A History Of Pullman and Pullman-Standard
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This page was last updated on April 8, 2018.
How the Pullman Cars Are Named
From the September 7, 1895 issue of New York Times:
Miss Florence Pullman, daughter of the head of the company, is said to draw a salary of $10,000 a year for naming cars. In the performance of her duties Miss Pullman evidences a decided preference for names which sound euphoniously, and which have a soft and musical quality.
Many of the names of the cars are of Spanish origin. They are the names of countries, rivers, historic towns, battlefields, flowers, and geographic names miscellaneously selected. Such names as Guatemala, Brazil, Guiana, Peru, Chile, Mexico, and the Central American States are frequently seen. Floral names, such as Narcissus, Sweet Brier, Geranium, May Bells, and other floral favorites are common, while Windsor, Worcester, Indianola, and the names of States are also common. Germania, Italy, Egypt, etc., are often seen.
There is a fine discrimination displayed in the naming of cars for special service. For instance, dining cars are in all cases named after celebrated cooks, as Savarin, and the cooks of famous men and women. There are cars named after the cook of Queen Victoria (Francatelli) and of Emperor William of Germany, the President of France, and noted chefs of mention in the literature of cooking.
Smoking cars attached to such trains as the limited express are given names which suggest luxury and leisurely enjoyment, as Sultan, Khedive, Mussulman, etc. Observation cars are nearly always named after some famous place of scenic beauty, as Yellowstone, Yosemite, Appalachian, Watkins Glen, Niagara, etc. (New York Times, September 7, 1895)
What do the numbers (4-4-2, 10-6, etc.) used to describe a sleeper designate? I know it's berths, seats and lounges, but which number means what? (Doug Wetherhold, January 16, 2011)
A 4-4-2 car was four compartments, four double bedroom, two drawing rooms. A 10-6 car was ten roomettes and six double bedrooms.
Generally, the least expensive accommodation was listed first, and the most expensive was listed last. In the 4-4-2 example above, the 4 compartments were cheaper than the 4 double bedrooms, which in-turn were cheaper than the 2 drawing rooms.
Most of the time, designating least to most expensive was the rule. An exception would be the 6-4-6 Pullmans, also known as the "S" series, with similar cars going to both Canadian and American roads including the famous "National" series on the UP. They were six sections, four double bedrooms, six roomettes (6-4-6) cars (most expensive listed first, least expensive listed last). This may have been done to avoid confusion with the existing 6-6-4 cars, which were mostly pre-war cars with the "open potties" in the bedrooms.
A three digit designation was not always a compartment-bedroom-drawing room configuration, and a two digit was not always a roomette-bedroom configuration. Railroads had many configurations and a three digit designation did not simply signify compartment, bedroom, drawing room combination. There were many combinations and, as previously pointed out, based on the least expensive to the most expensive room. There are some other exceptions as there were quite a few oddball floor plans. Three digit configurations included a 8-2-2 section-bedroom-compartment room configuration. Two digit configurations included bedroom-compartment (6-5) and single-double slumber (24-8). There were four digit and single digit configurations as well.
Although, on first glance, a Double Bedroom and a Compartment were the same size, but they actually were not the same. Size does matter. Compartments were slightly larger and all postwar types had an enclosed water closet. Lengthwise bedrooms had a chair and single seat.
A compartment was larger when considering only square footage. A drawing room was the largest single room available. Suites were combinations of two bedrooms or one bedroom and one compartment with the wall separating the rooms folded back to create one large room.
Look for these books by Robert J. Wayner. They provide excellent descriptions, with much more depth.
- Car Names and Consists (1963)
- Car Names Numbers and Consists (1972)
- Pullman and Private Car Pictorial (mid 1970s, reprinted in 2010)
- Pullman List of Cars 1950 (1970)
- Passenger Cars 1930s and 1960s
- Cars That Went To Mexico
February 22, 1867
The original Pullman Palace Car Company was organized.
