Le Vigne Wineries Pullman Cars: – The Golden Age of Rail Travel

After George Pullman spent an uncomfortable night on the train from Buffalo to Westfield in New York, he thought that there had to be a better was to travel the rails. He felt that a luxury rail car was needed. Pullman, born in New York in 1831 had moved to Chicago in 1859. He had already been successful in business before he decided to improve rail travel.

The “Pioneer” was Pullman’s first attempt as a luxury car. It failed as it was too wide for railway platforms and bridges. After re-engineering the new Pullman car, it was included as part of President Lincoln’s funeral train in May of 1865. His car received national publicity and soon became famous for luxury train travel.

In 1867 Pullman introduced his first “hotel on wheels,” the President, a sleeper with an attached kitchen and dining car.

A year later in 1868, he launched the Delmonico, the world’s first sleeping car devoted to fine cuisine. The Delmonico menu was prepared by chefs from New York’s famed Delmonico’s Restaurant.

Robert T. Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln’s son, became President of the company after Pullman’s death in 1897. The company successfully operated until the 1950’s when the explosion of automobile and air travel made rail travel less desirable. In 1957 the Pullman Incorporated company closed its plant’s.

Most of the Pullman Car’s were taken out of commission in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Thanks to a number of train aficionado’s many of the car’s were rescued for future generations.

The “Joseph Pulitzer” was retired after only six years of service. She was placed in a car shop in St. Louis where she sat from 1956 until she was bought by Finlay Fun Tours in 1966 after which she was restored to her former glory.

In 1969 the Pullman Cars “La Quinta” and “La Jolla” were retired and sold to Findlay where they remained until purchased by current owner Sylvia’s father Sylvester in 1994. The rail cars were moved to the train depot in Paso Robles in February of 1995 and ultimately made the journey to the winery where they reside now in May of the same year.

“La Jolla” and La “Quinta”

Both carriages were made by Pullman in 1951 and were supposed to be part of the “Golden Rocket” which was a combined effort between the Rock Island and Southern Pacific Lines. The line was supposed to run between Chicago-Kansas City-Tucumcari-Los Angeles. Given that cars would travel in the southwest, the Pullman Company used desert colors as the theme for each car. This included desert gray for the exterior, Arizona blues and canyon reds in Apache Indian designs for the carpets and drapes.

The “La Jolla” was a 12 double bedroom sleeper where as the “La Quinta” was a 2-4-4 sleeper which meant she had 2 drawing rooms, 4 double bedrooms and 4 compartments. After Southern Pacific backed out of the deal, the “Golden Rocket” never ran a mile and the “La Quinta” “La Jolla” became part of the Rock Island line where they were used on daily routes – one from Rock Island to Chicago and the other from Chicago to Peoria.

The “Joseph Pulitzer”

The “Joseph Pulitzer” was one of the last Pullman observation cars. Built in 1947 and named after the famed publisher of the St. Louis Dispatch and the founder of the Pulitzer Prize for Journalism, the car ran on the “Texas Run” between St. Louis Union Station and San Antonio, Texas until 1956.

Decorated with Tiffany stained glass, she was restored after Findlay purchased the car in 1966. She was renamed the Elihu C. Redfield, after Findlay’s great grandfather who worked for the Missouri Pacific Railroad in the 1800’s.

Observation Cars had sleeping compartments as well as buffet service, kitchens and lounge areas as shown here.

It is our dream at Le Vigne Winery to one day be able to restore the incredible rail car’s to their past splendor!

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