What trains were used on the Dakar-Niger Railway in the late 1950s and early 1960s?

What trains were used on the Dakar-Niger Railway in the late 1950s and early 1960s?

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What trains were used on the Dakar-Niger Railway in the late 1950s and early 1960s, i.e. the transition to independence? Are there any images available?

I can find images of the railway from 1950 and 1979. I'm guessing the locomotives that are in the first link (1950) were used throughout the 1950s (or are at least representative) given that they were apparently built in 1947 (with a similar set in 1954), but I'd love to be able to confirm this guess.

(If you're still looking… )

This photo from 1959 shows what's clearly a Whitcomb centercab. It appears identical to locomotives for the Bas Congo - Katanga railway, and closely related to those for Brazil's EF Sorocabana and the Portuguese Class 1300.

Thomas Kautzor's reports on Mali and Senegal suggest more. The BB500 series are given as "Alsthom 1955", the BB550 as "Alsthom 44t 1956". No pictures. The BB1100 built 1959-65 are described as "Alsthom AD12B". The BB1200 are later-model AD12B, the one seen in your link for 1979. The BB1100 would be the earlier version -- see, for example, this Tunisian example. These are standard French export models. The difference between the Portuguese 9000 (early) and 9020 (late). Or in Ethiopia.

Christian Derosier claims the blocky Henschel diesels are from 1963, but I suspect the 1983 quoted on the other pages is correct. (Similar-looking Henschel-EMDs in Sudan and Ghana are from the 1970s-80s.)

Ah, here's what I was looking for. A roster for the Dakar-Niger.

Full dieselisation of the AOF railroads took place between 1947 and 1957.

The 1960 roster includes 15 Alsthom-Sulzer boxcabs, 8 Sulzer endcabs of class BB400, 11 Alsthom BB500, 5 Alsthom BB600 (are these lower-powered versions of… ?), 6 Alsthom BB1100, 6 Whitcomb CC1300, 4 diesel railcars. Note no BB550 -- were they acquired secondhand later?


Corpet Louvet 1736 of 1927

40.005 of the Chemin de Fer Dakar-Niger, Corpet Louvet 1736 of 1927, was typical of a large number of metre gauge 2‑8‑2 tender locomotives built for service with the railways of French West Africa. Cylinders: 450mm x 550mm. Coupled Wheels: 1200mm.

Two of Corpet Louvet's smaller designs. Upper - 7567 of 7920 was an 800mm gauge 0‑4‑0 well tank built for the Mines de Mokta-el-Hadid in French North Africa. Cylinders: 220mm x 320mm. Coupled Wheels: 700mm. Lower - Another example with Brown valve gear, 7665 of 7925 was an 1167mm gauge 0‑6‑0 well tank built for Monsieur Bougenot, Usine de Galion, Martinique, West Indies. It is almost identical to 536 of 7890, which was delivered to the same firm. Cylinders: 270mm x 300mm. Coupled Wheels 600mm.

Corpet Louvet 1709 of 1926 was a 1435mm(standard) gauge 2‑10‑0 numbered 85 on the Smyrna, Cassaba & Prolongements Railway which became part of the Turkish State Railways in May 1934. Cylinders: 630mm x 610mm. Coupled Wheels: 1350mm.

Some of these models were delivered until the early 50s.


The Santa Fe Station in Pasadena was home to the Super Chief, the Chief, El Capitan and other major streamliners.

The Super Chief leaving Pasadena in the early 1940s.

The Metro Gold Line Del Mar Station was originally the Santa Fe Depot of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway.

(Left) The original Pasadena Santa Fe Depot. (Right) The La Grande Orange Cafe.

Santa Fe Chief passes Los Angeles streetcar just south of the Pasadena Station.

The Santa Fe Railway’s Mission Revival-style passenger station on Raymond Ave. in Pasadena, CA, opened in 1935.

Passengers boarding in Pasadena could enjoy a Champagne Dinner aboard the Super Chief. Here is the menu from the late 1960s.

Santa Fe Streamliner ready to leave Pasadena for Chicago.

Pasadena, rather than Los Angeles, was the Santa Fe hub for the Los Angeles basin.

The timetables called Pasadena the “gateway” to Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica and the San Fernando Valley.

The station during the 1960s.

Local Pasadena boys watch the arrival in Pasadena of the premiere run of the Super Chief in the late 1930s.

For the many film stars who came west to California and the coast, the majority took the Santa Fe and studio publicity men and reporters greeted them in Pasadena.

Gloria Swanson (Sunset Boulevard) starred in a late 50s film featuring the Super Chief. In the film they get off the train in Pasadena.

The stars would get off in Pasadena. They avoided going to downtown Los Angeles and could motor to the West Side and the San Fernando Valley.

Late 1960s shots of a Santa Fe streamliner ready to depart Pasadena. Night shot of the El Capitan/Super Chief in Pasadena.

In 1936, Walt Disney and his wife, after sailing trans-Atlantic on the Italian Lines REX, and a cross country train trip, got off the Santa Fe train at the Pasadena station and were rushed by autograph seekers.

SUPER CHIEF timetable – showing Pasadena and note that the Rose City is the gateway to Hollywood, Beverly Hills and Santa Monica.

Passengers waiting for train in Pasadena during the late 1950s.

This is a Santa Fe business car. Officials and executives from the Santa Fe in Los Angeles would occupy the car for the Rose Parade. The car would be parked at the crossing on Colorado Blvd and the guests of Santa Fe watched the parade from the rear platform.

THE SUPER CHIEF was the most famous train that served Pasadena until Amtrak took over in 1971.

Amtrak took over the station and the Southwest Chief used it into the 1990s.

Amtrak train in the 1980s arriving in Pasadena from Chicago.

Today, the station is a restaurant and stop on the Los Angeles Gold Line.


Cruising The Past welcomes you aboard the legendary Santa Fe Super Chief – the train of the stars. Extra Fare – All Pullman Streamliner.

She came on the Super Chief – and would usually arrive from Chicago in Pasadena.

One reason that the Santa Fe became such a famous railroad was because of its flagship passenger train, the Super Chief (and, the railroad also claimed the most streamliners in operation at one time).

The train quickly eclipsed its rivals (including its own cousin, the Chief) as the premier train to the Southwest and became so popular that it was the transportation choice of many Hollywood celebrities from the late 1930s through the 1960s.

It was also the Super Chief that inspired Santa Fe’s classic “Warbonnet” livery that is arguably the most beautiful paint scheme ever to be applied to a passenger train. Today, the Super Chief carriers on under the Amtrak banner although its one-of-a-kind paint scheme and interior designs are relegated to history.

Interestingly, the Super Chief came about because of necessity. With the Union Pacific having launched its new streamlined City of Los Angeles in 1936 the Santa Fe needed to launch its own competing premier train between Los Angeles and Chicago.

Having a direct route to the two cities (unlike the UP which had to hand off the train to the Southern Pacific to reach Los Angeles and Chicago & North Western to reach Chicago) gave the Santa Fe a distinct advantage although its first version of the Super Chief, while well planned, was not really up to par with the City of Los Angeles in that it was not streamlined and used standard heavyweight equipment.

Knowing it needed something better the Santa Fe with the help of the Budd Company, introduced the all new streamlined Super Chief in May of 1937. What resulted was a passenger train unrivaled in style, design, and luxury.

Super Chief Pullman Drawing Room – By day and by night.

Part of the train’s phenomenal success was its appeal and character. In designing the new Super Chief the Santa Fe wanted not only a contemporary passenger train but also one that reflected the railroad’s long-held relationship with Native American’s of the Southwest. To style the new Super Chief the train had an entire staff of designers, which quickly set to work bringing the soon-to-be legend to life.

Industrial designer Sterling McDonald created the train’s classic interior Indian designs and themes. Whenever possible McDonald used authentic Native American (many of which depicted the Navajo) colors (such as turquoise and copper), patterns, and even authentic murals and paintings in the train. He used a combination of rare and exotic woods like ebony, teak, satinwood, bubinga, maccassar, and ribbon primavera for trim through the train giving the Super Chief an added touch of one-of-a-kind elegance.

Everything inside the train exuded the Native American culture and way of life. However, the Super Chief’s livery also conveyed this, if not to an even greater degree.

The train’s now-classic “Warbonnet” paint scheme was actually designed by General Motors’ artist Leland Knickerbocker. Knickbocker’s livery featured gleaming stainless steel with the front half of the locomotive painted in red crimson, wrapping around the cab and trailing off along the bottom of the carbody with a Native American-inspired design (a design that would go on to distinguish the Santa Fe) used on the front of the nose with “Santa Fe” flanking the center.

