Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad

The C & O Railroad facilitated the advertisement of Colonial Williamsburg through a relationship which benefited both parties. C & O advertised themselves as the only railway to serve the restored area. Thus, Colonial Williamsburg needed visitors and the C & O needed passengers on their trains. This advertising venture from three formats: railroad travel guides, Williamsburg pamphlets, and actual ads among the C & O literature.

In the first approach, Colonial Williamsburg was given a two-page spread in a C & O travel guide to Virginia. The target audience here was obviously anyone considering traveling by train, a group which of course would be restricted to those who could afford to do so. The attempt was to attract tourist with a collage of pictures. These included the prominent sites of the Palace gates, the Capitol, the Gaol, individual homes, William and Mary College, Bruton Church and Raleigh Tavern. Along with the corresponding captions, these images provided potential visitors with a preview of the vast number of attractions and of their beauty. Secondly, the brief text mentions the "endless research, enormous funds and loving care" along with "original furnishings," "authentic reproductions," and "fascinated visitors." Thus, in one small paragraph, Williamsburg is sold as an enormously thorough undertaking, extremely historically correct, and as a popular and successful tourist destination. Most importantly, however, the text refers to Colonial Williamsburg as "preserved for the nation as a historical shrine" (#14, 2). This language blatantly surfaces the agenda of the restoration as a surge of civic religion. Mentioning this "historical shrine" brings to mind a patriotic duty and sense of wholesome Americanism that is achieved by celebrating the sacrament of visiting the restored area.

Another approach was the pamphlet, most likely distributed at train stations or aboard the trains themselves. One such article is entitled "Visit Historic Williamsburg." Included therein are photos of Duke of Gloucester St., the Palace, the courthouse, William and Mary, Raleigh Tavern, formal gardens, and the public gaol. This diverse set of images gives a well-rounded presentation of the many sites available to the tourist at Colonial Williamsburg by riding the C & O. The text looks to sell Williamsburg as a pure form of history while the historic capitals of Boston and Philadelphia have been adulterated by "expanding industries and swelling populations" (#15, 1). Historical imagination is prompted as well by offering visitors a chance to "breathe the air of a leisurely past, walk in spirit with Washington, Jefferson, and Patrick Henry, and come away with a pleasant understanding of our country in its youth." Likewise, a visit is described as "stepping into a living history book" where tourists can worship patriotism through a secular pilgrimage along the footsteps of our national hero-saints.

A second pamphlet is less propagandistic in nature and more informative. Food, lodging, admission charges, transportation, the furniture sales program, and nearby attractions are each paragraphs informing travelers on Colonial Williamsburg's logistics. There is a small mention of relevant history. However, this article is more designed to aid with the planning of a trip, for those who have already decided to visit Williamsburg, rather than to convince them of the merits of such a vacation.

Finally, images resembling actual advertisements were included in the backs of C & O train schedules and in the form of C & O posters. It is unknown as to whether the funding of these printings is by C & O or by The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. Overall there is little mention of the railroad company except for their name and that they are the "only railroad serving Colonial Williamsburg" (#13).
C&O advertisementUndoubtedly there was some type of collaborative effort made on these ads with the intention of mutual profit. Regardless of their origin, these ads used the beauty of Colonial Williamsburg to sell the restorative efforts. The image to the right attempts to interest visitors through an inviting photo of the Palace gardens. This shot is framed by a garden doorway which serves as a welcoming tunnel towards the beautiful ceremonial gardens. The photo is clean and crisp as to represent the order and elegance of the gardens. The text aims to impress the reader by mentioning the vast amounts of time and effort required to restore the "hallowed buildings" in the "cradle of the Republic."
The effort here is to appeal to the emotions of the sanctity of our country's prideful origins. Thus, the message is that a pilgrimage to these secularly holy grounds is manifested by the enormous efforts to provide
C&O posterthis historical sanctuary. The poster, which contains little text except for the captions, hopes to win the viewer over with the majesty and beauty of photography. By showing a variety of scenes from a Colonial carriage to the stocks to the most magnificent of buildings, the poster represents the vastness of Colonial Williamsburg as an complete town. It is clear from the poster that the restoration was comprehensive and enormous in scale. It would make sense, therefore, that a visit to the restored town could occupy several days and would be worth the train ride. The attention to historical detail is also demonstrated by having people in Colonial garb in three of the photos.
These costumes look to attract tourist by presenting a novelty and evoking the imagination as well. By planting these seeds of historical imagination, it is hoped that visitors will come to embrace the worship of the nations sacred past.

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