excited youngsters boarded Hogwart's Express at Spean Bridge station.
But the windows of the blood-red coloured carriages, pulled by the Hogwart's Castle steam engine, had had a makeover to simulate a covering of morning dew, which was more than matched by the early misty and wet conditions.
So the teenagers couldn't wave out from the train as it pulled away from the platform.
Hogwart's was constantly in the sights of a helicopter-borne camera crew as it headed along the West Highland Line to bleak Rannoch Moor.
Meanwhile, filming for the Warner Brothers epic has commenced once more in Glencoe, Glenfinnan and Glenspean to ensure continuity with the previous five titles.
Glencoe, for example, provided the backdrop for Hagrid's Hut, the Sundial Garden and the Bridge to Nowhere, for the Prisoner of Azkaban.
And the Glenfinnan railway viaduct is now more familiarly known to hundreds of thousands of tourists as the "Harry Potter Bridge".
In the previous Harry Potter screenplays, Hogwart's Express crossed the viaduct in clouds of steam while, in one of the films, Harry's Ford Anglia soared over it.
It was close to Glenfinnan, too, that Hagrid's Kingdom was created on an islet in the middle of Loch Eilt.
Insiders say that the Harry Potter links with Lochaber became so strong over the previous five movies that the established Highland settings simply have to make a reappearance in Half-Blood Prince to ensure recognition continuity in the storylines.
For the first time, however, the cameras have been rolling at Loch Arkaig, in "Commando Country", bordered by Achnacarry and Glenspean.
An airborne film unit, and cameramen aboard a fish farm boat have been shooting computer-enhanced sequences, above and on the loch, the tranquillity of whose inland waters once echoed to the sound of tracer bullets when the Commandos trained there during World War II.
Link to article
The question: 'Which of these bears less resemblance to reality? 1) Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends books and videos; 2) Harry Potter books and movies. Discuss!' was posed but has not yet been answered...
That's cool. Now we'll have to see if any of us can walk through that bricked up archway!
edited for link
Harry Potter filming
GRW 'Hall' No. 5972 Olton Hall began its week-long trip to Fort William on September 16 with five Harry Potter-liveried coaches in tow.
The 'Hogwarts Express' travelled via Shap, Beattock and Cowlairs to the Highlands for a weekend of Harry Potter filming and returned a week later.
I wonder what the "steam-blowing Hogswarts Express train" is like?
Harry Potter takes VT set into King's Cross
Location filming spanning three days started at Kings's Cross station for the final 'Harry Potter' film on May 24.
Whereas previous films had featured West Coast Railway's Mk 1 carriages and GWR 4-6-0 No. 5972 Olton Hall (as 'Hogwarts Castle'), this time Warner Bros had hired Virgin's refurbished Mk 3 rake, topped-and-tailed by DBS class 67s.
No. 5972 did travel from Carnforth to Southall via Tyseley for the filming engagement at King's Cross, however.
Three midweek nights had been set aside for the filming, necessitating temporary removal of scaffolding and other building materials at the London terminus. (END)
The same page has a story about the opening of the new Platform 0 (zero) at King's Cross - a fitting companion to Platform 9 3/4, some might say...
Pottermore: A first look inside Harry Potter's digital world (Guardian)
I saw a picture recently in an on-line Railway Herald magazine of the redo of Kings Cross Station. Looks very modern to me even though a claim is made about an English heritage review.
I saw a short item on the BBC the other day (we get the London local news here, for some reason) - as far as I understood it, they are building a new steel structure, with a booking office and a mezzanine restaurant area, opposite the ends of the high-numbered platforms (St Pancras side). When that's open they will clear the gubbins currently obstructing the façade. Everything will be ready in time for the Olympics, of course. No doubt the new booking office will have twice as many sales positions as the present one, but fewer booking clerks...
The most frequently asked question, Network Rail bosses admit, is the location of platform nine and three-quarters, boarding point for the Hogwart's Express of Harry Potter fame. Despite the station's reconstruction the monument, a luggage trolley vanishing into the brickwork, has kept tourists queuing - even when relocated to a dismal exterior wall on the accident blackspot of York Way junction, a setting to challenge the most ardent JK Rowling fan's suspension of disbelief.
A new space will be found amid the renovation of the original 1852 building - but discreetly, not between platforms nine and 10, and facing away from any trains lest the incessant flash photography unsights the drivers.
WALKERS, ramblers and photographers have been warned of trespassing dangers following a worrying incident close to the "Harry Potter bridge" on the West Highland Railway Line in Lochaber...
