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Exclusive Empire Express No. 999 Coin
Now you can own an authentic U.S. Half-Dollar enhanced by Mystic with an image of one of the most famous trains in American history – the Empire Express No. 999. For over 200 years, trains have captured our imaginations while revolutionizing the transportation industry. This coin will give you a glimpse of one train's history – it's fun to imagine who traveled on the Empire Express No. 999, where they were going, and why...
The early 1890s was a time of fierce competition between the New York Central and Pennsylvania Railroads. Both sought to outdo the other, particularly in the race to provide the fastest service to the 1893 Chicago World's Fair.
The New York Central began making changes to its Empire State Express and set out to break the 100 mile per hour speed barrier. As most trains of the time could only reach about half that speed, it was quite an undertaking. As it turned out, William Buchanan had already designed a class of train that came close to this speed.
The 999 was born from Buchanan's 4-4-0 class of trains. It entered service in 1893 and reportedly reached speeds of up to 112.5 miles per hour in its first week of service. Other accounts placed the speed of the train closer to 86 miles per hour, which was still far above other trains of the time.
The introduction of diesel-electric powered locomotives saw the 999 go into retirement in 1952. While many other retired trains of the time were scrapped for parts, the 999 was one of the few to be preserved. It is still on display today at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry.