Monday, April 20, 2009

Boardwalk Magic

With Atlantic City falling on hard times I enjoy looking back at the time when the resort was America's Playground. I hope reading about the glory days will prompt my readers to take another look at the city. 

I have offered my services as an historian and author to the various tourist groups in the resort in the hopes of telling the story of Atlantic City's rich heritage but it is very political. Hope you enjoy this story I posted on my blog in 09. 

How did the Reading Railroad enter a 227-ton ( ton ) locomotive in an Atlantic City parade in 1925 and how the heck did the boardwalk not collapse?
Here is the story.

The Pennsylvania and the Reading railroads had been battling each other for year for the lucrative shore trade. They both recognized the need for marketing and in 1924 The Pennsylvania -through its division, the West Jersey and Seashore Railroad, scored a coup when it won the grand prize for floats in the beauty pageant parade with a scale model of their Delair Bridge.
The Reading - and their division, the Atlantic City Railroad, were livid and hatched a plan for revenge.
At the time the Reading's pride and joy was their Boardwalk Flyer, a 227-ton, 15 foot-high monster that carried carloads of tourists between Philadelphia and Atlantic City. At one time the Reading had twenty of these magnificent locomotives in service.

Under a veil of secrecy that would rival any covert operation today, employees began working on a full-scale model of the Boardwalk Flyer in the company's service shops in Camden, NJ.
They began with two Ford chassis and, using blueprints from the real locomotive, spent 6 weeks creating and assembling over eleven thousand parts consisting of sheet metal, wood and handmade fabrics. ( These guys were serious )

This work of art was built by hand, and when the magicians were finished, they had conjured an exact replica of the giant engine and tender.
Instead of the 227-ton real-life version, the parade beauty weighed in at 2-1/2 tons. It was secretly shipped by rail to Atlantic City in the dead of night and kept from view until the day of the parade. When it made its appearance thousands of spectators swore the genuine Boardwalk Flyer was traveling down the wooded walkway. Many ran fearing that the boardwalk would collapse. Fifteen men were require to operate the monster float. The designers left nothing to chance including an apparatus that produced steam and smoke,. The most expensive entry in Atlantic City parade history ran away with the grand prize for 1925. A tough act to follow


  1. Have you any idea what happened to this behemoth?

  2. That is a great question,... how did that Boardwalk survive this beast?

  3. Speaking of locomotives & the Jersey Shore - did anyone catch the History Channel episode of the 2 locomotives sunk off of Long Branch? WhooHoo! We made the History Channel - again!

  4. I believe it was dismantled after the historic parade