For trim golden yellow and black was used. As Knickerbocker put it the design was meant to convey an Indian head with trailing feathers of a warbonnet (thus where the livery derived its now-famous name).

The locomotive that powered this new train was General Motor’s EMD EA model, a streamlined and completely self-contained diesel locomotive that handsomely matched the new Budd-built cars (themselves clad entirely in stainless steel giving the train a gleaming, “new” look).

For the most part the Super Chief remained quite popular through the 1950s. In 1951 it was reequipped for the final time featuring the Pleasure Dome lounge that included dome viewing, a cocktail lounge, and the famed Turquoise Room used for dinner parties. However, none of the upgraded equipment matched the exquisite beauty of the original Super Chief cars.

As the 1960s dawned, and as with the passenger rail industry itself, the Santa Fe found its fleet likewise in decline as passengers took to their private automobiles or the skies for faster and more convenient modes of transportation. However, unlike most other railroads which let their service slip and trains run down, the Super Chief remained an on-time, clean and regal operation right up until the end when Amtrak took over most intercity passenger rail operations in the spring of 1971.

While the Santa Fe, perhaps reluctantly, handed over its illustrious flagship to Amtrak at least the railroad could take comfort in knowing that the Super Chief, while nothing near as plush as when it was privately operated, was one of the routes retained by the national carrier and continues to be operated to this day as one of Amtrak’s most esteemed trains (although it is now known as the Southwest Chief).

Youtube rare 16mm color film – from late 1930s or early 1940s – of Santa Fe steam train arriving in Pasadena. The film is primitive but quick views of the platform at Pasadena Santa Fe Station, a Pullman porter and passengers.

The beautiful stations of rail's golden age

In the week when Birmingham's main station reopened after a £750m makeover, the National Railway Museum in York is using its latest exhibition to celebrate the architectural styles from the past that helped create "destination stations" across the UK.

Curved futuristic design on the outside - with a bright, airy feel on the inside - New Street station has been transformed by its 2015 revamp.

But the idea of making railway stations desirable places to visit in themselves - rather than just a place to travel to and from - is not new.

Ellen Tait, curator of the NRM's new exhibition Destination Stations, says "the first trains ran in the early 1830s - but by the 1840s you had a plethora of monumental buildings which serviced this new technology".

"There was a bit of the Field of Dreams about it. The idea was 'if you build it, they will come'."

Birmingham's first station was Curzon Street - nearly half a mile to the east of New Street.

The image above shows the grand Palladian entrance shortly after it opened - with high arches, grand gates and tall columns. The image below is from 2013.

Tait says both railway companies and planners wanted to create city gateways, so travellers would know "they had arrived".

But Curzon Street station was only in use for about 15 years - until New Street and Snow Hill stations took over.

In the late 1820s and early 1830s, at the dawn of the railway age, says Tait, stations did not really exist in a way that we would recognise today. The earliest had no buildings and any structures which did exist were made of wood.

There would be no platforms and - as this next image of Parkside station, near Newton-le-Willows on the Liverpool to Manchester line, shows - passengers would climb up into carriages from ground level.

Tait turns to a set of plans from 1835 from Network Rail's archive - possibly for London Bridge station.

This building was designed more like a business office than a station, she says.

But things changed quickly and - just as with Curzon Street in Birmingham - distinctive and substantial buildings were soon built.

The next image depicts the giant Euston Arch in London - built in the late 1830s.

It was through these statement-making structures that railway companies demonstrated their belief that "trains were here to stay and the whole enterprise could be trusted financially", says Tait.

But the Euston Arch had no practical purpose. It remained standing for more than 100 years, until the early 1960s.

It was demolished, despite attempts by campaigners to save it.

Euston's Great Hall suffered the same fate.

The whole station was replaced by a modern building which, says Tait, was more functional and practical.

Tait describes how railway companies would create plans and put up money for new stations - but town planners could rule on what was built.

Even in the mid-19th Century there was pressure on space in city centres.

In Edinburgh, Waverley station was built low in the valley in between Princes Street and the Old Town - to minimise the impact on the look of Scotland's capital.

Waverley station is distinctive because of its low, unobtrusive roof - but in the mid-1800s other stations became well known for the giant glass and iron structures which curved high over their platforms and tracks.

When it opened in 1854, Birmingham's New Street station - above - featured the largest glass and iron roof in the world.

That record was broken less than 20 years later by St Pancras station in London.

Ellen Tait says there was a lot of talk at the time about the height of station roofs being unnecessary - but for the train companies it was all positive.

They were getting press coverage and "capturing hearts and minds".

The next set of images feature plans from the Network Rail archive for the roof at St Pancras.

"To create a structure which didn't need support and columns within it was very complicated," says Tait.

"They, in effect, created a false metal floor which held it all together. It was cutting edge at the time - an amazing achievement."

More design challenges faced architects creating Newcastle upon Tyne's main station.

The building was created on a bend in the line - and so the roof had to be curved, with the rest of the building on a similar theme.

The look was repeated at York's main station - which is next to the National Railway Museum.

"You get these giant vaulted structures with rolled-iron construction - which had been used previously in glasshouses," says Ellen Tait.

The elegant curves still get people excited, she continues.

"This next poster for InterCity from the 1990s focuses on the architecture built 100 years before."

"The idea was that the railway station was a gateway to your city," says Tait.

Styles varied across the country - in Bristol, Brunel added a Tudor-look to Temple Meads.

"It makes a statement, but still acknowledges the history and the architectural style of the area at the time."

By the early part of the 20th Century, designs were changing.

The architects tasked with extending Glasgow Central Station looked to the USA for inspiration.

They were trying to find better ways of managing thousands of people in a confined space - and so they built on a curved theme, with fewer right-angled corners, so people would flow through.

Cardiff's main station was rebuilt by the Great Western Railway in the early 1930s.

"It's very much of its time," says Tait, "with an art-deco simplicity to it".

"But it still has that monument feeling, with Great Western Railway carved in the stonework. It's classical in feel, if not in architecture."

By the late 1950s there was a new nationalised railway infrastructure - a modernisation plan was introduced.

Ellen Tait says practical considerations - "like how do we get 10,000 passengers through here each day?" - often trumped architectural sensitivities.

"So you get things like the apron at King's Cross in London - big, black and blocky, and plonked on the front. It was all about needing more space - and quickly."

The apron hid the Victorian arches on the front of the building - which have now been restored.

The early 1960s saw Manchester's main station revamped and renamed. Manchester London Road became Manchester Piccadilly.

The designers looked to the future - "it was part station, part shopping centre", says Tait.

But while the front part of the station looked modern, the structure behind housing the trains and platforms remained unchanged.

At the end of the 20th Century, Grimshaw Architects looked back to the early years of the railways for inspiration - as they designed the first home for the Eurostar at Waterloo in London.

The long, snaking, glass-roofed structure was modern, says Ellen Tait. But it cast a nod to the Victorian train sheds from 100 years before.

And ironically, Eurostar's second home is St Pancras - home of the giant curved roof.

The move breathed new life into the station which had fallen out of favour, and in effect says Tait, "rescued a beautiful piece of architecture".

The final image is an impressive photo of the recently refurbished Newcastle Central station - by Ryder Architecture - where giant arches have been filled with glass.

And for Ellen Tait it helps demonstrate how, for her at least, rail travel is not necessarily about the trains and the engineering - but instead it's about the travelling, and the "sense you have arrived somewhere".

Destination Stations runs at the National Railway Museum in York from 25 September 2015 until 24 January 2016.

Before private jets, there were luxurious private train cars

From private suites on Emirates Airlines to Alessi-designed tableware on Delta, airlines constantly try to offer new levels of luxury to those who want to shell out the cash for a first-class ticket.

But outlandish first-class travel is nothing new. Before air travel, the Cunard and the White Star Lines made headlines with new levels of luxury on the seas for wealthy Americans journeying to Europe.

And for those traveling on railroads? That’s where George Pullman—and his eponymous Pullman Company—came in.

“George Pullman by no means invented the passenger or sleeping car, but he perfected it,” says Bruce White, Pullman and transportation lead at Hildene.

Founded in 1867, the Chicago-based Pullman Company produced a range of railroad car types, from dining cars and parlor cars to freight cars.

Sunbeam at Hildene. Photo by Stephen Hussar.

“Over time, the company was shipping cars all over the country—and internationally,” says White. “At the turn of the 20th century, they were they largest manufacturing company, of any kind, in the world.”