The notice... comes after a shocking example of trespassing...
The viaduct... has become a magnet for film-buffs keen to capture images of steam trains crossing it - just as the "Hogwart’s Express" does in the boy wizard films.
In the Great Plains states in the U.S., I remember reading that some prairie grasses only survived in rights of way of remote rail lines, where the vegetation did not need to be "cleared." So, that is an ecological plus.
On the clearing of vegetation along railway lines, it's a problem that we face operating steam engines on South Africa's railways. In the old days of steam, the vegetation was cleared regularly, but now it isn't, so we have to be careful. The spark arresters on the locos have to be kept in good condition, driver and fireman try to operate carefully, we carry fire-fighting equipment on the train, our crew is trained in fire-fighting, we keep a fire watch from the caboose at the rear and, on certain lines at the height of the dry season, we have a fire-fighting vehicle following the train on service roads (a pick up truck with fire-fighting kit, not a fully-fledged fire engine). On branch lines we can stop, set the train back and use water from both the blowdown cocks and the auxiliary water tank to extinguish the fire; on main lines we can't stop and set back in section so the pick up truck and its crew have to do the business.
Mind you, not all fires are caused by steam engines. It's not unknown for a landowner to set a fire, blame the steam engine and try to claim off our insurance. Sparks from wheel-spin on a diesel have also been known to start fires. Around shanty towns there are usually rubbish fires burning by the lineside anyway, so we don't have to worry.
Another classic bit of journalism: they could be using "train" in the headline to refer to the train, the locomotive, or even the viaduct. It's anybody's guess which.
I appreciate your posting about the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. I can always do more Harry Potter, and am currently reading "Harry Potter's Bookshelf: the Great Books Behind the Hogwars Adventure" by John Granger on my Nook. Unfortunately, this book has no rail references in it. The author uses the idea of the medieval four-part analysis of lthe meaning of iterature in his anlysis: surface, moral, allegorical, and anagogic (or mythic).
Original Hogwarts express locomotive to arrive at Warner Bros. Studio Tour London - The Making of Harry Potter ...
Harry Potter Studio Tour attraction in London gets real Hogwarts Express steam train from movies
Edited to add pictures
I see a full set of Harry Potter books from Amazon costs around 50 pounds.
Southern Railway 4-6-0 'Sir Lamiel' at Barrow Hill, Derbyshire (UK) in 2010.
This is one of a number of media articles conflating the Hogwarts Express and the Jacobite. While it's true that the Hogwarts Express ran on the route of the Jacobite, as far as I know there is no other connection, and the locos are certainly different.
The back story is that West Coast Railways, which runs the Jacobite, was temporarily suspended from operating nationwide by Network Rail after a SPAD by a different steam loco operated by WCR on a different line in March 2015. Some details of the incident and its consequences can be found here.
Incidentally there's another railway-related thread title on the Hogwarts Express group: "Train Derailments: Off the track and down the rabbit hole!" I haven't looked at it but I doubt whether it has anything to do with train derailments or track.
This refers to the suspension of West Coast Railways following the SPAD incident in Wootton Bassett.
There's a fair bit of background information and conversation on the Friends of the Rail Forum here and here, and on Railroad.Net in this topic.
Of course there's a thriving heritage steam industry in several countries, including UK, Ireland, Netherlands, Germany, France, Switzerland, South Africa, parts of Scandinavia, Australia, New Zealand, USA, etc. Steam runs occasionally in Kenya, Zambia, Eritrea, Thailand and no doubt many other places. I look at Rob and Yuehong Dickinson's International Steam Pages from time to time to remind myself (and indeed I have contributed information and photos from time to time to that website).
Like you, I'm old enough to remember steam as a regular thing during my childhood back in the 1950s and '60s in England. We used to travel from London Euston (which was then a dark smokey cathedral to steam, complete with the famous Doric arch, unlike the bland modern replacement which is apparently itself due for replacement again now, a mere half century later) to visit my grandparents in the north west of England, which was the last bastion of main line steam in UK until it was finally withdrawn in 1968.
1 Grand Trunk Western operates last official regular steam-powered passenger trains in U.S., as crowds dictate two sections of Detroit-Durand locals 21/56 behind 4-8-4s 6319 and 6322.
2 Final runs of longest motor-car run in U.S., 362-mile GM&O trains 9-10 between Bloomington, Ill., and Kansas City.
Last regular steam-powered revenue-service train on CN, No. 76 from The Pas to Winnipeg, Manitoba, behind 4-8-2 6043.
