National Geographic : 1936 Nov
VOL. LXX, No. 5 WASHINGTON NOVEMBER, 1936 ]NATII©AL MAGAZ-IFE COPYRIGHT, 1936, BY NATIONALGEOGRAPHICSOCIETY, WASHINGTON,D. C. INTERNATIONALCOPYRIGHTSECURED TRAINS OF TODAY-AND TOMORROW BY J. R. HILDEBRAND AUTHOR OF "MAN'S PROGRESS IN CONQUERING THE AIR," "ENGLAND'S SUN TRAP ISLE OF WIGHT," "MARCO POLO, WORLD'S GREATEST OVERLAND EXPLORER," "BUDAPEST, TWIN CITY OF THE DANUBE," ETC., IN THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE S OW fast?" I asked the conductor of the Twentieth Century Limited. "Slowing down now to 70 for a curve. We've been doing 80." Passengers had been conscious of neither curves nor speed. Just then a town snapped by-a muffled roar of trapped sound, a swift blur of lights, like a movie reel gone "haywire." A tall young man came along the aisle chatting affably with an elderly train maid. "That's Mr. Blank," the conductor ex plained, naming a millionaire sportsman. "Emma's been on this train since it started. In a way she helped raise him, and dozens of other sons of New York and Chicago families, when they were boys traveling back and forth with their parents." Railroads have their historic liners; the Twentieth Century is the Mauretania of the New York Central. They lay colored carpets from gate to platform when the Century leaves Grand Central Terminal. Passengers know each other and greet the train crew as they would the officers and stewards of their favorite steamship. SPEED--AND DOUGHNUTS "Speed's the thing now, speed, safety, and comfort," rambled on the veteran con ductor. "I remember when they put the first electric lights on the old Empire State Express. And they cut down the New York-Chicago time to 24 hours. There was a great to-do about that; crowds were out at every station to see her whiz by. Now we make it easily in 162 hours." "That secretary, now, does he really do much?" "Last run he typed a contract for a $200,000 deal. Two weeks ago he helped a lawyer and his client make a will. Then he telegraphed ahead for a notary to board the train at Elkhart. The papers were all ready for a safe-deposit box when we reached Chicago." The Pennsylvania's Broadway Limited is a similar train, making the same time as the Twentieth Century. With rates and running time on competing roads often the same, rivalry now is for added touches of passenger comfort. "I landed two regular passengers from our competitors," chuckled one passenger agent, "because they liked the doughnuts we give them mornings with their small cups of coffee." "TRAINS OF TOMORROW" Over a Chicago travel agent's desk hangs a sign, "Trains of Tomorrow." I asked the alert young clerk to name a few. She looked puzzled, but, self-possessed, waived the question of destination and reeled off a list: the Sunset Limited, the Hiawatha, the Abraham Lincoln, the Argo naut, the Green Diamond, the Columbine. And, taking breath, the Ak-Sar-Ben, the Super Chief, the Mark Twain Zephyr, the Mountain Bluebird. The names were redolent; one waited for a Samarkand Limited, a Bali Special, or a Marco Polo Express. The Mark Twain won my first ride.