The Pullman-Union Pacific Association was formed in October 1871; renewed in April 1884; dissolved in 1898. (Eric Neubauer)
A contract was signed between Pullman Palace Car Company and Union Pacific Railroad for the joint ownership of sleeping cars operating over Union Pacific and its subsidiary companies. The joint company was called the Pullman-Union Pacific Association.
August 1, 1889
A contract was signed for the joint ownership of dining cars by Pullman and Union Pacific. The first dining car was delivered to the association in November 1889. The dining cars were owned by the association and operated by Pullman. The association was dissolved in 1895 and most of the dining cars were sold to Union Pacific. The dining cars were numbered in UP's 300 series.
October 19, 1897
George M. Pullman died at his home in Chicago. Born on March 3, 1831 in Brocton, New York.
January 1, 1900
After buying numerous associated and competing companies, the Pullman Palace Car Company was reorganized as The Pullman Company; consolidated companies included the Wagner Palace Car Company.
February 22, 1900
Pullman changed the exterior color of its passenger car fleet, when the Pullman Company recorded in its book of 'standards' the adoption of a "new body color for all general service cars." This book of 'standards' is in the collection of the Newberry Library in Chicago. (Adrian Hundhausen, via email dated May 6, 2012)
A quote from Arthur Dubin's "Pullman Paint and Lettering Notebook," page 10. "Until 1900, Pullman's cars were painted a rich, thick chocolate brown. In 1900 Thomas H. Wickes, then VP and GM, decided he had wearied of the brown and asked William Breithaupt, foreman of the paint department, to evolve a green color. The result was a dark olive green originally called Brewster Green and later referred to as Pullman green."
December 28, 1918 to March 1, 1920
Pullman Company was operated by the USRA, along with the nation's railroads
January 10, 1922
The federal Interstate Commerce Commission approved The Pullman Company's purchase of Haskell & Barker Car Company, the stated purpose being that Pullman needed H&B's facility at Michigan City, Indiana to increase its freight car building capacity. (New York Times, January 11, 1922)
June 18, 1924
Pullman Car & Manufacturing Company was organized from the previous Pullman Company Manufacturing Department, to consolidate the car building interests of The Pullman Company.
The best years for Pullman were the mid 1920s. In 1925 the fleet grew to 9800 cars. Twenty-eight thousand conductors and twelve thousand porters were employed by the Pullman Co. (from The Pullman Virtual Museum)
June 21, 1927
The parent company, The Pullman Company, was reorganized as Pullman, Incorporated.
Pullman purchased controlling interest in Standard Steel Car Company.
March 1, 1930
Standard Steel Car Company was reorganized as a subsidiary of Pullman, Incorporated.
Standard Steel Car Company had been organized on January 2, 1902 to operate a railroad car manufacturing facility at Butler, Pennsylvania (and after 1906, a facility at Hammond, Indiana)
Pullman built its last standard heavyweight sleeping car.
December 26, 1934
Pullman Car & Manufacturing Company (along with several other Pullman, Inc. subsidiaries), merged with Standard Steel Car Company (and it subsidiaries) to form the Pullman-Standard Car Manufacturing Company.
Pullman Antitrust Case (1940-1947)
In 1940, just as orders for lightweight cars were increasing and sleeping car traffic was growing, the United States Department of Justice filed an anti-trust complaint against Pullman Incorporated in the U. S. District Court at Philadelphia (Civil Action No. 994). The government sought to separate the company's sleeping car operations from its manufacturing activities.
July 12, 1940
An anti-trust complaint suit was filed by the federal government claiming unfair competition by monopoly.
