Railways | 1940 | Sound | Colour
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American Railroads. U.S.A.
1940's train passes quickly from stage left to right as a vary corny voiceover declares "Wheels A' Rolling the romance of travel and transport. Montage of a steam train billowing smoke running past camera. Close up of train wheel and long shot of goods train snaking through American countryside. Steelworks. 1940's / 1950's skyscraper. Useful shot of steam train crossing abridge taken from riverbank. A Red Indian (Native American) in full head dress shouts out. A troop of Indians dressed in authentic period dress c.1900 parade past the camera. Priest and followers representing French settlers who arrived in 1673 who arrived at Lake Michigan at the mouth of the Chicago river. Female narrator's voice - "These are the advance guard of settlers penetrating far into the Indian Country". These small scenes are obviously meant to symbolise the arrival of new foreign settlers who compete with the native Indians. While the scenes remain realistic, they are clearly shot on a film set. Titles: Within the next century and a half America as a nation is born. Towns and cities flourish along the Eastern seaboard. Pioneers press further into the wilderness. Indian trails become pathways, pathways roadways. Transportation becomes one of the most important considerations in the steady expansion and progress of the nation. Replica of the first steam train the Rocket on the stage with gentlemen in top hats and long coats looking on. John Bull train with distinctive triangular nose or grilled snow plough on front. This train followed quickly by the first 'practical' locomotive to be built in America and to go into regular service. This train called 'The best friend of Charleston' built by the West Point Foundry Company in New York in 1829. Sent by Sailing ship to Charleston to enter the service of the South Carolina railroad, later to become part of the Southern Railway System. Good shot of Dewitt Clinton also built at West Point Foundry 1929 Tom Thumb invented by Peter Cooper. Staged race between this train and horse drawn carriage. Horse and carriage wins. 1932 train 'The Atlantic' the last train to sport an upright boiler engine. Used on the Baltimore and Ohio railway line and the first to enter Washington. Rather staged min-drama showing a female character in period dress (circa 1880's/1890's) wearing a large dress which she lifts up to reveal large and voluminous underwear. Trained firemen, meant to be a recreation of the 1840's Chicago brigade. Good shot of Baldwin built locomotive the Pioneer from the Galeria and Chicago railroad. On November 14th 1848, the Pioneer ran for ten miles out to the Plains River and brought in a load of wheat. This reconstruction of the early history of the U.S.A. moves up to 1849 with a family travelling in an open topped (partially covered) wagon. The westward trek in search of gold with a long train of wagons moving off. A young man collapses and dies. As the hymn Rock of Ages plays in the background, his family mourns and he is carried away. 1859 - Wells Fargo coach. Bandits climb onto the coach and shoot into the safe. Brief fight. bandit is shot. Reconstruction of the departure of Abraham Lincoln from Springfield Illinois in 1859. American Civil War area 1860. Wounded soldiers, the bulk of whom limp and wear bandages on their heads, are helped across the grassy terrain. 1856 - Rock Island lines built the first bridge across the mighty Mississippi. may 10th 1869. Promontory Point at Great Salt Lake. Reconstruction of the common meeting point of the Union and Pacific and Central Pacific Railways. Santa Fe Railway from Eastern Kansas, served by the singers, the famed Harvey Girls. Minnehaha train which served the mid-Western North lands. Carriages of the Burlington train line carrying European immigrants to the new country. Barn dances staged with men and women in authentic dress. 1890's horse car. Cable car. Horse drawn fire engine. Prairie bicycle club in full regalia. Mixture of old fashioned bicycles including penny-farthings and tandems. Famous nine ninety nine of the new York and Hudson Railway, fastest locomotive of its time. Various early motorcars. Motor driven fire engine. More cars circa 1920's. Modern sleek diesel electric train, the Burlington Denver Zephyr. Montage of slow motion footage of the front of distinctive trains.
A record of the 'Wheel a' Rolling' pageant of the Chicago Railroad Fair of 1948 and 1949, featuring both originals and replicas of railroad motive power from its earliest days to the Burlington Zephyr of 1934 and The evolution of railways turned out more to be the Last Rites rather than the great revival of railroads intended.
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