CITY OF BIG SHOULDERS

Submitted by Jeff Buster on Thu, 12/06/2007 - 22:03.
city of big shoulders carl sandburg chicago windy city

Carl Sandburg wrote “Chicago” in 1916. 

 

Through the unlikely alignment of “six degrees of separation” I had an electric experience in the main Chicago train yard last Saturday. 

 

In the middle of an icestorm, after a long luncheon in downtown Chicago, the train businessmen I was with called for cabs…and off we went to the Union Station yards. 

 

It was just dusk…and icy rain was coating everything…

 

Steve, with whom we shared naan at lunch,  invited us to tour the Hiawatha, a restored 1948 lounge car designed by Brooks Stevens .

 

When we exited the cabs you could hear the ice hitting the trains.  The platforms between the track were slick.  I had to shield the camera lens from the pelting. 

 

The scene was magical.  The Sears Tower and the Hancock Center reared up through the fog and sleet. Amtrak trains slid in and out.  A barge pushed by in the canal adjacent. 

 

Flickering kerosene pots kept switches limber.

 

I tell you, I could hear Sandburg loud and clear…

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Crossing Paths again with the Hiawatha Locomotive

image of 1946 post card of Hiawatha locomotive 12.30.10 jeff buster

I was talking with an older relative who was organizing old papers and this Hiawatha post card came to light.

My relative's father had ridden on the train in July of 1946 and sent my relative this post card.  On the back was written: " We came to St. Paul on this train - 15 cars and Deisel engine.  It was a fine ride. Followed the Mississippi River for 89 miles.  Love. Paul"

A few years back I was treated to cocktails in the restored rear car of this train.   

What does it say that we are still interested in a 65 year old piece of transportation equipment? 

GOOD DESIGN

The designer of the Hiawatha was Brooks Stevens, whose industrial design company is still going strong.