Designed by E. L. Masqueray, with an obvious train station vibe, the Palace of Transportation stood west of the Palace of Varied Industries and north of the Palace of Machinery. Built by Chicago's H. W. Schlueter, the Transportation palace was one of the last of the colossal edifices to be constructed for the Fair, the immense building covered 15.6 acres and measured 525 feet by 1,300 feet. Sixty foot high entrance arches lead to east end 14 indoor railroad tracks which ran the entire span of the building. The palace cost 684,608 dollars and also marked the 100th anniversary of the invention of the steam locomotive.
The major theme for the Palace of Transportation (as with the entire Fair), was- Life and Motion.
The centerpiece exhibit of the grand palace was the American Locomotive Company's display of a 160 ton engine and coal car. Mounted on a massive revolving turnstile, it was named- `The Spirit of St. Louis.'
Inside, the palace harbored an enormous mixture of historical and state of the art forms of transportation. The displays varied from the time of the stage coach to the era of the `modern' car, varying from the simple to the palatial.
Chief of the Department of Transportation, Willard A. Smith wrote- "Transportation is the life of modern civilization." The Department gave the Fair 200,000 dollars to develop and demonstrate aviation at the Exposition. to And the palace displayed a multitude of the latest means of travel. Though the automobile was still in its infancy, there were 160 on display and even to purchase. Fairgoers could view the latest trains and water craft. The American Street Flushing Machine Company showcased their street cleaning machines and fairgoers could marvel at sections of tunnel, steamships, gliders, motorboats and aviation. The Pennsylvania Railroad displayed a huge detailed `model,' of New York Central Station, while other models of stations from St. Louis and Washington DC were shown.
In the western end of the building, the Pennsylvania Railroad Company, The Pennsylvania
Lines West of Pittsburg supplied a laboratory for testing the efficiency of locomotives.
Supervised by F. D. Casanave, the array of tests were extensive, the results were calculated
in a `computing room' to keep pace with the development of observed data in the laboratory.
The data was presented in three different relations:
1. The performance of the locomotive as a whole, under which relation general comparisons
will be based on work developed at the drawbar.
2. The performance of the boiler.
3. The performance of the engines.
San Francisco brought in the first street car (1873), ever used.
Hayes-Apperson displayed the first ever gasoline-run automobile (1893). Young companies: Ford, Studebaker,
Rambler and Oldsmobile all has displays. France- the world's leading manufacturer of automobiles at the time had an exhibit that almost exclusively devoted to them. Fulton and Walker Company displayed a number of ambulances, while fairgoers could view the latest in hearses. The John Deere Plow Company displayed the latest buggies.
As a bizarre oddity, one company displayed a dried but still pungent leather skin of `Rajah,' the famous elephant from Ringling Brothers Circus. In 1900, the elephant contracted a disease called musth and killed seven men. The beast was too powerful
to be killed by poison and guns, so they dynamited the animal. Besides the hide, a display depicting the history of Rajah in pictures brought in a multitude of the curious.
Another display was Dr. Bircher's War Museum, from Aarau Switzerland, whose relief maps full illustrated all the American wars.
The United States featured many yachts, work boats of all types and a historical display of navigation along the Mississippi River.
There were many contests that pushed aviators to
attempt fully-powered flight. The Wright Brother's
are credited with the first fully powered flight on
December 14, 1903, (contested by a number of
countries including Santos Dumont of Brazil). The
Fair organizers also held other competitions including
balloon distance races. One contest offered five
thousand dollars to anyone who could sail a balloon
from St. Louis to the Washington Monument. Only
two entered and neither traveled further than 200
miles. T.C. Benbow, an early aviator, made a 3
and a half mile flight with his airship- the Meteor,
but had to land when he had gas leak problems.
He did not achieve fully powered flight during the Fair.
Because President McKinley was assassinated in 1901, the Fair built a secure railroad line straight through Forest Park and into the Palace of Transportation. This route would allow President Theodore Roosevelt to access to the Fair (and a quick exit if trouble ensued).