Civilized Travel by Rail
As the icy winds of winter continue to make their presence known, many Minnesotans are headed to warmer climates for a welcome getaway. At the airport, travelers don sweatshirts, yoga pants, easy-to-remove shoes, and even pajamas to aid with comfort of squeezing into a small seat, and to decrease time in the security line. Quite a contrast when compared to previous decades where people dressed up for a leisurely train ride for their long-distance travel. The photograph above shows Maud Van Cortlandt Hill and others dining in style aboard a train in 1925.
It’s fair to say that even with train travel, there were varying levels of service and presentation, and not all dining cars provided white table clothes. Still, the interior of this dining car on the Milwaukee Railroad “Hiawatha” train circa 1935 looks quite nice and the women all look proper and impeccable with their fashionable hats.
The dining car wasn’t the only place where a traveler could relax during his or her journey. Day coaches also provided room and in this instance, the opportunity to face inward to converse with friends or to face outward to enjoy the view. This image shows the interior of a day coach on the Northern Pacific Fargo-Minneapolis-St. Paul train in 1934.
The North Coast Limited traveled from Chicago to the Upper West Coast and was a good option for family travel. This family is taking advantage of the Traveler’s Rest Lounge in 1962 where they can casually sit at a table, sip a drink, and take in the scenery; all while being cared for by an attentive staff.
If an ornate light fixture hanging in a passenger car doesn’t call for traveling in your Sunday best, I don’t know what does. This North Coast Limited train from 1910 has a gorgeous interior with velvety chairs and provides a lovely back-drop for its passengers.
Train travel is not complete without a visit to the observation car where a traveler can gaze at the landscape. The “Hiawatha” lounge and observation car from 1948 has numerous windows to allow passengers a more panoramic view of the countryside.
Train travel has changed quite a bit since being the primary mode of long-distance travel. These days a train ticket can be pricey and it’s certainly not as fast as a cross-country flight. Dressing up to travel is no longer the norm. However, if you fancy an experience that your ancestors may have enjoyed, taking a train may be the way to go. You won’t need an oxygen mask! These poor masked passengers are on a tri-motored Ford plane in 1940.
For more images of travel, visit the Minnesota Historical Society’s Collections Online!