Edison Films

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Edison Films of Pullman Service

A unique digitization project is The American Memory Project hosted at the Library of Congress (http://memory.loc.gov/). Among many other wonderful things, the Library of Congress has digitized a collection of Edison short (1-5 minutes) films from the 1890s and the early 1900s. Several of these films depict Pullman rail service. The captions included are from the Library of Congress' own metadata description of the film.

Black Diamond express / Thomas A. Edison, Inc.; producer, James White.

From a contemporary Edison film company catalog: This scene presents the famous Lehigh Valley "flyer" emerging from a wood in the distance and approaching the camera under full head of steam. A section gang in the foreground, engaged in repairing track, wave their hats to the engineer, who is leaning out of the cab window. The snowy linen which the porters wave from the platform of the dining car adds to the effect produced. The "Black Diamond" is undoubtedly the handsomest and one of the fastest trains in America, and the subject is the only one in existence showing an express train making seventy miles an hour.

10th U.S. Infantry, 2nd Battalion, leaving cars / Thomas A. Edison, Inc.; producer and camera, William Paley.

From Edison films "war extra" catalog: Hurrah--here they come! Hot, dusty, grim and determined! Real soldiers, every inch of them! No gold lace and chalked belts and shoulder straps, but fully equipped in full marching order: blankets, guns, knapsacks and canteens. Train is in the background. Crowds of curious bystanders; comical looking [Afro-American] "dude" with a sun- umbrella strolls languidly in the foreground, and you almost hear that "yaller dog" bark. Small boys in abundance. The column marches in fours and passes through the front of the picture. More small boys--all colors. The picture is excellent in outline and full of vigorous life.

Arrival of McKinley's funeral train at Canton, Ohio / Thomas A. Edison, Inc.

It is apparent that the camera was placed on a platform of a train station. A steam locomotive pulling several passenger cars can be seen nearing the camera position and coming to a stop. The remainder of the film is concerned with the people who get off the train and walk off the platform.

From a contemporary Edison film company catalog: FUNERAL TRAIN ARRIVING AT CANTON STATION. Ungored. [code for telegraphic orders] In recording this scene the position of our camera was an excellent one, and we present to the public a most perfect picture of the train's arrival. The engine is decorated with crepe to mark the solemnity of this great historical event. As the train stops at the platform great respect for the dead President is shown by the waiting diplomats and reception committee baring their heads and standing respectfully on one side as the mourners leave the train.

Fast mail, Northern Pacific R. R. / Thomas A. Edison, Inc.; producer, James White.

From Edison films catalog: Here is a twelve car train dashing along at a high rate of speed. It is seen first in the distance and approaches and passes by the camera. As it takes less than 30 seconds to show this 50 foot strip on a Projecting Kinetoscope, an idea may be formed of the speed of this pet train of the Northern Pacific Railway. The waving grass along the track side, the black smoke, and the clouds of dust that follow the train, make very vivid effects. 50 feet. 7.50.

Advertised as part of the "Northern Pacific Railway Series" (Edison films catalog): The following pictures were taken by our artists at various points on the Northern Pacific Railway. We are greatly indebted to their officials who afforded us every opportunity in their power to obtain these splendid views. Many of the scenes are incident to the excitement prevailing at the time of the Klondike gold rush. They show the resources of this company for handling large numbers of people, baggage, freight and excursion parties, and give to prospective tourists and merchants an idea of the facilities with which this road handles traffic of all kinds (p. 9).

Going through the tunnel / Thomas A. Edison, Inc.; producer, James White.

From Edison films catalog: On the way to Santa Monica, Cal., the train approaches, runs through and emerges from a tunnel. Train passes in opposite direction. Camera is at front end of train, giving a very novel view. 100 feet. 15.00.

