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From the days of Cornelius Vanderbilt and Andrew Carnegie the New York Central and the Pennsylvania Railroads were arch rivals. Here a NYC Hudson Locomotive is racing a PRR Pacific Locomotive for the daily bragging rights.
In reality, there was such a daily race. The 20th Century Limited left LaSalle Street and the Broadway Limited left Chicago Union Station at the same time each day. The two mainlines merged south of Chicago and ran parallel for 6 miles creating the most famous "drag strip" in railroad history.
Below is Howard Fogg's great painting of the daily event entitled, "The Race of the Century."
Race of the Century

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Last edited by NYC Fan
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Now that is great Skip. I don't remember where I saw/read/watched, probably on YouTube, one of the many New York Central videos or a compilation of some. In part of the video they are talking with one of the crew(retired as I think this was in the 1960's-1970's), and he was explaining the race they did on a daily basis. How they would come into the section of track and out pace the Pennsy passing them and getting into the station before them. I want to say this person smiled in saying so, so much to say also that the Pennsy crew were not to happy about it. Wish I knew what video it was, but I've watched so many on YouTube it would take a few years to find it.

Lol😄

You have just displayed why you have taken the OGR call name as @NYC Fan. The three paintings would be a wonderful display for anyone’s train room…

West has truly electrified the race of the century. I can hear the thunder from both the heavens and the steel rails.

Your engine collection is a wonderful display for the three rails! I have enjoyed your four engines depicted in the paintings.  

Is this truly not the realism of the “essence “ as addressed in the Forum…

What a race,

What a hobby ☺️

@Seth Thomas posted:

Lol😄

You have just displayed why you have taken the OGR call name as @NYC Fan. The three paintings would be a wonderful display for anyone’s train room…

West has truly electrified the race of the century. I can hear the thunder from both the heavens and the steel rails.

Your engine collection is a wonderful display for the three rails! I have enjoyed your four engines depicted in the paintings.  

Is this truly not the realism of the “essence “ as addressed in the Forum…

What a race,

What a hobby ☺️

Steel Steam and Thunder

Thank You Seth! I also like the West painting but I believe he used a great deal of artistic license in that he has the trains heading in the wrong direction. The structure in the background is the New York Central lift bridge over the Calumet River. It would be to the east of the Pennsy mainline. That would mean these trains are heading north, or west by the timetable toward Chicago. The daily race occurred as the two trains left Chicago heading south, or east by the timetable toward New York.

The structure still exists today.

Calumet Lift Bridge

This photo is looking west. The Pennsy bridge, still used by Amtrak, can be seen on the other side of the NYC bridge, which is no longer used and left in the up position. The high bridge further west is I-90. Therefore, the West painting which has the trains heading from left to right in this photo, actually has them heading north toward Chicago.

Still, as you pointed out, there is a great amount of energy West has captured in his painting.

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Last edited by NYC Fan

@NYC Fan I appreciate your explanation on the correct directions the West Painting apparently is depicting.  

But, appears this artist was more interested in painting what the Title portrays, the Steel and the Thunder.  

Possibly, West loved the huge swing bridge in his background rather than opposing direction.  At least he was in the vicinity of the location of the “race “.

I’m particularly taken by the story of the race happening on each scheduled run.
No internet available the last two days thanks to Suddenlink! Otherwise I would enjoy investigating the race near Chicago. As well as the artist, West.


And @Apples55 I have enjoyed your race to the Poconos tonight. I find I am amazed on the number of platforms available for your passengers.  Great design and much fun in the future.  Your engines are great as well.  I like the silver fleet of passengers cars as well.

I just came in from my train room.
I’m painting, not a picture but two buildings for my hometown.  No race involved but the two buildings were located on Railroad Street. One the local Peoples bank, the local post office the second.

Thanks again Skip an Paul 😊

@Seth Thomas posted:


I’m particularly taken by the story of the race happening on each scheduled run.
No internet available the last two days thanks to Suddenlink! Otherwise I would enjoy investigating the race near Chicago. As well as the artist, West.

The two trains left their respective stations, on opposite sides of town at the same time 12:40pm. The two lines converged on the south side at Englewood where they both had scheduled stops. After the brief stop The Broadway Limited, having arrived first, usually left Englewood first having a slight head start, and it was the Century that would have to catch up and pass The Broadway during the race. From what I've read, the passengers and the crew were very much into the race. For the 10 minutes that it took to cover the 6 miles, almost all on the two trains were glued to the windows.

Last edited by NYC Fan

I always, mistakenly, thought the Robert West painting "Steel, Steam and Thunder," depicted the Race of the Century. On close examination of my print, it is noted under the title "approaching Englewood Illinois..."

While I've never heard mention of any such race on the Westbound trains, theoretically it is possible that they both arrived at the "drag strip" at the same time, as both were due to arrive at Englewood between 7:43am and 7:46am. That being said the Robert West rendition is an accurate portrayal of a possible Broadway and Century meeting early in the morning heading north toward Englewood.

Last edited by NYC Fan

@NYC Fan

There you go Skip. the answer you have discovered yourself. It was there, just needed a little prodding and time.

The more we look, the more we find… I just can read the words under the title as you have determined.  It means nothing to me as I don’t know the territory.

As the salesman says while on the train in the “Music Man”,  “you’ve got to know the territory”.

Gents, I grew up on Chicago’s south side. My dad was a rail fan and passed it to me.

when I was a kid;
We would leave home after dad got off of work and head to the Illinois/ Indiana State Line road. Just before the tracks was a restaurant; Phil Schmidt’s . We would stop there. After the tracks was the lake and rocky beach off Lake Michigan where the street ended. If early we would skip rocks across the calm water. Across from the restaurant was, I believe, the Lever Bros plant. I can still remember the pungent soap aroma. Now a Schmidt’s was a fine restaurant and “watering hole”. I would sit at the bar with dad and his railfan cronies while they juiced up and I 7-upped. At train time we left the bar and walked over to the tracks. There was a gateman’s shanty between both railroads where a gateman stayed and protected the crossing. Inside was a small desk, coal stove and old timey extendable wall phone that would accordion out when in use. A single overhead hood- light  hung from the ceiling by cord and illuminated the shack. Two windows faced oncoming and going directions.  That’s where they would put me. I could see the action while being safe from flying debris as trains rushed by.
The men would get a call from Englewood that the trains had departed. The gateman, a crusty ole guy, would tell me to go in there, AND STAY. Dad saved his nickels and dimes for this event. These friends, who were well lubed, would start betting as headlights came into view. Their banter grew louder and I could hear a cuss word now and then as the race neared. The lamp in the shack would start swaying, the phone hand piece rattled, and the pencil, stuck in the sharpener on the desk, fell to floor as the thunder of the diesels reached into that building. I got scared and got yelled at for trying to leave and get to my father by the gateman. The horns and engines were deafening as both trains came upon us. The boys outside were now screaming at each other and their respective bets. Wonder replaced fear as the race passed my secure vantage point shaking all inside. Then tail lights and all was over. The gateman came back shaking his head at the folly of these grown men kicking me back to my dad while picking up his phone. Going home was somber as we both reran what we had witnessed. I always hoped Dad would tell me if he made or lost money on his gamble. He never did.

When my dad died, we celebrated his life at his post burial at Phil Schmidt’s. Both the race and Father are long gone. But my memories are not. So they both live on for me and now you.

Larry Dalke





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