Pullman offered more than just a standard railroad passenger experience. He wanted to cater to his high-end clients with luxurious, hotel-like accommodations.

“Pullman often joked that he ran the largest hotel in America,” says Robert Lettenberger, education director at the National Railroad Museum. “At its peak, he had upwards of 100,000 guests. The only difference between him and Conrad Hilton was that every night, Pullman’s ‘hotel’ moved to a different location!”

While he made a variety of cars with high-end finishes, the Pullman Company also became known as a purveyor of private rail cars, an accommodation of choice for the super wealthy who wanted privacy and comfort.

A barber’s chair in the Pullman Palace Car. Get a load of that domed ceiling! Ullstein bild via Getty Images.

These private cars, which attached to commercial passenger trains, were rolling mini mansions. Lettenberger says the layout followed a general pattern: The back of the car had an observation deck followed by a parlor. The parlor connected to a cluster of staterooms. A dining room usually followed the staterooms, and beyond the dining room, at the back of the car, were service areas like a pantry and galley.

The cars would also be staffed by a team of three people, including a steward, chef, and potentially a personal assistant.

“Private cars would generally sleep eight to 12 people,” says Lettenberger. “The staterooms could have queen-sized beds, and they often opened to bathrooms with things like marble showers and highly polished metal sinks.”

Customization options were seemingly limitless. “The Chicago and Northwestern railway—another company that produce private cars—engineered a special frame that created a sunken lounge area and a 15-foot-high ceiling,” says Lettenberger.

Writer Charles Clegg and his partner Lucius Beebee had a private Pullman car with a marble fireplace in the lounge, and banker Darius O. Mills had a car with custom wood paneling. The exterior of Mills’s car had a vibrant yellow, brown, red, and dark-green color scheme to make it stand out amongst the rest.

In 1920, Henry Ford commissioned Fair Lane, an 88-foot-long steel car. “By the mid-to-late 1910s, it wasn’t possible for Ford to travel without being recognized during his travels,” says Matt Anderson, curator of transportation at The Henry Ford. “He had traveled in the cars of friends before, but this was the first time he commissioned his own car.”

The dining room of Fair Lane. From the collections of The Henry Ford.

The car’s interiors were designed by Sidney Houghton, who also worked on Ford’s house—also named Fair Lane—and his yacht. The car played host to many of Ford’s friends like Thomas Edison.

There may have been no more ostentatious car than the P.P.C.—The Pullman Palace Car, owned by Pullman and his company. “It’s reported that Pullman employed 15 wood carvers to complete the various carvings and moldings,” says Lettenberger. “Another set of artists did the plasterwork. The metal fitting, the lamps, the plumbing, were gold plated.”

The parlor of the Pullman Palace Car. ullstein bild via Getty Images

While some commissioned and owned their own private cars, many—most, even—chose to rent “executive charter” cars instead. Robert Lincoln, the son of Abraham Lincoln, who served as president of the Pullman company from 1897 to 1911, didn’t even have his own car. He would often charter specific cars for his own use.

On the grounds of Hildene—the Lincoln family home in Manchester, Vermont—the car Sunbeam is on display for visitors to see.

Originally completed in 1888, the car was notably used by President William McKinley from until his death in 1901. “When it first came off the line, the car was a 10-section luxury car,” explains White. “There was a drawing room, smoking room, dining area, and then it had sleepers in each section.”

What’s on view today isn’t exactly the car that President McKinley used. Sunbeam was retrofitted in 1903 to be a more general executive charter car. The 72-foot-long and 10-foot-wide car shed its 10-room layout for a seven-room configuration which had sleeping accommodation for up to 18 people.

“Sunbeam’s fittings are typical of the more “progressive era” of car design,” says White. “During the Gilded Age, interiors were much more elaborate. In the 20th century, car design became paired down.”

The car features Cuban mahogany, along with brass light fixtures, zinc sinks, and rich upholstery. “Sunbeam cost $20,000 to manufacture in the 19th century,” adds White. “That translates to roughly $800,000 to $1 million in today’s currency. They were the private jets of their era.”

A stateroom in Sunbeam. Photo by Stephen Hussar.

The car features Cuban mahogany, along with brass light fixtures, zinc sinks, and rich upholstery. “Sunbeam cost $20,000 to manufacture in the 19th century,” adds White. “That translates to roughly $800,000 to $1 million in today’s currency. They were the private jets of their era.”

Similarly, these cars would also take years to produce. Lettenberger says it’s not uncommon to hear of a car taking up to four years to be completed.

“The production expense also didn’t include furnishings. After spending on the car, you’d then have to account for furniture, cutlery, crystal, kitchen ware, and other housewares—tacking on thousands to the end of the bill.”

A stateroom in the Pullman Palace Car. ullstein bild via Getty Images

Like many objects of extravagance and wealth from the turn of the 20th century, the halcyon days of the private car was short lived. “There were probably never more than 2,000 private cars operating at any one time,” says Lettenberger. “The stock market crash of 1929 combined with World War II spelled the end of the private rail car. And that’s not even mentioning the rise of air travel.”

However, the world of private rail travel still lives on through the American Association of Private Railroad Car Owners, which has a database of restored period cars available for hire. And yes, Amtrak still supports attaching a private car to the end of a commercial train. All you need to do is charter a car, find a train to attach to, and you’ll be on your way to experiencing travel as it once was.


The Super Chief in "Warbonnet" colors calls at Pasadena just before heading into Los Angeles Union Station. To the right of the palm trees, above the engine, we can see the seventh floor of the Castle Green. The Moorish Colonial and Spanish Hotel was across the street from Pasadena's Santa Fe Station. Pasadena was the "gateway" to the San Fernando Valley, Hollywood and Beverly Hills.

From the late 1930s to the 1950s, Hollywood adopted the Super Chief as the primary mode of travel as well as the subject of novels and motion pictures. In MGM’s The Hucksters, a brutal satire on the ad industry, Clark Gable says to another character: “Only talent agents and kept woman ride the Chief. But the Super Chief is an exclusive club for New York – Hollywood commuters.”

The Super Chief was Santa Fe’s premiere all room Pullman sleeping car train that use to run daily from Chicago to Los Angeles. The Chief was Santa Fe’s other express extra all-Pullman fare train.

But for Hollywood royalty – the Super Chief beat the Chief.

The Super Chief is ready for its evening departure from Chicago’s Dearborn Station. A cold winter night in Chicago, as passengers head for their accommodations aboard the Super Chief.

The streamliner became an “extra-fare, extra-exclusive, super deluxe commuter special that made Toot Shor’s handy to Romanoff’s, that connects Broadway with Sunset Boulevard.”

Passenger for passenger, the Super Chief was one of the most costly trains on earth. When the train became a daily operation, Santa Fe needed five complete sets of trains. At the height of its deluxe service, from the late 1940s until the mid-1950s, equipment included a diner, the Pleasure Dome Lounge car, an observation lounge, and a third lounge, along with sleeping cars. The total load for all four sections in operation at the same time was about 500 passengers. It was one of fastest trains in the world. Onboard crews included train engineers, conductors and brakemen, Pullman conductors, Pullman porters, dining car stewards, waiters, cooks, bartenders, lounge attendants, along with cleaning crews at both ends of the line and maintenance crews en route. At times, during the trains history, there were barbers, maids and valets.

The Pullman Porter and Pullman Conductor are seen with passengers as they leave the Super Chief at Lamy, New Mexico. They will soon board a limo to Santa Fe. This early-1960’s publicity photo could be a scene right out of Mad Men. The Santa Fe continued to promote the Super Chief until Amtrak took over in 1971.

The Pullman Company managed all the private room accommodations and the Fred Harvey organization ran the dining cars. Five star meals were prepared by top chefs with Irish linen, sparklingly silver and finger bowls included. Menus featured everything from lobster, to steaks, to freshly caught trout. Nothing topped this express limited.

The passenger list for the “Super” until Amtrak took over included Frank Sinatra, Zero Mostel, Janet Leigh, Ella Fitzgerald, Elizabeth Taylor, Paul Newman, Alan Ladd, Vincent Price, Margaret Truman and on and on.Gloria Swanson, after the success of Sunset Boulevard, starred in Three For Bedroom C which takes place aboard the post-way Super Chief. Miss Swanson was a Super Chief regular.

The fabulous Super Chief made the Santa Fe Railway a household word.

