Pullman Sleeping Cars
The Museum features 10 cars manufactured by the Pullman Company, including four “heavyweight” sleeping cars.
In 1867, at the age of 36, George M. Pullman established the Chicago-based Pullman Palace Car Company, bolstered by the attention gained from his luxurious passenger cars used on Abraham Lincoln's funeral train in 1865. The name “Pullman” quickly became synonymous with safe and luxurious travel by rail. Pullman’s influence on the industry, particularly his sleeping car operations, set the standard for the next 100 years. His cars included such amenities as chandeliers with electric lighting, leather seating, impeccable service, and advanced heating and air conditioning systems. Gracious Pullman porters were available to cater to the passenger's every need.
The Pullman Company constructed, owned, and operated its vast fleet of sleeping cars, having a virtual monopoly on the sleeping car business. In 1948, the company was ordered to divest itself of its sleeping car operations, the result of an anti-trust judgment. At that time, Pullman transferred ownership of its fleet of cars to the railroads over which they operated. Pullman continued to manufacture cars, while the railroads operated them or contracted with Pullman.
By the 1930s, Pullman’s conventional “heavyweight” passenger cars were becoming outdated as the nation embraced modern industrial design. As a result, streamlining was applied to passenger trains, giving them a futuristic look and the element of speed.
Following WWII as the railroads re-equipped their tired fleet of passenger trains with modern diesel-powered streamliners, Pullman’s manufacturing operations worked overtime to keep up with demand. Unfortunately, postwar travel by rail succumbed to new interstate highways and the jet. Pullman officially ceased operations in 1969. Its manufacturing side produced the last passenger car upon completion of Amtrak’s Superliner Ones in 1981.
The Museum of the American Railroad's heavyweight sleeping cars recall an era when the Pullman was a household word and the company provided accommodations for up to 100,000 people per night.
For more information about the Museum’s Historic Pullman Collection, click here.