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In the second half of the nineteenth century, the on-rushing express train was a symbol of American power and technological achievement. The Biograph Company had filmed the Empire State Express in September 1896, the fastest train of the New York Central Railroad. The Edison Company subsequently teamed up with the rival Lehigh Valley Railroad, which was competing for the same patronage. Its top flyer (then making new and widely reported speed records at frequent intervals) was the Black Diamond Express. The Lehigh Valley saw such films as essential promotional items and offered James White a special train and every courtesy that might facilitate his filmmaking efforts. This particular picture proved so popular that new negatives were made frequently over the next several years.

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