The Daylight Limited is the first book in The Lionel Great Railway Adventures, released in June 1998 as part of Series 1. It was written by Lin Oliver with illustrations by Charles Pyle.
The trilogy begins with the Holden family, who live in San Luis Obispo, California in the year 1939. The family loves trains and when their son Tuck dreams of a train car made of glass, his father and mother decide to come up with a car that is similar in question to the one from Tuck's dream. After various contenders for a name, Mr. Holden decides to call it the dome car.
Tuck and his father show a model of the dome car off to the engineer of the Daylight Limited passenger train, who just laughs it off, but a woman from the ticket counter, Mrs. Fernandez, inspires them to present the dome car to the Invention of Tomorrow contest at the World's Fair in New York City, which is all the way across the country and is apparently very expensive to go to. Even after Tuck sells some of his comic books and catcher's mitt, as well as his sister Billie giving up her gold locket, only their parents are able to go, leaving the children stuck with their no-nonsense cousin, Ida, who "has a rule for everything". Mr and Mrs. Holden emotionally depart to New York via Daylight Limited.
Five days before the contest, Ida goes to the train station to pick up a package, harshly instructing Tuck and Billie to wait for her on the platform and not do anything else. Their pet dog, Chief smells food coming from the kitchen of the Daylight Limited's dining car and it is there that Tuck learns from the cook that his favorite actress Loretta LaRue, is on the train with her dog Gypsy and is anxious to meet her. However, Loretta has booked a private car, which is attached to the end of the train because, according to the cook, she does not like having visitors, so Tuck and Billie decide to deliver Gypsy's dinner to the car when the train leaves for San Francisco. Now on their way to said destination, Tuck delivers Gypsy's dinner and even gets to meet Loretta LaRue herself, but danger is not too far away, when a mountain rockslide causes Loretta's private car to be detached from the train when a large boulder heavily damages the coupling, causing it to slide backwards down the mountain (à la The Caboose Who Got Loose). Remembering whistle signals, Billie coaxes the conductor to take her to the whistle, ordering four short blasts--the signal to break. After searching for the handbrake, Tuck manages to bring the runaway private car to a stop.
As a reward for saving her life, Loretta has Tuck and Billie (and Chief) boarded onto a special train for New York City.
- "The Only Way to Go"
- "I've Been Workin' on the Railroad"
- "Great Railway Adventures Theme"