Page 19 - JOA8-21
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photo: tpjphoto

                                                                                                     by Maxine Carter-Lome, publisher

                                                                         eorge Mortimer Pullman was born on March 3, 1831, in Brocton, New York,
                                                                         just four years after the “Laying of the First Stone” ceremonies that launched
                                                                  Gthe construction of the first passenger and freight rail line in the nation. By
                                                                  the time of his birth, tracks were being laid across the country at a frenzied pace, and
                                                                  steam-powered locomotives were changing the speed and trajectory of rail travel.
                                                                  As a young man, Pullman always regarded himself as a “businessman”—an early 19th
                                                                  century word used to define a man who was neither merchant nor manufacturer but
                                                                  a mobilizer of capital—and was drawn to the fast pace of opportunities transpiring
                                                                  during the early years of the rail industry.
                                                                     After spending an uncomfortable night sleeping on an overnight train trip from
                                                                  Buffalo to Westfield, New York when he was in his early 20s, Pullman realized that
                                                                  there was vast market potential for comfortable, clean, efficient passenger service. He
                                                                  designed an improved passenger railcar that contained comfortable sleeper berths for
                                                                  all its passengers and formed a partnership with former New York State Senator
                                                                  Benjamin C. Field in 1857, a close friend and neighbor, to build and operate sleeping
                                                                  cars based on his design.

                                                                  PULLMAN PRODUCTION
                                                                     In 1858, Pullman & Field secured a contract with the Chicago and Alton Railroad
                                                                  Company to redesign and remodel two of their 44-foot-long passenger coaches based
                                                                  on his design. During the day, the upper berth was folded up overhead similar to the
                                                                  present-day airplane overhead luggage compartment. At night, the upper berth folded
                                                                  down for sleeping, and the two facing seats below were converted to provide a
                                                                  relatively comfortable lower berth. Curtains provided passenger privacy, and there
                                                                  were washrooms at each end of the car for men and women.
                                                                     These prototype Pullmans were a slight improvement over existing sleeper cars but
                                                                  were not profitable given their cost to produce. This early venture did, however, put
                                                                  Pullman’s vision on track with the growing popularity of passenger rail service after
                                                                  the Civil War. While was not the first to create a sleeper railcar, he was the first to
                                                                  imagine it could provide added comfort, something that people would pay extra to
                                                                  have on longer travels.
                                                                     Over the next couple of years, Pullman worked on the design challenges of
                                                                  providing passengers with comfortable rail accommodations and developed his first
               Original vintage Pennsylvania Railroad poster - A luxury fleet
             featuring newest Pullman refinements at low travel cost! - showing   railroad sleeping car, the Pullman sleeper, or “palace car,” in 1864. Pullman designed
              smartly dressed passengers enjoying the inside of a Pullman train    these after the packet boats that traveled the Erie Canal during his youth, and they
            carriage with a waiter serving drinks to people seated at a booth table   were the country’s first introduction to his brand of luxury rail travel, which he was
             opposite a man smoking a cigar and holding a newspaper next to an   continually refining.
            elegant lady on the side and two fashionably dressed ladies talking in   The Pioneer, built in 1865, was the first, truly grand car that Pullman created. It
            front of men at a bar at the end of the carriage, the stylized lettering   was the ultimate in sleeping cars with red carpeting, hand-finished woodwork, and
             above and below with details of the trains and their service routes.   silver-trimmed coal lamps. Cast iron wheel trucks topped with coil springs and rubber
                        Selling for $1,349.89 at      blocks provided a more comfortable ride.

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