Included among the complaints was that Pullman restricted the development of lightweight sleeping cars since 1930, and that Pullman coerced the railroads into using only sleeping cars owned by Pullman, threatening to remove all sleeping car service from operation on any railroad the pursued its own development of lightweight cars. (New York Times, November 8, 1941)
April 20, 1943
The federal court found that Pullman, Inc., did have a monopoly in the passenger car business (manufacturing and operations)
The court concurred, ordering Pullman Incorporated to divest itself of either the Pullman Company (operating) or the Pullman-Standard Car Manufacturing Company (manufacturing). After three years of negotiations, the Pullman Company was sold to a consortium of 57 railroads for around 40 million dollars. (see Newberry Library, Pullman Collection, Pullman Guide; PDF)
January 2, 1944
The federal court ordered Pullman to sell either its sleeping car operating company, or its car manufacturing interests. Pullman, Inc., decided to sell its operating company
May 8, 1944
A three-judge federal Third Circuit Court of Appeals ordered that Pullman, Inc., separate "completely and perpetually" its railroad-car building business from its sleeping-car enterprise, effective within 60 days. (New York Times, May 9, 1944)
May 12, 1945
Pullman offered to sell its sleeping car operations to the nation's railroads. (New York Times, October 30, 1945)
June 26, 1945
Pullman sent a Notice of Contract Termination to all member railroads.
The Pullman Company relinquished control of its sleeping car business, but the final effective date was extended until all appeals could be settled, on or about March 31, 1946
Apparently the rolling stock assets were separated from the other assets of the operating company at the same time. Due to contracts already in place, Pullman-owned lightweight cars were sold to the railroads over which the lightweight equipment was operating. These contracts stated that Pullman operated the lightweight cars until "cancellation or termination" of the lightweight car operating contracts. Apparently that cancellation took place on the above mentioned July 1945 date.
In the March 30, 1946 issue of the New York Times, in an item about New York Central's profits for 1945, it mentioned that in 1945 NYC purchased 142 lightweight cars from Pullman. In a separate article in January 1958, the newspaper mentions that NYC purchased the cars in 1945, but immediately leased them back to Pullman for operation.
October 29, 1945
A group of 22 railroads asked to intervene in the sale of The Pullman Company. They stated that they would honor all existing labor agreements, and that the company would be operated in the joint interest of the nation's railroads. The 22 railroads included: NYC, SP, CB&Q, AT&SF, Southern, UP, NP, Milwaukee Road, C&NW, PRR, IC, GN, L&N, ACL, B&O, N&W, Wabash, Nickle Plate, Rock Island, New Haven, Seaboard, and Western Railway of Alabama. (New York Times, October 30, 1945)
March 4, 1946
The sale of The Pullman Company to 43 railroads was appealed to the U. S. Supreme Court by the Department of Justice, which preferred that the sleeping car business be sold to Otis & Company (the elevator company). Both sides argued that the sale to either opposing party would be trading one monopoly (Pullman) for another (either the railroads or the elevator company). (New York Times, March 5, 1946)
The New York Times article shows that The Pullman company was to be sold to 43 railroads, with controlling interest being held by five railroads. Later in the same article, the total of railroad companies is shown as 49 companies.
June 11, 1947
Proposed sale of The Pullman Company to a consortium of 53 railroads for a reported $40.2 million was filed with the federal district court. (New York Times, June 12, 1947)
June 30, 1947
The Pullman Company, a new company jointly owned by 59 railroads, was organized to assume control of the interests of the former Pullman-owned company. (New York Times, June 27, 1947)
June 30, 1947
Pullman, Inc., formally transferred ownership of its sleeping car business, The Pullman Company, to 57 railroads. The change would put sleeping car operations on the same basis as diners and day coaches, which were already owned, operated and maintained by the railroads. The value of the deal was reported as being $74 million, including $35 million paid by the railroads to Pullman in 1945 for 600 of the company's lightweight sleeping cars. (New York Times, June 27, 1947)
The New York Times article shows that the railroads in 1945 purchased 609 lightweight cars from Pullman with a depreciated value of $34.9 million, and that they had an option to purchase 3,994 heavyweight standard cars, at a depreciated value of $15.8 million. Also, the western railroads had options to purchase 2,209 tourist cars, at a depreciated value of $4.4 million.
Pullman Antitrust Case Details
United States v. Pullman Co., 50 F. Supp. 123 (E.D. Pa. 1943); also known as Civil Action No. 994.
(Volume 50, Federal Supplement, page 123; United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, 1943)
United States v. Pullman Co.
