George Francis Train, one of the most eccentric men in America was born on
March 14, 1829 in Boston. He was orphaned at the age of 4 during a yellow fever epidemic
in New Orleans. He was then raised by his grandparents in Waltham, Massachusetts, and went
to work early for his father's cousin who ran packets to Liverpool.
At 21, Train went to Liverpool to manage the business there. He formed his own
company and in 1853 headed with his wife to the gold rush town of Melbourne, Australia.
He became a shipping agent, merchant, and insurance man and became involved in building
the port facilities, all the while acting as a correspondent of the Boston Post.
He described his travels back to the United States via Asia and the Middle East
in articles for the New York Herald. As a journalist, he was predicting by the end of 1856,
the next year's panic and proposing a railway to California and the annexation of Cuba.
He helped develop the Atlantic and Great Western Railroad.
He then went to Liverpool and London in 1860 and 1861 and built the first street
railways there. In 1862 he came home and began working with the Union Pacific Railroad on
their expansion westward from the Missouri River. Train sailed again for Europe on
January 8, 1868. He was detained by the British police for carrying pro-Fenian literature,
and then arrested for a short time.
In 1870, he decided to make a quick trip round-the-world departing from New York.
He traveled to San Francisco, Japan, Hong Kong, Saigon, Singapore, Suez and Marseilles.
While in France, he fell into an adventure with the Communards which landed him in jail in
Lyons. He was released and sailed from Liverpool back to New York making the round-the-world
trip in 80 days. Train believed this was the basis of Jules Verne's tale published in 1873.
Train became very rich owning real estate in Omaha and other parts of the West.
In 1872, he campaigned for president under the Greenback Party, and after publishing some
alleged obscene literature was put in the Tombs. Train was declared to be a lunatic. The
district attorney ordered him tried for insanity, but several experts found him a monomaniac
rather than insane, and the jury declared him sane. After that, he assigned his assets to
his wife, and lived apart from her in New York City. By 1874, he had become a champion of
the working man.
He repeated his round-the-world trip in 1890. Departing from Tacoma, Washington on
March 18, 1890, he returned there on May 24, 1890 making the circumnavigation in
67 days 12 hours and 3 minutes. He repeated this round-the-world trip again in 1892, setting
a 60 day record.
Returning to New York City, he lived in a crowded room in the Mills Hotel. He held
Sunday services in Union Square naming his church, the Church of the Laughing Jackass.
In 1902, at the age of 73, he dictated his autobiography, "My Life in Many States
and in Foreign Lands." It contained fond tributes to his three children and on
January 18, 1904, he died peacefully in his room with his daughter by his side.
Itinerary 1890 RTW Trip
Departed Tacoma, WA by ship "Olympia" 03/18/1890
Vancouver by ship "Abyssinia"
Yokohama, Japan by train
Tokyo, Japan by train
Yokohama, Japan by train
Kobe, Japan by ship "General Werder"
Hong Kong by ship "Preussen"
Singapore by ship "Preussen"
Colombo, Ceylon by ship "Preussen"
Suez, Egypt by steam launch
Port Said, Egypt by ship "Arcadia"
Brindisi, Italy by special boat
Calais, France by train, ferry & train "Flying Irishman"
London, England by ship "Etruria"
New York, NY by train
Chicago, IL by train "Chicago & Western Railroad"
Omaha, NE by train "Chicago & Western Railroad"
Arrived Tacoma, WA 05/24/1890