Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Only the best for Burlington Route diners

The Chariton Democrat's editor, back in late March of 1901, was invited aboard one of the C.B.&Q. Railroad's five brand new dining cars for a tour, thus introducing Lucas Countians to the luxuries awaiting them should they embark on a journey east to Chicago or west to Omaha, Denver and beyond. Providing, that is, they could afford the cost of an elegant sit-down meal.

Both the C.B.&Q. and its principal Midwest competitor, Union Pacific, had stoutly resisted adding dining cars to their trains until 1889, preferring to build into schedules brief stops at depots along the way where hungry passengers could grab something to eat, gulp it down and get back aboard. Sensible travelers brought along their own provisions.

That changed during 1889 when Union Pacific violated the gentlemen's agreement between the two lines and built its first restaurant on wheels. The C.B.&Q. followed and by 1900, most long-distance trains had dining cars attached. The new cars that began passing through the Chariton Depot during 1901 raised the dining standards of those cars to their highest level yet.

Here's the reporter's description as published on the front page of The Chariton Democrat of April 4, 1901. I found the image online. The time table was published weekly in Chariton newspapers during 1901.


Recently the Burlington Route ordered five new dining cars from the Pullman Car Company at Pullman, Illinois, which have been completed and have been put on the road within the past week. These cars have the names of the following cities on the Burlington system, viz: Ottumwa, Galesburg, Peoria, Chicago and Aurora.

In the construction of these cars the utmost care was taken with every detail, and nothing was left undone to make them what they were intended to be, the very best dining cars in use on the American continent.

They are 70 feet long and are built on six wheel trucks. They differ in many ways from those in use heretofore, and are equipped with every device tending to the improvement of the service. The interiors are done in quarter sawed Flemish oak, with an orange colored wood above, which forms a striking contrast to the black woodwork below. A handsome red Wilton carpet covers the floor and the curtains are of red tapestry. Ten tables are placed in each car, which furnish a seating capacity of thirty. The tables and chairs are also of Flemish oak and the chairs are upholstered with dark red leather.

The locker in which the silver and chinaware and provisions are kept are up to date in every respect. Each car has been supplied with a fine new line of solid silver, made expressly for the Burlington Route.

The new cars are steam heated, lighted by Acetyline gas and fitted with a system of refrigeration of the latest and most improved design. In fact they possess all the modern improvements and the cars of no other line can compare with them in point of strength, convenience, comfort and elegance. These cars have been manufactured at a cost of about $18,000 each. The chinaware, silver and linen for each car are furnished at an additional expense of about $3,000.

The car which the reporter inspected most thoroughly was the "Galesburg" and was in charge of Conductor Chas. Lewis,  one of the most genial and popular conductors on the road. He is painstaking and courteous and gives the patrons every attention and the best accommodation at hand.

Experienced chefs and attendants alone are employed on the diners. The  linen is spotless. The menu is selected from the best the markets afford, and the cuisine and service is equal to that of first class hotels. Meals are served a la carte at popular prices.

The Burlington Route believes in having the best of everything and in giving their patrons the best of service. It is this careful thought and attention which makes the first class Burlington trains so popular.

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