model train set on track

Association of American Railroads Teacher’s Kit – Part V

e*Train Issue: May 2008   |   Posted in: ,

Presented by Bill Fuller

In the early 1940s, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) offered a Teacher’s Kit for use in teaching public school students about the transportation industry.  Of course, in the mind of the AAR, transportation equaled railroads, and the kit includes over 50 photographs of railroad scenes.  Each photograph is accompanied by a descriptive story, each of which becomes a short history lesson in the place of railroading in American culture and economy.  A complete copy of the original kit is in the archives of the High Plains Western Heritage Center, Spearfish, South Dakota.  Its contents have been scanned and reprinted for public viewing in the Heritage Center by TCA member Bill Fuller, who has also provided a copy to e*Train.  Each new issue will feature one of the photographs and its story

The “East and West Railroad” or “E & W” shown in the photographs never existed.  Actual railroad names were replaced in the photographs probably to avoid the appearance of giving free advertising to some railroad lines while slighting others.

What is the Association of American Railroads?

The 1941 – 1943 Teacher’s Kit containing these photographs and descriptive text was published by the Association of American Railroads (AAR).  The following information about this organization is quoted from the AAR Web sites:
retrieved November 23, 2004:

The AAR was formed in 1934.  But its history really goes back much further–all the way to 1867 when the Master Car Builders Association was formed to conduct experiments aimed at standardizing freight cars.

Soon other organizations representing other railroad subjects were formed.  By the early 1930s, there was an alphabet soup of organizations representing the industry.  Included were the Association of Railway Executives, the American Railway Association, the Bureau of Railway Economics, the Railway Treasury Officers Association, the Railway Accounting Officers Association and the Bureau for the Safe Transportation of Explosives and other Dangerous Articles.  These and others were folded into the new Association of American Railroads, when it was established on October 12, 1934.

The unification of rail associations was a fallout from the Great Depression.  In 1933 the Rail Transportation Act was passed and a Federal Coordinator of Transportation was appointed to deal with depression-era problems affecting railroads.  Beset by a plethora of voices representing the railroad industry, Coordinator Joseph B. Eastman – with the support of President Franklin D. Roosevelt – soon recommended that railroads unify into one organization that could speak for the entire industry, leading directly to creation of the AAR.

AAR members include the major freight railroads in the United States, Canada and Mexico, as well as Amtrak.  Based in Washington, DC, the AAR is committed to keeping the railroads of North America safe, fast, efficient, clean, and technologically advanced.  Much of the AAR focus is on Washington, bringing critical rail-related issues to the attention of Congressional and government leaders.

The AAR is also very much involved in programs to improve the efficiency, safety and service of the railroad industry.  Two AAR subsidiaries – the Transportation Technology Center, Inc., and Railinc – ensure that railroads remain on the cutting edge of transportation and information technology.

Railroads are the vital link to our economic future.  More than 40 percent of all US freight moves by rail – more than from any other single mode of transportation.  As Fortune Magazine recently observed, “While Internet companies scramble for sound business footing, many of America’s trains are running on Internet time – at a profit.”

© 2004 AAR 50 F Street, NW, Washington, DC 20001-1564
Used with permission

Story # 5-A Steam Passenger Train

The modern passenger train embodies comforts and convenience which were unknown a generation or two ago.  It represents a century of scientific research and engineering advancement.  Into the modern passenger train are built many of the latest technological developments of mechanical engineers, metallurgists, chemists, designers and countless other scientific experts.

This is a picture of a typical long-distance steam passenger train.  In the inset, the conductor gives the starting signal as the happy little passenger in the window wave’s good-bye to the people on the station platform.  Perhaps she is taking her first train ride, and we can imagine how thrilled she must be.

Trains of this type run for hundreds or even thousands of miles, frequently traveling night and day, with one or several changes of locomotives and crews en route.

ON many of the large railroads, where traffic is heavy, a typical long-distance, main-line passenger train operating on an overnight run or for a longer distance, may consist of a mail car, a baggage and express car, one or more passenger coaches, from one to several sleeping cars, a dining car and a lounge, club or observation car.

Frequently, when mail, baggage and express shipments each do not require a full car, combination cars (having compartments for mail and express, or baggage and express, or baggage and passengers) are used.

The tender, which carries the fuel and water for the locomotive, is always attached to the rear end of the locomotive.  Immediately behind the tender are the cars for mail, baggage and express.  Next to them are the passenger coaches, and behind the passenger coaches are the sleeping cars.  The dining car and the lounge or club car are usually located about midway in the passenger-carrying part of the train.  If an observation car is carried, it is usually the last car in the train.

The modern passenger train may be likened to a hotel or home.  The lounge car, club car, observation car or parlor car correspond to the lobby of a hotel or the living room of a home; the dining car is the restaurant or dining room; and the sleeping cars are the bedrooms.

Today’s steam locomotive is many times larger than the locomotive of early days.  It is also much speedier and many times more powerful.  To support the great weight of the modern locomotive and its heavy train, the railroad must have much stronger bridges than were formerly required; railbeds must be more solidly built; rails must be heavier and stronger.

The modern passenger car is built of steel or other strong alloys.  It is fitted with double glass windows.  Platforms and passages between the cars are enclosed and protected from the weather.  The train is lighted throughout by electricity; and it is equipped with comfortable seats, water supply, toilet facilities, and many other conveniences.

Today nearly every long-distance passenger train in the United States is air-conditioned, so that, regardless of weather conditions outside, the temperature in the train is kept uniformly comfortable and the air is kept constantly fresh and clean.

The railroads operate around 15,500 passenger trains in the United States each day.  This means that a passenger train starts on its run somewhere in this country every 5.6 seconds, day and night, on the average.

Many of these trains are powered by steam locomotives; many others are powered by electric or Diesel-electric locomotives, as described in succeeding chapters.

Every city and nearly every town in the United States enjoys the benefits of daily passenger train service.