June 1, 2011 - M.T.H.'s Lionel Corporation Tinplate O Gauge Hiawatha steam locomotive and passenger cars will begin shipping to M.T.H. Authorized Retailers this June. Check out the model's details in its Lionel Archives livery in the photos below or click on the video icon to the left to see the engine in action.
With the bold — and accurate — slogan “Nothing Faster on Rails,” the Milwaukee Road inaugurated its Chicago-Twin Cities Hiawatha passenger service on May 29, 1935. The fastest scheduled express trains in the world, the Hiawathas were headed by new oil-burning 4-4-2 Atlantics that regularly ran at speeds over 100 mph.
The engines and their entire trains were renowned for their colorful, aerodynamic styling by industrial designer Otto Kuhler — who lamented, however, that “I did get disgusted every time an uninitiated person asked me, ‘Is that a diesel?’” The Hiawathas seduced Depression-era passengers with luxurious surroundings that included the Tip Top Tap Room, the first standup cocktail bar on American rails.
Within months, the Hiawatha graced the cover of Lionel’s latest catalog and was described in the following quote: “The Milwaukee streamlined speed king of 1935 reproduced to scale and equipped with the famous Lionel railroad whistle. Boy, Oh Boy, what a racer!”
Although trailed by a sheet-metal tinplate tender, the Hiawatha’s near-scale dimensions and detailed die-cast boiler clearly signaled that the tinplate era was coming to an end. New that year, the air whistle in the tender added considerably to the model’s appeal.
The Hiawatha passenger set, advertised as “a giant in length, measuring 68 inches,” featured an articulated trainset borrowed from Lionel’s model of the Union Pacific M-10000 streamliner. The Hiawatha’s tender featured a drawbar to connect with the sheet metal passenger cars, rather than a coupler. In the 757W freight set, however, the Hiawatha tender had a regular coupler.
Returning to the rails in 2011, the Hiawatha is available for tinplate enthusiasts in two forms, a traditional model with AC motor and mechanical E-Unit or as a contemporary model with modern motor, electronics and full digital sound effects.
A perfect choice for a traditional holiday layout or a full-time operating tinplate empire, the M.T.H. Hiawatha outfitted with Proto-Sound 2.0 will amaze those who watch her run. Her thick billowing smoke puffing out of the stack in prototypical four chuffs per wheel revolution is a sight to behold.
Available in both the original Milwaukee Road colors and a Lionel Archives color scheme that was promoted but never produced.