American Flyer Displays & History

Eureka Stores - Windber, PA

Eureka Stores Display

The Eureka Department Store in Windber, Pennsylvania was the main company store for the Berwind-White Coal Company.  Windber was a company town located near Johnstown, Pennsylvania.  The store, which was quite large for a company store, was located at 15th and Sommerset Streets in Windber.  The store is no longer in operation and the building has been used for other businesses as late as 2009.  I don't know if this is still the case today.

The equipment and display shown in these photos lead me to believe that the display is from 1950.  The inserts at the top of the display changed from year to year, but only the 1950 displays featured an "Electronic Whistle" as opposed to later inserts that featured an "Air Chime Whistle."  Also, the whistling billboard shown in the photo features an Alco PA.  That locomotive and the billboard whistle featuring it, were not manufactured until 1950, so the photos could be no earlier than that.  The presence of a depressed center floodlight car with generator, which was first introduced in 1950 also dates this as 1950. 

Now comes the interesting part.   In the upper left hand corner of the second photo, you will find something that is extremely rare.  Take a look at the sectional view below and you will find a chromed Santa Fe Alco with the red warbonnet.  Very few of these are known to exist today and they were only made in early 1950, so that fits with the 1950 dating of this photo.   The particular set in this display is an even rarer variant because of its black trucks.  What is interesting is the fact that the photo seems to show more of the roof than it should if the Alco set were a three dimensional object being photographed from somewhat below the level of the apparent shelf.  Aric Peery, a follower of this website, made an interesting suggestion.  Could that set be a cardboard cutout using a photo shot from an angle somewhat above the train? 

Once this suggestion was made, I discussed this with two colleagues who are very knowledgeable concerning Gilbert History to see what they thought.  They agreed that this is a distinct possibility. Then I noticed another part of the photo that looked even more suspiciously like a cutout.  It is the set pictured on the top shelf of the case at the left of the photo.  It appears to be a set headed by a newly introduced GP7.  What I noticed was the fact that the view appears to be clearly from above.  This is most apparent on the auto unloading car as the details of its load are clearly visible in the photo and wouldn't be if it were an actual car photographed from below or straight on.  Also the GP7 pictured on the shelf is decorated in a pre production paint scheme that was never made, though it appears in the 1950 catalogs.  That paint scheme involves striping that covers the cab in addition to the body of the locomotive and there appears to be a link coupler on the front end.  Since the GP7 image in the photo is of a version that was never made, other than as a pre production mockup, that image is almost certainly a cutout.  All things considered, I think it is most likely that both of these newly introduced diesel sets are represented by extremely well done cutouts.  I have not seen examples of any such items, but if anyone knows of any cutout displays, please let me know by contacting me at the email at the bottom of this page.

Learn more about the Ray Mohrlang Collection 

Front View of Toy Display Area
Front View of Toy Display Area 
Closeup of Layout
Close-up of Layout 
Sectional view of Chromed Also with warbonnet
Sectional view of chromed Santa Fe Alco PA set with war bonnet (top) & GP7 set (left)
(both possibly cutouts)
Black trucks on the Alco locomotive & cars is a rare variation on this rare set from early 1950