Streamliners: History Of A Railroad Icon, By Mike Schafer And Joe Welsh

Header Photo: Drew Jacksich

Throughout the time I have developed this website dozens of books and publications have aided me in my research and study. One of these is Streamliners: History Of A Railroad Icon, written by noted rail historians Mike Schafer and Joe Welsh. The book, published by Motorbooks International, was first released in the late 1990s and its latest printing occurred in the mid-2000s. If there is one title you want in your collection that highlights several of the most famous streamliners to ever operate in this country Schafer's and Welsh's book is certainly one of those. The book, which makes for a nice presentation on one's coffee table because of its size, features nearly 160 pages of information, nearly all of which present historic, colored photos of the earliest streamliners dating to the 1930s and the end of an era in the early 1970s when Amtrak took over operations from the private railroad industry. In any event, the information here gives you an idea of what can be found in the book.

While Streamliners: History Of A Railroad Icon looks to give a case-by-case example of several such trains Mike Schafer and Joe Welsh also attempt to present the book as a historical timeline of the progression of the era from its earliest beginnings to final days. For instance, the opening chapter entitled "First Generation Streamliners" covers about 17 pages and highlights the earliest trains beginning with the Union Pacific's M-10000 and Chicago, Burlington & Quincy'sPioneer Zephyr which started it all between February and April, 1934. The authors the go on to discuss other streamliners of that decade such as the Milwaukee Road's and New York Central's home-built designs, the Hiawatha and Mercury. Some of the other trains discussed in this first chapter include the Flying YankeeCometGreen Diamond, and Abraham Lincoln.

Beginning with the second chapter, entitled "Atlantic To The Heartland," Welsh and Schafer get into the trains serving the various geographical areas of the country. Here they discuss the massive streamliner fleets of the Pennsylvania Railroad (the "Fleet of Modernism"), New York Central (the "Great Steel Fleet"), Baltimore & Ohio, and Chesapeake & Ohio as well as regional services provided by smaller lines like the Nickel Plate Road (the Nickel Plate Limited), Norfolk & Western (the Powhatan Arrow), and others. As to be expected, much of this 23-page chapter is dedicated to the NYC and PRR with the much of rest covering the C&O and B&O.

In the third chapter, entitled "Westward Across The Continent", the authors highlight the famous trains that zipped across the Heartland and through the Southwest. It is one of the longest chapters in the book at 30 pages in length, and for good reason; discussed here are the legendary streamliners operated by the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe (the Super Chief), Union Pacific, Rock Island, Rio Grande, Burlington, Southern Pacific, and others. The first fifteen pages or so give an excellent history of the beginnings of trains like the Chief, UP's City fleet, Southern Pacific's transcontinental trains, and the famed California Zephyr operated jointly by the Rio Grande/Western Pacific/Burlington. The chapter also provides an inset of information detailing the history of regional runs serving the Rock Mountains like the Denver Zephyr and Rocky Mountain Rocket.

The fourth chapter, entitled "Northwest Passages", provides insights to the famous Pacific Northwest transcontinental streamliners including the Milwaukee Road'sOlympian Hiawatha (including rare color photographs of this train through Montana), Great Northern's legendary Empire Builder, and the Northern Pacific's elegant North Coast Limited. Each train is given about equal coverage from their earliest beginnings until they were either discontinued or, in the case of the Builder, carried on under Amtrak. Additionally, however, is the histories of two other trains serving this region the Southern Pacific's north-south Shasta Daylight and Cascade as well as the Union Pacific's City of Portland.

The final chapter highlighting geographical streamliners is "Streamliners To the Southland". As the title suggests this chapter is also 30 pages in length and covers a wide range of trains from the Atlantic Coast Line's Champion and Seaboard Air Line'sSilver Meteor to the Illinois Central's City of Miami and Kansas City Southern'sSouthern Belle. The final chapter is the book's longest, entitled "Regional Favorites". This section looks at numerous streamliners operated all around the country usually serving to nearby cities or a particularly area such as the C&NW's 400s, Pennsylvania's Senators, and the SP's numerous local Daylights in California.

Overall, without the help and aid of this book I certainly would never have learned so much about many of the streamliners that once operated in this country and likely would not have been able to highlight them here at the website. I also continue to reference the book whenever I am looking for a particular date, consist, or other detailed information concerning a certain train. If you might be interested in purchasing a copy of Mike Schafer's and Joe Welsh's Streamliners: A History of the Railroad Icon Amazon usually carries the title at a very reasonable price.