- 50 F. Supp. 123 (E.D. Pa. 1943)
- 53 F. Supp. 908 (E.D. Pa. 1944); hearing on form of judgment
- 55 F. Supp. 985 (E.D. Pa. 1944); judgment approved per curium
- 64 F. Supp. 108 (E.D. Pa. 1946)
- 330 U. S. 806 (1947); affirmed by U. S. Supreme Court
- 268 I.C.C. 473 (1947)
- 276 I.C.C. 5 (1949); modified
- 294 I.C.C. 703 (1955)
- 306 I.C.C. 138 (1959)
Pooling of Railroad Earnings and Service, Pullman Co.
- 322 I.C.C. 100 (1964)
Pullman's Final Years (1947-1969)
The following comes from a Pullman brochure from 1955:
January of this year marked the 75th milestone in the history of Pullman Car Works and the town founded by George M. Pullman. The 75 years have been paced off by remarkable achievements in the railway equipment industry.
As of today the parent company is Pullman Incorporated, an outgrowth through the years of Pullman's Palace Car Company, organized in 1867. Pullman had been producing sleeping cars for ten years prior to this. Now, Pullman Incorporated has three subsidiaries. These are the M. W. Kellogg Company, Trailmobile Incorporated, and Pullman-Standard.
It is a structure which has its peculiarities, for some of its network actually predates Pullman's entry into the railway supply field.
Osgood-Bradley, a carriage maker of Worcester, started his business in rented factory quarters in 1820. Soon after this he was building cars for some of the first railway lines in an infant nation. Sherman, Haskell & Company was formed in 1852 in Michigan City to build railway cars. In 1855 this became the Haskell & Barker Car Company which eventually became a part of Pullman-Standard.
We have a corporate fibre which has survived through the years, both good and bad—years of feast and famine, years of black depressions, wars and panics. The youngest plant, in years, located in Bessemer, Alabama, marked its 25th anniversary last June. In 1952 the Butler, Pennsylvania plant celebrated its 50th year, while the Michigan City, Indiana shops passed their 100th milestone. The Worcester organization is in its 136th year.
Pullman-Standard built its last lightweight passenger car for a major U. S. railroad; Lot 6959 for Union Pacific, the "City" series, with 5 bedrooms and a club section.
Production of passenger cars did, however, continue at Hammond, Indiana, until the shut down in 1980. The last cars produced were the Amtrak Superliners.
By 1966, Pullman employed a work force of 788 and operated a fleet of 335 Mexican owned or leased sleeping cars and 63 dining and parlor cars in the nation. (Pullman Guide, Newberry Library)
December 31, 1968
Operations of the Pullman Company sleeper cars ceased and all leases were terminated.
The following detail was provided by email from Jim Murrie, dated October 16, 2004:
- August 1, 1967 -- PRR made a switch to "partial form of service" (Pullman cleans, furnishes, repairs, and stocks cars, but railroads staff them).
- 1968 -- Other railroads followed PRR's change.
- January 1, 1969 -- Pullman ceased to provide porter service on remaining sleeping cars operating in the USA.
- February 1, 1969 -- Railroads inform Pullman they wish to cancel their partial service contracts.
- August 1, 1969 -- Pullman ceased providing sleeper car service to railroads in USA.
- (See also: Travel by Pullman, A Century of Service, by Joe Walsh and Bill Howes; Motor Books International, 2004, pages 145, 147)
January 1, 1969
On January 1, 1969, at the age of 102, the Pullman Company ceased operation, though it maintained a small central office staff to wind up affairs and handle an equal pay for equal work lawsuit (Denver Case) that continued in the courts until 1981. The "Denver Case" was a class action suit filed in 1968 by Earl A. Love on behalf of porters-in-charge, requesting pay equivalent to that of conductors for equal work. (Pullman Guide, Newberry Library)
(The most visible result on UP passenger trains was that the Pullman name was removed from the letterboard of all Pullman-owned cars.)
Pullman continued to operate sleeping car service in Mexico, until November 13, 1970.