L to R.: Janet Leigh, star of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, in the early 1950s, is ready to board the Super Chief. The Pullman Porter is helping her. Jimmy Durante, comedian and famous MGM star of stage, screen, radio and television, is ready to board the Super Chief. He shares a joke with the Red Cap. L to R.: The Super Chief dining car steward checks out fresh caught trout en route. Only the best for the “Super” clientele. The fabulous Rosalind Russell, “Auntie Mame,”is heading East. The Santa Fe public relations department never stopped pushing the train and the stars who were loyal passengers. Zero Mostel provides entrainment for passengers in the Super Chief’s observation car lounge. L to R.: Margaret Truman, presidential daughter, boards the Super Chief. Bing Crosby ready to head East on the Super Chief.

Until the late mid-1950s, going by train to Los Angeles from New York was the norm. For business or pleasure. It was all about meetings or confabs in New York or Hollywood or the only way to connect for your trans-Atlantic crossing to Europe on the RMS Queen Mary, the SS United States or the French Line’s Liberte.

You would be booked on through a Pullman car from New York to Los Angeles. You could occupy a drawing room, compartment or roomette. This was all very Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint in North By Northwest. You would overnight to Chicago on the 20th Century Ltd. or the Broadway Ltd. to Chicago. You could stay aboard your through car as it was shuttled from Chicago station, visit Marshall Field’s or take a quick bath at the Ambassador East. Luncheon at the famous Pump Room was a must. Then you’d board that evening for the Super Chief’s race “to the Coast” reaching speeds of 112 mph.

Stars took it, politicians, the rich, the famous, and the socially shy. Passengers didn’t wear tank tops, camouflage shorts or jeans. De rigueur was definitely in order – hats, suits, ties, couturier and Chanel. The likes of Billy Wilder and studio heads were regulars. If they wanted Châteauneuf-du-Pape, fresh water trout or 18-ounce Kansas prime steaks, they would get it. Beluga Caviar was on the menu during what Lucius Beebe called the “halcyon days” of the Super Chief.

A very chic way to cross America. The Pleasure Dome Lounge Car provided a lounge, bar and private dining room. L to R.: A la Super Chief – during the early 1960s. The couple is dining in the elegant private dining room. The Santa Fe train, even through the Mad Men era, still maintained an alternative to Jets during the 1960s. Stars, like Elizabeth Taylor, Judy Garland and Paul Newman, would take the “Super”! There would be only sixty to eighty fellow passengers and the Pullman Conductors and Porters would assure the stars and super rich privacy. “She came in on the Super Chief” – a popular ad for the train that appeared in many magazines. The only way for a star to arrive in Los Angeles (always Pasadena) was the “train of the stars.”

Frank Sinatra stayed up until dawn in the Pleasure Dome bar, Bette Davis appreciated the discreet efforts by the Pullman Conductor to maintain some anonymity and the super rich could have the train stopped in the middle of New Mexico – so they could head to their equivalent of the King Ranch easily.

Jim Lehrer, the anchor of PBS News Hour, remembers the Super Chief rumbling through the towns in Kansas where he grew up. His latest novel is set on a trip aboard the train in April 1956. Titled Super, published by Random House, it is in the tradition of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express. The story is inhabited by the rich and famous – actor Clark Gable,former President Harry Truman, a once great Hollywood producer who’s facing bankruptcy, a deathly ill millionaire who is probably taking his last ride on Super Chief, and a mysterious man whom a porter has smuggled aboard. “Santa Fe trains came through the Kansas prairie and didn’t stop,” Lehrer said in an interview to publicize the book last May. “Specifically – the Super Chief was magic. I never rode it, but it was always in the back of my dreams.”

Above: Jim Lehrer’s new mystery novel Super features the Super Chief and former President Harry Truman as a passenger.
Right: A Super Chief regular – film star Gloria Swanson starred in 3 for Bedroom C, which premiered at the Astor Theater. The entire film takes place aboard the post war Super Chief.

The train was established in the late 1930s. It quickly eclipsed its rivals (including its own cousin, the Chief). It was also the Super Chief that inspired Santa Fe’s classic “Warbonnet” livery that is arguably the most beautiful paint scheme ever to be applied to a passenger train.

Interestingly, the Super Chief came about out of necessity.

With Averell Harriman’s Union Pacific having launched its new streamlined City of Los Angeles in 1936, the Santa Fe needed to present its own competing leading train between Los Angeles and Chicago. Having a direct route to the two cities (unlike the UP which had to hand off the train to the Chicago & North Western Railway and later the Milwaukee Road to reach Chicago) gave the Santa Fe a distinct advantage, although its first version of the Super Chief, while well planned, was not really up to par with the City of Los Angeles in that it was not streamlined and used standard heavyweight equipment.

L to R.: Engraved Super Chief stationary from Crane was featured aboard the Super Chief until Amtrak took over. In the Halcyon days of the Super Chief – Romanoff Fresh Malossol Caviar was $1.75 and a Kansas City Sirloin Steak for two was $2.75. The year was 1938. $7.90 for a Champagne Dinner. Talk about inflation. This menu is from 1970 – a year before Amtrak took over.

Knowing it needed something better the Santa Fe, with the help of the Budd Company, introduced the all-new streamlined Super Chief in May of 1937. What resulted was a passenger train unrivaled in style, design, and luxury. Part of the train’s phenomenal success was its appeal and character. In designing the new Super Chief, the Santa Fe wanted not only a contemporary passenger train but also one that reflected the railroad’s long-standing relationship with Native American’s of the Southwest. To style the new Super Chief the train had an entire staff of designers, which quickly set to work bringing the soon-to-be legend to life.

Industrial designer Sterling McDonald created the train’s classic interior Indian designs and themes. Whenever possible McDonald used authentic Native American (many of which depicted the Navajo) colors (such as turquoise and copper), patterns, and even authentic murals and paintings in the train. He used a combination of rare and exotic woods like ebony, teak, satinwood, bubinga, maccassar, and ribbon primavera for trim giving the Super Chief an added touch of one-of-a-kind elegance.

L to R.: Hors d’oeuvres were served aboard the Super Chief about an hour before dinner. They were prepared in the dining car kitchen, not frozen but from scratch. Then served in the Pleasure Dome Lounge. Frank Sinatra, who was a Super Chief regular, would host all who would join him and his party – in the bar. With dinner, entertainment, continuing on until dawn. Tips were plentiful to the Dining Car Steward and Lounge Car Attendant. The private dining room aboard the Super Chief. L to R.: Film star Alan Ladd with his wife and children during the early 1940s. The Fred Harvey dining car steward is taking the order. His son, Alan Ladd Jr., achieved major fame for giving George Lucas the go-ahead to make Star Wars and remained as Lucas’ only support at times when the Board of Directors wished to shut down production. Kirk Douglas and his wife aboard the Super Chief.

Everything inside the train exuded the Native American culture and way of life. However, the Super Chief’s livery also conveyed this, if not to an even greater degree. General Motors’ artist Leland Knickerbocker designed the train’s now classic “Warbonnet” paint scheme. The livery featured gleaming stainless steel with the front half of the locomotive painted in red crimson, wrapping around the cab and trailing off along the bottom of the carbody with a Native American-inspired design (a design that would go on to distinguish the Santa Fe) used on the front of the nose with “Santa Fe” flanking the center. For trim, golden yellow and black was used. As Knickerbocker put it, the design was meant to convey an Indian head with trailing feathers of a warbonnet (thus where the livery derived its now-famous name).

The locomotive that powered this new train was General Motor’s EMD EA model, a streamlined and completely self-contained diesel locomotive that handsomely matched the new Budd-built cars (themselves clad entirely in stainless steel giving the train a gleaming, “new” look).

Clockwise from above: Janet Leigh in the Super Chief’s dome lounge Clark Gable plays Gin Rummy with Ava Gardner as Edward Arnold looks on in MGM’s The Hucksters The lady arrived on schedule in Los Angeles to connect with Southern Pacific’s Coast Daylight for her short morning ride in the observation Parlor Car to Santa Barbara and Montecito Douglas Fairbanks Jr., and his wife, are ready to board the Super Chief.

Until desegregation had its effect in the United States in the 1960s, the occupation of Pullman Porter along with dining car waiters, was almost the exclusive province of African-American men. The staff aboard the Super Chief, with the exception of the conductors and dining car steward, was black. To be a porter during the depression wasn’t a second rate job.

The self-imposed standard of excellence of the porters made people in the black community very proud. They planted seeds of confidence for generations to come. These were the property owners, the business owners, the men who insisted their children go to college, Many noteworthy African Americans, from Gordon Parks to E. D. Nixon worked as Pullman porters in their youth. It was Nixon who selected Rosa Parks for attention when she landed in jail. Descendants of Pullman Porters, include Willie Brown, Tom Bradley and Thurgood Marshall.

