Sunday, December 24, 2017

Souvenirs - 1948 Chicago Railroad Fair Items

Originally I had a pair of very boring photos for today's post - as you may know, I often share not-so-great images for Sundays. But it's Christmas Eve! So I decided to change things up and share some photos of some souvenir items that are from the 1948 Chicago Railroad Fair, which was held along the shore of Lake Michigan. It is considered the last of the great railroad fairs. This is the event that was famously visited by Walt Disney and Ward Kimball - it was without question a huge influence on Walt's idea of what Disneyland would eventually be.

Let's start with some pinback buttons. I love pinbacks! This first one is the plainest of the bunch. "I have been at the Chicago Railroad Fair" - if only.

Here's one, with the logo of The Milwaukee Road line, also known as the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad, which existed from 1847 to 1986. The numbers at the bottom were presumably part of a contest or drawing - I sure would like to know what the grand prize was.

This next pinback shows a modern diesel locomotive, not too different from what we might see today - or so it seems to my untrained eyes, anyway. "Wheels A Rolling" was a grand pageant that told the story of the development of the nation's railways, accompanied by songs and dancing.

Next is my favorite of the four pinbacks, with nods to the earliest railroads and historical events, but still including modern diesel locomotives - railroad companies did not want to be seen as merely a thing of the past, but also as a useful and important service of the present and future as well.

Here's a decal from the Fair, demonstrating technological progress over the past century. 

And finally, here are two great souvenir photos (from the D-23 website) featuring Walt and Ward, goofing around for some olde-timey fun. They're both wonderful, but I especially love the example on the right (from the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry), with the two guys really getting into their roles! I can't help being reminded of Mr. Toad's Wild Ride.

I hope you have enjoyed these items!

(I'm still out of town...)


Nanook said...


Wonderful images, all. HERE'S a great image of the main entrance to the fair.

Thanks, Major.

K. Martinez said...

On the old Milwaukee Road
On the old Milwaukee Road
Travelin' cross the country side
my oh my what a wonderful ride
When you hear that diner call
an invitation to you all
Wheels a clickin' on the track
they'll take you there, bring you safely black
On the old Milwaukee Road
On the old Milwaukee Road
All aboard! All aboard!
On the old Milwaukee Road!

Love train stuff! I feel kind of lucky up here because we have two different trains with full size locomotives that run during the summer tourist season, one steam and the other diesel. I love both for different reasons.

I think the Railroad Centennial is my favorite pinback too. Thanks, Major.

Nanook, thanks for sharing that image. Very cool!

K. Martinez said...

Major, Forgot to mention it, but those two photos of Walt and Ward are great! They look like to regular guys having fun. Thanks for sharing these photos too.

K. Martinez said...

I meant two regular guys, not "to".

Melissa said...


I absolutely love pictures of Walt enjoying himself and forgetting he has a business to run. And this isn't even the Jolly Old Uncle Walt persona for the TV cameras you can practically hear him and Ward making all the sound effects. CHOO-CHOO!

Steve DeGaetano said...

The "Wheels a Rolling" pin features an Alco (American Locomotive Company) "PA" locomotive, considered by many to be one of the most beautiful diesel designs ever; so much so, that it's often called an "Honorary Steam Locomotive."

All the images area really great Major; thanks for sharing them!

Dean Finder said...

If I hadn't known better, I'd have thought that Wheels A Rolling button was from some Amtrak promotion - it resembles one of their past paint schemes.

I second the comments on the Walt & Ward photos. It's great to see Walt not playing "Uncle Walt" and actually enjoying himself.

Unknown said...

Unless I've got it wrong (Nah....) Ward and Walt took the train to back to Chicago and enjoyed a cab ride for at least part of the trip. Shoot, if they would have asked I'd have carried their luggage for them, if I just could have tagged along...

JG said...

Fascinating stuff Major. I love trains, in spite of my near-complete ignorance of their minutiae. Thanks to the GDB crew for the detailed information.

Also loving the vintage photo at the end, a couple of brilliant guys.