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Straight Talk Express: 1915

Washington, D.C., circa 1915. "Senate Subway R.R." Somewhere deep in the bowels of the Capitol. Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative. View full size.

Washington, D.C., circa 1915. "Senate Subway R.R." Somewhere deep in the bowels of the Capitol. Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative. View full size.


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Remembering my '61 Chevy

Most of us like to remember our old cars. We think of them as though they were our long lost buddies and we miss them. I bought my 1961 Chevy Bel-Air in 1964 while serving in the U. S. Air Force in Missouri. This was big time luxury for a young airman as that V8 engine ran as smoothly as any car I ever had. Was it a better car than those made today? No, today's cars are much better. But, I have a lot of great memories of that car and regardless of the quality of today's cars, memories from your youth spent in an old heap can't be replaced.

[Great photo, but why is it posted here? - Dave]

Did Dr. Seuss design that?

What a contraption! Hangs like a monorail, wheels on the floor like a bicycle/slot car ... yow!


I rode the modern version back in 2007 when my government class competed in the National We the People Competiton and we were given a tour of the Senate. The current cars look like an airport shuttle mixed with a subway car.

It blows my mind to think of how many people have ridden through those tunnels.

Important transports

The Senate subway and the House subway both serve the vital functions of quickly transporting Senators and Representatives (and the staffs and other personnel) from their respective office buildings to the Capitol building.

Not only does it save time, but it is much safer than having to deal with crossing busy streets to get to the Capitol, and they are also protected from the elements and anyone who might want to interfere with them.

Saving time in getting from the offices to the Senate and House chambers is no small consideration where voting is concerned, or quorum calls. I believe when voting or quorum calls are under way, the subway cars become reserved for members only, just as some of the elevators do.

The page in the white shoes

Could pass for Matt Damon.

Which of those young men is Robert Byrd?

(I know, I know, I know... he was born two years after this photo.)

D.C. underground same as above.

It all takes place out of sight in places not open to the constituents.

Rode the 1970 version

Rode the 1970 version with my 6th grade class as part of our Summer 1970 class trip to Washington D.C.


This is obviously not the Straight Talk Express. It is as crooked as the people who ride them. The kind of people who are "too good" to do their own walking for a short distance between two buildings. Walking must be "for the little people" Crooked subways are for the crooked ruling class.

[It's not a "short distance." And the "kind of people" who use it are mostly pages and secretaries, who might travel a few miles every day on trips back and forth between the various buildings served by the system. - Dave]


Just another example of what's good for us geese ain't good
for you ganders.

The original version...

...of the Senate's Filli-Bus.

Fashion Statement

White hi-tops, black tights, knee-length shorts. If he let those bangs grow out a bit more he could pass as a hipster bike messenger in today's NYC.

Back when it was still open to the public, I had the thrill of riding this subway back in the 70's during a family trip to D.C. which included a visit to one of our state representative's office

A Fortuitous Ride

In my senior year of high school, I was awarded a trip to DC with the Close Up Foundation (spring of 1982). I was in Congressman Jim Broyhill's office, who was my state representative at that time, and as he talked to me he was distracted by an unusual lighted clock on the wall. As a few of the lights changed to red, he explained that it indicated he only had a few minutes left to cast his vote on an important issue. I assumed the visit was over, but he told me to come with him. When the elevator we took opened I was shocked to see a subway system. I rode with him on the subway from the Rayburn building to the Capitol.

Usually, if I tell that story to people, there is a look of disbelief, as most people usually respond they didn't know there was a subway system connecting the buildings. They think I'm fabricating some tale about this mythical transport, but as you see, it does exist.

Thanks for the links that show the changes through the years.

Been there, done that!

When I was a kid in the 1960s we got to ride on the Senate Subway and ate at the Senate Cafeteria, dining on Senate Bean Soup.

I had forgotten about that adventure until I saw this photo!

100th anniversary

This year marks a century of underground subway travel through the Capitol complex, but while hitching a ride has long been a convenient way for lawmakers and staffers to stay safe and dry on the one-fifth-mile journey to the Capitol, the trip wasn’t always as comfortable as it is today.


Still there...

Those tunnels are still there and used as seen here.

They have since been updated, though; when I visited as a young lad in the late '80s, I don't remember them being the same as the current version.

Cars have been preserved

"Two subway lines serve three Senate Office Buildings and have a long history. Starting in 1909, the Senate Office Buildings were serviced by an electric bus. This was replaced in 1912 by a monorail vehicle which featured a wicker coach. This monorail, I have been told, can be seen in the movie "Advice and Consent." In 1960, this monorail was replaced by trolleys, one of which remains today and runs between the Senate side and the Russell Senate Office Building. At this time, the tunnels were apparently enlarged to accommodate the new trolleys.

"The trolleys installed in 1960 still run on the shortest line that runs from the Senate side to the Russell Senate Office Building."

Road to nowhere

Finally we have visual proof!

I guess

the Edwards boy missed this train.

Really cool!

Does it still exist?

Not Today

If that's the Straight Talk Express I don't believe any member of congress could ride it today.

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