Prelinger Archives. Mainline U.S.A. (1957)

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  • This Prelinger Archives film shows the important role of rail transportation in the mid-20th-century American economy. Outlining the development of steam and diesel trains, the film depicts railroad technology in action--hauling passengers, farm products, manufactured goods, and raw materials. Recreational uses are shown, too. Glamorous music accompanies lush footage of natural wonders and glittering cities, among which restless trains move as they crisscross the American continent and help to expand the U.S. economy. Innovations in rail technology are explored at length, portraying trains as "marvels of science" as well as essential vehicles in the search for new and ever-improving ways to develop commerce.


  • Encoded with permission for digital streaming by Films Media Group on August 21, 2010.
  • Films on Demand is distributed by Films Media Group for Films for the Humanities & Sciences, Cambridge Educational, Meridian Education, and Shopware.
  • Mode of access: Internet.
  • System requirements: FOD playback platform.


  • Mainline U.S.A. (1957) (19:00)
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