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Release: Oct. 17, 2001

UI Libraries exhibit recounts streamliner trains popularity

IOWA CITY— With the new exhibit, "Cheating the Wind: Streamliners on the Rails", the University of Iowa Libraries celebrates the heyday of the streamliner train, recounted through vintage railroad postcards, advertisements and other memorabilia on public display in the North Exhibition Hall of the Main Library now through January 2002.

The streamliner locomotive was first seen in the early 1930s, its design inspired by the bold colors and geometric patterns that defined the Art Deco era as popularized by industrial designers who emphasized the form and function of machines. Much of the designers' work reflected the modernism and optimism of the speed-conscious machine age.

The exhibit illustrates the elegance and speed of the streamlined locomotive, crafted by and seen first in Union Pacific's M-1000 and later by Burlington, with its Zephyr model. Included in the exhibit are American railroad timetables taken from the John P. Vander Maas Collection of Railroadiana. Other materials detailing the construction of the Union Pacific Railroad were taken from a collection formed by the late Levi O. Leonard, an Iowa City native who became the rail company's official historian in 1918.

Also on display are railroad playing cards, a section on dining cars with menus and recipes, railroad-inspired postage stamps, and books on the streamliner era, as well as images of the streamliner in art, movies and as photographic subject matter. A special section also includes publicity materials, photographs, and correspondence related to the 1976 movie, "Silver Streak" starring UI alum Gene Wilder and comedian Richard Pryor. Wilder donated his personal papers to the UI Libraries earlier this year.

Libraries' staff members Bob McCown, Stephen Dew, Kathryn Hodson, Dean Koster and Selina Lin prepared the exhibit, with assistance from Kristin Baum, Julie Cobb, Gary Frost. For more information, contact the UI Libraries at (319) 335-5867.