When we think of steam locomotives, one color comes to mind – black. For years, American steam locomotives were very much like the Model T. Such was not the case in other parts of the world, where colored liveries remained the standard long after the days of woodburners ended.
In the United States too, there were exceptions to the rule. The Southern Pacific’s Daylight added a splash of color. There was the Union Pacific with their gray passenger locomotives, and of course streamlined engines nationwide. Lionel is proud to bring back three of the most popular of these historic painted Pacific-type locomotives that plied the rails.
The Southern Crescent
Inspired by a visit to England, Fairfax Harrison, the President of the Southern, returned to his home rails with an order to paint several locomotives green. Debuted in 1926, the green and gold locomotives were an instant hit across the system and across the country. Most prominent of these locomotives were the Pacifics assigned to the railroad’s premier passenger train, the Crescent. The Crescent connected New York with New Orleans (via a connection with the Pennsylvania at Washington D.C.)
The green paint and high polish was introduced on the second batch of Ps-4 Pacifics built by Alco in 1926. The locomotives’ design traces its roots to the 1918 USRA light pacific – but the previous eight years had done much to improve power and efficiency. Four of the locomotives had “Crescent Limited” lettering on the tenders and a Crescent moon on the cylinder jackets. The most famous of the Ps-4 locomotives, No. 1401, survives today on permanent display in the National Museum of American History in Washington D.C.
The Alton Limited
The Chicago and Alton is a hidden gem in the history of passenger trains. Easily overshadowed by its larger neighbors, the Alton ran a highly competitive passenger service between two of the country’s greatest railroad cities. The railroad even acquired some notable passenger equipment from the B&O, including the boxcab passenger diesel and consist from the Royal Blue.
The Alton Limited was the railroad’s premier train, running between Chicago and St. Louis. Ten Pacifics were delivered by Alco in 1913 in a stunning maroon paint to match the rest of the six car consist. Modernized in 1924, the train’s observation car featured a tea room and library and was dubbed the “Handsomest train in the World.” The Alton was taken over by the Gulf, Mobile and Ohio in 1947, who replaced the steam power with diesels and dropped the Alton name, but the Limited remained in service until Amtrak arrived in 1971.
The Blue Comet
The Central Railroad of New Jersey was a major passenger carrier by any measure. But the road’s reputation was earned by the thousands of commuters it carried daily, not by luxurious long distance travel. Proving that travel didn’t have to be long to be good, the Blue Comet was as luxurious as a coach train could be.
Initiated in 1929 to compete with the Pennsylvania Railroad between Jersey City and Atlantic City, the Blue Comet was painted blue and cream with nickel trim from pilot to drumhead. With three new Pacifics capable of 100 mph running, the train initially made two daily round trips to the Jersey Shore. With assigned seating, fine dining and an observation car, the train was an affordable and attractive alternative to the PRR service. The reputation of the Blue Comet has long outlived the train itself, with service discontinued in 1941.
The Lionel Models
Lionel is very pleased to re-release models of these famous painted ladies to add some color to your passenger trains. Now LEGACY control and sound equipped, these are the best models of these popular locomotives produced yet.
The new models feature LEGACY control, the next best thing to being in the cab itself. The engines will also run on TMCC and conventional control. LEGACY sounds include 32 intensity levels of steam chuff, automatic or individual-hit bell sounds, sequence control which provides realistic sounds to accompany an entire run matched to train speeds, and current speed and fuel dialog, along with refueling sound effects. And of course, you get the best, quilling whistle in the hobby – accompanied by whistle steam.
With a metal frame and body, powerful motor and traction tires, the locomotives will have no problem pulling heavyweight consists. There are many separately applied detail parts – it’s not just the paint color that changes from model to model. Directional lighting, class lights, cab light, firebox and ashpan glow and variable puffing smoke effects complete the visual impact.
These models are ready to speed into your collection soon, so see your dealer to preorder now. All engines will negotiate an O-36 curve and retail for $1099.99.