3 General Electric enters domestic diesel market with launch of U25B demonstrators.
Last run of SP narrow-gauge.
Last day for N&W steam, Y6b 2190 and 0-8-0 291 (ex-215) at Williamson, W.Va.
Minneapolis & St. Louis gets permission to discontinue last passenger service, Minneapolis-Watertown (S. Dak.) motor trains 13-14.
Harbinger of the “FRED” — Pennsylvania Railroad develops transistorized electric red lamp that flashes constantly every second, plans to use it to displace twin marker lamps on cabooses.
East Broad Top returns to life as tourist road under owner and savior Nick Kovalchick, as 2-8-2 12 does the honors.
Maine Central goes freight-only.
Final IC steam run occurs, a fan trip with 4-8-2 2613, seven months after last regular-service steam at Paducah and Princeton, Ky.
Delaware, Lackawanna & Western and Erie merge to form Erie Lackawanna.
Burlington opens new 2,500-foot-long Mississippi River bridge at Quincy, Ill.
N&W buys Atlantic & Danville, renames it Norfolk, Franklin & Danville.
Chicago & North Western acquires rail properties of Minneapolis & St. Louis.
EMD delivers last F unit, NH FL9 2059.
First modern run-through set up as CB&Q and UP pool GP9s, then GP20s, on Chicago-Green River, Wyo., “GI” trains.
CN introduces “noodle” image.
Soo Line Railroad formed by merger of Duluth, South Shore & Atlantic; Minneapolis, St. Paul & Sault Ste. Marie; and Wisconsin Central.
Lehigh Valley goes freight-only with last run of Buffalo-Newark Maple Leaf.
Pacific Electric ends passenger service.
Last regular steam engine in passenger-terminal switching service, Dallas Union Terminal 0-6-0 7, replaced by diesel.
Last run of Milwaukee Olympian Hiawatha.
L&N removes 4-4-0 General from Chattanooga Union Station display for tour, which would cover 14,000 miles, 12 states until December 1962.
First of six 4,000 hp Krauss-Maffei diesel-hydraulic units for U.S. roads (D&RGW and SP) tests at Semmering, Austria.
New Haven files bankruptcy.
Bangor & Aroostook goes freight-only on rails, keeps highway bus service.
Rutland struck, leading to eventual abandonment.
4 EMD introduces GP30 at automotive GM Tech Center in Detroit.
Rio Grande’s three Krauss-Maffei diesel-hydraulics arrive at Houston, Tex.
Lehigh & New England ceases operation; portions acquired by Central of New Jersey.
Milwaukee Road abandons Mississippi River pontoon bridge at Prairie du Chien, Wis., which had been one of four on system.
SP Krauss-Maffei diesel-hydraulics enter service at Houston, Tex.
UP 4-8-4 844 makes first post-regular-steam excursion, Cheyenne-Rawlins.
MoPac discontinues St. Louis-Pacific (Mo.) “Kirkwood Eagle,” reputed as only commuter train in between Chicago and San Francisco.
Southern Ps-4 1401 placed in Smithsonian Institution in Washington.
First TRAINS all-diesel issue.
Last run of Louisiana Eastern, steam-powered gravel-pit line of the late Paulsen Spence.
N&W discontinues Virginian electrification.
Baseball special on Pennsylvania derails at Steelton, Pa., killing 19 and injuring 116.
Last use of steam by Lake Superior & Ishpeming.
Strike of C&NW by Order of Railroad Telegraphers ends after 30 days.
Last steam run on Duluth, Missabe & Iron Range, excursion with 2-10-2 514.
EMD delivers 25,000th diesel, L&N GP30 1014.
5 C&S 2-8-0 641, on Leadville-Climax (Colo.) branch, makes last run of regular daily service standard-gauge steam in U.S.
First road test for UP coal-burning gas-turbine-electric No. 80.
Reading RDC1 9152 delivered, last of 398 RDCs built by Budd.
Detroit, Toledo & Ironton assumes control of Ann Arbor from Wabash.
Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee ceases operation.
Florida East Coast struck by 11 non-operating unions after railroad would not grant national level wage increase.
Chesapeake & Ohio acquires control of Baltimore & Ohio.
Last Fairbanks-Morse diesel, Chihuahua Pacific H16-44 604, outshopped.
Alco introduces Century series diesels.
Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers marks centennial.
