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.
Woman With Basketball by Carol Aus
Dr. James Naismith is credited with inventing basketball in 1891, and apparently it didn’t take long for the ladies to try their hand at the sport. A Norwegian artist named Carol Aus (1868-1934), about whom little is known, painted this young player for a 1909 Post cover.
Woman Playing Tennis by George Brehm
We have plenty of cover art showing a pretty lady posing with a tennis racket or other sports equipment, but an action shot like this tennis player makes a person wonder how the artist did it. A person might also wonder how the lady was so active in a long skirt. This is from 1907.
Lady Fishing by Harrison Fisher
We have dozens of covers depicting the art of fishing, the first of which was Grover Cleveland fishing in 1901. The second, in 1902, was of a lady reeling one in! Harrison Fisher was a big name in Post covers, doing nearly 80 between 1900 and 1915.
The Finals and Alice Gray by Pete Fountain
We have numerous depictions of the great game of golf, also. This is one of the earliest, from 1903. Maybe they couldn’t vote, but women could certainly golf…and fish, hunt, play tennis, basketball and baseball.
Woman Archer by J.J. Gould
This is another action painting. Early Post artist J.J. Gould went for verisimilitude in this one from 1907. The lady looks like she knows what she’s doing.
Woman on Horseback by Philip R. Goodwin
Hundreds of covers depict a lady reading, holding flowers or a fan, or simply looking lovely in a beautiful gown. This 1906 cover shows many of the fair sex were made of sterner stuff.