This column ran in the June 8 edition of the Prairie Post
In the spring of 1935, about 75 years ago, the residents of Jamestown got their first look at the future of transportation. At least what the future of transportation was back then.
During a 3 hour stop about 2,000 Jamestown residents toured a special Northern Pacific train that included the latest in the bells and whistles; after all it was still a steam engine, along with the latest in Pullman cars.
One of the first things any of the residents touring the train would have noticed was the sealed windows. The train was entirely air-conditioned, something that had to be a rarity back in the heat and drought of 1935.
And there was more to the train than just a car with seats for passengers. The trains of that era made traveling an experience.
Passengers had the option to spend time in any number of ways. The men likely spent time in the smoking or card rooms. Ladies had their own lounging room. Both sexes could spend time in the soda fountain room or library. They could also spend time listening to the radio, the number of stations available at the time limited, or taking a bath.
Dining was usually a fine experience on these trains and the North Coast Limited was noted for its dining car cuisine.
Train passengers were required to fill out a meal check and turn it into the porter. They would then be called to the dining car for their meal.
Budget minded diners could get the toasted egg salad sandwich, including potato chips, dill spear and coffee, tea or milk for 85 cents.
The top end of the menu included half a spring chicken with French fries and a salad for $2.20. The beverage menu included the little individual bottles of most boozes for $1 while a beer, served in the observation car, would set you back 50 cents.
And the Northern Pacific bragged about the smooth rides thanks to the new roller bearings on each wheel of each car.
That had to make the whole trip a lot smoother; which was very important if you decided to get a shave in the new barber car as you traveled across the tracks between Chicago and Seattle.