Wednesday, October 03, 2018

Questions about rail travel in 1878

From: "Rosalyn Eves"

I'm working on a novel set in 1878 in the American West, and a chunk of the story takes place on the UPRR line between Ogden and Cheyenne. I’m trying to figure out a couple of details that I haven’t been able to find in the contemporary accounts I've read (a couple of guide books, etc.).

1. What were the bathroom facilities like? I’ve read of private salons having a small bathroom attached, but it's not clear if this is just washing facilities or also included a toilet. My best guess is that the toilets were (like some primitive trains I've been on in Europe), a toilet seat set over an opening that opened onto the tracks, but I'd like to verify this.

2. Was it possible for passengers to pass between cars on a moving train? The 19th century cars I've seen all have guard rails at the end of the metal platform and around the stairs that would make moving from one car to an adjoining one extremely difficult, but I don't know if that was typical for the period or not. ...

—Rosalyn Eves