In 1899, the Chicago & Alton Railway introduced a new intercity rail service between Chicago and St. Louis. Pulled by a 4-6-2 steam locomotive, the Alton Limited consisted of six perfectly symmetrical cars, including two Pullman parlor cars, strikingly decorated both inside and outside. The Alton Limited was billed “The Handsomest Train In The World.”
According to the company, no railway train in the world had ever presented a design so uniform and symmetrical. The windows were of the same size, shape and style from the mail car to parlor car. All the cars were mounted on standard six-wheel trucks. Every car in the train had precisely the same length and height, including the tender of its locomotive which was built to the same height as the body of the cars following. Even the hood of the locomotive had the exact height of the roofs of the cars. “This gave a fascinating beauty to the train”, the company pronounced, “carrying out of the principal features with classic regularity—the absolute unity of detail from cow-catcher to observation platform.”
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George Lawrence’s Mammoth Camera built to photograph the Alton Limited.