Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Research questions for novel

From: "Kathy Owen" kathy@kbowenmysteries.com

Hello, I’m researching late-nineteenth century railroad travel for my next novel (my fourth book), which involves my female protagonist making a railway trip from New York to San Francisco during the summer of 1898. I’ve been fortunate to learn a bit about the routes, travel times, sleeping cars, and passenger life aboard a train, particularly through resources such your website, Appleton’s General Guide to the United States and Canada, and the Library of Congress. However, there are a number of other details that I’m having difficulty finding, such as:

What transfers would have to be made along the way? I've read in Appleton's General Guide to the United States and Canada (1889) that the trip would have the following segments: New York, Chicago, Omaha, Salt Lake City, and then San Francisco. If so, would my travelers have to buy separate tickets for each leg of the journey? What different railroad companies would be involved, and how long would each segment take? If there was a layover, were passengers allowed to disembark, as long as they had returned in time?

What would a typical day on board a transcontinental train trip be like? I've learned that there were separate cars for dining, lounging, and smoking, in addition to sleeping. Were any cars specific to ladies only? The 1889 Appleton's guide says there are no dining cars from Omaha to San Francisco, but had that have changed by 1898?

When there were dining cars: what times and how many meals were served each day? Were passengers assigned certain times, or could they just show up during the serving times, like a restaurant?

Would the women be responsible for folding up and putting away their own beds and linens, or would the porter do it for them? ...

K.B. Owen, historical mystery author