The End Of Pullman
(Editor's note: No specific published work has been yet identified that carries a comprehensive history of Pullman and its corporate operations. The information that follows is the result of various internet searches, including various SEC filings, along with information shared from other interested persons.) (First compiled in October 2004, with numerous and on-going updates since then; much of this was added to the Pullman entry on Wikipedia in June 2006)
After the 1944 breakup, Pullman, Inc., remained in place as the parent company, with the following subsidiaries:
- The Pullman Company for passenger car operations (but not passenger car ownership, which was passed to the member railroads)
- Pullman-Standard Car Manufacturing Co., for passenger car and freight car manufacturing; along with a large freight car leasing operation still directly under the parent company's control.
- Pullman, Inc., remained separate until a merger with Wheelbrator in late 1980, which lead to the separation of Pullman interests in early and mid 1981.
An auction of all Pullman remaining assets was held at the Pullman plant near Chicago.
Late 1970s-early 1980s
The company continued to market and build cars for commute service and Superliners for Amtrak as late as the late 1970s and early 1980s.
December 2, 1980
The Pullman Company was dissolved. (Pullman Guide, Newberry Library)
The Pullman, Incorporated as a company remained in place until 1981 or 1982 to close out all remaining liabilities and claims, operating from an office in Denver.
The passenger car designs of Pullman-Standard were spun off into a separate company called Pullman Technology, Inc.
Pullman, Inc., spun off its large fleet of leased freight rail cars as Pullman Leasing Company (PLCX), which later became part of ITEL Leasing, retaining the original PLCX reporting mark. ITEL Leasing (including the PLCX reporting mark) was later changed to GE Leasing.
Pullman, Inc., spun off its freight car manufacturing interests as Pullman Transportation Company. Several plants were closed and in 1984, the remaining railcar manufacturing plants and the Pullman-Standard freight car designs and patents were sold to Trinity Industries.
Pullman Technology was sold to Bombardier.
Using the Transit America trade name, Pullman Technology continued to market its Comet car design (first built for NJDOT in 1965) for commute operations until 1987, when Bombardier purchased Pullman Technology to gain control of its designs and patents. As of late 2004, Pullman Technology, Inc., remained a subsidiary of Bombardier.
After separating itself from its rail car manufacturing interests, Pullman, Inc., continued as a diversified corporation, with later mergers and acquisitions, including a merger in late 1980 with Wheelabrator-Frye, Inc., in which Pullman became a subsidiary of Wheelabrator-Frye, Inc.
In January 1982, Wheelabrator-Frye merged with M. W. Kellogg, a builder of large, cast-in-place smokestacks, silos and chimneys. Wheelabrator-Frye retained both Pullman and Kellogg as direct subsidiaries. In 1990, the entire Wheelabrator-Frye group was sold to Waste Management, Inc. The Pullman-Kellogg interests were spun off by Waste Management as Pullman Power Products Corporation. Late 2004 that company was doing business as Pullman Power LLC, a subsidiary of Structural Group, a specialty contractor.
March 23, 1985
Pullman Transportation Company announced that it had changed it corporate name to Pullman Company. (The Pittsburgh Press, March 23, 1985)
After the last of the Kellogg interests of Pullman-Kellogg were spun off, and after the railcar manufacturing plants were sold, and with the formal dissolution of the old Pullman Company (the operating company from the 1944 split), the remaining portions of the Pullman interests were spun off in May 1985 by Waste Management, Inc., into a new Pullman Company.
May 20, 1985
Pullman Transportation "recently purchased REDM Industries and in-flight food equipment business of Midland-Ross." (Arizona Republic, May 20, 1985)
October 25, 1985
The effective date for the merger of Peabody International, Inc., and Pullman Company, to create a new company by the name of Pullman Peabody Company. The shareholders and boards of both companies voted on October 24, 1985 to approve the merger. The merger agreement was announced on June 20, 1985, and was reported as being a $127 million stock swap. (New York Times, June 21, 1985; Arizona Republic, June 22, 1985; UPI news story carried in several newspapers, October 24, 1985, "to take effect Friday")
In September 1986, Pullman Peabody announced that they would complete a hostile takeover of Joy Manufacturing. In December 1986, Joy sued Pullman Peabody to stop the takeover and in January 1986, both sides agreed to end the attempt. (New York Times, various issues)
February 15, 1987
Pullman Peabody Company announced that it had changed its corporate name to Pullman Company. (The Indianapolis Star, February 15, 1987)
In April 1987 (after Pullman Technology was sold to Bombardier), the name was changed back to Pullman Company, which in September 1987 merged with Clevite Industries.
