Monday, March 02, 2015

When Pullman cars took over?

From: "Al Donnelly"

There seems to be disagreement over when Pullman cars took over and displaced Silver Palace cars. All accounts seem to trace back to claim that Gerald Best placed the date in the 1887 era, however, an Espee [Southern Pacific railroad] employee claimed in his autobiography that only Wagner cars ran on the route through the 1890's. The take-over of the Oregon & California in the late 1880's should have brought with it an existing Pullman contract for that road which was leased to the Central Pacific, but is there any real evidence of a contract for the Overland Route. If so, why did Pullman not construct service facilities in the East Bay until after 1900, leaving Sacramento's shops active in car building at least until there was a great fire at those facilities?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Colonel Pullman was introducing his new cars on the Pacific Road and he invited a few passengers to ride with him." —New York Times Report of June 18, 1869

3/02/2015 9:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

See related discussion.

3/02/2015 9:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From: "Kyle Wyatt"

Per the following from the 1883 Southern Pacific Annual Report, the Central Pacific and the Southern Pacific entered into a contract with Pullman to provide sleeping car services in 1883.



"It has been thought to be to the interest of this Company, and for the accommodation and convenience of its patrons, to transfer its Sleeping-cars to Pullman's Palace Car Company. Accordingly an agreement has been entered into from July 1, 1883, by the terms of which this Company sells, under certain conditions of redemption, one-fourth interest in its Sleeping-cars, and leases the remaining three-fourths interest, to the Pullman Company. The one-fourth interest is to be paid for as the cars are repaired and altered to conform to the Pullman standard; and the Railroad Company is to receive as rental for the three-fourths interest leased, three-fourths of the net earnings of the cars. The operations under this agreement have so far been gratifying to this Company, and we believe satisfactory to the traveling public."

—Central Pacific Pullman Contract 1883
CP 1883 Annual Report
Page 13

3/03/2015 7:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From: "Al Donnelly"
Subject: Palace car dilemma

... Kyle Wyatt sent a copy of the CP annual report reference to the 1883 agreement with Pullman. This is all rather puzzling of course. Huntington may have been manipulating the players in a war. As you may know, Vanderbilt went with Wagner and had control over the Northwestern lines as well as owning the Central. Pullman found himself in the Penn camp when they financed the Westside Route into NY. UP was a Pullman ally at the time and Huntington had little use for a bridge road that stood in his way. This is evidenced by his re-routing of traffic via the Sunset Route as soon as that was completed, and his attempt to keep control over the C&O for an eventual link up. (Nephew Henry was running a mill operation for him along that line and must have understood the ultimate goal as he became just as big a player in later battles.)

Huntington's MO was to place small orders for engines with loco builders who needed the business, even at a loss. He stayed away from Baldwin and placed orders with New England firms like Taunton, essentially leaving them high and dry while shoring up CPRR's weak financial position. I would find it strange that this man would go with Pullman as this would allow through car traffic from the Omaha area to UP advantage on the long haul, completely out of line with what we know of Huntington's character in dealing with the UP. I would expect that ol' Collis would have allied himself with the Commodore in order to put the squeeze on UP from both sides, and that would mean shifting from Silver Palace to Wagner. As far as I know, photos do show Wagner cars operating in CP and SP trains in the 90's. Pullman contracts were generally binding for extended periods, varying in length by that particular agreement, and would be hard to abrogate. Maybe Huntington dumped Pullman at a later date in order to get better terms for CPRR. We do know that Pullman services did continue on the Sunset and Shasta Routes, but CPRR was carefully held as an independent financial operation which could have terminated its own contracts. All in all, the recorded history is a convoluted mess at a minimum and needs a great effort to straighten it out. Very hard to do since Huntington made sure to destroy many records and the SF earthquake/fire of '06 took many others. I'll stop now since this could take up a whole book. ...


3/04/2015 8:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From: "Wendell Huffman"

The attached is a scan of pp. 12-13 of the Annual Report of the Central Pacific Railroad Company for the year ending December 31st, 1883. The pertinent comment is on page 13. ...

Obviously this tells us nothing about how or where Pullman cars were serviced. But we would have the same question whether the servive was Pullman or Wagner.


3/04/2015 8:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From: Larry Mullaly


You might want to check the Huntington microfilm correspondence around the time of the Pullman arrangement. Knowing Huntington, the decision was probably more a question of costs and benefits than anything else. I believe that traffic through Omaha, was always a more valuable source of passenger revenue to the Huntington associates than that obtained from the Sunset line.

Larry Mullaly

3/04/2015 9:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From: "Wendell Huffman"

Thank you for sharing your comments. They certainly left us many puzzles to sort through. It doesn't surprise me that Kyle had something to share. He was my predecessor here at the Nevada State Railroad Museum, and he and I are in regular contact as we work through these problems as they come along.


3/04/2015 4:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


An 1884 CPRR menu titled "Pullman Buffet (Drawing Room Sleeping) Cars" is shown in the article: "Dining Along the Central Pacific Railroad"; Spring 2014, The Railroadiana Express published by RCAI. See link for contact info; maybe they can send a copy to you.

—Dan Getts

3/04/2015 4:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From: "John Bergman"

In 1891 the S.P. Sunset Limited was using Pullman cars between San Francisco and New Orleans. The cars listed on the train were as follows: vestibule drawing room, observation car, dining car and various sleeping cars with differing accommodations and a composite smoking car for Gentlemen only (all Pullman). It was described as the "handsomest train ever."
(Info. from "The Southern San Joaquin Valley, a Railroad History." pg. 17 & 18.

