In 21st century America, train travel isn’t seen as very futuristic. But in the years after World War II, trains were right up there with airplanes as the coolest in luxurious transportation of tomorrow.
And in 1947 Americans got a peek at what was promised to be their train-bound future.
It was called the Train of Tomorrow, first conceived by General Motors in 1944 simply as a scale model promotional tool.
But after the war, people working on the project were excited enough that GM contracted with Pullman to actually build it.
The train went out on a 28-month tour of the U.S. and Canada and became a symbol of postwar promises for the future of getting around.
Nearly 6 million people walked through the train as it toured, though a much smaller group got to actually travel on it.
The website Streamliner Memories has uploaded a fantastic color brochure of the train from 1947. Many of the images below come from that brochure.
The GM Train of Tomorrow had a brief existence touring North America and most of the cars that comprised it sat dormant after 1950, until they were finally sold off for scrap in the mid 1960s.
But thanks to the magic of internet™ we can get a taste of what it must’ve been like to ride the train of the future.
Actually the East Coast Railway Victorian Express locomotive, not the London Necropolis Railway, but it looks creepy.
Here’s a properly creepy image to get you into the spirit of Halloween:
From 1854 to 1941, London had a railway line just for the transportation of the dead and the mourning.
It was appropriately named the London Necropolis Railway—the most ominous ticket stub imaginable.
Amanda Ruggeri—who previously wrote about the London Underground and its supposed relationship to the city’s ancient plague pits—explores the history of this very real railway, which was dedicated to ferrying the deceased (as well as anybody who missed them and wanted a visit) from the city to Surrey’s Brookwood Cemetery.
By the middle of the 1800s, London’s burial grounds were gruesomely close to bursting at the seams, necessitating the creation of suburban cemeteries like Brookwood.
But they had to make them practical for Londoners to use—hence, the railway.