Says Phoebe Snow about to go upon a trip to Buffalo “My gown stays white from morn till night upon the Road of Anthracite”

Phoebe Snow was a fictional character created by Earnest Elmo Calkins to promote the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad. The advertising campaign was one of the first to present a fictional character based on a live model amid impressionistic techniques. Rail travel around 1900 was tough on the clothing of passengers. After a long trip on a coal-powered train, travellers frequently would disembark covered with black soot, unless the locomotives were powered by anthracite, a clean-burning form of coal. The Lackawanna owned vast anthracite mines in Pennsylvania, and could legitimately claim that the clothes of their passengers would remain clean after a long trip. To promote this, the Calkins advertising department created, “Phoebe Snow”, a young New York socialite, and a frequent passenger of the Lackawanna. The advertising campaign presented Miss Snow as often traveling to Buffalo, New York and always wearing a white dress. Calkins said he based the campaign on an earlier series of Lackawanna car cards – All in Lawn – created by DL&W advertising manager, Wendell P. Colton. They had been built on a rather limiting nursery rhyme, The House That Jack Built, and featured a nameless heroine dressed in white. For his new campaign, Calkins adopted a form of verse inspired by an onomatopoetic rhyme, Riding on the Rail, that he felt offered endless possibilities. See more about Phoebe Snow at http://www.classicstreamliners.com and follow us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/railstream.

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