Planes, Trains & Automobiles — Travel in Style

columbineBy Carol Mobley

The Holiday travel season has arrived. In December 2015 there were 4.6 million people who traveled through Denver International Airport, the 6th largest in the United States. But airlines are not the only mode of transportation people use to travel. Amtrak carried more than three times as many riders between Washington, DC, and New York City as the airline industry. Travel by bus increased with the introduction of contemporary full-sized buses from the 1950’s. And according to the US Department of Transportation, Bureau of Transportation Statistics 91 percent of most long-distance holiday travel is done in an automobile. Over the past 100 years traveling using these modes of transportation has changed dramatically.

Let’s start with travel by airplane. The first commercial airline flight was in January of 1914. It wasn’t until after World War II that airline travel surged. Documented in postcards, spacious and relaxed travel by airplane was a special event. People dressed to travel by air often wearing their Sunday best. Comfortable seating arrangements and gourmet meals were selling points. (See the Interior of Northwest Orient Airlines DC-6B, Sky Lounge, and United Air Lines Menu postcards on page 17)

Airlines took a lesson from train travel. People have been traveling by rail since the early to mid 1800’s. Railroads learned to provide creature comforts to passengers while traveling. Union Pacific provided lounges, sun parlors, radios and the latest magazines on some of their routes. The “City of Denver” Streamliner operated by Union Pacific Railroad had the “Frontier Shack” or “The Pub” for passenger relaxation. (See the “Luxurious Club Car on the Columbine to the right. Frontier Shack on the Streamliner and City of Denver Streamliner postcards are on page 17.)

serverBuses competed directly with air travel. It was an economical way to travel and also offered comfort for the passenger. On this postcard promoting travel by Continental Trailways Golden Eagle, they are advertising to “See America at Scenery Level,” directly promoting travel on the ground vs. the air. Buses promoted full bathrooms and lounges on some routes. (Greyhound and Continental postcards are on page 17.)

But the grand prize winner for travel is the automobile. More people will drive to Grandma’s house than by any other mode of transportation. Early automobiles were considered fragile luxury items. It wasn’t until Henry Ford introduced the production line that automobiles became affordable. With that came rapid changes in design to improve safety and comfort for the road traveler. (An illustration of open air automobile is on page 17.)

Forney Museum of Transportation
The Forney Museum of Transportation is a one-of-a-kind collection of over 600 artifacts relating to historical transportation. It began 60 years ago with a single 1921 Kissel, but soon expanded to include vehicles of all kinds. Today it includes not just vehicles, but also buggies, motorcycles, steam locomotives, aircraft, carriages, rail equipment, fire apparatus, public transportation, sleighs, bicycles, toys & diecast models, vintage apparel and much, much more! The Forney Museum is located at 4303 Brighton Blvd Denver, CO 80216.

Plane, train, bus or automobile, no matter what mode of transportation you choose you should travel to Golden, Colorado for the Denver Postcard & Paper Show on January 13 & 14, 2017. The Forney Transportation Museum will be selling travel related ephemera at the show. For more information visit or contact Carol and Bill Mobley at 303-761-3755.

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