Robert Todd Lincoln

Well established as an leader in sleeping car technology and holding a United States Patent, The Pullman Company understood innovation and change.

Beginning in 1907, the Pullman Company experimented with steel construction. the new materials and methods of construction allowed for longer stronger cars. Safer at higher speeds, and eventually, more comfortable.

the Pullman Company was a master of wood construction. But within a time period of a single year, the claw hammers were replaced with 100 ton steam hammers. they changed from the 70 foot varnished wood cars to 80-foot riveted steel cars. The dim glow of a small flame was replaced with the amazing electric light bulb. The fabricated wood and iron trucks were replaced with massive structural steel castings. But the most noticeable change between 1900 and 1910 was from the heavy, dark Victorian interiors with marquetry, carvings and bold patterned tapestries, to the era of simple elegance, using clear wood, straight molding, and bronze hardware. Pullman also introduced nickel plated brass bathroom and kitchen fixtures in 1910.



Early riveted three-axle truck
post 1910 cast three-axle truck

The massive fish belly under frame was the backbone of cars built between 1910 and 1930. Supporting 80 foot long cars, it weighed almost a quarter of the total weight of the car. After the first year of building steel cars, Pullman began to shave off the excessive weight and over designed of the under frame, but was forced to add extensive end crash reinforcement to the upper structure. By 1915, a standard sill, bolster, and upper structure had been established.

Steel had proven itself, and by 1912, the Pullman Company was the largest manufacturer of steel products in the world. (two years before Henry Ford produced the Model T automobile). However, it should be noted that many of these improvements were forced upon the company to keep the competitors out of the arena. Pullman owned many of the gas producing plants that supplied fuel for the old gas light fixtures. They had developed the wood constructed to a science, and owned many of the saw mills, but not a single steel mill. Pullman was selling the beauty and elegance of wood inside and out. A steel car could never muster the awe of its' patrons. The longer lasting steel cars would reduce replacement business. For these reasons, the Pullman Company was the last major builder of railcars to convert to the modern construction. But as king of the railcar business, few noticed the competitors steel cars until the Pullman Company changed. When they did convert to steel construction, Pullman changed to the new technology so fast that the competition was left derailed, never to challenge the giant again.

The Pullman Company published an employee flyer called The Standard which in March of 1955 highlighted the companies history as it concerns the car construction business. It details the shrewd financing and mergers of the company through its first 75 years. In 1947 the passenger cars and their operation was sold to each of the 47 operating railroads. The remaining Pullman Standard Car Manufacturing Company was consolidated into Pullman Incorporated and remained until 1970 when it ceased operation. The time and come and gone for a man and company like Pullman. But during those 80 years, the total number of overnight guests Pullman's porters ticked into bed equaled ten-times the 1947 population of the United States.







Information was gathered from many sources. Although many facts were difficult to establish, we have taken the liberty to postulate, but have noted the degree of confidence. It is not too early to acknowledge the great help and assistance offered by Mr. Jackson Thode of Denver Colorado. As the renowned and respected historian of the Denver & Rio Grande, Mr. Thode has been the guardian of time. He was the secretary of Mr. Perlman and often found himself aboard the modernized business car 102 in it's last days on the railroad. Mr. Thode's vast collection of Rio Grande records supplied much of the D&RGW documents used for this web site. His meticulous record keeping and dedication has saved much history that would otherwise be lost to the ages.

-Curtis C. Andrews











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