Skip to main content

Dining Cars

Dining car Queen

Dining car Queen on the Royal Blue of the B&O Railroad, 1895. Reprinted in the Baltimore & Ohio Magazine, April 1940. Photo, Wikipedia.

 

Notice from the Central Pacific Railroad, ca. 1870.

Notice from the Central Pacific Railroad, ca. 1870. Photo, courtesy California Historial Society.

 

Turquoise Room

Turquoise Room, private dining area on the Santa Fe Super Chief, which could be reserved by passengers for special occasions. Photo, Life Magazine, March 14, 1955, p. 120.

Car layout

Layout for a typical 36-seat dining car.

In 1867, George Pullman, famous for his railroad sleeping cars, introduced the first railroad car designed and built for the sole purpose of preparing and serving meals on a moving train, akin to a full-service, sit-down restaurant.

Before dining cars, a train passenger’s only meal option was to patronize one of the “water stop” roadhouses, where fare typically consisted of rancid meat, cold beans, and old coffee.

By the mid-1880s, dedicated dining cars were a normal part of long-distance trains.

As competition among railroads intensified, dining car service reached new levels. When the Santa Fe Railroad unveiled its Pleasure Dome lounge cars in 1951, it introduced the traveling public to the Turquoise Room, promoted as "the only private dining room in the world on rails."

 

Dining Cars