Thursday, April 12, 2012

Question about the Pullman dining car in 1889


Hi, I'm pulling my hair out trying to find out the correct answer to this question.

I'm writing a western where the people are traveling by train on the Union Pacific Express from Cheyenne, WY (via: Omaha, Chicago, St. Louis, etc.) to Boston in 1889. On one site I found information stating that the train goes through without the people having to change trains (the train only has to change tracks) and that there is, in fact, a dining car where they don't have to get off at the stops to grab a quick 20 minute meal while the train takes on water.

On another site it says that the Pullman dining car wasn't put into effect on the western railroads, i.e., the Union Pacific, until 1890. Which is correct? Any advice you can give me would be most helpful. The site did mention that the Michigan Central was the first railroad to have regularly scheduled dining cars on its train from Chicago beginning around 1876 and that the Baltimore & Ohio followed suit in 1881.

With that said, can I assume that the first leg of the trip from Cheyenne to Chicago the passengers would have to get off to get something to eat?

Any information you can give me would be greatly appreciated. My eyes are getting crossed trying to sort through all this information on the internet and still not being able to find the correct information.

Thanking you in advance for leading me toward the right track!

—Lynne Lee


Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

The last image from the Huntington Library indicates that "Pullman Hotel Dining Cars Are Run by the Chicago & North-Western Railway ... ca. 1887."

4/12/2012 1:26 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

That image has the notation "10-'77" which could instead indicate October, 1877.

4/12/2012 1:30 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

Harper's New Monthly Magazine, Vol. XLIV[44].—No. 264.—55.
New York, Harper & Brothers, May, 1872. pp. 865-881.

... "From Chicago to Omaha your train will carry a dining car, which is a great curiosity in its way. I expected to find this somewhat greasy, a little untidy, and with a smell of the kitchen. It might, we travelers thought, be a convenience, but it could not be a luxury. But in fact it is as neat, as nicely fitted, as trim and cleanly, as though Delmonico had furnished it; and though the kitchen may be in the forward end of the car, so perfect is the ventilation that there is not even the faintest odor of cooking. You sit at little tables which comfortably accommodate four persons; you order your breakfast, dinner, or supper from a bill of fare which, as you will see below, contains a quite surprising number of dishes, and you eat from snowwhite linen and neat dishes admirably cooked food, and pay a moderate price.

It is now the custom to charge a dollar per meal on these cars; and as the cooking is admirable, the service excellent, and the food various and abundant, this is not too much. You may have your choice in the wilderness, eating at the rate of twenty-two miles per hour, of buffalo, elk, antelope, beefsteak, mutton-chops, grouse — but it is better to give you a bill of fare from which I once ordered my dinner on such a car, and wondered where they kept their stores:

Beyond Omaha, unless you have taken seats in a hotel car, you eat at stations placed at proper distances apart, where abundant provision is made, and the food is, for the most part, both well cooked and well served. These hotel stations are under the supervision and control of the managers of the roads, and at many of them, especially on the Central Pacific road — in California, that is to say — your meals are served with actual elegance. Sufficient time is allowed — from thirty to thirty-five minutes — to eat; the conductor tells you beforehand that a bell will be rang five minutes before the train starts, and we always found him obliging enough to look in and tell the ladies to take their time, as he would not leave them.

There is a pleasant spice of variety and adventure in getting out by the way-side at the eating stations. We saw strange faces, we had time to look about us, the occasional Indian delighted the children, we stretched our legs, and saw something of our fellow passengers in the other cars. Moreover, if you have a numerous party desirous to eat together, the porter will telegraph ahead for you to have a sufficient number of seats reserved, and thus you take your places without flurry or haste, and do not have your digestion spoiled by preliminary and vexatious thoughts about pushing for a good place. In short, these trains are managed for the pleasure and accommodation of the passengers. The voyage would, I suppose, be unendurable else."

4/12/2012 1:39 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

Don't see a reference to dining cars beyond Omaha in BITS OF TRAVEL AT HOME.
By "H. H." [Helen Hunt Jackson]

4/12/2012 1:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Delmonico’s in New York City was the first "restaurant."

See, Ten Restaurants That Changed America by Paul Freedman.

11/21/2016 8:37 AM  

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