—John Bergman

3/04/2015 4:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From: "Kyle Wyatt"

Al –

I believe you have built a towering logical construct based on suppositions and inferences that I believe are fundamentally flawed.

Was Huntington manipulative – oh, no doubt. But I believe you far over–reach with your suppositions about his thinking and his attitudes, and his antagonisms towards others. And particularly in the 1880's you greatly overestimate his power within the Central Pacific and Southern Pacific.

First Central Pacific and Southern Pacific. I recently wrote the following: Southern Pacific Company was formed in 1884, and in 1885 both the Central Pacific Railroad and the Southern Pacific Railroad were leased to the Southern Pacific Company. Before 1885 most of the Southern Pacific Railroad lines all the way to Texas and New Orleans were leased to and operated by the Central Pacific Railroad (excepting the SP line south from San Francisco to the Salinas Valley). This all changed in 1885. Also, most other associated railroads such as the Oregon & California were also leased to the Southern Pacific Company after 1885. But the companies continued to exist as separate corporations. For instance, Central Pacific Railroad was reorganized in July 1899 as Central Pacific Railway in order to issue new bonds to secure repayment of its 1860's construction debt to the US Government (with payments every 6 months for ten years to complete the repayment). Ultimately the Southern Pacific Railroad was finally merged into the Southern Pacific Company in September 1955, and the Central Pacific Railway was finally merged into the Southern Pacific Company in June 1959. The question is often asked when it was that the Central Pacific Railroad was taken over by the Southern Pacific Railroad? The answer is Never – since it was the Southern Pacific Company that controlled both. Between 1885 and 1959 the Central Pacific identity gradually submerged and was subsumed by the Southern Pacific identity – but that is a separate question from corporate existence.

So from 1885 on, the operative corporation is the Southern Pacific Company, of which Leland Stanford was President and CP Huntington was one of several Vice Presidents. It wasn't until the early 1890's that Huntington replaced Stanford as President of Southern Pacific Company, and it was the very late 1890s when he was finally able to negotiate the controlling purchase (by his bankers) of the Stanford, Crocker and Hopkins/Searles interests – setting the scene for the bankers' dominance of SP once CP Huntington himself died in 1900.

[continued below]

3/05/2015 12:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You cite locomotive purchases by Huntington to support your theory, but you have it all wrong. You argue that Huntington favored weak New England builders, but the fact is his favored builder was Schenectady in New York, probably the second largest builder after Baldwin and the core of the creation of American Locomotive Company in 1901. Huntington's second choice was Cooke in Paterson, New Jersey. Distant thirds were Rogers and Rhode Island. To my knowledge, Huntington NEVER purchased a locomotive from Taunton (although Union Pacific did, and so did Santa Fe). Beyond that, much has been made of Huntington's supposed aversion to Baldwin, but I believe that is all built on myth and inaccurate supposition. It was common for railroads to have one or two favored builders – Huntington's were Schenectady and Cooke. But he was fully willing to go to Baldwin when it suited him – as witness all the Baldwin locomotives purchased by the South Pacific Coast after Southern Pacific Company acquired control of SPC in 1887. SPCo also purchased other Baldiwn locomotives for some other subsidiaries. For that matter there were many railroads that did not regularly give Baldwin patronage in the 19th century – Huntington was far from alone in that, with the exceptions noted. Also, there were many other 19th century locomotive builders that Huntington did not patronize – not just Baldwin.

Overall, Huntington was driven by pragmatic choices, not personal enmities. In the 1880's for instance he worked cooperatively with Jay Gould (who controlled the Union Pacific) when it suited their mutual interests in opposing the Santa Fe/Atlantic & Pacific. And later, when it suited his interests and the interests of the Southern Pacific, Huntington settled with the Santa Fe, turning over certain trackage and granting trackage rights over Tehachapi.

Huntington redirected a great deal of traffic over the Southern Pacific route to the East because the longer haul was more profitable and saved splitting the tariff with the Union Pacific – not because he had some personal enmity with the Union Pacific. Meanwhile, a lot of traffic did continue to flow via the Overland route with Union Pacific – with some split off for the Denver & Rio Grande (just to keep the UP honest).

Similarly, the decision to contract with Pullman was a pragmatic one. With the completion of the Southern Pacific line to New Orleans SP was faced with a great expense to equip the new line with sleeping cars and build up the infrastructure to support ongoing sleeping car operations. Contracting with Pullman made a great deal of economic sense to SP (and to Huntington, although it appears that Crocker may actually have been the prime negotiator with Pullman on behalf of CP and SP). Again, remember that particularly in the 1880's, Huntington was not a singular controlling actor – he was part of a leadership team that included Stanford and Crocker, and had to consider Hopkins/Searles interests as well (even after Uncle Mark had died).

In sum, I think you completely misunderstand C.P. Huntington and his motivations, and the CP and SP overall – and along the way their relations with the Union Pacific. You have built a wonderful logical construct about how things operated, but I fear it is ultimately not supported by those pesky things known as facts. I hope you will reassess your whole analysis, and support your conclusion on primary source materials, not on secondary book sources who themselves have been carried away by flights of fancy. In your whole presentation so far I find lots of analytical conclusions (and assertions), but virtually no detailed facts that directly relate to and support your conclusions.


3/05/2015 12:45 AM  

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