At 9:55 A.M. on October 25 the Union Pacific streamlined train M-10001 pulled into New York’s Grand Central Terminal after an epic race begun in Los Angeles fifty-six hours and fiftyfive minutes earlier. The run trimmed fourteen and a half hours from the previous record, and it put another nail in mainline steam’s coffin. The aluminum train weighed a mere 211 tons fully loaded; any one of its steampowered rivals would have weighed 700. M-10001 stopped only twice for fuel and drank up less than eighty dollars’ worth of diesel oil.
Its yellow-and-brown Pullmans were air-conditioned, and their occupants agreed that M-10001 was altogether superior to conventional passenger trains. One of the riders who must have appreciated the unique special berths for tall passengers was the line’s chairman, W. Averell Harriman, who had a sentimental interest in the run. His father, E. H. Harriman, had established the previous record in 1906 when he rushed from earthquake-shattered San Francisco to bring plans for its reconstruction to the East.