Pullman Trains: America's Hotel on Wheels

Pullman Trains: America's Hotel on Wheels

These compelling stories will take you back to the era of train travel at its best! They include first-person recollections of Pullman employees and passengers, how Pullman routed its cars, and the various types of Pullman cars and accommodations.

United States
Kalmbach Publishing Co. - Magazines


america’s hotel on wheels

After a long day of travel, you’ve had a fine dinner and enjoyed a nightcap with new friends in a comfortable lounge a short walk from your table. Now you’re ready for bed, so you head for your room, also a few steps away. It’s small, but not cramped — a marvel of efficient use of space. You close the door, slip into your night clothes, and wash up. Then you fall into a plush bed with crisp white sheets and a heavy wool blanket. You drift off to sleep in cozy comfort. You’re also moving at 70 miles an hour, with your own private window on the passing night. Come morning, you’ll be hundreds of miles closer to your destination, maybe even home. You’re on a passenger train several decades…

empire of hospitality

One of the most famous businesses in American history, the Pullman Company served the United States travel market from 1867 to 1968. Although it was an integral part of American passenger railroading for more than a century, Pullman was not a railroad. It owned no tracks aside from those at its shops. It possessed no powerful mainline steam locomotives or road diesels and it ran no trains itself. Instead, Pullman built, owned, or leased a large fleet of passenger cars — mostly sleepers — that it provided to the railroads under contract. It was the railroads that handled the reservations and carried you from place to place aboard your Pullman car. Pullman was essentially a giant hotel company. In the four decades between incorporation and March 1907, when Pullman built its…

pullman’s progress

1838 First known U.S. operation of a sleeping car, Richard Imlay’s Chambersburg, on the Cumberland Valley Railroad out of Harrisburg, Pa. 1840s–’50s Railroads and concessionaires operate sleeping cars over an expanding network 1859 George M. Pullman and Benjamin Field rebuild coaches 9 and 19 of a Chicago & Alton predecessor into sleepers at Bloomington, Ill. 1863 Pullman and Field order from C&A’s shops a new sleeping car, later named Pioneer, of substantially improved design 1867 Firm incorporated as Pullman’s Palace Car Co. on February 22 1868 First Pullman dining car enters service, on the Chicago & Alton 1870 Begins building its own cars after acquiring Detroit Car & Manufacturing Co. 1 874 Pullman launches parlor-car operations 1881 Opens new main car shops and utopian town for employees near Chicago called Pullman; begins building freight cars 1887 Pullman’s H. H. Sessions develops the vestibule; PRR’s Pennsylvania Limited becomes first allvestibule…

i ‘ve been riding the pullmans

“From Natchez to Mobile, from Memphis to St. Paul,” I’ve been riding in Mr. Pullman’s cars for more than 35 years. I’ve endured nights of noisy wakefulness, and I’ve had other nights of delicious oblivion, when I haven’t heard a thing from Chicago to Minneapolis or from Atlanta to Jacksonville. I’ve slept in Pullman sleepers so long that I find myself carrying out Pullman habits when occupying my half of the family bedroom at home. Just the other night, noticing that no upper was lowered over me, I got up and gave my wife $1.60, remarking that travel was getting mighty light again when one could get the whole section. One time I commented about my shoes not being properly shined in the morning, but I’ve never made that mistake again.…

tales of the century

To several generations of Americans who have attained maturity in a fantastic age when an ersatz quality has attached itself to living, there is one institution that yet carries the supreme stamp — as sterling on silver, Rolls Royce on an automobile, or Stradivarius on a violin. That institution is a train, New York Central’s 20th Century Limited. Since 1902 it has rolled splendidly over NYC’s “Water Level Route.” And now, after passing its golden anniversary, the Century continues to dramatize to the railroad beholder that not only is there power left in the minute but also, what is more important in this age of flying speed, that there is comfort left in the hour. My introduction to this train came in a long bygone youth — in my teens, when…

names, not numbers

The names assigned to Pullman- and railroad-operated passenger cars have long captured the public’s imagination. Whether seen in the dim light of a rural whistle stop or the bright glare of a large terminal, the names signified the best and most comfortable of railroad equipment. Sunbury Inn, Cascade Pool, Quonset Point, Minnetonka, Imperial Chariot, Cimarron Valley, Dolly Madison, Pacific Union, Silver Arrow, Emerald Glade, Cadwallader C. Washburn, Kankakee River… Thousands of words have appeared in print about such names. Stories about them have become part of American folklore. Indeed, there has been endless speculation and rumor about their sources. Notwithstanding the romance and symbolism connected with them, these names were important to the accounting and car-service procedures developed over the decades by Pullman and the railroads. Public interest in car names was…