Happy Wednesday, and welcome to another installment of “Where my research takes me.” The cool thing about being a historical mystery author is all the research “rabbit holes” I find myself exploring in order to write my series. I discover all sorts of interesting things!
I’m currently writing the fourth Concordia Wells novel (working title: Unseemly Haste), which entails a transcontinental railroad journey in July of 1898. As you might imagine, this involved quite a bit of research.
Since I’m strapped for time (gotta get back to writing the story!), here is a photo-essay of sorts, with links so that you can explore the subject further, if you’d like.
Concordia’s Journey: New York to San Francisco
The Chicago Express, New York to Chicago:
The trip from New York to Chicago took 26 hours.
The Overland Limited, Chicago to San Francisco:
Referred to simply as “the Overland,” it was run jointly by the Union Pacific Railroad and the Southern Pacific Railroad (which took it over from Ogden, UT – without passengers needing to change trains). The journey between Omaha and San Francisco took 71 hours. Highlighted sections below are mine (when Concordia is traveling the line).
The general timetable for my story:
- Concordia and Miss Hamilton leave New York City at 9 am Tuesday.
- Arrive in Chicago around 11 am on Wednesday.
- Layover in Chicago (shopping…and skullduggery) until departure at 7 pm Wednesday evening.
- With various stops along the way (and more skullduggery), such as Omaha, Ogden, and Salt Lake City, arrival in San Francisco on Saturday evening.
- More skullduggery in San Francisco… 😉
So, being aboard a train from Tuesday through Saturday means that the rail line must meet the sleeping, eating, and leisure needs of its passengers. There were specialized cars for this purpose: sleeper, dining, parlor, smoking (for the gentlemen), and even a library car was standard for these lengthy trips.
Want to learn more about 19th century railway travel?
Pullman Cars Add Comfort to Overnight Travel
Traveling in Style and Comfort: the Pullman Sleeping Car (Smithsonian Magazine)
The Pullman Era (ChicagoHS.org)
Photographers from that long ago often get lost in the shuffle. The copyright on their images may be expired, but I’m grateful for their work. Check out this index of Pullman Photographers, from the Pullman State Historic Site.
Have you ever traveled long distance by train? What interesting things have you discovered lately? I’d love to hear from you.
Until next time,
Other installments in the “Where my research takes me” series:
Anywhere my research takes me: burglars, knitting, detective cocktails?
Where my research takes me: 19th century health ads
Where my research takes me: having a blast in the 19th century
5 thoughts on “Where my research takes me: 19th century Pullman cars”
Fascinating!! Really looking forward to the next Concordia Wells adventure!
Thanks, Margot! She’s definitely out of her comfort zone. Right where I want her, bwahaha… 😉
Ah, the rabbit holes of joy… My present WIP (a stage farce) has me reading up on divorce law, criminology and telephone systems in the early 1920s. Among other things 🙂
That sounds really cool, Deborah! I didn’t know you wrote for the stage. So glad you could stop by!
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