Thursday, November 10, 2016

The 1948-49 Chicago Railroad Fair.

The Chicago Railroad Fair was organized to celebrate and commemorate 100 years of railroad history west of Chicago, Illinois. It was held in Chicago in 1948 and 1949 along the shore of Lake Michigan and is often referred to as "the last great railroad fair," with 39 railroad companies participating.
Entrance and Ticket Booths to the Chicago Railroad Fair.
The fair was rapidly planned during the winter and spring of 1948 and was initially scheduled to run between July and August of that summer. Erected on 50 acres of Burnham Park in Chicago between 21st and 31st Streets, the fair opened after only six months of planning.

I purchased both the 1948 and 1949 Chicago Railroad Fair Official Guide Books.
Click to download - Chicago Railroad Fair Official Guide Book in PDF - 1948

Click to download - Chicago Railroad Fair Official Guide Book in PDF - 1949

The grand opening for the fair commenced on July 20 with a parade that featured such spectacles as a military marching band and a replica of a troop train. There was a contingent of cowboys and Indians and a replica of the first American locomotive, the Tom Thumb. The spry, octogenarian widow of Casey Jones, who served as honorary Grand Master of the parade.
The price of admission was one dollar, except for food. All the attractions, displays, exhibits and shows were free. Besides the thirty-nine railroads that participated in the fair, there were more than twenty equipment manufacturers, including General Motors.
A highlight of the fair was the presence of the Freedom Train. The Freedom Train traveled the country from September 17, 1947, through January 22, 1949, and was at the Railroad Fair from July 5 – 9. It held many documents and artifacts from the National Archives.
September 27, 1948, Time magazine photo.
The original United States Constitution, Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights were available for public viewing. The security of the documents was the responsibility of the Marine Corps.
Wheels A-Rolling: 100 Years of Railroad Progress 1948 Chicago Railroad Fair.
[runtime 33:49]
Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway
Baltimore and Ohio Railroad
Boston and Maine Railroad
Burlington Lines
Chesapeake and Ohio Railway
Chicago and Eastern Illinois Railroad
Chicago Great Western Railway
Chicago and Illinois Midland Railway
Chicago, Indianapolis and Louisville Railway (Monon Railroad)
Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad (Milwaukee Road)
Chicago and North Western Railway
Colorado and Wyoming Railway
Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad
Duluth, Missabe and Iron Range Railway
Elgin, Joliet and Eastern Railway
Erie Railroad
Grand Trunk Railway
Great Northern Railway
Green Bay and Western Railroad
Gulf, Mobile and Ohio Railroad (The Alton Route)
Illinois Central Railroad
Lake Superior and Ishpeming Railroad
Maine Central Railroad
Minneapolis and St. Louis Railway
Monongahela Railway
New York Central Railroad
Nickel Plate Road
Norfolk Southern Railway
Northern Pacific Railway
Pennsylvania Railroad
Pittsburgh and West Virginia Railway
Pullman Company
Rock Island Lines
Soo Line Railroad
Spokane, Portland and Seattle Railway
Texas Mexican Railway
Union Pacific Railroad
Wabash Railroad
Western Pacific Railroad

Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D. 


  1. I wonder how many locomotives were there at the 1948 chicago railroad fair at the time

  2. I was just past a year old when I attended the Railroad Fair with my parents in 1949. I have photos of me coming out of a wigwam, my father and I in front of a western adobe building, and my mother and I with a modern train in the backgound. I never knew where this was until I found this web page. Thanks you.


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