Wednesday, April 17, 2024

The Aerotrain and The Viewliner

The Aerotrain was a streamlined train from General Motors that was introduced in 1955. General Motors demonstrated their new lightweight concept on several railroads in 1956, including the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway, with the train operating in California between Los Angeles and San Diego as a San Diegan. Its general problems included a rough ride and under-powered locomotive. As a result, not a single railroad ordered a trainset despite extensive testing on both the New York Central and Pennsylvania. They were eventually purchased by the Rock Island and used in commuter service until 1966. The photo above was dated March 5, 1956 and taken at the Santa Fe Train Station in downtown San Diego. Although the San Diego Electric Company sign is gonzo, the building remains…

and now functions as the 43-story tall Electra Condos.

Even though the Aerotrain was a bust, that didn’t stop Walt Disney and Bob Gurr from being inspired by its sleek design when they built the Viewliner at Disneyland. Running from June 1957 to September 1958, it served as the precursor to the much longer lasting Monorail. The shot of the Tomorrowland Viewliner below is from July 1958.

An overhead shot from the Skyway, January 1958:

The Fantasyland Viewliner, from 1957:

August 1958:

The Fantasyland Viewliner Station:

Another Skyway shot, this one showing the Tomorrowland Viewliner Station, circa 1957:

See more Disneyland Viewliner photos at my main website.


Fifthrider said...

Very cool to see the actual versus the DL version. It seems like such a "ride it once and you're done" experience. Did anyone who's been on it recall it as being a "must do" back then?

Anonymous said...

Back then everything was a 'must do' at least once. And thus it's likely early disappearance. KS

Lou and Sue said...

My father LOVES/LOVED the Viewliner. He says it was unique to have a small, speeding train INSIDE of a park, at that time. He was very disappointed when it was removed, though he enjoyed all the new park additions. He’s 95 years old now—and still ‘lights up’ at the mention of it.


Fifthrider said...

Very, very cool. Thanks for sharing KS and Sue. Yeah, I guess everything was a "must do" but I never thought about the fact that was a high-speed train. Everyone else had an 1800's replica. You're right. Who else had one? No one.

max said...

US needs more trains, world needs more streamline moderne