Libraries Round the World: Riding the Rails

Yes, even trains can hold a small collection of books and a library! Take a look at this railroad business office car from the 1920s. The railcar, one of only seventeen built by the Pullman Company, is part of the Texas Transportation Museum in San Antonio, Texas.

Inside the railcar’s office with a mini-library

This rolling office was used by the superintendent of the Eastern Lines for the Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad headquartered in Emporia, Kansas. These old train car offices are part of history now with most business offices sky high in private jets.

Not a rolling bag in sight!

We also wandered the aisles of the McKeever passenger train cars used by the Pullman Company starting in the 1920s. The train cars were furnished as they would have looked back in the day. Porters onboard would convert the sleeping cars for daytime use with a table and seating area.

Dressed up model passenger with a small piñata horse for the annual April fiesta celebration

Until 1948, these train cars made many trips from San Antonio, Texas to Grand Central Station in New York City in high style. Despite adding air conditioning in the 1930s, in 1965 passenger service came to an end.

Inside an old-time passenger railcar modeled by my brother

Another fascinating part of the visit is to take a ride on an old 1954 Baldwin diesel-electric locomotive included in the low-cost admission fee. I was brave! My brother is a volunteer at the museum and did the driving. But not to worry, he is well trained and took us for a spin down the rails and back safely. And if you are a train buff, I made a video of the three-minute outbound trip, and its here on YouTube.

Brothers in the driver’s seat but it’s parked!

The Texas Transportation Museum has an indoor exhibit space filled with model trains that operate around decorated tracks, old vehicles, and more. The museum is conveniently located near the airport and well worth seeing. More info here:

Back in the day before automobiles. Poor San Antonio – last in the ‘Congo line’ to get a RR.
Fast moving model trains galore

Karen Stensgaard is a novelist who loves stumbling upon libraries of books in unexpected locales. Stay tuned for more next month. 

With Dad in the passenger wagon & wearing my version of a railroad cap!
Not quite the 1920s plush surroundings but great for viewing.

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