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Park "train" identification question

Posted: Mon May 07, 2018 7:55 am
by Benjamin Maggi
This isn't your typical "Park Train" question. A good friend gave me a postcard recently because he knew I was interested in trains, and especially live steam trains. His father had originally owned the post card and he could provide no other information about it. The back is clearly lined for mailing, but there is no caption or any other information (publisher, year, etc.) to be had.
Train Picture postcard.jpg
Train Picture postcard.jpg (25.37 KiB) Viewed 2936 times
It looks like it is being pulled by a gasoline engine, and I cannot tell how many riding cars are coupled to it. It might be one engine and two riding cars (with another engine in the very back) or one engine and one riding car, and a middle engine blocked by the picture. One thing I find interesting is the front engine is clearly numbered "81" while the rear engine (and not easily seen in the picture) is clearly numbered "8." I doubt there were seventy other engines numbered in between.

Anyone have any more information about this train? Thanks.

Re: Park "train" identification question

Posted: Mon May 07, 2018 12:34 pm
by Glenn Brooks
Fascinating photo. One thing I learned is that early day park gauge train post card photos, of this vintage, were often used as advertisements by the venues having the trains. A group would have its picture taken and the venue would print up postcards and send them out to advertise the facility. In this case, the background doesn’t appear to be an amusement setting. More of an institutional setting, with Workman like riding cars.

I don’t recognize the engines, but the clothing and passenger loading is very interesting. Three women appear to be seated in the front train, but seem to be wearing similar pantaloons, or fluffy, loose fitting trousers. Unheard of in WW1 or the 1920’s. Their headgear reminds me of a WW 1 nurses uniform hat. The men sitting behind all seem to be wearing military style uniforms also, particularly the headgear, and Sam brown style leather strap across the chest of the #2 loco engineer. The clothing style seems almost German or ottoman - turkish military. They are very closely loaded on four wheel carts. Yet positioned inside a building, close up against a wall with several sort of Art Deco framed paintings or prints. Very incongruous setting, yet quite interesting! Perhaps if you can identify the style of dress of the three woman, you might be able to more closely place the building and the locomotives.

The locomotives are small enuf to have fairly advanced motors. for example, most WW 1 era gas powered engines were massive size beasts, mostly because this was very early in the history of internal combustion engines. They then were physically quite large. Smaller, more refined motors and engines developed rapidly, but to get the horsepower you need to haul this many people, in such a small package, seems very unusual in such an early era.

So, I wonder if these locos were electric, or even cable driven? and possibly part of a small gauge underground loco design - something similar to the UK’s early day underground mail railway? Also wonder if the passengers are an organized, uniformed work team of people, male and female accustomed to working together in close proximity? They certainly are packed in to a very few locos and cars.

A great mystery. Worth unraveling. Hope others will know more and unravel the origins.


Re: Park "train" identification question

Posted: Wed May 09, 2018 8:34 pm
by JR May
Well, that is an intriguing photo. By the looks of it, the locomotives are electric powered judging by the simple controller and what may be the hand brake wheel on the side. Perhaps a third rail or battery power. Looks to be two sets, one behind the other. Going by the pant legs of the guys, all the passengers/crew seem to be in some sort of uniform. Almost looks like photos on the wall behind the train. The rear car looks to be a good length, the forward car seems to include the locomotive/controls. All looks to be of wood construction. Judging by feet and how the engineer is sitting, versus the wheel sets and such, it must be around 24” gauge.

So, not sure its a park train. A very unique piece, something interesting to perhaps reproduce if someone was more inclined to work with wood rather than steel construction.

Thanks for posting it.

J.R. May

Re: Park "train" identification question

Posted: Wed May 09, 2018 8:55 pm
by Glenn Brooks
Hey JR, hoping you would weigh in. possibly looks like a 1920’s (pre-rotary dial) telephone box on the wall, behind the front loco. If so, do you know,what the state of battery development was in those days for locos? For example, would battery’s have been able to fit in such a small loco frame, as we see here??

Also, I’ve been reading about early day DC systems. Any idea what the voltage levels might have been?

Our local retired railroaders breakfast meeting today, one guy suggested the woman in white pantaloons might be wearing bathing suits and bathing hats, such as could be found at Brighton Beach, UK after WW1. Intriguing.

Lots of fascinating questions and hints in the photo.


Re: Park "train" identification question

Posted: Thu May 10, 2018 12:31 pm
by Benjamin Maggi
also, though it doesn't really add anything, there is nothing printed on the back of the card except for a few faint lines to write a mailing address.