With the bold - and accurate - slogan "Nothing Faster on Rails," the Milwaukee Road inaugurated its Chicago-Twin Cities Hiawatha service on May 29, 1935. The fastest scheduled express trains in the world, the Hiawathas were headed by new oilburning 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: "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 freight 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.
Due to the overwhelming popularity of the original Hiawatha locomotives, Lionel Corp. is proud to reintroduce this popular model to our tinplate lineup for 2010 - in both the original Milwaukee Road colors and a Lionel Archives color scheme cataloged here for the first time.