Half-way between Los Angeles and Chicago the Super Chief stops in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The train was serviced here and passengers bought souvenirs from Native Americans.

George Pullman hired newly freed slaves to work as porters, and by the company’s heyday in the 1920s, the Pullman Co. was one of the largest employers of African Americans in the nation. After ten years of difficulty, over working conditions, the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters was recognized in 1935. Just as the Super Chief was born. Under the leadership of A. Philip Randolph, the porter’s union materialized into the catalyst for the civil rights movement. Randolph was equal to Martin Luther King – a major force in American equality.

For the most part the Super Chief remained quite popular through the 1950s.

The Super Chief makes it stop in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Passengers are still wearing suits. This was taken in 1970. Santa Fe maintained the Super Chief right up until the end. Although combined with the El Capitan, the “Super” was operated as a total first class service, with separate Diner, Dome Lounge and sleeping cars.

In 1951 it was reequipped with its feature car – the Pleasure Dome lounge that included dome viewing, a cocktail lounge, and the famed Turquoise Room used for dinner parties.

Air travel was still resisted by a lot of the public, until jets came in. The prop planes faced many cancellations to bad weather and there would be major air accidents.

Santa Fe never stopped advertising their fleet of streamlined trains.

But as the 1960s dawned, and as with the passenger rail industry itself, the Santa Fe found its fleet in decline as passengers took to their private automobiles or the skies for faster and more convenient modes of transportation. The Santa Fe still persevered and introduced all private bedroom cars during the mid-1960s.

However, unlike most other railroads, which let their services slip and trains run down, the Super Chief remained an on-time, clean and regal operation right up until the end when Amtrak took over most intercity passenger rail operations in the spring of 1971.

The Santa Fe, perhaps reluctantly, handed over its illustrious flagship to Amtrak. But the famed railway eventually refused to let Amtrak use the name Super Chief because the government run railway service was so substandard.

The closest you can come to being aboard the Super Chief today is by reading Jim Lehrer’s novel, watching The Hucksters on TCM or buying one of the many books telling the train’s history.

The magic of the Super Chief – “the train of the stars” – is now just a memory.

1932: The IND debuts its own cars

R-1 car exterior. Courtesy of New York Transit Museum.

In an effort to compete with the two private lines, the city opened its own subway line, the IND, in 1932. IND cars were similar to BMT cars in design, but were bigger than IRT line cars in length and width, requiring tunnels that varied in size. If you’ve ever wondered why today’s cars come in so many different capacities—letter trains are typically wider than number trains—it’s because despite the system still uses the original tunnels from the IRT and BMT. Smaller trains can pass through wider tunnels, but it doesn’t work the other way around.

The IND’s R-type cars—or “City Cars”—“combined the best features of IRT cars (speed) with the best of the BMT (large passenger capacity),” according to the New York Transit Museum. They were initially painted a dull green—fitting, considering they were rolled out during the Great Depression—and were the first cars to introduce four doors on each side, speeding up the loading and unloading process at each station.

1950s: The first air conditioned subway cars

IRT R-15 car at the New York Transit Museum. Ameena Walker.

Interior of the R-15 subway car. Ameena Walker

Fast forward to the 1950s: By that point, the city had purchased the BMT and IRT private lines, unifying the three disparate systems into the New York City Transit Authority. A number of different R-type cars had been introduced over the years, each with slight variations to the previous version. But the most significant—and crucial, in an ever-more populated subway system—change was the introduction of air conditioning.

The R-15 car, introduced in 1950, was the first attempt at bringing air conditioning into subway cars. But it wasn’t without its flaws, many of which will seem familiar to passengers on today’s trains. As the Transit Museum describes it, “the cars were often damp and water dripped on passengers.” (Ew.)

Eventually air conditioning was removed and replaced with conventional fans since it was too costly to keep up with the many repairs they required on a regular basis. In 1966, the R-38 was the first fleet of subway cars to offer air conditioning that actually worked.

1970s: The decline of the subway

By the 1970s, it seemed as if the city’s subway system was at an innovation standstill. New subway cars weren’t being put forth as often and thanks to a pattern of deferred investment in the subway (thanks, Robert Moses!), maintenance on existing cars began to fall behind.

The R-44 (which currently run on the Staten Island Railway) and R-46 cars were introduced during this period and fitted with plastic seats, but many of the cars were faulty and required constant repairs.

This is also the era in which subway cars served as a canvas for graffiti artists—important for New York’s cultural history, but not exactly beloved by the transit authority.

By the 1980s, more reliable cars were introduced in the form of the R-62 and R-68, or today’s 3, B, D, and G trains (and some older 1, 7, and shuttle trains). Graffiti was still rampant and almost every car in the subway system was tagged, forcing the New York City Transit Authority (NYCTA) to launch a five-year initiative in 1984 to eradicate all graffitied trains.

On May 12, 1989, the city announced that all graffiti had been wiped away from the system’s fleet. To this day, trains are not allowed to leave their yards if there is any graffiti on its exterior.

2000s: The subway cars of today

Which brings us to the 21st century: A new class of subway cars, including the R-142 (which services the 2 train) and the R-143 (the L train) were commissioned in 2000 and 2002, respectively. The new models featured technology that included an electronic strip map and an improved public address system.

The R-160 class was introduced in 2005, with technological advances like LED displays of upcoming stops and FIND (Flexible Information and Notice Display) systems that show time and route information. There are two variations for this model and the cars primarily serve the system’s C, E, F, M, N, Q, W, and Z lines.

The R-188 fleet line, which is similar to R-142 type cars, is one of the newest designs. It was introduced in 2013 and solely services the 7 line.

The future: Open gangway cars, Wi-Fi, and more

Despite these upgrades, modern-day subway cars can still seem outdated when compared to innovations in other countries—and many of the older trains, including the decades-old R32s on the C line, are relics from another era. (This doesn’t even touch on larger problems within the subway system, like its aging signals, but that’s a whole other story.)

But new cars are in the pipeline last summer, Governor Andrew Cuomo revealed an updated design for over 1,000 new subway cars. The new fleet will feature major upgrades that include a new exterior that boasts LED headlights and interiors with Wi-Fi, USB ports, full-color digital displays, security cameras, door opening alerts, and an open gangway design. These new R-211 cars are expected to roll out in 2023.

Department of Transportation

Besides the tremendous impact of construction and opening of the Erie Canal, it would be difficult to discuss the incredible growth and development of New York (a State that increased in population from 1820 to 1900, from 1.4 million people to almost 11 million people) without highlighting the role played by railroads. Starting in the 1830s, throughout the length and breadth of the Empire State, railroads large and small tied together city and farm (later suburbs), bringing foodstuffs and raw materials toward the cities, and in turn, bringing manufactured goods and summer vacationers out to the country. The list of railroads that operated in and through New York included such important carriers as the New York Central, Erie, Long Island, Pennsylvania, New Haven, Lackawanna, Lehigh Valley, Ontario and Western, Delaware and Hudson, Rutland, Boston and Maine, and others (including smaller regional and shortline carriers). Just about every major and most minor cities in the State were served by one or more railroads. For example, the small city of Elmira (Chemung County) was served at one time by four major railroads (Erie, Lackawanna, Lehigh Valley, and Pennsylvania). While only three of these "name" railroads still operate in New York (the Long Island, Delaware and Hudson, and Boston and Maine, albeit with new owners and/or operators), other railroads now operate over much of the trackage of the other "fallen flags." And even though New York, as other states, experienced railroad downgrades and abandonments, much of the State (including all cities above 50,000 in population) is still served in some fashion by railroads.

Railroad Firsts and Milestones in New York State

The list of railroad firsts and milestones in New York is both wide and deep, and includes the following:

The History of Transportation in the United States: Ships, Trains, Cars and Planes

Welcome to THIS IS AMERICA, in VOA Special English. I'm Shirley Griffith. And I'm Faith Lapidus.

This week, travel back in time to explore the history of transportation in the United States.

In 1800, Americans elected Thomas Jefferson as their third president. Jefferson had a wish. He wanted to discover a waterway that crossed from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific. He wanted to build a system of trade that connected people throughout the country. At that time the United States did not stretch all the way across the continent.

Jefferson proposed that a group of explorers travel across North America in search of such a waterway. Meriwether Lewis and William Clark led the exploration west from 1803 to 1806. They discovered that the Rocky Mountains divided the land. They also found no coast-to-coast waterway.

So Jefferson decided that a different transportation system would best connect American communities. This system involved roads, rivers and railroads. It also included the digging of waterways.

