Monday, May 3, 2010

The Fadgl Auto Train

Fadgl is a catchy name, don't you agree? Well, it turns out that the contraption (aka the auto train) was manufactured by the Fageol brothers from California. Someone thought their name was hard to pronounce and that Fadgl would be easier. Really! Perhaps they should have just removed that last pesky vowel and left it as Fdgl.

Anyway, the auto train was not so much a train as a tractor pulling a bunch of open cars. The brothers owned the Flageol Motor Co. in Oakland, CA, where they manufactured tractors, trucks, and automobiles. They made this train for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco, but when the exposition was over, the train was shipped to Chicago to be used in Lincoln Park.

I'm not sure how long the train lasted, but the Flageol Motor Co. ran into financial difficulties in 1930, went into receivership, and was eventually bought from the bank by T.A. Peterman, a logger and plywood manufacturer from Tacoma, WA, who needed logging trucks for his business. That was the beginning of Peterbilt trucks, but that's another story.


  1. This post is chock full of fun. Your suggestion to condense the name to Fdgl reminded me of a guy named Mlkvy who played basketball for the Temple Owls and was nicknamed "The Owl Without a Vowel."

  2. Love this card. We were easily pleased so long ago, weren't we. Long for those times. We have a little train at our summer apple fair that is merely a small train engine with cars on behind to sit in. No track. Just drives all over the dirt park. So fun to see the kids getting excited to ride on it.

    "The Owl Without a Vowel" That's so funny! Wouldn't you love to see that on the back of the shirt winding around his waste.

  3. I love the owl without a vowel. He picked the right school.

  4. Made me think of the kiddie train at the Ross Park Zoo in my hometown, scared the crap out of me whenever it went thru the tunnel...thanks.

  5. A wonderful shot capturing the style and lifestyle back then. I think about a little train that took us through an island amusement park when I was a lad.

  6. The Fadgl Auto Train was an extremely successful means of transporting thousands of people at the 1915 Panama Pacific Exposition in San Franscisco. The train was designed, patented and built by R.B. Fageol. The trailers were unique in design so the train could reverse direction in a small area.

    This project preceded and was not related to the Fageol Motor Company other than family ties.

  7. So I have a post card, made by Curt Teich of Chicago in 1916, of "The Auto Train" loaded with passengers in Euclid Beach Park at Cleveland, Ohio. It is different from, but similar to the one shown at Lincoln Park. It clearly has the name "FADGL AUTOTRAIN" on the housing on the side of the engine. Does anyone know if the company may have mass-produced these trains for other amusement parks across the country?



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