However, when the AT&SF did finally decide to offer dining cars as part of its passenger train consists it constituted only the best of services. During the streamliner era the railroad offered dining in its "Turquoise Room" which also offered dining in a dome car. The car, which was part of the famed Super Chief, used authentic Native American (many of which depicted the Navajo) colors (such as turquoise and copper), patterns, and even authentic murals and paintings in the train. Other interior designs included rare and exotic woods like ebony, teak, satinwood, bubinga, maccassar, and ribbon primavera for trim through the train giving the Super Chief an added touch of one-of-a-kind elegance.
When Amtrak began operations in 1971 it also offered prepared meals aboard dining cars for years. However, by the late 1990s the national passenger carrier decided to forgo this service and replace it with snack cars and vending machines, a decision quite disappointing to passengers and patrons. Today, however, you can still treat yourself to real, prepared meals aboard trains if you visit one of the many tourist lines around the country. Some of the more well known such railroads offering these services include the Grand Canyon Railway, Napa Valley Wine Train, and Strasburg Railroad.
As incredible as it seems you can once again ride the rails just as it was in the classic era of passenger trains. In 2012 it was announced that Pullman Rail Journeys, owned by shortline conglomerate Iowa Pacific Holdings, would re-inaugurate classic Pullman service on select Amtrak trains that included a full staff with porters, full-course meals in dining cars, dome car service, and much more. The new service has since launched and is open to the traveling public in select locations (please visit their website to learn more). While it is expensive, with prices ranging from $500 to several thousand per trip, you can now rekindle the magic of what it was like to ride a train before the days of Amtrak. To learn more about the service please visit Pullman Rail Journey's website by clicking here.
For more reading about diners the book American Passenger Train Equipment: 1940s-1980s by author Patrick Dorin provides a very nice general history of classic car types used in service (predominantly during the streamlined era) featuring many drawings and detailed information on several. Also, the book The Cars of Pullman from author Joe Welsh, Bill Howes, and Kevin Holland. As the title implies the book details and highlights the various types of cars Pullman built throughout the years, along with giving a general history of the company in the process.
Passenger Train Cars