Writer and photographer, 1972—. A motivational and business speaker, Detroit, MI.
The Train of Tomorrow, Indiana University Press (Bloomington, IN), 2007.
The Keys: The Textbook to a Successful Life, SimpleWords Press (Gatlinburg, TN), 2008.
In The Train of Tomorrow, business and motivational speaker Ric Morgan tells the story of the great glamour trains of the 1940s and 1950s. The Train of Tomorrow was the brainchild of Cyrus R. Osborn, an executive of the Electro-Motive division of General Motors, who envisioned the train during World War II as a way to promote sales of its diesel locomotives. The most spectacular part of the train was the "dome car," Osborn's own contribution. The dome car offered passengers a full 360-degree panoramic view of the scenery through which they were passing from a glass-enclosed bubble over the second level of the car. Osborn conceived of the dome car while traveling through Glenwood Canyon in Colorado—he realized that passengers were missing opportunities to enjoy marvelous scenery—and made a sketch of the idea on a piece of Hotel Utah stationery at his stop in Salt Lake City.
Osborn and his fellow GM executives pooled their ideas in 1947, and created a "concept train" (like the modern "concept cars" featured at automotive shows internationally) that included a 2,000-horsepower Electro-Motive diesel engine that pulled four dome cars featuring the latest in modern comfort and engineering technology, including the "latest in transportation chic," explained Michael S. Gant in Metroactive, "with etched-glass panels, private dining rooms and custom silver- and glassware—not to mention evocative car names: Star Dust, Sky View, Dream Cloud and Moon Glow." Constructed by the Pullman-Standard Car Company (a corporation with a reputation built on constructing luxury railroad vehicles), the Train of Tomorrow toured the United States for more than two years, making the idea of train travel appealing in an America that was rediscovering its love affair with the automobile at the same time. In 1950, General Motors sold the entire train, including the dome cars, to the Union Pacific, where it carried passengers between Seattle, Washington, and Portland, Oregon, for a decade.
In The Train of Tomorrow, Morgan traces the entire history of the General Motors luxury train, from its hand-drawn concept to its final fate on the scrap heap during the 1960s—with the exception of the Moon Glow observation-lounge car which was rescued by the Ogden Union Station in Utah. He records the specifications of the train and its cars, ranging from the air conditioning system (massive, because of the amount of sealed glass used in the observation windows) to the type of enamel paint used in the sleeping cars. "You'd be hard-pressed," concluded Kathi Kube in a review published in Trains Magazine, "to find a detail not included in this book—and you'd certainly enjoy the challenge looking for one."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Trains Magazine, November, 2007, Kathi Kube, review of The Train of Tomorrow, p. 74.
Indiana University Press,http://www.iupress.indiana.edu/ (January 29, 2008), author biography.
Metroactive,http://www.metroactive.com/ (January 29, 2008), Michael S. Grant, review of The Train of Tomorrow.