The Pullman Company was registered as a Delaware corporation on August 30, 1988.
By 1996, Pullman Co., with its Clevite subsidiary, was almost solely a supplier of automotive elastomer (rubber) parts. On June 17, 1996, Tenneco announced that it would buy Pullman: "Tenneco Inc., in another small move toward reorganization, said yesterday that it would acquire the Pullman Company, a privately held maker of automotive suspensions and other parts, for about $300 million." "Pullman owns Clevite, which makes suspension equipment for light and heavy trucks. Clevite, which is based in Milan, Ohio, has a 32 percent share of the suspension market for trucks and has projected revenue of $230 million for this year. Tenneco said the acquisition would bolster its Monroe Auto Parts division." (New York Times, June 18, 1996, "yesterday")
As of late 2004, Pullman Co., as a manufacturer of automotive elastomer products, was still under the control of Tenneco Automotive.
As a non-Pullman side note, other construction engineering portions of Pullman-Kellogg were spun off as a new M. W. Kellogg Corporation, and in December 1998, became part of the merger that formed Kellogg, Brown & Root, a specialty contractor which itself was later sold to Halliburton, an oil well servicing company. In an eventual competitive move, other Kellogg engineering interests were merged with Rust Engineering becoming Kellogg Rust, which itself became The Henley Group, and which today is part of Washington Group International, a specialty contracting firm that competes directly with Halliburton worldwide. Washington Group International is the successor to the former Morrison Knudsen engineering and contracting interests, and is also the owner of Montana Rail Link.
The following sources were mentioned in a December 1, 2012 telephone conversation with Robert Wayner, encouraging future researchers to make use of them:
Pullman News magazine, published 1922-1958
The Sleeping Car Conductor magazine, published for 30 years
The Ticket Agent magazine, published by the American Association of Ticket Agents
Some retired Pullman cars were changed to "structures," and located near large stations where they were used to store spare parts and tools, as well as being used as work shops. These were called "Store Room and Porter" cars and were given "S" numbers in Pullman records.
"Samuel Vaughn Merrick" was assigned to UP to replace rear observation that was wrecked at Wyuta on November 12, 1951.
The New York Times
The Pullman Virtual Museum
Newberry Library; Pullman Guide; PDF, 1.9MB, 808 pages, as of November 9, 2011
Bob Webber via email on October 18, 2004
Andre Kristopans via email on October 18, 2004
Various internet searches
Emails from persons who wish to remain anonymous
Pullman Postscript -- An article scanned from the November 1969 issue of Trains magazine.
The Pullman Virtual Museum -- Home of the Pullman Preservation Alliance, a service of the State of Illinois (broken link)
Pullman Shops at Richmond, California -- A site put together by Dave Roth, who acknowledges and thanks several other people.
Newberry Library, Pullman Collection -- Scroll down to "Pullman Company"; not much available on line - another case of having to visit their library to use the collections.
Guide to the Pullman Collection at The Newberry Library -- PDF; 808 pages; 2MB
The Pullman Project -- Tom Madden's excellent source for Pullman car information; this web site focuses solely on Pullman's sleeper cars.
Joe Walsh and Bill Howes. Travel by Pullman, A Century of Service. (Motor Books International, 2004)
Joe Walsh, Bill Howes and Kevin J. Holland. The Cars of Pullman. (Voyageur Press, 2010)
Arthur D. Dubin. Pullman Paint And Lettering Notebook, A Guide To The Colors Used On Pullman Cars From 1933 To 1969. (Kalmbach, 1997)