I’ve been collecting rail memorabilia since 1983, when Amtrak replaced the Rio Grande Zephyr with Superliners, thus ending the last vestiges of the Silver Age of passenger trains in the United States. I now have thousands of different items, nearly all of them stored in an acid-free environment. In order to study these items without damaging them, as well as make them available to others, I decided to scan them and put them in PDFs that are as close as possible to the original documents.
Having grown up in the 1950s and 1960s, the trains that were most exciting to me were the streamliners. They were sleek, fast (at least in appearance), colorful, and comfortable. So most of my memorabilia was from the period I call the Silver Age: 1934 through 1971. For reference, the Golden Age of passenger trains was roughly 1890 to 1930 while Amtrak ushered in the Bronze Age in 1971.
As a life-long Oregonian, my collection is weighted heavily to railroads and trains serving the Pacific Northwest and the West in general. But I’ll have a few pieces from the East as well as some from the heavyweight era. Most of the photos in my posts are items I’ve found on the web; except where noted, most of the downloadable PDFs are from my collection.
I actually rode on only a few pre-Amtrak trains. When I was five years old, I went on Great Northern’s Western Star from Grand Forks, ND to Portland, Oregon (which necessitated a change of train in Spokane). A few years later, I went on the North Coast Limited from Portland to Fargo and back. I once rode the Shasta Daylight from Portland to Eugene, and rode the SP&S Streamliner between Portland and Pasco and several pool trains (GN-NP-UP) between Portland and Seattle.
After Amtrak took over in 1971, I rode Amtrak’s pre-Superliner “heritage” trains tens of thousands of miles, including almost every Amtrak route in the nation. I also enjoyed riding both the Southern Crescent and Rio Grande Zephyr before these were taken over by Amtrak in 1979 and 1983. These trains seemed to feature better service than Amtrak and made me feel like I was still in the Silver Age.
Since then, in addition to collecting memorabilia, I’ve helped restore a steam locomotive, briefly owned five streamlined passenger cars, and tried my hand at model railroading, all attempts to relive the glory days of passenger trains. I hope this web site helps recall those days for you.
Thanks to my friend, Ben Coifman, for his great rail fonts, which I used to make the headers to this web site. Most of the photos and drawings in the headers are from postcards or other memorabilia. In general, each post will contain at least one downloadable PDF of an item in my collection, while JPGs are images that I found somewhere on the web.
I do not claim a copyright for any of the documents posted here, and as far as I am concerned people may freely distribute the PDFs of memorabilia that I’ve scanned. The railroads that made those documents might have a copyright claim, but as far as I know they don’t bother to enforce copyrights on advertising.
Photos are a different story. If I can trace the owner of a photo who claims a copyright, I’ll only post with their permission. I also put a few of my own photos here which people can use for non-commercial purposes. Other photos are either in the public domain or their photographer is unknown. If you find I’ve posted your photo without permission, let me know and I’ll give you credit or take it down as you prefer.