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Greetings from Seattle, Washington, USA

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Olympian Calendar Top

Railroad/train enthusiasts who collect related memorabilia are frequently searching for a calendar to add to their collection. Railroads, in the early to mid-1900s, often published yearly calendars which were given to customers and agents. The intent was not only to provide a useful reference but to put a piece of advertising on walls and keep the railroad in customer's minds. Some of the calendars were elaborate, for their time, including a picture or some art on each month's page. Some provided just one illustration that became the "calendar top" and then the monthly calendar pages below were torn off as the year progressed. In the early 1960s the "Milwaukee Road" [technically the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul, and Pacific railway] published a calendar and used the image below of their premier train, The Olympian, for the top.


In the days before AMTRAK, railroads that provided passenger service all had "name trains". For example, you may heard of the Coast Starlight, The Empire Builder, the Sunset Limited, or the Southwest Chief. (The names, sometimes were retained by AMTRAK after they took over almost all passenger service in the USA in 1970.)

The Milwaukee Road's Olympian was unusual because it was operated electrically for large segments of its transcontinental run between Chicago and Seattle/Tacoma. In the image above The Olympian is traveling through a mountainous region, probably the Cascade Mountains. A specially designed electric locomotive, known as a Bi-Polar, was the power for this region of the country. The railroad touted the advantages of the Bi-Polar as being powerful, quiet, and smoke-free. Today, in retrospect, it seems they were simply ahead of their time. In any event, the art work on this image is one of our favorites. The artist was Paul Gerding who was known for his illustration work.

Thank you for stopping by John's Island.

19 comments:

  1. an electric train back then...who knew ;)

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  2. Good morning, John. I know a few men in my family who enjoy the train calendars.. The scene and image is pretty. Have a happy day!

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  3. It is a really beautiful illustration, all right. I also didn't know electric trains were Bi-Polar that early. Train enthusiasts are almost always men. I wonder why that is?

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  4. John, it really is a beautiful image of the Olympian. Interesting comments about the train as well.

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  5. That is a beautiful image! Have a great week.

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  6. Calendars were a big deal at one time. Now you have to beg for one. It's a good thing you can make your own on the computer.

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  7. Great image. Yes,it would seem that they were ahead of their time.

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  8. A beautiful picture.
    Thanks for your kind comment. : )

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  9. John, it's really interesting to know about the train calendars. Very nice post indeed.

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  10. There is a fabulous outdoor train museum in Golden, Colorado, that is full of all kinds of train engines and cars. If you ever visit the DEnver area you would enjoy visiting it.

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  11. Neat to see the old railroad calendar, and to learn more about the railroad--interesting history. My grandma painted the Chicago Central and Pacific Railroad calendar for 5 years (around the early 90s).

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  12. Do passenger trains like this run these days? I suppose they're not as common if they do, but what a way to see the country!

    John, a while ago you asked me to share a little bit more about my story. Well, I started working on something and paused a lot mid-stream of thought and never finished it. But a friend encouraged me to be bold, so... Can I put a link here? http://storiesofsimcha.blogspot.com/2015/05/why_17.html

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  13. I love this kalender-top. Cool train on it.
    http://stuureenkaart.blogspot.nl/

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  14. Trains remind me of Sheldon Cooper. He's crazy about trains. And no wonder. Trains are fascinating inventions.

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  15. I still love trains & as a child watched the famous passenger trains pass far below the bluffs along the Mississippi entering St Paul. My Grandpa was a chef on the Empire Builder between Chicago & Seattle its heyday...:)

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  16. I never knew they had electric trains back then, cool.

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