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Reception and Dinner at the Pullman 150th Pullman Symposium

Saturday PTHS Reception and Dinner

 and Historic Sleeping Car displays, sales and book signings held at the

Phil Stefani's Signature Restaurant (Pier 37) within the Harborside International Golf Course.

Photos by Carl Morrison

(Click any photo for a double-sized copy; Click BACK in your browser to return to this page.)


Robert West's "Long Hard Journey" available in various sizes at


This special evening would be the highlight of the Symposium and the event with the highest attendance.  It was a dinner featuring Pullman dining car menu selections with the featured Dinner presentation by James D. Porterfield -

Fine Dining a la George Pullman:  The Cars and the Cuisine that Made Long Distance Trains Possible

Phil Stefani's Signature Restaurant entrance.
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Theodore Shrady had his books for sale.

Attendee, Walter Loftin, Alexandria, VA, enjoyed the full conference.  He worked for 6 railroads in his 18 years of railroading:  Fruit Growers Express Co., Southern Railway, Pennsylvania RR, Washington Terminal Co., RF&PRR, Association of American Railroads, and Amtrak from 1972 - 1975.
During the booksignings before the dinner, the following Reception Hors D'oeuvres were served:  Canape of corned beef hash on buttered toast points,  Illinois sandwich, toasted ryt bread topped with a tender slice of corned beef and smoked liver sausage, and Canape of Pickled Shrimp.

David Mangold looked very professional for the evening and was the MC.

James Porterfield had four books for sale before dinner.

A few of Master Railroad Illistrator, Robert West's,  works for sale.
Robert West, MainLine Memories

Robert West's, "Long Hard Journey"

I purchased a print of this painting from Robert.
I also purchased a print of this painting for my driver at the Symposium, Bob Williams.

The Chef who colaborated with Mr. Porterfield for this evenings excellent dinner.
Matt Melzer making his last presentation of gifts from Depot Inn & Suites and The Railroad Winery to Mr. Porterfield after his talk.
Mr. Porterfield and all previous presenters appreciated the gifts from Matt.
Attendees at Reception Dinner

Dinner Menu

First Course:  Chilled Asparagus salad with caper vinaigrette
Second Course:  Salmon Soup
Main Course: 
Deviled Chicken, a delicious breast of chicken topped with a piquant mustard sauce.
Grilled Double Lamb Chop, this was reported to be the most popular item served in Pullman's cafe cars  It is topped with bacon and served with a side of has brown potatoes and buttered peas.
Fourth Course: Vanilla Ice Cream with raspberry sauce garnished with a slice of orange praline toast.

James D. Porterfield's talk was titled, "Soot to Souffle - 175 Years of Rail Dining"

Train tracks followed stage paths and there were usually taverns with food where teams were changed, so food off the stage, and later the train, was available - except when derailments or breakdowns took place.  Cattle hit on the tracks was the first dining on RRs - Road Kill.

1856 - First RR bridge across the Mississippi River

1869 - 1st Transcontinental RR across the US - Promitory Point, UT.

"News Butches" sold things on early trains - food items, newspapers, etc.  Self admitted short change artists, the would first sell salty food going through the train one way, then come back through with lemonade, much as is done at modern ball parks today.

"20 minutes for Refreshments" was common at train stops.  Many rumors of agreements between the food service and the engineer to blow the whistle 5 minutes early, causing customers to leave much of their food uneaten.  This would be scooped up and resold to the next train's riders.

Harvey Houses, inspired by Pennsylvania RR at Altona by the Logan House, a huge hotel to keep workers at Altona - a dreaded place to work.  Orders for food were wired ahead and food would be ready when the train arrived.

Fred Harvey in 1860 moved to St. Louis and opened a restaurant.  The Hannibal and St. Joseph RR offered eating houses every 16 miles on the Santa Fe route.  Men waiters got into fights with the local cowboys, so Harvey went to girl waitresses.  Many 18 yr. old girls were transported west with strict dress and behavior requirements.

womuniform.jpgThe Fred Harvey Company would recruit women via newspaper ads from towns and cities across the United States. The women had to be of good moral character, have at least an eighth grade education, display good manner and be neat and articulate to work in his restaurants. In return for employment, the Harvey Girls would agree to a six month contract, agree not to marry and abide by all company rules during the term of employment. If hired, they were given a rail pass to get to their Company chosen destination.

Harvey Girls were the women who brought respectability to the work of waitressing. They left the protection and poverty of home for the opportunity to travel and earn their own way in life while experiencing a bit of adventure.

For more information on the Harvey Houses, go to:

HarveyGirls.jpg"No Ladies west of Dodge city and No Women west of Albuquerque," before the Harvey Girls arrived as workers in Harvey Houses.

For quick service, there was a Harvey Cup Code.  After the waitress asked what the patron wanted to drink, she would put the coffee cut on its side for coffee, for tea she'd turn the cup over, for water she would put the cup on the table.  The server then knew what each patron wanted to drink and could pour the proper liquid.

Harvey Girls served 16 people in 25 minutes, at four 4-top tables.  When troops were coming through, she'd serve 96 in 25 minutes.

Mr. Porterfield said that the 1946 movie, "Harvey Girls" was a good representation, so we rented and watch it on this weekend.

Before the Civil War, food on the trains was incidental.  1867 Pullman introduced the "Hotel Car" on which riders could sleep, read, and eat.  There was an 8 x 8 ft. kitchen onbaord.  The railroads started the concept of bottled water because of unreliable sources off the train.  Hotel cars failed because the food cooked onboard created unpleasant odors.  Riders felt that only poor people ate in the same room they slept in, and sleeping cars were moved from train to train so someone had slept in the car before you.

Soon full dining cars emerged and were transferred from train to train to make several runs a day.

1880 - the compressed vestibule was being built so car-to-car movement was possible by passengers.  Diners then went to the diners which consisted of 8 x 18 kitchen; 8 x 12 pantry and the remainder of the car was 32 x 40 ft. seating of 6 stations of 2 tops and 4 tops.  The Dougan Chime was used to call passengers to dinner (sounds like NBC chime).

Items invented for use in train kitchens:  Bisquick, Sandwich bread (square topped loaves to save overn space) patented pans with lids by Pullman.  Pressed sawdust logs burned hotter and more evenly so chefs on RRs were first to use them;  Pullman Kitchens were used in town houses that were compact like train kitchens.

Mr. Porterfield said trains from Chicago to the West Coast only had diners and their menus to distinguish themselves from other railroads so one advertised giant baked potatoes (2 to 5 lbs.) while another advertised very large apples.  He has tried to get large potatoes to cook, but can't find any that big, which originally came from Canada.  He says the largest prepared baked potatoes in a restaurant today would be at Wendy's, at least 1 lb. each.

This ended his talk and guests had time to speak privately with the artists, researchers, and authors assembled and to buy their autographed works.  A very enjoyable evening even for non-train fans.  At lease two full tables were Pullman townspeople.

Depot Inn & Suites, La Plata, MO, 2 for 1 discount cards were distributed to all guests and presentors.

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After the Reception and Dinner, we drove back through Chicago's south side to the northwest side where we spent the night.  This would put us closer to Union, IL, for the next day's visit to the Illinois Railway Musuem at Union, IL.

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