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Nostalgia & History > Observation Trains at the Rowing Regattas - 1929 and 1934


Date: 01/01/19 07:51
Observation Trains at the Rowing Regattas - 1929 and 1934
Author: restricted_speed

I had no idea that the railroads were so involved in this.

(Make sure to watch past the end credits)

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Date: 01/01/19 08:36
Re: Observation Trains at the Rowing Regattas - 1929 and 1934
Author: restricted_speed

What astounds me is the effort and resources that the railroads put into this - with the custom-built flats with bleacher seating and roofs.

I can't believe I had never seen photos of this before.  What amazing film footage.



Date: 01/01/19 09:39
Re: Observation Trains at the Rowing Regattas - 1929 and 1934
Author: bluesboyst

Wow and they got the Poughkipsee Bridge too....



Date: 01/01/19 09:43
Re: Observation Trains at the Rowing Regattas - 1929 and 1934
Author: DLM

In the book "The Boys In The Boat" about the Washington State rowing teams quest for gold in the 1936 Olympics, the trains are discussed as team coaches rode them to observe the races. Thanks for postings as I have never seen photos or film of them.  And yes, the book is a good read.



Date: 01/01/19 10:47
Re: Observation Trains at the Rowing Regattas - 1929 and 1934
Author: cr7998

Amazing film footage.  This event was the National Intercollegiate Rowing Regatta, the premier college rowing event in the U.S.  According to Wikipedia, the first regatta was held at Poughkeepsie in 1895.  The regatta was called "the greatest one-day sporting event in America" in the early 20th century, and thousands of spectators crowded into Poughkeepsie and the surrounding area.  The trains with the grandstands on flatcars were operated on the NYC's West Shore, pacing the rowing teams.  It would appear that the West Shore must have shut down regular operations for a good bit of the day, due to the operation of the special trains, and the thousands of spectators along the right-of-way.  

After being held at Poughkeepsie for 55 years, this event was moved to the Ohio River at Marietta, OH for 1950 and 1951.  The B&O Railroad operated similar trains, using gondolas equipped with grandstands.  Spectators boarded the cars on portable steps.  There was an excellent and fascinating article on this operation in the B&O Sentinel, the quarterly publication of the B&O Railroad Historical Society, Fourth Quarter 2017, by Dwight Jones.  The trains operated on the B&O's O&LK Subdivision that ran along the north bank of the Ohio River from West Marietta to Belpre, OH.  The races began at downtown Marietta, and went for three miles downstream.  Spectators on the train got to see about two and a half miles of the race, including the finish line.  They missed the start since B&O's tracks were a couple of blocks away from the river at that point.  

I suspect the B&O trains might have been the last of their kind.  This event has since been held at numerous locations in the U.S., but I'm not aware of any such operation since the B&O trains at Marietta in 1951.  



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/01/19 11:15 by cr7998.



Date: 01/01/19 11:55
Re: Observation Trains at the Rowing Regattas - 1929 and 1934
Author: CPR_4000

I was aware of the regatta trains along the Thames in Connecticut (which have been run until fairly recently) but this NYC operation was news to me. In a way I'm surprised they don't run a head race on the Hudson with its long stretches of open water.



Date: 01/01/19 12:09
Re: Observation Trains at the Rowing Regattas - 1929 and 1934
Author: restricted_speed

CPR_4000 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I was aware of the regatta trains along the Thames
> in Connecticut (which have been run until fairly
> recently)

https://www.trainorders.com/discussion/read.php?11,768395



Date: 01/01/19 23:15
Re: Observation Trains at the Rowing Regattas - 1929 and 1934
Author: coach

As a previous high school and collegiate rower, and a rowing coach in the rowing community for the past 30 years, both collegiate and high school, I can tell you this posting made my YEAR!  I've read about these scenes in many old rowing journals, and have heard about it from some very old timers, but these films are just fantastic.

As you can see, rowing on the East coast was a HUGE affair, with a very, very strong following.  Sports editors made sure rowing was "front page" news on the sports pages when these races came around.  It is America's official oldest intercollegiate sport, and an Olympic sport.  Rowing is still big news in Boston, Philly, New York, and the SF and Seattle, WA area--huge, loyal followings.

The IRA's as they are called now rotate to different rowing courses throughout the U.S. to equalize travel costs for the teams that attend.  Gone are the days of racing on the Hudson.  I agree it's still a great stretch of water for rowing, but the long races are now held on bodies of water that are more protected, and most importantly, with more venue access, being that 20x as many universities have rowing teams now, and more space is simply needed to store boats and oars.  The races on the Hudson typically involved at most 10 schools--nowadays, that would be a "small" regatta.

I can tell you this:  I worked with an Olympic rower, Conn Findlay, and we assembled 2 old eight-man rowing shells together, bolted on cross-frames between the hulls, laid a deck and then installed a 25-person set of bleachers on the deck.  We powered the 2 shells with 2 50-hp motors connected to a steering console.  We then paced the races with a full deck of 25 passengers in Lane 8 at Lake Natoma, CA during several years of PAC-10 collegiate rowing championships regattas.  The passengers loved it, just like those on the trains.  It's the closest it's ever come to those train rides from long ago.  It was so much fun, and the racing was fantastic, as was the spectating!  I wish the trains could still run, but again, the venues now rotate West coast-East coast, so all you  can do is either get a boat ride, or bicycle along the side paths.  And keep in mind these men's crews are moving fast--about 15 mph thru the water, which makes it the fast human-powered sport on water!

Thanks for sharing this post!!!!!!!!

Coach

 



Date: 01/02/19 00:42
Re: Observation Trains at the Rowing Regattas - 1929 and 1934
Author: mundo

What a great post.

Sure noted how well-dressed men and women were.   Not be that way today.



Date: 01/03/19 18:37
Re: Observation Trains at the Rowing Regattas - 1929 and 1934
Author: nydepot

Same type of trains were used on the Lehigh Valley Along the east side of Cayuga Lake for Cornell University.

 



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