B&O closes 80-mile Parkersburg-Clarksburg (W.Va.) main line for renovation of 18 tunnels, completed in 5 months.
Southern acquires Georgia & Florida.
First run on Cass Scenic, West Virginia's tourist road on former Mower Lumber property.
Southern acquires Central of Georgia.
Southern completes 2-year, $32 million reconstruction project on Rathole Division.
Last run of C&NW Chicago-Minneapolis Twin Cities 400.
Rutland abandoned; portions acquired by State of Vermont.
GE U25C's delivered to Oro Dam Constructors for 3½-year, 12-mile California railroad.
Ex-Virginian EF-4 electrics enter service on New Haven.
Last run of mixed train on N&W Abingdon branch in North Carolina.
EMD delivers last E unit, Seaboard Air Line E9 3060.
Last run of L&N commuter train between New Orleans and Pass Christian, Miss.
Railroads begin eliminating fireman from locomotives.
Burlington celebrates 100 years of Chicago-Aurora service by hauling 3,304 passengers in bilevel train behind gold-painted 4-8-4 5632.
Paul Merriman’s Southern 2-8-2 4501 steams from Stearns, Ky., to Chattanooga.
Alco diesel-hydraulic units debut.
Duluth & Northeastern dieselizes.
Texas & Pacific acquires control of Kansas, Oklahoma & Gulf and Midland Valley; Oklahoma City-Ada-Atoka sold to Santa Fe.
CB&Q’s combined Ak-Sar-Ben/Kansas City Zephyr hits Rock Island’s combined Golden State/Corn Belt Rocket, on detour and standing at signal, head-on at Montgomery, Ill., killing 4 and injuring 43.
CB&Q accepts GE U25B 100, breaking all-EMD status.
6N&W merges Nickel Plate Road, leases Pittsburgh & West Virginia and Wabash, acquires control of Akron, Canton & Youngstown.
7Reading runs last steam Ramble.
B&O shifts Detroit trains from Michigan Central Station back to Fort Street (keeps weekly RDC in MC for three years to fulfill contract).
Pennsylvania quits Pittsburgh commuter service.
Maine severed from U.S. passenger network as B&M drops Boston-Portland trains.
All-steam Buffalo Creek & Gauley quits.
John W. Barriger III named president of Missouri-Kansas-Texas.
EMD introduces 645 model engine.
MKT goes freight-only.
FEC resumes state-ordered passenger service.
Milwaukee Road opens new depot in Milwaukee.
Hurricane Betsy takes out 33 miles of L&N New Orleans main; service restored in 21 days.
Great Northern Stone Arch Bridge in Minneapolis, damaged in Mississippi River flood, returns to service after 6 months, 4 days.
CN introduces Montreal-Toronto Rapidos.
New York Penn Station destruction nearly complete.
Long Island Rail Road sold by Pennsylvania to state of New York.
TRAINS begins John G. Kneiling’s “Professional Iconoclast” column.
Lucius Beebe dies.
Reader Railroad dedicates 2-8-0 1702.
Nickel Plate Road Historical & Technical Society, first of such genre, formed.
EMD produces last 567-engine unit, Houston Belt & Terminal SW1200 33, and delivers first SD45, Great Northern 400 “Hustle Muscle."
Last Burlington steam excursion, Chicago-Denrock, Ill., with 2-8-2 4960.
New York Central concludes two days of test running jet-powered RDC in Ohio.
Last runs of Montreal-New York Montrealer over CN, Central Vermont, New Haven.
NYC breaks ground on Alfred E. Perlman Yard, Selkirk, N.Y., fifth and last in 12-year program, after Frontier, Robert R. Young, Gateway, and Big Four.
Illinois Central orders six GE U30B's, first new non-EMDs in over 25 years.
CN switches to 24-hour clock.
60th anniversary of New York Central's New York electrification.
Chicago South Shore & South Bend control acquired by Chesapeake & Ohio.
IC replaces diamond with split-rail logo.
Jersey Central files for bankruptcy.
Last run of last “true” Soo Line passenger train, the Winnipeger to St Paul.
Great Northern introduces Big Sky Blue livery.
“Aldene Plan” puts Jersey Central passenger trains into Newark’s Penn Station.
GO Transit starts Toronto commuter trains.
First Illinois Central Paducah-rebuilt Geep, GP10 8109, outshopped.
Atlantic Coast Line and Seaboard Air Line merge to form Seaboard Coast Line.
SP opens 78-mile Palmdale Cutoff.
