Sixteen Hours to Chicago
18” x 24”, Acrylic on canvas, 2006
Charles R. Merckel collection
On a late summer evening in 1938 New York Centrals premier passenger train, The 20th Century Limited,
designed by industrial designer Henry Dreyfuss speeds west to Chicago along the shores of the Hudson River at
Breakneck Mountain. The train was scheduled to complete the 961 mile run between Chicago and New York in 16
hours, an average of over 60 mph.
Namesake of the great river alongside, J3a Hudson (4-6-4) No 5450, with its distinctive streamlining, polished
rods and aluminum painted Scullin driving wheels, was one of ten built in March-April 1938 for service on "The
Century". On Sept. 7, 1943 it experienced a major boiler explosion at Canastota, NY which resulted in the death
of 3 crew members and the derailing of all but 3 of 17 cars. It was returned to service nearly a year later.
Copyright © 2017 David A. Oram