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Clip #: TFA-132B
Library: TFA Network
Region: North America
Country: United States
1920s, Baltimore, Maryland, B & O Railroad, Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, transportation, celebration, parade, The Fair of the Iron Horse, Native Americans in traditional clothing and headdresses riding horses and demonstrating early transportation methods, bateau float, ox carts, people in period clothing seated outside covered wagons and waving, Conestoga wagons, people in period clothing disembarking stage coach and entering building, horse drawn carriages, four horse coach, treadmill car float, sail car float, people in period clothing riding and exiting horsecar, Tom Thumb steam locomotive, York locomotive, DeWitt Clinton locomotive, people in period clothing disembarking Atlantic locomotive, Thomas Jefferson locomotive, Memnon locomotive, William Mason locomotive, Thatcher Perkins locomotive, Camelback locomotive, J.C. Davis locomotive, consolidation locomotive, Mallet locomotive, front of locomotive
The Fair of the Iron Horse was a huge railroad exhibit that was held in 1927 just outside of Baltimore. It was meant to celebrate the success of the B&O railroad. The B&O, which for years had represented itself as the country's first common carrier railroad, celebrated its centenary in 1927 with a huge railroad exhibit and pageant outside Baltimore. More than a thousand employees spent the better part of a year preparing for the fair. They rebuilt the B&O's collection of historic locomotives, crafted comprehensive exhibits on all aspects of railroading, prepared an elaborate historical pageant that was presented daily, and built a magnificent setting at which to host the railroad's "birthday party." Approximately one-and-a-half million people enjoyed the "Fair of the Iron Horse" during its three-week run in September. The Transportation Building alone was a tenth-of-a-mile long. The parking lot held 9,000 cars, and special trains brought people from as far away as Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Admission was free, and the railroad was careful to conduct the entire affair with dignity and consideration for its guests.
This was no cheap promotional gimmick. The B&O intended to keep the buildings open as the country's first public railroad museum, but the Depression intervened. The collection went into storage, until it was reinstalled in historic buildings at the company's Mt. Clare Shops in Baltimore in 1953. The fair, and the subsequent B&O Transportation Museum, provided the precedent for almost every major railroad museum and railroad fair to follow.