Railroader Biographies – Bert Daniels

RexallTrain01

Bert Daniels was engineer on the Rexall Train. Promoted to management. Returned to road service on the Ohio State Limited.

An old train that has always interested me was the New York Central Rexall Train.

The engine was an L-2 Mohawk #2998 or #2873 (I have conflicting stories). It was the predecessor to the L-3a dual purpose Mohawks (4-8-2’s) 3000-3024. The NYC used 4-8-2 Mohawks for fast freight service on the water level route hence the name Mohawk not Mountain. The Mohawks started in the 2500 and 2600 L-1 class and moved to the L-2 2700,2800 and 2900 classes. These were all freight engines with 69″ drivers. I believe the Rexall engine and one other were rebuilt with 72″ drivers and counter balance for higher speeds. The 3000 series L-3 class had several subseries (a, b, and c) that were built by Alco and Lima. The 3000-3024 were the only dual purpose engines. The last series of Mohawks were the L-4a and b 3100 series engines. These were real brutes and all were dual purpose engines. These were the final extension of the 4-8-2 type on the NYC and the 4-8-4 Niagara 6000-6025 S-1a, S1b and 5500 poppet valved S-2 were built in 1945-46.

I do know that Bert Daniels, who was road foreman of engines for the NYC, was the engineer on this train which ran from September 15, 1936 until November 21, 1936. From the news clippings it appears that this train was some kind of Convention Special tour train. The articles state that it was a 12 car train with air-conditioning which had a streamlined engine identical to the Commodore Vanderbilt engines that pulled the 20th Century Limited at that time. It also had an auxiliary booster engine on the trailer wheels that gave an additional 15,000 lbs. of tractive effort in starting. Was this engine a precursor to the Niagara type engines? The article states that the engine had 4 drivers to a side instead of the customary Pacific type. The only photos of the engine are mostly frontal and seem to show a 4 wheel leading truck. The train was nicknamed “Old Roxie” and from the schedule that is included in the book appears to have traveled from Boston to Albany, NY then through PA, Ohio, Ind, Ill, Iowa, Ky, W.Va, Va, NC, SC, Ga, Tenn, Miss, Ala, Fla, and ended up in Chicago then on to Seattle. The book states that this train covered 29,000 miles overall. At one point while on the NorthWestern it had covered 14,000 miles without being shopped. The only thing that had been done to it was inspections. It was also an oil burner because coal was not available in the Southwestern area. Instead of a “Johnson Bar’ it had a wheel reverse gear and also had automatic train control.

Pictures and info on the Rexall Train appear in Arthur Dubin’s “Some Classic Trains” (or “Some Classic Trains II”). It was an exhibition train which Rexall (United Drug Company) packed with demonstrations and exhibits of all of the company’s wares and took around the country to show to its many pharmacy franchisees.

Rexall Train of 1936. These rolling drug stores exhibited common Rexall products, and offered new and improved “suggestions” on how to configure local Rexall stores to a “common plan” using the latest and most modern materials, including adding soda fountains. The Rexall train was intended primarily for the annual Rexall Druggists Convention of the era, and was their show piece. It was primarily a demo train for the druggists, and not a retail store for the public. The public still had to use the “in place” Rexall stores in their immediate areas. It is interesting to note that the term “druggist” was used back then. Today,we call them “pharmacists” or “pharmacy technicians”. “Rexall” seems to have gone away. The last time I saw a Rexall store was in the mid 60s. Since then, well, a different named drug store is on every corner these days. Never heard of a Walgreens, Hooks, Rite Aide Longs, Eckerds, or CVS train yet.

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