[THE TRANSCONTINENTAL LIGHTNING EXPRESS CAPTURES THE ATTENTION OF THE NATION WHILE TRANSPORTING A THEATRICAL TROUPE FROM NEW YORK TO SAN FRANCISCO IN RECORD-BREAKING TIME FOR OPENING NIGHT.]; A small archive relating to Jarrett & Palmer’s famous non-stop transcontinental Lightning Express train that transported their theatrical company from New York to San Francisco in under 84 hours.
[THE TRANSCONTINENTAL LIGHTNING EXPRESS CAPTURES THE ATTENTION OF THE NATION WHILE TRANSPORTING A THEATRICAL TROUPE FROM NEW YORK TO SAN FRANCISCO IN RECORD-BREAKING TIME FOR OPENING NIGHT.]; A small archive relating to Jarrett & Palmer’s famous non-stop transcontinental Lightning Express train that transported their theatrical company from New York to San Francisco in under 84 hours
[THE TRANSCONTINENTAL LIGHTNING EXPRESS CAPTURES THE ATTENTION OF THE NATION WHILE TRANSPORTING A THEATRICAL TROUPE FROM NEW YORK TO SAN FRANCISCO IN RECORD-BREAKING TIME FOR OPENING NIGHT.]; A small archive relating to Jarrett & Palmer’s famous non-stop transcontinental Lightning Express train that transported their theatrical company from New York to San Francisco in under 84 hours
[THE TRANSCONTINENTAL LIGHTNING EXPRESS CAPTURES THE ATTENTION OF THE NATION WHILE TRANSPORTING A THEATRICAL TROUPE FROM NEW YORK TO SAN FRANCISCO IN RECORD-BREAKING TIME FOR OPENING NIGHT.]; A small archive relating to Jarrett & Palmer’s famous non-stop transcontinental Lightning Express train that transported their theatrical company from New York to San Francisco in under 84 hours
[THE TRANSCONTINENTAL LIGHTNING EXPRESS CAPTURES THE ATTENTION OF THE NATION WHILE TRANSPORTING A THEATRICAL TROUPE FROM NEW YORK TO SAN FRANCISCO IN RECORD-BREAKING TIME FOR OPENING NIGHT.]; A small archive relating to Jarrett & Palmer’s famous non-stop transcontinental Lightning Express train that transported their theatrical company from New York to San Francisco in under 84 hours
[THE TRANSCONTINENTAL LIGHTNING EXPRESS CAPTURES THE ATTENTION OF THE NATION WHILE TRANSPORTING A THEATRICAL TROUPE FROM NEW YORK TO SAN FRANCISCO IN RECORD-BREAKING TIME FOR OPENING NIGHT.]; A small archive relating to Jarrett & Palmer’s famous non-stop transcontinental Lightning Express train that transported their theatrical company from New York to San Francisco in under 84 hours

[THE TRANSCONTINENTAL LIGHTNING EXPRESS CAPTURES THE ATTENTION OF THE NATION WHILE TRANSPORTING A THEATRICAL TROUPE FROM NEW YORK TO SAN FRANCISCO IN RECORD-BREAKING TIME FOR OPENING NIGHT.]; A small archive relating to Jarrett & Palmer’s famous non-stop transcontinental Lightning Express train that transported their theatrical company from New York to San Francisco in under 84 hours

New York to San Francisco: June 1-4, 1876. Unbound. This group of items includes a rare cover (envelope) that was carried by the Lightning Express from New York to San Francisco, a postal card from Oakland describing the arrival of the Lightning Express, and a newspaper clipping about the trip and the train.

The rare transcontinental cover is addressed franked with a 3-cent green Washington stamp (Scott #158) that has been canceled with circular postmark that reads “Jarrett – Palmer’s / Special Fast Trans-Continental Train” and is dated “New York / June / 1-1876 / 12.10 A.M.” It bears an oval “4 June / 1876) receiving handstamp from “E. Rass & Co. / San-Francisco”. There is an advertising corner card from Leon & H. Blum, New York City dry goods merchants.

The postal card (Scott #UX3) reporting the arrival of the Lightning Express is dated “Oakland June 4th” and canceled with a ‘circle of Vs’ handstamp and a San Francisco postmark.

A newspaper clipping, perhaps from the late 1950s or early 1960s, contains a reproduction of an original newspaper article, information about the trip, a map showing the location of Jarret and Palmer’s Booth Theater across from Madison Square Park, and a half-tone photograph of the train after it arrived in Oakland. The article was authored by Clark Kinnaird, a long-time newspaper reporter who also wrote a syndicated ‘history’ column for the New York Journal-American.

While the envelope contains no content, the text of the postal card reads in part:

“Will not visit you and the Centennial but wish we could. The ‘Jarrett & Palmer’ lightning train arrived at S.F. Safely at about 10 o’clock this morning, having half an hour to spare from their schedule time of 84 hours from New York. Great feat, & everyone here is enthusiastic over it, though few want to try it themselves! Tomorrow’s papers will give details – will send.”. Very good. Item #009587

The national excitement generated by the arrival of the Lightning Express in Oakland was incredible and not to be again matched until Charles Lindbergh landed the Spirit of St. Louis in Paris fifty years later.

“In 1876, . . . seven full days and nights with changes of cars at Chicago and Omaha, were conventional time between New York and the Pacific Coast. When, therefore, a specially chartered train filled with theatrical celebrities . . . made the passage from coast to cost in the record time of eight-four hours, Americans followed the magnificently publicized event with awed enthusiasm. . .. The Lightning Express was chartered by Henry Jarrett of Jarrett & Palmer, managers of the Booth Theater in New York, to transport the celebrated Lawrence Barrett and a distinguished supporting cast in time for opening night of Henry V at McCullough’s California Theater in San Francisco. The project instantly caught the fancy of the public and fantastic newspaper coverage was accorded the train’s departure . . . over the rails of the Pennsylvania [and then] the Chicago & North Western--Union Pacific—Central Pacific route to California. The actors rode in ornate splendor aboard the Pullman Palace Hotel Car, Marlborough, while a commissary car carried appropriate food and drink and the scenery rode in a conventional baggage car. All across the continent the train’s passing was the occasion for the wildest excitement and at Reno, nearing the end of its run, its approach was greeted with an exclamatory display of rockets and other artifices de feu. The run over the Central Pacific from Ogden to Oakland, a relay of 875 miles, including the High Sierra crossing, was accomplished by a single engine and a single engineer, Hank Small, at the driver’s side. No. 149, a sleek 4-4-0, achieved immortality overnight. The sooty actors, weary but triumphant, were met at San Francisco by Warren Leland, the manager of the eye-popping Palace Hotel and taken to a breakfast of grilled, salmon, cucumber salad, filet of Beef Bearnaise, cutlets of Minden lamb, escalloped veal, partridges sautéed in champagne, grilled Mallard duck, asparagus, strawberries and three kinds of eggs, shirred, with mushrooms, and rum omelets. . ..” (Lucius Beebe from The Age of Steam)

On the evening of June 4th, Henry V opened in San Francisco on schedule, to a sold-out house.

Materials related to the Lightning Express are extremely scarce and when found, quite expensive. Broadsides, tickets, passes, stereoviews, and especially carried mail appear only infrequently for sale or at auction, and when they do they, generally bring prices between $3,000 and $12,000.

Price: $4,750.00