• A Real Parlor Car

  • General discussion about railroad operations, related facilities, maps, and other resources.
General discussion about railroad operations, related facilities, maps, and other resources.

Moderator: Robert Paniagua

  by bill haithcoat
I think this is already understood but just in case, please note that a real parlor car was actually revenue space, like a pullman sleeper or a coach. It was not a place to "visit" like a club lounge, diner or dome.

The post before me makes a good point that the Pacific Parlor Car car is so named more for alliteration than anything else....and a very clever alliteration at that. But it does take a little poetic license, as the seats in it are not assigned revenue space as a true parlor car would have been.

  by Scoring Guy
Right you are Mr. Haithcoat, a parlour car was just a high priced coach car with bigger and fewer seats.
Around my neck of the woods, between Chicago and St. Paul, parlour cars were quite the norm in "post war" / pre Amtrak times; the C&NW had parlour car(s) on the Dakota 400 and Twin Cities 400 (the TC 400 only had an observation. car), The Milwaukee Road TC Hiawatha had its "Valley" Parlour cars (also had Skytop car) , and Burlington ran parlour cars on its TC Zephyr (also had dome obs.), that were sometimes carried back to Chicago on the Empire Builder.
My question is were the entire observation/skytop cars on these trains "lounge" space or were they partial revenue seats and partial lounge area?
  by bill haithcoat
Scoring guy, the area under the actual skytop glass itself, as on the Olympian Hiawatha, for example, was purely lounge. But there may have been parlor seats(or perhaps bedrooms,etc) at the front of the car.

I may have an old timetable I can check into at home tonight and let you know tomororw, unless somebody beats me to it.
  by bill haithcoat
I found an Offical Railway Guide from the mid '50's and it shows the Olympian Hiawatha having an eight bedroom-sky top lounge, so no parlor there.

But the Afternoon Hiawatha and the Morning Hiawatha had a "sky top drawing room parlor" so I guess maybe there were parlor seats in the front, and lounge sets at the rear? I don't know--that is all it said.

  by Scoring Guy
Thanks Mr. Haithcoat. I did a little searching around on my own - I guess I didn't think this through very well when I posed the question.
The Buirlington Twin Cities Zephyr, which only carried the parlour car when needed, certainly would have had to have sold the "parlour" seats in it's dome observation, which were just chairs on the main level, from end to end, otherwise there would be no 1st class seats available - thus only the dome seats were (unsold) lounge space.
The Milwaukee Road T.C. Hiawatha Skytop, had 20 revolving "parlour" seats (plus a drawing room) that were probably revenue, with just the arch shaped couch under the skytop as lounge space (along with the full length dome car). The Oly. Hiawatha skytop had a larger lounge space than the T.C.
Still checking on the CNW parlour/observation cars.

  by Scoring Guy
Here's my last installment of my research of the "post-war", Chicago-Twin Cities corridor parlor cars:

Did some back checking on the CB&Q Twin Cities Zephyr: The Dome/Observation car appears to have had 29 revenue "parlor" seats, 9 forward of the dome and 20 rearward of the dome, all of which were non-anchored chairs - it seems unlikely that these seats were numbered and assigned, so one can only guess at the scramble for the rearward most seats at boarding time in Chicago and St. Paul. Two anchored seats in the round end of the car appear to be non-revenue lounge seats, along with the 24 seats in the dome. Plus there was a Drawing room (under the dome) that could hold four or five folks, and the restrooms were also under the dome.

The TC Zephyr's Parlor Car had 28, anchored, rotating seats, 14 single seats on each side of the aisle, served by 7 large windows on each side of the car. There was also a Drawing room. Restrooms (men's/women's) were at opposite ends of the car.

The Chicago & North Western parlor cars had 22 anchored, rotating seats, 11 single seats on each side of th aisle, but ironically, these 11 rows of seats were served by only 10 windows. The car also had a drawing room (with its own toilet) and mens and womens restrooms. The car also had a smoking room that could accommodate about six people that was probably none revenue.

The C&NW Twin Cities 400 observation car, had 12 anchored, rotating parlor seats, in six rows, but once again, only served by five windows on each side of that part of the car. The lounge area in the rear half of the car had seating for 29, plus a service bar. Restrooms were at the forward end.

It's hard to believe, with all this space and comfort, that post war train ridership declined as it did. Even first class in the Acela doesn't match these parlor accommodations.