Book Review: Streamliners

The book “Streamliners: Locomotives and Trains in the Age of Speed and Style” by Brian Solomon is a great overview of streamlined trains, from early examples like the UP M-10000 through the California Zephyr and beyond.

Streamliners is up to the usual quality that I have come to expect from Brian Solomon books – well-researched, with great photos and lots of little details.

The book starts with the early experiments like the McKeen motor cars, then moves on through the 1920s and 1930s with the first Burlington Zephyrs and streamlined steam locomotives. It seems odd to see hulking steam locomotives looking so sleek, but that was the style of the time.

Plenty of photos and period advertisements

The book includes many period advertisements, showing how the streamlined trains of the day were seen by the public, or at least how the railroads wanted them to be seen. In the days where people were getting into cars at a record rate, the railroads wanted to appear modern and stylish, and streamlining was seen as a way to do that.

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The Great Depression and World War II slowed that down, but the railways emerged from the war with diesel power and had one last “go” at streamlining with the California Zephyr, the Empire Builder, and other classic trains.

The book finishes up with a look at the preserved streamliners around the country, including those still in tourist operation.

“Streamliners” is a good read and I encourage you to get a copy and give it a read. I got mine from the Winnipeg Library, so maybe you can borrow one from your local library or from a friend. You can also buy it from Amazon if you prefer.

If you’re interested in the Zephyr trains in particular you can read my review of “Burlington’s Zephyrs” by Karl Zimmermann at the end of this post.

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