Whistle Stop History
The Ferdinand Magellan was the only private railroad car built for a President in the twentieth century. The car was 85 feet long and weighed 142 1/2 tons. The windows were made with three-inch bulletproof glass. The train had an escape hatch in the center of the car and in the ceiling of the observation lounge.
Originally created for Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Ferdinand Magellan transported Harry S. Truman across the country for his 1948 Whistle Stop campaign. Truman and his entourage traveled more than 21,000 miles, stopping in more than 250 cities, and delivered more than 300 speeches.
The code name for the train was “POTUS” and all other trains had to yield right-of-way. There was always another train running five miles ahead of the Ferdinand Magellan checking the safety of the railroad tracks.
In honor of election day and the many campaign miles traveled, here’s a gallery of Presidents on Whistle Stop tours. An exterior of the Ferdinand Magellan during Truman’s 1948 tour is at the top.
-from the Truman Library
An early whistle stop campaign tour for Franklin D. Roosevelt. Morgantown, West Virginia. 9/29/20.
In 1920, the Democratic Party nominated Ohio Governor James M. Cox for President and Franklin D. Roosevelt for Vice President. They were defeated by Republicans Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge.
-from the FDR Library