Advertised as part of the "Southern Pacific Company Series" (Edison films catalog): The Southern Pacific Company ("Sunset Route") offers special inducements to winter travelers, by reason of its southern route, thereby avoiding the extreme cold of the winter months. Its course lies through a section of the country that presents a variety of beautiful and picturesque natural scenery. It is also the direct route to the popular resorts of Southern California, thereby making it a favorable route for tourists. The following subjects were taken by our artist while traveling over the very extensive lines of the Southern Pacific Railroad Co., to whom we are indebted for many courtesies, and without whose co-operation we should not have been able to bring before the public these animated photographs of interesting and novel scenes (p. 43).

Overland Express arriving at Helena, Mont. / Thomas A. Edison, Inc.; producer, James White?

From Edison films catalog: It is train time. We look down the long platform, crowded with people, and see the famous N.P. Railway Overland Express approaching rapidly. In a moment the engine passes by, slowing down. Then comes one, two, three, four express cars, and behind them seven coaches and Pullmans. Passengers alight, baggage is unloaded, friends greet each other, station men run here and there, the whole scene being one of great interest and activity. 50 feet. 7.50.

Advertised as part of the "Northern Pacific Railway Series" (Edison films catalog): The following pictures were taken by our artists at various points on the Northern Pacific Railway. We are greatly indebted to their officials who afforded us every opportunity in their power to obtain these splendid views. Many of the scenes are incident to the excitement prevailing at the time of the Klondike gold rush. They show the resources of this company for handling large numbers of people, baggage, freight and excursion parties, and give to prospective tourists and merchants an idea of the facilities with which this road handles traffic of all kinds (p. 9).

Philadelphia Express, Jersey Central Railway / Thomas A. Edison, Inc.; producer, James White?

From Maguire & Baucus catalogue: The scene of the overhead crossing of the Pennsylvania and Jersey Central railroads at Elizabeth, N.J. While a Pennsylvania train is passing over the arch, the Philadelphia Express on the Central Railroad comes dashing underneath at full speed, head on to the audience.

Sunset Limited, Southern Pacific Ry. / Thomas A. Edison, Inc.; producer, James White.

From Edison films catalog: Taken at Fingal, Cal., where the world-renowned "Sunset Limited" trains pass each other. One runs on a side track, and the other dashes by at a high rate of speed. Switch is then turned, and the train passes on, slowly receeding from view. 150 feet. 22.50.

Advertised as part of the "Southern Pacific Company Series" (Edison films catalog): The Southern Pacific Company ("Sunset Route") offers special inducements to winter travelers, by reason of its southern route, thereby avoiding the extreme cold of the winter months. Its course lies through a section of the country that presents a variety of beautiful and picturesque natural scenery. It is also the direct route to the popular resorts of Southern California, thereby making it a favorable route for tourists. The following subjects were taken by our artist while traveling over the very extensive lines of the Southern Pacific Railroad Co., to whom we are indebted for many courtesies, and without whose co-operation we should not have been able to bring before the public these animated photographs of interesting and novel scenes (p. 43).

A romance of the rail / Thomas A. Edison, Inc.

From Edison films catalog: A series of railroad scenes of novel and amusing interest. It opens with a view of an imposing station showing a pretty girl, dressed in white, seated on a trunk awaiting the arrival of her train. A young man approaches, also dressed in white, and the two immediately fall in love. The Lackawanna Limited then rolls into the station and the Pullman porter helps the couple aboard. As the Limited pulls out the pair are seen on the observation platform waving adieu to their friends. The picture later shows the train rushing sixty miles an hour through the famous Delaware Water Gap in the Blue Ridge Mountains, with the young couple enjoying the passing scenery. As Delaware Water Gap station is reached a porter appears with his brush, but the young people protest that the journey has been so free from dust that there is no need for his services. The climax comes when the young man, who has become more and more infatuated, secures a minister and the marriage ceremony takes place on the rear platform. The picture shows them leaving the train on arrival at the Gap, and a little humor is added at the end by the appearance of two tramps from beneath the trucks of the observation car dressed in full evening clothes, who become indignant at the offer of the porter to brush them off, as their trip has been entirely free from soot and dust. The series is full of snappy train scenes and is certain to provoke a laugh.

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