Whether you’re a die-hard train buff, a transportation geek, or merely a weary commuter, trains have long played a major role in American life. These covers — from as early as 1901 — reflect our love affair with locomotives.
The top panel of this painting by Thornton Utz shows a well-dressed group of commuters waiting for the Empire Express. Notice the lady in red on the near left with her caged canary. Scene Two: Skirts and hats are flying as the Express roars by. The poor kid on in the letter sweater crashes into the birdcage. The third panel shows a disheveled lot, to say the least. Do you see what happened to the befuddled canary?
Train buffs love this turn-of-the-century railroad engineer. Standing by the mighty mechanical monster he conducts, he poses for artist J.J. Gould.
As far back as 1901, trains have graced our covers. Horseless carriages, ships and trains – what will they think of next? A cityscape in the background completes this bow to modernity. The quote below the cover art says: “Bowing respectfully to the past, and rendering justice to the present, we salute the future and true progress. – Montalembert”.
We love this cover by artist Stevan Dohanos from 1947. The editors noted that the artist had actually worked on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad for a few years. “He checked loads and tracks, beginning a ten-mile hike at 6:30 every morning. He came to think highly of the switchyard men, because in their shacks he could get warm.” Dohanos painted this in his hometown of Lorain, Ohio.
John Falter, when a child, used to listen to freight trains chugging up a nearby hill and worry about whether they’d make it. Our scene is Missouri, the Missouri River and Kansas beyond. This time we are in Missouri, looking at Kansas in the distance. This time the kids are waving clear across the river to the train. Or maybe they just know somebody in Kansas to wave to.
Artist John Falter did 129 Post covers, and this is a good example of why. Belching smoke along the mighty Missouri River, this steam engine doesn’t warrant a glance from the boys walking by. They also are probably unaware they are using a route once used by Lewis and Clark. You are in Kansas, looking over into Missouri in this one.
Descriptions by Diana Denny.