By the middle of the 1800s, dirt roads had been built in parts of the nation. The use of river steamboats increased. Boats also traveled along man-made canals which strengthened local economies.

The American railroad system began. Many people did not believe train technology would work. In time, railroads became the most popular form of land transportation in the United States.

In 19th-century American culture, railroads were more than just a way to travel. Trains also found their way into the works of writers like Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Walt Whitman.

In 1876, the United States celebrated its 100th birthday. By now, there were new ways to move people and goods between farms, towns and cities. The flow of business changed. Lives improved.

Within those first 100 years, transportation links had helped form a new national economy.

(MUSIC: "I've Been Working on the Railroad")

Workers finished the first coast-to-coast railroad in 1869. Towns and cities could develop farther away from major waterways and the coasts. But, to develop economically, many small communities had to build links to the railroads.

Railroads helped many industries, including agriculture. Farmers had a new way to send wheat and grain to ports. From there, ships could carry the goods around the world.

Trains had special container cars with ice to keep meat, milk and other goods cold for long distances on their way to market.

People could now get fresh fruits and vegetables throughout the year. Locally grown crops could be sold nationally. Farmers often hired immigrant workers from Asia and Mexico to plant, harvest and pack these foods.

By the early 1900s, American cities had grown. So, too, had public transportation. The electric streetcar became a common form of transportation. These trolleys ran on metal tracks built into streets.

Soon, however, people began to drive their own cars. Nelson Jackson and his friend, Sewall Crocker, were honored as the first to cross the United States in an automobile. Their trip in 1903 lasted 63 days. And it was difficult. Mainly that was because few good roads for driving existed.

But the two men, and their dog Bud, also had trouble with their car and with the weather. Yet, they proved that long-distance travel across the United States was possible. The trip also helped fuel interest in the American automobile industry.

By 1930, more than half the families in America owned an automobile. For many, a car became a need, not simply an expensive toy. To deal with the changes, lawmakers had to pass new traffic laws and rebuild roads.

Cars also needed businesses to service them. Gas stations, tire stores and repair centers began to appear.

Many people took to the road for personal travel or to find work. The open highway came to represent independence and freedom. During the nineteen-twenties and thirties, the most traveled road in the United States was Route 66. It stretched from Chicago, Illinois, to the Pacific Ocean in Santa Monica, California. It was considered the "people's highway."

The writer John Steinbeck called Route 66 the "Mother Road" in his book "The Grapes of Wrath." Hundreds of thousands of people traveled this Mother Road during the Great Depression of the 1930s. They came from the middle of the country. They moved West in search of work and a better life.

In 1946, Nat King Cole came out with this song, called "Route 66."

World War Two ended in 1945. Soldiers came home and started families. Businesses started to move out to the edges of cities where suburbs were developing. Most families in these growing communities had cars, bicycles or motorcycles to get around. Buses also became popular.

The movement of businesses and people away from city centers led to the economic weakening of many downtown areas. City leaders reacted with transportation projects designed to support downtown development.

Underground train systems also became popular in the 1950s. Some people had enough money to ride on the newest form of transportation: the airplane.

But for most automobile drivers, long-distance travel remained somewhat difficult. There was no state-to-state highway system. In 1956 Congress passed a law called the Federal-Aid Highway Act. Engineers designed a 65,000 kilometer system of roads. They designed highways to reach every city with a population over 100,000.

The major work on the Interstate Highway System was completed around 1990. It cost more than $100,000,000,000. It has done more than simply make a trip to see family in another state easier. It has also led to the rise of the container trucking industry.

The American transportation system started with horses and boats. It now includes everything from container trucks to airplanes to motorcycles. Yet, in some ways, the system has been a victim of its own success.

Many places struggle with traffic problems as more and more cars fill the roads. And a lot of people do not just drive cars anymore. They drive big sport utility vehicles and minivans and personal trucks.

For others, hybrid cars are the answer. Hybrids use both gas and electricity. They save fuel and reduce pollution. But pollution is not the only environmental concern with transportation. Ease of travel means development can spread farther and farther. And that means the loss of natural areas.

Yet, every day, Americans depend on their transportation system to keep them, and the largest economy in the world, on the move.

The National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. has a transportation exhibition that explores the connection to the economic, social and cultural development of the United States. And you can experience it all on the Internet at americanhistory-dot-s-i-dot-e-d-u. Again, the address is americanhistory-dot-s-i-dot-e-d-u. (

Our program was written by Jill Moss and produced by Caty Weaver. I'm Faith Lapidus. And I'm Shirley Griffith. Join us again next week for the VOA Special English program THIS IS AMERICA.

Photographs of Old BuildingsIn or Near Concord, NH

Copyright This website, , including each of my webpages and each of my photographs, is my personal property. Each of my photographs here, and also my text, is protected by copyright law and my contractual terms of service. Please enjoy looking at my photographs at my website, but do not copy either my photographs or my text, and do not display them elsewhere.


This webpage displays some of my photographs of old buildings in or near Concord, New Hampshire (NH) and links to other webpages about these sites.

I spent most of my childhood (1956-1962) in El Paso, Texas. My father took me to abandoned mines that were active during the 1900-1920 era. Downtown El Paso had a few buildings dating back to the year 1881, when the railroad service began there, but most of the buildings were erected after 1940. So, as a child, I learned that "old building" meant built during 1880-1940. In 1991, I visited Zürich Switzerland and, during a walk, I saw a plaque on a building that said the mayor had lived there sometime around the year 600. That plaque gave me a new perspective on the meaning of "old building". < smile >

In 1995, I moved to Concord, NH. Unlike El Paso, there are buildings in the Concord area that were erected in the early 1800s, and a few from the 1700s. This is not surprising when one realizes that New Hampshire was one of the original 13 states of the USA, while New Mexico and Arizona did not become a state until the year 1912. Concord and most of the towns surrounding Concord (e.g., Allenstown, Bow, Contoocook, Henniker, Hopkinton, Pembroke, Penacook, Suncook, Warner — but not Hooksett) were established before the United States declared independence in the year 1776. Concord became the capital of New Hampshire in the year 1808.

Concord is the third-largest city in the state of New Hampshire. (Manchester is the biggest city in New Hampshire, followed by Nashua, which is across the state line from Lowell, Massachusetts.) The downtown district in Concord is small, consisting of only two north-south streets (Main St. and State St.) and extending about 0.3 mile (0.5 km) from Pleasant St. northward to Centre Street/Loudon Road. The downtown district includes the state capital and state legislature, as well as six banks, many offices, various small stores, two pharmacies, and an old theater (Phenix Hall).

All of old Concord is on the west side of the Merrimack River. The 1927 USGS topographic map shows few buildings on the east side of the Merrimack. But today on the east side of the Merrimack, in former Concord Heights (now part of Concord), there are a large number of residential buildings, several shopping centers together with the three largest grocery stores in Concord, offices of the state government including the NH Supreme Court, plus many stores and restaurants along Loudon Road (NH9).

Earlier, I contrasted my childhood in El Paso, Texas with my current life in Concord, NH. There is another contrast. El Paso has an average rainfall of about 22 cm/year, so old buildings are easily accessible in the desert. Concord, NH has an average rainfall of about 96 cm/year, so abandoned buildings are quickly surrounded by brush and trees, making them inaccessible. Moreover, New Hampshire has occasional floods that destroy mills and other buildings. In winter in New Hampshire, the weight of snow can cause roofs of buildings to collapse.

Table of Contents

To make this webpage load faster, I have converted the high-quality, large files from my digital camera to medium-quality, small files with 480 pixels on the longer side. In order to preserve the fidelity of the data, I have not made any adjustment of exposure or color with software.

Eagle Square

The Eagle Hotel at 110 North Main Street in Concord was built in the year 1827. The hotel closed in 1961, the year after the demolishment of the railroad depot a few blocks southeast of the hotel. The hotel building is now mostly occupied by one law firm. Listed in National Register of Historic Places on 20 Sep 1978, see the text that explains why this building is significant.

Main Street and Storrs Street are adjacent parallel streets, but separated by two city blocks. In between (1) buildings on North Main Street and (2) buildings on Storrs Street is either a courtyard or narrow street (e.g., Low Avenue).

Behind the Eagle Hotel is a stable constructed in 1882.

A few meters south of the Eagle Hotel Stable is an old stone building, currently containing the Museum of New Hampshire History.

Gas Holder

Abandoned gasholder located at approximately 207 South Main Street (next to Gas Street) in Concord, NH. This photograph was taken from Gas Street.

