Chicago Railroad Fair
Celebrating 100 Years of Railroad Progress
The Chicago Railroad Fair was organized under the leadership of the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, and its president, Lenox Riley Lohr (1891-1968); and incorporated as a not for profit corporation in the State of Illinois on February 25, 1948.
The goal of the Chicago Railroad Fair was to demonstrate to the public, the role which the railroads had played in developing this country. The Fair was organized “to celebrate the One Hundredth Anniversary of the Opening of the West in the United States, by holding an Exposition in Chicago, showing in Educational, Scientific and Graphic form the building and development of the Railroads of North America with a demonstration of their place and importance in the American Economy.
The Fair was held during the summers of 1948 and 1949 in the Burnham Park area of the Chicago Park District. Originally, the Fair was to have been in operation only for the summer of 1948. Public enthusiasm and interest, however, induced Fair officials and sponsors to plan for an expanded 1949 run. The contract with the Chicago Park District had given the Chicago Railroad Fair the option to operate for an extended period – not later than October 1, 1949 – and this option was exercised. Negotiations were made conducted between the Chicago Railroad Fair granted the use of the above premises to the Fair; provided for compensation to be paid to the Park District, based on a percentage of the Fair’s revenues after taxes; outlined the additions and alterations the Fair might make the grounds; and set the guidelines for the concessionaires at the exposition. Railroad companies and other exhibitors were responsible only to the Chicago Railroad Fair and had no contractual agreements with the Chicago Park District.
Cover and Introduction to the Official Guide Book and Program for the Pageant “Wheels a-Rolling”
Map of the Fair
The Chicago Railroad Fair was structurally organized into several administrative units: executive office, special events, exhibits, operations, pageant, publicity office, and the office of the treasurer. Lenox R. Lohr and his executive officer, Daniel MacMaster, were empowered to sign all contracts and supervise all aspects of the Fair.
The March, 1950, contract with the Chicago Park District released the Chicago Railroad Fair from all obligations and liabilities assumed under the basic contract of 1948. The Fair secured releases from all of the railroad companies and other exhibitors which had buildings on the grounds, thereby releasing them from their obligations to the Chicago Railroad Fair. All buildings and facilities were then turned over the Chicago Park District. On May 4, 1950, the members of the Chicago Railroad Fair, Inc. met and voted to dissolve the corporation. The articles of dissolution were executed and filed on June 13, 1950.
Parade on State Steet for the Chicago Railroad Fair, July 19, 1947. — Chicago Tribune
An old fire engine being loaded on a truck at the Chicago Railroad fairgrounds, October 4, 1949. — Chicago Tribune
Illinois Central railroad section workers completing the task of laying tracks across Lake Shore. Drive at 28th Street after rush hour traffic had passed. Track will be used to move exhibits into Burnham Park for Chicago Railroad Fair, April 23, 1948. — Chicago Tribune
A dining car on display at the Chicago Railroad Fair in 1949. — Chicago Tribune
Crowd watching miniature trains in action at the Chicago Railroad Fair exhibit maintained by the eastern railroads, July 28, 1948. Several trains operate at the same time on this system. — Chicago Tribune