Exploring the collections of the Mercantile Library:

Railroads and Holiday Traditions
Trains and the holidays have been a tradition in the United States for over 100 years. For decades, trains were a vehicle for homecomings as families assembled to observe the winter holidays and railroads worked hard to deliver letters, cards and packages in time for millions of celebrations. At the St. Louis Mercantile Library, the John W. Barriger III National Railroad Library helps us maintain that longstanding connection between the winter holidays and railroads. Mr. Barriger himself was known for his railroad themed Christmas cards, many done by noted railroad artist Howard Fogg. When Mr. Barriger was President of the Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad (P&LE) he commissioned Fogg to make paintings of the railroad’s customers, which would then be presented to them at one of the Barriger Breakfasts or at a meeting to thank the customer for their business. Some were holiday themed, but most were not. For the company Christmas card, Barriger would commission Fogg to paint a scene of the Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad, in nearly every case a current scene that showcased the modern efficiency of the railroad, but with some Christmas element. Here is an example that was used for the Barriger Library’s Holiday card this year at the request of Jack Barriger:
This image of Beaver Station and the Ohio River Bridge is one of the few paintings that Mr. Barriger commissioned that showed a past event, in this case a steam locomotive crossing the Ohio River in 1949. Even though it is an image of the past, it is the recent past and shows one of the P&LE’s 2-8-4 class A-2a that itself would have only been a year or so old. It presents an image of power and modernity to the viewer even though its base technology was already being replaced by the much more efficient diesel locomotive. You can again see a signature wreath on a light pole along the station platform and see the people putting lights on a Christmas tree as a nod to the holiday. The station still stands today and is home to the Beaver County Genealogy and History Center.

Each year of Barriger’s tenure as president, a new painting was commissioned and turned into a P&LE Christmas Card. Mr. Barriger sent these out to hundreds if not thousands of individuals and companies each year until Barriger retired in 1964. Eventually enough paintings had been created that the P&LE used the images in a promotional booklet titled “Along the Right of Way” that was further disseminated to customers and friends of the railroad. Even after his retirement from the P&LE, John Barriger’s friendship and business relationship with Howard Fogg remained strong and Barriger continued to commission Fogg to continue to create paintings for the Missouri, Kansas and Texas (The Katy) and the Boston and Maine when he served as president of those railroads. Below are two pieces that Fogg painted for Barriger himself that represent the beginning and end of his career in the railroad industry. 
On the left is the famous Broadway Limited, the Pennsylvania Railroad’s crack passenger train between Chicago and New York, running through the Allegheny mountains of Pennsylvania. Barriger started his career on the Pennsylvania as a management trainee in Altoona, PA. On the right is a Boston and Maine T-1a 2-8-4 Lima Built steam locomotive thundering through the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts. John W. Barriger III’s last railroad presidency was with the Boston and Maine from 1973 to 1974 before he retired again and worked for the Federal Railroad Administration from 1974 to 1975. These two original paintings, along with an autumn scene, hang in the St. Louis Mercantile Library, appropriately in the office of the Curator of the John W. Barriger III National Railroad Library.
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