This cylindrical building was constructed in 1888 to extract and store heating gas from coal tar. The building was taken out of service in 1952, when pipelines brought natural gas from other states to New Hampshire. The interior of the building contains toxic waste, which is probably why the building remains untouched. Claimed to be "only surviving gasholder in the USA with its gasholder still intact."

Telephoto lens view of the cupola and lightning rod on top of the gasholder. Note the green copper ground wire attached to the lightning rod, which ground wire goes down the roof and side of the building.

View from Main Street. The octagonal cupola on top of the building is now tilted.
View of entrance from Main Street, note the year "1888" in concrete on the side of the building.

Library of Congress webpage, shows 16 photos of the gasholder in August 1982, including the interior of the building, plus 24 pages of text.

Waymarking photos and text from April 2009.

Sewall's Falls Hydroelectric Plant

On 29 Sep 1893, the Concord Land and Water Power Company began operating an electric power plant on the Merrimack River at Sewall's Falls, north of Concord, NH. The generators provided three-phase alternating current electricity to Concord, which was the second three-phase plant for supplying a city in the USA. (Redlands, California was 22 days earlier than Sewall's Falls.) In 1901, Concord Electric Company purchased the plant at Sewall's Falls. At the end of 1966, Concord Electric Company began purchasing power from Public Service of New Hampshire, and the Sewall's Falls hydroelectric plant was then taken out of service. The dam is said to be the longest rock dam in the world.

The hydroelectric plant is located at the eastern end of Second Street, in the village of Beaver Meadow, now part of the city of Concord, NH.

The hydroelectric plant and dam is now part of the Sewall Falls Wildlife Management Area, operated by the New Hampshire New Hampshire Fish & Game Department, which has a map. The city of Concord has a map of hiking trails at Sewall's Falls. After 18 years with no maintenance to the dam, the middle section of the wooden and loose rock dam washed away in April 1984.

Photo of south side of Power House Nr. 1 taken on 7 Dec 2012 from the west shore of the river. The main part of the Merrimack River flows to the right of the photograph. The water for the water wheel flows in the canal from the left of the building. When I was there in December 2012, there was a chain-link fence surrounding a construction site at the dam, which prevented me from photographing the dam and other buildings.

    Library of Congress has 54 black/white photographs of the hydroelectric dam and powerhouse, taken in 1992, plus 20 pages of text.

Old Post Office in Concord, NH

There is a magnificent stone building on North State Street, between Park Street and Capitol Street, in Concord, NH. The building was completed in 1889 as a U.S. Post Office, federal courthouse, and place for local offices of the federal government. Gray granite rock from a local quarry was used in the construction. In 1967, this building was donated to the state of New Hampshire, and now contains offices for the state legislators. Listed in National Register of Historic Places on 13 Aug 1973, see the text that explains the significance of this building.

This photograph was taken from the steps of the state capital building on State Street.

year 1913 color image from a postcard.

Ward House Nr. 7 in Concord

Located at 41 West Street, at the intersection of Badger Street and West Street. This building is owned by the City of Concord. It is used as a place to vote, and a community center. In Oct 2010, the building can be rented for US$ 17/hour.

View from Badger Street side.

This Ward House was built in the year 1884. The minutes of the Concord City Council meeting of 12 July 2010 reports that this ward house "is the oldest remaining building in the state that was built for the original purpose of voting and still gets used for that purpose." In searching on the Internet, I found that the Seventh-Day Adventist Church met at this Ward House during the years 1909-1915.

Railroad in Concord

Concord, NH had railroad service provided by the Boston & Maine Railroad, which went bankrupt in 1971. The railroad depot in downtown Concord was demolished in 1960 and the land became a shopping mall. Demolishing railroad depots and removing track was really stupid, because it prevents the easy return of railroad service sometime in the future. Railroads are much more energy efficient than trucks and buses, and railroads can be much faster than traffic on an Interstate highway.

Part of the problem is that the railroads were privately owned, including ownership of track and depots — unlike airports, which are operated by a city or state government. For example, when Pan American Airlines went bankrupt in 1991, its airplanes, transatlantic routes, and gates at airports were sold to Delta, so service continued.

Standing near the south end of the former depot in Concord. View of the railroad tracks looking south. Note that the rails are not straight.

Standing near the south end of the former depot in Concord, about 100 meters north of the location of the previous photograph. View of the railroad tracks looking south.

Standing a few hundred meters north of the former depot in Concord. View of the railroad tracks looking south. The second track is a siding.

Concord & Manchester Electric Railroad

When one thinks of railroad in Concord, one naturally thinks of the big station that was formerly located on present day Storrs Street at Depot Street. But there was a smaller railroad — a trolley car — that ran from Penacook, through Concord, Bow Junction, Pembroke, Suncook, Allenstown, Hooksett, and ending in Manchester. The following information is taken from the 1996 booklet by O.R. Cummings (bibliographic information in the links, below).

    Horse-drawn street railway. Built in the year 1881 in Concord, with track extending to Penacook in 1884. The track was narrow-gauge, three feet.

  • widened the track to standard gauge
  • built new track from the intersection of West Street and South Main Street in Concord, southward to Bow Junction, Pembroke, Suncook, Allenstown, Hooksett, and ending in Manchester.
  • DC electricity for the southern end of this line was provided by a generator in Manchester. As is well-known to electrical engineers, it is not practical to transmit low-voltage, high-current DC electricity long distances, because of the resistance of the wire.

There is almost no information on the Internet about this interurban trolley, other than terse mentions of its existence. One can no longer be certain of the exact location of depots for this trolley.

Remnants of the Concord-Manchester Electric Railroad bridge across the Merrimack River at Bow Junction, NH. Only the stone foundation remains, the steel bridge built in 1912 was sold as scrap metal in the 1950s. (Before 1912, there was a covered wooden bridge at this location.) This bridge is located near the southern end of Hall St. in Concord, next to the present Blue Seal plant. See the 1927 USGS topographical map for location.

History of the trolley, by O. R. Cummings.

Photograph (1998) of remnants of Concord-Manchester Electric Railway bridge across the Merrimack River at Bow Junction, NH.

River Park (1904-1930) in Penacook was the northern end of the trolley run.

Books in Library:
O.R. Cummings, A Granite State Interurban: The History of the Concord and Manchester Electric Branch of the Boston and Maine Railroad. Published as Bulletin Number 12 by the Electric Railway Historical Society. Chicago: Electric Railway Historical Society, 35 pp., 1954.

O.R. Cummings, Capital City Streetcar Days — The Concord & Manchester Electric Branch, The Concord Electric Railways, and Predecessors 1878-1933, 56 pp., (published 1996).

Annual Report of the Railroad Commissioners for 1904, page 44, lists a total of 16.27 miles of track for the Concord-Manchester Electric Railroad. Available at Google Books.

McGraw Electric Railway Manual, Vol. 15, p. 180 (year 1908) Available at Google Books.

Page Belting in Concord, NH

In the days before electric motors, manufacturing plants were often located next to a river. Water flowing in the river turned a waterwheel, which turned a shaft inside the manufacturing plant. Leather belts were used to transfer mechanical power from the waterwheel's shaft to machines.

Page Belting in Concord, NH was one of the major manufacturers of leather belts for power transmission. The four brick buildings now standing were built between 1892 and 1906, and are located at 26 Commercial Street in Concord, north of US202/I293. Page Belting was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2002, see the text that explains why these buildings are historic.

Concord, NH has never been a major manufacturing site. In the late 1800s, Page Belting was the largest manufacturer in Concord. From 1896 until 1960, Boston & Maine railroad had a large repair shop in Concord, making the railroad the largest employer in Concord. Currently, the state government is the largest employer in Concord, followed by the Concord Hospital.

In the year 2000, the larger Page Belting buildings became apartment buildings, named Horseshoe Pond Place. A smaller building contains a dance studio and some offices.

In the year 1903, Page Belting purchased J.R. Hill, which is now located in Boscawen, NH. Industrial products are still sold under the Page name, while consumer products are sold under the Hill name.

Photo of one building, taken from the parking lot on the west side.

Photo of front of office building on Commercial Drive. There are two dates carved in granite on this entrance: 1871 and 1906. The earlier year is the creation of Page Belting, the office building was constructed in 1906.

Mills in Concord, NH

I looked at a Sanborn Fire Insurance Map of Concord, NH for the year 1914, and found a building labeled "Concord Worsted Mills" on map 32. The mill manufactured yarn.

Currently, this building is used for apartments, and is called "Mill Place West". The street address is 479 North State St. in Concord.

