New Product Spotlight – The Olympian

9 09 2013

In it’s competition for travelers to the Pacific Northwest, the Milwaukee Road needed a train with the highest of acclaim. The Olympian served the need for fifty years.

The Olympian

The Milwaukee purchased an all new, all-steel trainset for the Olympian in 1911. Over the coming half-century it would consistently offer the newest and best technology the railroad could offer. From roller bearings, radio and air conditioning to electric locomotives to its 1950s streamlined consist with Skytop observation cars and Super Domes. For a time, the luxury train even included a feature mostly reserved for today’s tourist trains – an open air observation car! Thanks to the electrification, passengers could enjoy the full panorama of sights, sounds and smells of the scenic canyons without fear of raining cinders.


Artwork for the 1947 train featured new Fairbanks Morse engines and the Skytop Lounge observation.

In 1947 the Milwaukee rejuvenated the train with an all new streamlined consist and renamed her the Olympian Hiawatha. The train was painted in the roads orange and maroon and included the new Brooks Stevens – designed Skytop Lounge observation cars. These were the next best thing to the open air cars of the earlier era. In 1952 the Skytops were joined by new full-length Super Domes offering even more grand views of the impressive mountain passes.

In 1957, the train was repainted in Union Pacific’s color scheme along with the rest of the Milwaukee’s equipment. The 1950s also saw the Milwaukee and UP partnering on other trains including the eastern end of the UP’s City trains. (The new Milwaukee E9’s would look perfectly appropriate in front of our City of Los Angeles consist as well!)

Sadly the writing was on the wall for the great train by the time it had dawned its new Armour Yellow coat. It was not competition from the Great Northern, Northern Pacific or even the Union Pacific but the improvements in air travel that would beat the great train. Despite the scenic route and accommodations, the Milwaukee simply couldn’t compete with the airlines’ schedule. The train was discontinued in 1961.

Thanks to this 1952 advertising video by the Milwaukee Road, we can have a glimpse of what the Olympian Hiawatha was like from a traveler’s perspective.

Lionel’s Models

Lionel’s Olympian captures this great train in its final years of operation. Decorated in Armour Yellow, the four-car passenger set includes the Milwaukee’s trademark Skytop Lounge. The twin E9’s provide the perfect companion for a matched consist. You could also substitute other Milwaukee diesels or even an electric locomotive for its trip over the Cascades.

The new E9s include one powered and one non-powered locomotive. Both engines feature:

  • Fan-driven smoke unit with adjustable output
  • Directional lighting including LED headlights


    The Milwaukee’s E9s complement this consist nicely but can be mixed and matched with other trains as well.

  • Front ElectroCouplers
  • Working front Marker Lights
  • Illuminated number boards
  • Lighted and detailed cab interior
  • Die-cast metal trucks, fuel tank and pilots
  • High level of separately applied details
  • O-31 minimum curve

Powered locomotives also feature:

  • LEGACY Control – also capable of running on TMCC or Conventional
  • Odyssey II Speed Control
  • LEGACY RailSounds including
    • CrewTalk and TowerCom dialog
    • 6 Railroad speeds
    • 8 Diesel RPM levels
    • LEGACY Quilling horn
    • Single hit or continuous mechanical bell
    • Sequence control provides sounds and dialog for an entire trip around your layout
    • Current speed and fuel dialog and refueling sounds
  • Dual motors with flywheels
  • Refined Transformer Control with lower starting speeds
  • Traction Tires
  • Engineer and Fireman figures

Passenger cars feature:

  • Die-cast sprung metal trucks with operating couplers featuring hidden uncoupling tabs
  • Extruded aluminum bodies with flush-fitting windows


    The Olympian consist includes the unique Skytop Lounge observation.

  • Operating end vestibules with flexible diaphragms
  • Separately applied metal roof vents and grab irons
  • Interior lighting with on/off switch
  • Detailed interiors with passenger and crew figures
  • Operating marker and end lights on observation car
  • Lighted drumhead on observation car
  • Metal frame
  • Metal underframe details
  • O-54 minimum curve

The locomotives retail for $929.99 and the passenger car 4-packs for $639.99. See your dealers today to make the Olympian the pride of your service.



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