Train of Tomorrow at Seaboard Station in Portsmouth,VA - Mid 50's : LUSENET : ACL and SAL Railroads Historical Society : One Thread

Sometime during the period of 1953-1955, to the best of my recollection, there was a train on temporary display at the Seaboard Air Line Station in Portsmouth, Virginia that was advertised as the "Train of Tomorrow" or "Train of The Future". I don't remember now exactly how it was advertised. I viewed the train at that time and people were allowed to go aboard the diesel locomotive, etc. I have often wondered what type of locomotive that was and just who sponsored this train. Was it done by the Seaboard or in association with some other railroad? Any info will be appreciated.

James L. Richardson

James L. Richardson

-- James L. Richardson (, July 27, 2002


Thanks Harry for the update. My research also puts the "Train of Tomorrow" in the 1947-1950 time frame. So with that, I really am at a loss to know what the train was that I observed. Perhaps it was a special train put together by the Seaboard, I don't know. Dave George is also checking with some of his contacts in Portsmouth and one does recall this train in that time period - he indicated that he was 12 years old at the time. So at least, someone else has also seen this particular train, but it seems to elude us as to what specifically it was. Thanks again for the help and info.

-- James L. Richardson (, August 10, 2002.

Railway Age indicates the Train of Tomorrow was first used May 26-27, 1947 on a press trip from Chicago to French Lick, Indiana via the CI&L. It noted that a two-month tour was planned following return to Chicago. Exhibits were tentatively scheduled for Fredericksburg, Richmond, Wilmington, Charleston, Savannah, Jacksonville, and Atlanta. There was no mention of the Portsmouth exhibit. After purchase, Union Pacific first used the Train of Tomorrow to furnish a section of the City of Los Angeles June 18, 1950. Exactly what happened in between is somewhat of a mystery.

-- Harry Bundy (, August 02, 2002.

Since we are a little off track there is a Rock Island Aerotrain set at the Museum of Transport in the St. Louis suburbs. Its nice to tour on a 90+ degree say.

-- Conrad Cheatham (, July 29, 2002.

General Motors' TRAIN OF TOMORROW did make a showing at the SAL station in Portsmouth. The four dome cars- STAR DUST, SKY VIEW, DREAM CLOUD and MOON GLOW were built by Pullman-Standard in 1947 and sold to Union Pacific in 1950. Maybe that will narrow your search. Because GM was the sponsor, EMD supplied a 2000 h.p. E-7, numbered 567. This engine became UP 988 (2nd) and was later upgraded to an E-9.

-- Harry Bundy (, July 29, 2002.

James...the surviving Aerotrain trainset is at the National Railroad Musuem in Green Bay, WI. Apparently there were two trainsets, both bought by the Rock Island in 1957 after the tour you mentioned and retired in 1966. I suspect that someone at the museum can give you a fairly detailed history. Their website is

-- Rick White (, July 29, 2002.

Thanks to all that have responded. I have also been trying to do some searches on the net related to this train but so far have not had any success. I have tried searches at both of the daily newspapers in Portsmouth at the time (Portsmouth Star and Norfolk Virginian Pilot) but their archives only go back to 1990. For anything earlier, you have to view their microfishe files at the paper. So the next time I'm in Norfolk, I may try that. Thanks again for the inputs.

-- James L. Richardson (, July 29, 2002.

UPDATE: James, I found the photo and it was a New York Central Aerotrain consist that toured through Virginia in January of 1956. It was a very futuristic looking train that resembled those magnificent cars of the era. If you'd like me to E-mail you a copy of the photo, let me know.

-- Dave George (, July 29, 2002.

Although I can't tell you the year, there was also an Aerotrain consist that toured the east perhaps in the 1950's. I have a photo of it passing through Fredericksburg on the R.F.& P. so it could have ended up touring some of the Seaboard cities in Virginia as well. I'll try to find the year of my photo and let you know if it was mid 50's. I live in Portsmouth so if you find out for sure what the train was, please let me know.

-- DaveGeorge (, July 29, 2002.

I know that the General Motors "Train of Tomorrow" was touring the ACL in July 1947, and most likely it toured SAL cities around the same time. The train consisted of an E7 and four dome cars. I believe it also toured other areas of the country. The only other special train of this type I am aware of in that time period was the Freedom Train, which consisted of Alco PA units and some passenger cars displaying historical documents. It was on the Seaboard in Tampa not too long after the end of WWII, and also toured other major cities. Old issues of Railway Age, Trains, etc. should have more details as to routes and dates.

-- Larry Goolsby (, July 29, 2002.

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