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The Wheels A-Rolling pageant from the Chicago Railroad Fair.

A Chicago Railroad Fair Color Slideshow.

Photos by Joe and Jeanette Archie.  https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Chicago_Railroad_Fair By Joe+Jeanette Archie (1949-RRfair+) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The Chicago Railroad Fair's Main Entrance in 1949.

By Joe+Jeanette Archie - AM05036Uploaded by We hope, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17564972

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Chicago Railroad Fair
The Chicago Railroad Fair was an event organized to celebrate and commemorate 100 years of railroad history west of Chicago, Illinois. It was held in Chicago in 1948 and 1949 along the shore of Lake Michigan and is often referred to as "the last great railroad fair" with 39 railroad companies participating. The board of directors for the show was a veritable "Who's Who" of railroad company executives.

History of the fair
The origin of the fair traces back to the Chicago and North Western Railway (CNW), which at the time was the successor of the first railroad to operate out of Chicago, the Galena and Chicago Union Railroad. CNW was seeking a way to commemorate 100 years of railroading in Chicago, especially as it was done on the CNW itself. Public Relations Manager F.V. Koval is credited with developing the idea behind the fair. The CNW advertising and public relation staff went to work to promote the show in the early months of 1948, beginning with a series of photographs made by company photographer Don Lidikay of people in 19th century costumes posing with the locomotive Pioneer, which had pulled the first train out of Chicago in 1848.

The fair was rapidly planned during the winter and spring of 1948, and originally scheduled to run between July and August of that summer. Erected on 50 acres (200,000 m2) of Burnham Park in Chicago between 21st and 31st Streets, the fair opened after only six months of planning. A grand opening for the fair commenced on July 20 with a parade that featured such spectacles as a military marching band and a replica of a troop train, a contingent of cowboys and Native Americans, a replica of the Tom Thumb, the first American locomotive, and the spry, octogenarian widow of Casey Jones, who served as honorary Grand Master of the parade. One dollar was the price of admission, and, except food, all the attractions, displays, exhibits and shows were free. Besides the thirty-nine railroads who participated in the fair, there were more than twenty equipment manufacturers, including General Motors. The Santa Fe also sponsored an Indian Village where Native Americans sold handicrafts, staged dances, and explained the different types of lodging that were on display.

A highlight of the fair was the presence of the Freedom Train.The Freedom Train traveled the country from September 17, 1947, through Jan 22, 1949, and was at the Railroad Fair from July 5 – 9. It held many documents and artifacts from the National Archives. Available for public viewing were the original United States Constitution, Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. Security of the documents was the responsibility of the Marine Corps.

Board of directors
The officers and board of directors for the fair were mostly prominent railroad executives. The fair's officers were:

President - Lenox R. Lohr, President Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago
Vice President - R.L. Williams, President Chicago and North Western Railway
Treasurer - Wayne A. Johnston, President Illinois Central Railroad
Secretary - G. M. Campbell, Vice President Baltimore and Ohio Railroad

The fair's directors included (in alphabetical order by surname):

Arthur K. Atkinson, President Wabash Railroad
John W. Barriger III, President Monon Railroad
T. D. Beven, President Elgin, Joliet and Eastern Railroad
J. J. Brinkworth, Vice President New York Central System
John M. Budd, Vice President Great Northern Railway
Ralph Budd, President Burlington Lines
C. H. Buford, President Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad
G. M. Campbell, Vice President Baltimore and Ohio Railroad
Thomas J. Deegan, Vice President Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad
William N. Deramus III, President Chicago Great Western Railway
S. A. Dobbs, Vice President Gulf, Mobile and Ohio Railroad
J. D. Farrington, President Rock Island Lines
P. E. Feucht, Vice President Pennsylvania Railroad
E. S. French, President Boston and Maine Railroad
Charles J. Graham, President Pittsburgh and West Virginia Railway
Fred Gurley, President Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway
C. R. Harding, President Pullman Company
Wayne A. Johnston, President Illinois Central Railroad
J. D. Dodson, President Texas Mexican Railway
Lenox R. Lohr, President Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago
Wilson McCarthy, President Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad
H. E. McGee, President Green Bay and Western Railroad
C. M. Roddewig, President Chicago and Eastern Illinois Railroad
F. L. Schrader, President Chicago and Illinois Midland Railway
C. A. Skog, Vice President and General Manager Grand Trunk Railway
A. E. Stoddard, President Union Pacific Railroad
A. Syverson, Vice President and General Manager Lake Superior and Ishpeming Railroad
P. H. Van Hoven, President Duluth, Missabe and Iron Range Railway
R.L. Williams, President Chicago and North Western Railway
L. L. White, President Nickel Plate Road
Ward Wire, Vice President Colorado and Wyoming Railway
R. E. Woodruff, President Erie Railroad

