| January/February 1985

reprinted from Trains Copyright 1978 Katmbach Publishing Co.

Traditionally, businessmen have sought new and innovative ways to promote and sell their companies' products, often giving rise to ingenious schemes and publicity stunts. These ranged from traveling medicine shows to full-page newspaper advertisements to a free lunch with the purchase of a five-cent beer. One such promotion was staged by Russel & Company of Massillon, O., the leading name in the field of heavy farm machinery in the late 1880's. Russell products were known and used around the world, its trademark being a bull, 'The Boss.'

To better advertise its line of threshers, steam-powered engines, and separators, Russell gathered a large selection of its products for rail shipment to its West Coast markets. Seventeen flat-car loads of farm machinery were shipped together n regular freight trains to Pacific Northwest customers in 1888. Russell & Company received limited coverage in the newspapers along the route of the mass movement of farm equipment, indicating that a better promotional job could have been done.

The following spring, plans were drawn up for a solid train of farm machinery to be shipped to the West Coast from the Massillon plant: 26 flat cars carrying 32 steam traction engines, 46 separators, 24 horse powers (machines operated by horses), and numerous small parts and attachments, a total of $80,000 in merchandise. Each freight car carried a placard reading, 'From Russell & Company, Massillon, Ohio, to Russell & Company, Portland, Oregon.' The result was a billboard on wheels.

Prior to departure, the special train was assembled and displayed to the public in the Russell & Company's yard adjacent to the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne & Chicago depot. The train was routed over the Wheeling & Lake Erie, Baltimore & Ohio, Wisconsin Central, and Northern Pacific, running straight 'through to Oregon' with no delays. Freight charges amounted to $8000. Accompanying the special train on its 2700-mile journey were B&O's J.S. Fairchild, Wisconsin Central's O.P. Gathlin, Northern Pacific's W. W. Scully, and Russel & Company's E. C. Merwin. A W&LE caboose and passenger car were placed at the rear of the train to provide accommodations for the extra railroad personnel and Russell employees.

The morning of April 8, 1889, found W&LE 4-6-0 No. 33 coupled to the westbound special. The locomotive was one of a trio of Camelback slack burners on the W&LE, a rare engine type west of the Allegheny Mountains. She was ready to dig in with her 17,684 pounds tractive effort. Publicity photos were made of the unusual consist.