Photo of the main mill building, eastern side, looking north.

Photo of the empty 75,000 gallon water reservoir on the brook that powered the mill.

Because the building is currently occupied, I took all of my photographs from the far south-east end of the parking lot, near State Street. I did not go west of the building to photograph where the waterwheel was located on a brook.

Hospitals around Concord, NH

In looking on the Internet for old hospitals to photograph, I was surprised to learn that many tens of thousands of people in small towns scattered north and west of Concord are far from the nearest hospital. There is one hospital in Franklin, NH, one hospital in Concord, NH, and two hospitals in Manchester, NH. There are no other hospitals along this 40 mile stretch of I-93 highway. About 25 miles northwest of Concord, there is one hospital in New London, NH. Further to the northwest of Concord, near the Vermont border, there are two hospitals in Lebanon NH, and one hospital in Claremont, NH.

The few hospitals in central New Hampshire must have been an inconvenience in the days with poor roads, and a few railroad trains per day. However, in the 1800s and continuing into the early 1900s, sick or injured people were customarily confined to their homes and physicians visited the homes. Wealthy people in New Hampshire who needed major surgery during the late 1800s traveled by train to Boston.

Concord, NH Hospital

The first hospital in Concord, NH opened in Oct 1884 and was located on Allison St., apparently near present day South Main St. This first hospital was replaced with the Margaret Pillsbury General Hospital, which was established in Dec 1891 with fifty beds. Color image of original two-story Pillsbury Hospital.

In Oct 1896, the Memorial Hospital for Women and Children was opened at 66 South St. in Concord.

In 1956, a large hospital building was built at 250 Pleasant Street (NH9/US202), on the west side of Concord, and the two earlier hospital buildings were no longer used.

The original Pillsbury Hospital building was demolished sometime before 1995.

Currently at the former Memorial Hospital site is a large brick building that was constructed in 1922 and is now occupied by the New Hampshire state government. The current building may be a remodeled Memorial Hospital for Women and Children. I say may, because I have not checked the history at the library.

  1. Pillsbury Street is parallel to Allison Street, and one street south of Allison. Currently there are several modern office buildings on Pillsbury Street.
  2. The buildings containing offices of physicians and surgeons near the present Concord Hospital on Pleasant St. are named "Pillsbury Buildings".

New London, NH Hospital

New London, NH Hospital was established in the year 1918 with six beds. In 1923, it was expanded to twelve beds.

Glencliff Sanitarium

The state of New Hampshire operated a tuberculosis sanatorium ( also spelled sanatarium ) during the years 1909-1970 in the remote town of Glencliff, in a valley west of Mount Moosilauke. The buildings are now a home for "developmentally disabled and/or mentally ill" people. The village of Glencliff is so tiny that it is not included in the 1999 edition of the Arrow New Hampshire Street Atlas of 102 cities and towns. Glencliff is located northwest of Plymouth, NH and north of the town of Warren, NH.

See the article in Dartmouth Medicine for the Summer 2003.

New Hampshire State Hospital

See my separate webpage for the former state Insane Asylum in Concord, NH.

U.S. Army Hospital at Grenier Field

While I was reading about the history of the airport at Manchester, NH — which during 1941-1966 was called Grenier Field and operated by the U.S. Military — I saw some terse mentions that during 1941-1945 there was a 125-bed station hospital for those wounded in the war in Europe. Seventy years later, there is almost nothing on the Internet about this station hospital.

New Hampshire Airports

  1. Manchester
  2. Lebanon (near Dartmouth College & Medical School)
  1. Concord has a 6000 foot asphalt runway. The airport began service in the year 1928 as a private corporation, and the city acquired the airport in 1936.
  2. Keene (Dillant-Hopkins Airport)
  3. Laconia
  4. Nashua (Boire Field)
  5. Newport (Parlin Field) founded in the year 1949.
  6. Portsmouth (formerly Pease Air Force Base), has a 11,300 foot concrete/asphalt runway.
  7. Rochester (Skyhaven Airport)

    New Hampshire Aviation Historical Society in Manchester has a museum inside the original Manchester airport terminal building, which was constructed in 1937.


New Hampshire State Websites

  • Current Profiles of Towns by New Hampshire Economic and Labor Market Information Bureau.

Towns (Mostly) in Merrimack County, NH

  • List of towns and libraries in Merrimack County, NH.

  1. Allenstown, across the river from Suncook (Allenstown was formerly called Blodgett)
  2. Boscawen
  3. Bow
  4. Chichester
  5. Concord (Concord includes Penacook). historic downtown landmarks.
  6. Dunbarton
  7. Henniker
  8. Hooksett
  9. Hopkinton (Hopkinton includes Contoocook).
  10. Pembroke (Pembroke includes village of Suncook)
  11. Penacook Village (part of Concord)
  12. Warner
  13. Weare in Hillsborough County
  1. Allenstown (no website)
  2. Boscawen
  3. Bow Heritage Commission
  4. Chichester
  5. Concord Historical Society homepage
    State NH Historical Society museum at 6 Eagle Square in Concord.
  6. Dunbarton
  7. Henniker
  8. Hooksett
  9. Hopkinton
  10. Pembroke
  11. Penacook
  12. Warner
  13. Weare

Links to Librariesin or near Concord, New Hampshire

Links to maps

  • U.S. Geological Survey topographic maps for NH. Scanned and converted to JPG files by the Library at the University of New Hampshire. Maps for area around Concord, NH for the years 1927 and 1949. Hopkinton and Contoocook are in the northwest corner of the map for Concord. Concord is in the northeast corner of the map for Concord.

Links to Old Railroadsnear Concord, New Hampshire

  • Railroads in New Hampshire, website by Gary LaPointe. List of old train depots in Merrimack county in New Hampshire, with links to many old photographs. Boston & Maine 1933 map for New Hampshire

  • Manchester, NH has three trails:
    1. Heritage Trail old Boston & Maine Railway along east bank of Merrimack River
    2. Piscataquog Trail begins downtown on east bank of Merrimack River and goes west on old Boston & Maine Railway tracks
    3. South Manchester near South Willow Street

  • Hooksett Rail Trail Portsmouth & Concord Railroad tracks, abandoned in 1862

What trains were used on the Dakar-Niger Railway in the late 1950s and early 1960s? - History

Historic `Doodlebug' Railcar Back in N.M.

Associated Press
SANTA FE — A railcar dubbed the Doodlebug, which once carried commuters between Clovis and Carlsbad, has been returned to New Mexico from California.
The No. M-190 railcar from the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway had been stored for 20 years in the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento.
It has been returned to New Mexico as a gift to the state history museum at the Palace of the Governors in Santa Fe and to the people of New Mexico.
Doodlebugs were dependable options for New Mexico commuters for everything from dental appointments and university classes to dates. They operated not only between Clovis and Carlsbad, but also between Belen and Albuquerque.
Gov. Bill Richardson, citing the state's newest commuter line, the Rail Runner Express between Albuquerque and Bernalillo, said it's an honor ''to welcome back a much-loved workhorse from an earlier time.''
The self-propelled M-190s, also known as La Marranita or the Little Pig, had 22 seats and carried up to 44 passengers as well as the mail. A second passenger car was sometimes attached to the lead car.
A trip between Belen and Albuquerque took 45 minutes. The train made up to four roundtrips daily.
The M-190 was upgraded in 1955, and the Doodlebug on the Clovis to Carlsbad run was painted with the Santa Fe railway's ''warbonnet'' colors.
As many as 48 Doodlebugs operated in the United States in the heyday of the commuter trains from the early 1930s to the mid-1950s. In New Mexico, they were retired in the late 1960s.
The warbonnet Doodlebug was retired in 1967 and wound up in the California museum in 1986. That was the railcar recently returned to New Mexico.
The Doodlebug originally was moved to the railyard in Belen, courtesy of the Union Pacific and BNSF Railway. It now is at the Rail Runner yard in Albuquerque and eventually will join the history museum's collection.
''Railroad history buffs from around the state have already volunteered to help with the restoration of this valuable artifact,'' said Stuart Ashman, secretary of the state Cultural Affairs Department, which oversees the Palace of the Governors.
''Our goal is to offer a fully operational Doodlebug to the public, an attraction that will further enhance an already thriving tourist industry in Valencia and Bernalillo counties,'' he said.
Belen Mayor Ronnie Torres said his community is thrilled to have the Doodlebug back.
''Bringing back memories of the popular Doodlebug and remembering how people used to ride the train will increase appreciation and enjoyment of the new Rail Runner,'' he said.

Copyright ©2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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