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Participating railroads
38 railroads and more than 20 railroad equipment manufacturers participated in the Chicago Railroad Fair exhibiting equipment and interpretive displays around the fair's theme of 100 years of railroad history. The majority of the participating railroads maintained a direct rail connection to Chicago. The companies that participated included:

Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway
Baltimore and Ohio Railroad
Boston and Maine Railroad
Burlington Lines
Chesapeake and Ohio Railway
Chicago and Eastern Illinois Railroad
Chicago Great Western Railway
Chicago and Illinois Midland Railway
Chicago, Indianapolis and Louisville Railway (Monon Railroad)
Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad (Milwaukee Road)
Chicago and North Western Railway
Colorado and Wyoming Railway
Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad
Duluth, Missabe and Iron Range Railway
Elgin, Joliet and Eastern Railway
Erie Railroad
Grand Trunk Railway
Great Northern Railway
Green Bay and Western Railroad
Gulf, Mobile and Ohio Railroad (The Alton Route)
Illinois Central Railroad
Lake Superior and Ishpeming Railroad
Maine Central Railroad
Minneapolis and St. Louis Railway
Monongahela Railway
New York Central Railroad
Nickel Plate Road
Norfolk Southern Railway
Northern Pacific Railway
Pennsylvania Railroad
Pittsburgh and West Virginia Railway
Pullman Company
Rock Island Lines
Soo Line Railroad
Spokane, Portland and Seattle Railway
Texas Mexican Railway
Union Pacific Railroad
Wabash Railroad
Western Pacific Railroad

Rolling stock displays

The highlight of the Chicago Railroad Fair was the "Wheels A-Rolling" pageant. This was a dramatic and musical presentation intended to showcase the development of transportation and the railroads across the country beginning with trails and waterways. The pageant included a recreation of the Golden Spike ceremony at Promontory, Utah, and various historic rolling stock and replicas of equipment in operation.

Railroad equipment used in the pageant included:

Original equipment
No. 222 and coach
No. 637, Zulu and combine car
No. 10250
Cumberland Valley Pioneer and coach
Empire State Express No. 999
The General (1948 only)
John Hancock and coach
Illinois Central 201 and coach
Little Butter Cup and two coaches
Minnetonka and two logging trucks
Pioneer and coach
Pioneer Zephyr
Reuben Wells and coach
William Crooks and two coaches
William Mason and baggage car number 10

Replicas
Atlantic and two replica coaches
Best Friend of Charleston
Chicago horse car
DeWitt Clinton and three coaches
John Bull and coach
Jupiter (portrayed by Virginia and Truckee Railroad locomotive "Genoa") and combine car
Lafayette and two barrel cars
Pioneer horse car
Pullman coach number 9
State Street cable car
Tom Thumb locomotive and director's car
Union Pacific No. 119 (portrayed by Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy locomotive no. 35)

Legacy

In addition to being the last great assembly of railroad equipment and technology by participating railroad companies, the 1948 Chicago Railroad Fair holds a lesser known honor and connection to Disneyland. In 1948 Walt Disney and animator Ward Kimball attended the fair. To their enjoyment they not only got to see all of the equipment, but they were also allowed to operate some of the steam locomotives that were at the Fair. Upon their return to Los Angeles, Disney used the Fair, the House of David Amusement Park, and Greenfield Village, as inspiration for a "Mickey Mouse Park" that eventually became Disneyland. Walt also went on to build his own backyard railroads, building the Carolwood Pacific Railroad. Kimball already had his own, named Grizzly Flats Railroad.

See also:

Historic Rail Events