Along with the Rio Grande, the Southern gave many of us an opportunity to experience traditional dining car service after the creation of Amtrak. Unlike the Rio Grande, the overnight run of the “Southern Crescent” (and to a lesser extend, the “Piedmont”) allowed for a multi-day, multi-meal dining car experience.
The Southern had a number of trains and a number of routes featuring dining car service, well into the 1960’s. Indeed, the dining car operation at the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum features a modernized heavyweight dining car that was still being used on secondary trains before going to the museum to continue to serve rail passengers, hardly without missing a beat.
Don Phillips years ago in Train Magazine referred to the Southern’s passenger service as rating a letter grade B (I assume he would rank ATSF or UP an “A”), but their no-nonsense Southern traditional dining car service is memorable for reflecting the areas it ran through.
1941 Menu for the “Crescent”:
We hope you enjoyed a look back at the Southern’s dining car service.
Since the Erie was probably the weakest competitor in the New York to Chicago market, it was forced to start offering dining car service fairly early to compete with the NYC, PRR and even the B&O. The early menus reflect that kind of high end dining experience. By the time of the Depression, the Erie’s dining cars more reflected the kind of passengers it served: not so much that New York to Chicago passenger but perhaps the Jamestown, NY to Marion, Ohio traveler. A meal on the Erie was more like Sunday dinner at home.
We hope you enjoyed a look at the Erie’s dining car service.
The New Haven probably had the most extensive dining car operation of all the U.S. railroads. In addition to traditional dining cars, they had their lower cost “grill cars” as well as parlor cars and bar cars on the commuter trains.
I hope you enjoyed our look at the New Haven dining car operations!