My dad built railroad trains - actually passenger trains. He built elegant stainless-steel railcars for every major railroad in the country. He built sleeper cars, dining cars, domed cars, double-decker cars. He built them all. He built them for over 30 years, before airplanes and cars took over travel in the United States. He built them until the virtual death of the luxury railcar in the mid-1960s. His timing was good. He retired in 1970.
As my siblings know, railcars, stainless-steel, and the Budd Company were his life. At least one of them seemed to somehow find a way into almost his every conversation. He even repaired Mom's desk with stainless-steel screws.
This past week I visited the Transportation Museum in St. Louis especially to see a special train that my dad was part of - The Burlington Zephyr.
In April of 1934 the Zephyr was introduced - an all stainless-steel train with a GM diesel engine. A month later it set a speed record for travel between Denver and Chicago when it made a 1,015-mile non-stop run in 13 hours 5 minutes for an average speed of 77 mph. There was one section of the run where the train reached a speed of 112.5 mph.
To look at a Zephyr and then reflect that it was designed and built 80 years ago, gives you a great appreciation of the elegance of it. Of course being diesel it was completely different looking from everything else. Many railroads started putting sheetmetal bodywork over their passenger steam engines to try and look as good. I really believe they are the most beautiful trains ever built. I think Dad did too.