doing my desk research for this report, I wondered what the first
Pullman Sleeping Car looked like 150 years ago, in 1859. I found
a drawing of that car and some interesting facts at www.railswest.com.
following drawings and text are from this excellent website: http://www.railswest.com/pullman.html
Pullman's First Sleeper Completes First Trip
The first Pullman Sleepers (above) were built in 1858-59 from a rebuilt
day coaches. The first overnight trip was made on the Chicago and Alton
Railroad between Bloomington, Illinois and Chicago on September 1,
1859. The body of the coach was all wood, with metal truss rods
underneath. The roof was basically flat with a slight arch, and was so
low that a tall man could barely stand up . The seats were adamantine,
it was lighted by candles and two small wood burning stoves furnished
heat. At each end was a toilet room large enough for one person. A tin
wash basin was in the open. There were ten upper and ten lower berths;
mattresses and blankets, but no sheets. While these cars continued to
be in service Pullman didn't get an order to convert any more coaches.
1865 - The first real Pullman Sleeping Car Introduced
The first "modern sleeper" built from the ground up by Pullman was put
in service on the Chicago and Alton 1865. The Pioneer was much longer,
higher and wider than previous sleeping cars, railroad bridges and
platforms needed to be modified to permit its passage. The car
introduced folding upper berths which could folded up to the ceiling
during the day. The car was heated by a hot air furnace under the
floor, lighted with candles, included a raised upper deck or monitor
roof and was ventilated through the deck windows. The car had two
compartments at each end, eight sections, and a roomy washroom.
Furnishings included black walnut woodwork with inlay, framed mirrors
between the windows, French plush upholstery, polished brass fixtures,
good beds, ample bedding, deep pile carpeting on the floor, somewhat
influenced by the furnishing of the saloons and cabins of the river
steamboats. The car ran on 2 eight-wheel trucks.
The car proved to be immediately successful, it was added to President
Lincoln's funeral train and was a popular choice of several dignitaries
including General Grant.
While other companies produced equally comfortable and luxurious
sleeping cars, Pullman's more efficient use of space allowed him to
charge more reasonable rates to passengers providing a better value.
website gives credit for this text and photos above to: Evolution
of the Pullman Sleeping Car based largely on Pullman Progress: 1859-1929, and Modern Travel by Pullman, both
published by the Pullman Company. Photos and illustrations from the
Since many readers are located in Southern California, they might find
the following facts interesting:
Sleeping Cars at Orange Empire Railway Museum:
Orange Empire Railway Museum exhibits three Pullman Sleeping Cars:
* the Corydon, a 7
compartment, 2 drawing room car built in 1917;
* the Bison Peak, a 10
section 2 drawing room car built in 1926;
* the National Scene,
a streamline 6 roomette 6 section 4 drawing room car, built in 1956.