Canadian Pacific operates first unit train in Canada, carrying sulphuric acid.
Steamtown founder F. Nelson Blount dies in plane crash.
Monon goes freight-only.
W. Graham Claytor Jr. replaces D.W. Brosnan as president of Southern.
Erie Lackawanna Elmira, last U.S. commuter ferry, quits in New York.
Iowa Terminal traction shops in Emery, Ia., burn.
Santa Fe FP45s delivered by EMD.
8Last run of 20th Century Limited.
Delaware & Hudson buys four Santa Fe Alco PAs.
John G. Kneiling, in “True Train” treatise in TRAINS, prophesizes U.S. network of only 50,000 route-miles.
Santa Fe introduces Super C, a premium Chicago-Los Angeles intermodal train.
9New York Central and Pennsylvania merge to form Penn Central.
Last run of SP-RI Golden State.
Santa Fe marks last use of Alco PAs.
Last run of Milwaukee’s Copper Country Limited also makes Soo Line freight-only.
Erie Lackawanna joins N&W’s Dereco.
Last run of SP Lark.
PC runs Robert F. Kennedy funeral train, New York-Washington.
Canadian Pacific introduces “CP Rail” image.
Chicago Great Western merged into C&NW.
D&H joins N&W’s Dereco.
Tennessee Central ceases operation, portions acquired by IC, L&N, and Southern.
Magma Arizona dieselizes.
Missabe Road introduces new arrowhead emblem.
Penn Central vacates La Salle Street Station, Chicago, in favor of Union Station.
First Illinois Central Rent-a-Train.
Belt Railway of Chicago strike by Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen ends after 101 days.
Clinchfield 4-4-0 No. 1 restored to service.
Last steam revenue runs, excluding Silverton branch, operate on D&RGW narrow-gauge, with 2-8-2s 481-473 to Durango, 483 to Alamosa.
CN begins twice daily Montreal-Toronto TurboTrain service with United Aircraft trainsets.
Penn Central acquires railroad assets of New Haven.
Pullman Company ends staffing of sleeping cars.
10Last all-new Alco diesel built, Newburgh & South Shore T6 switcher.
Penn Central begins Metroliner service on (newly named) Northeast Corridor.
Dwight D. Eisenhower funeral train begins three-day Washington-Abilene (Kans.) journey via C&O-B&O-N&W-UP.
Promontory centennial celebrated with ex-Virginia & Truckee 4-4-0s.
Muskingum Electric dedicated in Ohio.
Last run of T&P Texas Eagle leaves Dallas the largest city without passenger service.
Chicago & Eastern Illinois control by Missouri Pacific culminated by sale of Evansville line to Louisville & Nashville.
Piedmont & Northern merged into SCL.
London & North Eastern 4472 Flying Scotsman begins month-long Boston-Houston tour.
Alco exits locomotive-building.
Last run of Southern Belle makes Kansas City Southern freight-only.
Go to the 1970s »
Thanks. Most of the names and places mean little to me, but it's interesting to see the timeline.
Maybe someone can find a similar timeline for UK? Off the top of my head I only know a few dates:
1960: Last BR steam loco built - 2-10-0 9F no 92220 'Evening Star'.
1965: 'Evening Star' retired after just 5 years in service.
1968: Last standard gauge steam on BR (edited to add: I believe it was 4th August 1968) - but a narrow gauge line in Wales, Vale of Rheidol steam railway, continued to run steam under BR ownership.
1971: London Underground withdraws last operational steam locomotives.
Late 1970s / early '80s: National Coal Board withdraws industrial steam locos from its sites.
1980s: Last industrial steam locos probably withdrawn.
1989: Last BR steam ends when the narrow gauge Vale of Rheidol line was privatised, but it still runs steam as a heritage line.
1971: Hunslet Engine Co., Leeds, builds last steam locomotive for industry (and export).
(It survives in preservation and is back in the UK.)
1951: Talyllyn Railway (narrow gauge) opens under preservation society.
1960: Bluebell Railway starts first services on ex-BR line taken over by preservationists
I have to confess that even after reading the article I have no real idea what it is all about, but it has J K Rowling and a train in it so I post it in this thread.
The Scottish tenner that is, not the British one.
>69 John5918: Surprising, really, that they haven't yet worked out a way to animate the image of the train on the banknote.
Getting the train (or Sir Walter) to produce actual smoke when you take the note out of your wallet would be even more Harry-Potterish, but I don't suppose it's very practical...