The Cars Of Pullman: By Joe Welsh, Bill Howes, And Kevin Holland
Over the years there have been a few books covering the history of the
Pullman Palace Car Company (and its other many names). However, I'm not
sure any have gone into such great detail as The Cars Of Pullman,
a book written by three well known rail historians; Joe Welsh, Bill
Howes, and Kevin Holland. Released just in 2010 by Voyageur Press (a
division of MBI Publishing), the book offers not only an excellent history of the company but also vivid and engaging photography (an MBI trademark). Overall, the book
is five chapters in length (not including the introductory and
concluding sections) spanning just under 200 pages. It opens by
discussing how the company was created by Mr. George Pullman and then
looks at early car designs including original all-wooden equipment,
the transition period with steel and wood, heavyweight cars of the
early 20th century, and finally the lightweight streamliners post-1930s.
If you enjoy studying the history of Pullman this book really needs to
be in your collection.
The Cars Of Pullman
|A Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Pullman-built "Doodlebug" boards passengers at the station in Saint Joseph, Missouri during the winter of 1955.|
begins with an interesting overview of the
Pullman Company describing its founding, high watermark during the late
19th through the first half of the 20th century, and finally its decline
after World War II. This introduction is only a page in length but
gives you a good idea of what you will find throughout the rest of the book.
Also of note here is the Southern Pacific advertisement on page seven
describing "The West's First All Room Train." Additionally, on pages
eight and nine you can see a 1930s brochure from Pullman describing the
evolution of their cars from the 1850s through the late 1920s. The
point here is to note that throughout the book you will not only see fabulous photography but also historical advertisements Pullman used over the years.
Finally, there is an acknowledgements section with the book
mentioning all of those who helped bring it together. However, it is
featured directly at the back, near the bibliography. In any event, the book's
opening chapter, "The Pullman Company: An Overview", gives a further
in-depth look at the operation, much more so than the introduction.
However, this chapter provides less of a history of the company and more
of a background of how it carried out its business such as purchasing
rivals like the Wagner Palace Car Company, various car designs it
patented, and the services it provided railroads. You will also read
here about its large fleet of cars and those that it operated such as
sleepers (the authors also offer a very nice inset article that offers a
further background on Pullman's sleeping services), diners, parlors,
|A string of the Chicago & North Western's former galley cars, built by Pullman-Standard, sit stored in Campo, California on December 24, 2008. They were later employed by Metra for Chicago area commuter service before being retired.|
In chapter two, "The Wood-Car Era; 1867-1910", the book finally begins
discussing the earliest years of Pullman describing how it began with a
fleet of just 48 sleepers and grew from there. In this chapter you will
read about some of the smaller car manufacturers Pullman purchased and
also the plant he built just outside of Chicago naming and incorporating
his own town; Pullman, Illinois. Much of the reading, however,
revolves around the company's early car designs. While the photos here
are almost all black-and-white they show how these early wooden cars
were perhaps the most ornate ever built featuring incredibly detailed
woodwork, plush carpeting and seating, stained-glass, and opulent
chandeliers. You can also read an inset article describing the master
woodworkers and carpenters Pullman employed (inside and out) that
allowed for such impressive craftsmanship. Eventually, increased costs
forced the company to do away with the Victorian look.
Moving into chapter three The Cars Of Pullman
highlights the heavyweight era of all-steel cars that began to appear
during the first decade of the 20th century. Despite being far heavier
than wooden cars the use of steel improved safety and generally offered
longer a longer service life. Also, heavyweight cars ended entirely the
lavish and resplendent detailed woodwork ending an era of car
construction that would never been seen again (unfortunately, very few
of these cars remain preserved today). The chapter talks about such
things as new building techniques with steel cars, upgraded facilities
and services (such as air-conditioning), and different overall layouts.
You can also read an inset article that discusses precisely how Pullman
built steel cars.
From a railfan perspective chapter four is quite interesting as it details the transition of Pullman from its traditional construction techniques
to the new lightweight, streamliner era that began in the early 1930s.
By this point Pullman was the preeminent car builder save for the rise
of the Budd Company at the same time (whose own stainless-steel
lightweight cars became extremely popular). The equipment the company
produced during these last years of passenger rail service within the
private industry were quite impressive, and unique such as the Union
Pacific's domed diners. In any event, the chapter concludes by
highlighting Pullman's final years in business as it had to work harder
and harder to compete not only with Budd but also declining sales. The
company tried to transition over to building freight cars which proved
to be unsuccessful.
|A former Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac lightweight Pullman, once part of the River series, has been relegated to maintenance-of-way duties as the car is seen here in Ashland, Virginia during September of 1971.|
If you are interested in Pullman and the equipment it manufactured you will very much enjoy The Cars of Pullman, which by far offers the best look at the company's various types of cars and equipment which it produced (although it does not include much information in the way of Pullman's freight car business). I have used the book
somewhat as a reference for the writing of some of the material here at
the website. However, truthfully, I found it to be far more enjoyable
to read and check out the excellent photography! In any event, if you're interested in perhaps purchasing this book please visit the link below which will take you to ordering information through Amazon.com, the trusted online shopping network.