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Robert Strahorn and North Coast Railroad's McKeen Car

From the Zentmyer Collection. This self-propelled McKeen car was one of two purchased by the North Coast Railroad in 1910. Robert is circled in yellow. McKeen cars had the distinctive "wind-splitter" pointed aerodynamic front end and rounded tail. The porthole windows were also a McKeen trademark. But the McKeen car had no reverse gear, so backing up required the operator to reconfigure the camshaft to a set of reverse cams, then re-start the motor in the opposite direction.

And this, from John W. Lundin: "When Harriman toured France by automobile in 1903, he wondered why a version could not be adapted to run on rails as a commuter car on lines lacking enough business to warrant full train service. Harriman asked William R. McKeen Jr., UP's chief mechanical officer, to work on the project. McKeen came up with the idea of a self-propelled vehicle powered by a gasoline engine that could do forty to sixty miles an hour on sustained runs at a lower cost than steam or electric-powered vehicles. It was tested in March 1905, and evolved over the next year into a model twice as long with sealed porthole windows that kept weather out and allowed stronger body construction. It was called a "submarine on wheels" and UP put them into use on regular routes throughout its system. They were used for over a decade but fell into disuse after WW II. They left a legacy, however. The McKeen car was an inspiration for the streamliners that Averell Harriman developed for UP during the 1930s."


File nameNorth Coast Railroad.jpg
File Size186.09k
Dimensions1133 x 756
Linked toRobert Edmund STRAHORN

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