Flying the Subway Express (Feb, 1938)

This is a really fun read for anyone who has ever ridden the NYC subway and wants to know how it works. I think that besides the fact that subways are all one unified system now not much has changed since this article was written 70 years ago.

Flying the Subway Express

by Donald G. Cooley

YOU shoot through a winding tunnel streaked with colored lights, dive under a river, zoom up on the other side, fly past crowded platforms, sway dizzily as you dash around a curve at breakneck speed—it’s a crashing, flashing, thrilling scene that thunders past as you ride the subway express!

Sightseers in New York soon discover the subway to be one of the city’s miracles. For five cents they can ride for hours or for days on the world’s most exciting underground railroad. When the American Legion held its big 1937 convention in New York, hundreds of Legionnaires stated that the big thrill of their outing came when they stood in the first car of a speeding subway train and found adventure around every curve.

Stitching Steel Into Streamliners (Feb, 1947)

Stitching Steel Into Streamliners

Budd’s new assembly line rolls out cars like cans.


AS YOU stand on a catwalk high above the plant you can scarcely see where it ends, dim in the distance, five city blocks away. The workmen dwindle to mere specks, the gigantic U-shaped welders become tiny tweezers. Toward you stretch three long, silver caterpillars: assembly lines. Here and there comes a flicker of blue flame from an arc welder, reflected and reflected again from shining stainless steel. Occasionally there is a rumbling medley of thumps from shot welders; otherwise there is only a low hum from the thousands of workmen and machines.

Here is modern technology in action—the assembly-line system the auto industry made famous. But as the great cranes swoop down along the line and the silvery bodies roll nearer and nearer you can see they are too shiny for automobiles—and too big. Each is as long as half a dozen motor cars—a stainless steel railway coach.


A red trolley and a blue biplane raced along an in-terurban right-of-way near Moraine, Ohio, not long ago, and the trolley more than held its own. It was one of the new ninety-mile-an-hour electric cars recently put in service to carry passengers between the Ohio cities of Cincinnati, Columbus, Dayton, Toledo and Springfield.

The latest in trolleys not only boasts a speed seldom attained by any steam locomotive, but in other features it is called entirely new in electric railway transportation. Passengers sit either in individual coach seats or in an observation compartment at the rear like that of a railway train, from which they have a clear view of the scenery whizzing past the windows.

WAR IN TOYLAND (May, 1945)

WAR IN TOYLAND. German raiders who venture to make a landing on the Kentish coast of England will get a warm reception from this miniature armored train. Behind a puffing pint-size locomotive it patrols the narrow-gauge line of the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch railroad, which in peacetime carried bank-holiday pleasure-seekers to coast resorts for a bit of sea air. Crouching in the tiny armored cars, British Tommies man machine guns, eager to pot any Jerry wot shows ‘is bloomin’ fyce.

Railroad Sleep Hanger (Feb, 1949)

Railroad Sleep Hanger
For railroad travelers, Dr. Igo Seeger of Vienna has come up with a sleep hanger that holds the passenger in a comfortable sleeping posture while sitting upright. The hanger is supported from overhead by an adjustable strap. A shelf holds the folded arms of the traveler, while another shelf has a pillow to support the head.

MONORAIL Comes of Age (Feb, 1946)

MONORAIL Comes of Age


IMAGINE boarding a sleek, gleaming car and speeding to your office or home at 200 miles an hour—noiselessly and without a jar! Imagine living out in the wide open spaces where you’ve always wanted to live, away from the crowds and smoke and noise of cities—even a hundred miles distant from your work, yet only a half-hour commuting-time away.

Imagine crossing the continent in nine hours at 300 miles an hour, at a cost of not more than a cent a mile!

A Subway Through the Sahara (Sep, 1929)

I think they might be missing a few issues here…

A Subway Through the Sahara

A tunnel railway beneath the shifting Sahara desert sands of northern Africa, covering the thousand miles between Morocco and Timbuktu, is proposed by a French engineer as a solution of desert travel.

COINCIDENT with the project of a tunnel under the English channel to connect France and England, a French engineer, Paul Remy, has conceived the idea of a 125-mile subway through the Sahara desert in northern Africa. The route of the railway would cover the 1000 miles between Morocco and Timbuktu, but all except 125 miles of this distance can be built on stretches of rocky and barren land which offer no obstacles to a surface railway. The 125-mile stretch of country known as the Shifting Sands in the heart of the Sahara, is filled with sand dunes which blow up overnight to tremendous heights, only to disappear on their endless march where the hot winds bore through them and urge them onward. Surface rails, of course, would be impossible in this land where mountains of wind-blown sand would cover them overnight.

For this reason Remy’s tunnel project seems the only practicable idea yet advanced for speeding up desert travel. As proposed, the tunnel would be a huge metal tube supported on a skeleton viaduct of cross-ties and piles sunk into the sand.

It would be a simple task to construct pipe lines through the shell of the tube so that water, gas, electric cables and telephone lines could be run through them. Power for the trains would naturally be electric, since it would be impossible to use coal or oil-burning locomotives because of the ventilation problems involved.

In time the desert sands would submerge the tunnel entirely, insulating it from the intense heat so that travel would be far more comfortable inside the tunnel than upon the surface. Were it not for the fact that there is no water available, it would be possible to plant grasses in the sands and anchor them with plant growth so that they could not shift overnight. As it is, however, the tunnel seems to be the only possible means of bridging the heart of the desert.

Fantastic as such a scheme sounds at first, and high as would be the initial cost, no other entirely satisfactory method of rapidly crossing the shifting sand area has been offered. For both economic and military reasons France is determined to build a railway across the Sahara. Some means of rapid transport of troops in case of a national emergency, is very desirable.

Compressed Air to Shoot Packages Into Moving Train (Jun, 1933)

Sounds great, what could possibly go wrong?

Compressed Air to Shoot Packages Into Moving Train

ENGAGING the attention of mechanical engineers who are trying to figure out ways and means of restoring the railroads to a profit-making basis, is the idea illustrated above, in which a torpedo-tube containing packages of mail or express is shot into the funnel-like car at the rear of a moving train, making it unnecessary to stop and pick up small shipments.

Toy Train Delivers Rural Mail (Apr, 1935)

Toy Train Delivers Rural Mail

“NECESSITY is the mother of invention.” An Oregon rancher, living a mile from the highway, proved the truth of this old maxim when he put the world’s smallest mail train in operation over a spur line between his home and the road to save his wife the trip.
The train, powered with small dry-cell batteries, makes the trip to the road every morning, pulling a tiny mail box. Upon arrival, it is stopped by a lever laid along the track.

Streamline Beauties Lure Travelers to Rails (Nov, 1935)

Streamline Beauties Lure Travelers to Rails

ROLLING along railways of the world at greater than mile-a-minute speeds, streamlined trains are conquering time and space in an attempt to keep the traveling public from deserting the rails for airplanes and motor buses.

Three choices have been offered to the jury of travelers—the ordinary steam train running on faster schedules, the beautiful Diesel-powered streamliner, and the light weight steam streamliner in its gleaming new dress of chromium and brass. A fourth contestant recently entered the picture—a turbine-drive steam locomotive that may surpass all others in speed, safety, and comfort.