NY Central Lines Pullman Lettering

Most former Pullman cars (sleepers) in New York Central service were, like most RRs, painted for specific trains, including pool service. Former, meaning after Pullman was forced out of the sleeping car monopoly.

The “Pullman” over the letterboards indicated that the car was always operated BY the Pullman Co, staffed by Pullman personnel, and that a Pullman Co conductor was onboard the train. This during the era when Pullman owned and operated its own cars in everyone else’ trains.
Pullman cars (Pullman owned) were usually lettered “Pullman” on their letterboards. Indvidual RR lettering did not usually appear on cars Pullman owned (except PRR, see below).

Pullman cars which were lettered “Pullman” but which were in fact *owned*, or *contributed* by the operating RR had sublettering on the vestibule end in many cases. The car was however, operated and staffed by Pullman employees, and not RR employees, and the Pullman conductor usually had authority over that car. The exception to all of this was the PRR which managed to bully Pullman into just about anything it wanted, including what colors Pullmans cars could be painted while in PRR service. (Most Pullman HW cars were Pullman green, but the PRR insisted they be Tuscan Red while in PRR consists. PRR also had its lettering on Pullmans cars whether or not Pullman liked, approved or agreed to it. PRR was the US largest passenger train operator, and it always got its way). Few RRs actually made an effort to provide cars that they *owned* to the Pullman Co. The relationship between most RRs and Pullman was often adversarial rather than cordial, which is one of the things that eventually brought about Pullmans demise in the sleeping car industry (the antitrust lawsuit).

In later years, once Pullman left the sleeping car business and sold its fleet of sleepers (Pullmans) to the RRs, the RRs were free to letter them any way they wanted to. The Pullman name eventually dropped off, and was replaced by RR names on the letterboards. Booting Pullman off the RRs property was, in its day, cause for great celebration among RR managements, (sort of what would happen today if Amtrak were suddenly put out of business on the freight RRs property).

A variance, not necessarily in keeping with Pullman or RR practices of the day indicated that some passenger trains carried train names on their letterboards, instead of RR names. Example: Calif Zephyr. Usually, these types of cars were also sublettered with the initials (reporting marks) of the RR owning or contributing that car to the trains consist. Letterboard: Calif Zephyr, sublettering: CB&Q, DRGW, WP to show car ownership. (Non- Zephyr cars, or cars from RRs not normally part of the named trains consist traveled in whatever paint scheme came along from the providing RRs pool fleet. Example: NYC and PRR cars regularly showed up in the Cal Zep, in their home-road schemes – sometimes.

Pullman established his company in 1867 and built luxury sleeping cars which featured carpeting, draperies, upholstered chairs, libraries and card tables and an unparalleled level of customer service. Once a household name due to their large market share, the Pullman Company is also known for the bitter Pullman Strike staged by their workers and union leaders in 1894.

After George Pullman’s death in 1898, Robert Todd Lincoln, son of Abraham Lincoln became company president. The company closed its factory in the Pullman neighborhood (Chicago) in 1957. Pullman purchased the Standard Steel Car Company in 1930 amid the Great Depression, and the merged entity was known as Pullman-Standard Car Manufacturing Company. The company ceased production after the Amtrak Superliner cars in 1982 and its remaining designs were purchased in 1987 when it was absorbed by Bombardier.

The United States brought an anti-trust suit in 1940 against the Pullman manufacturing and operating company. The final judicial decision in 1944 said that Pullman Inc. must separate car building from car operating. The company sold its sleeping car service transferring its operating unit on June 30, 1947 to a group of fifty-nine U.S. railways.

Operations of the Pullman Company sleeper cars ceased and all leases were terminated on December 31, 1968. On January 1, 1969, the Pullman Company was dissolved and all assets were liquidated. (The most visible result on many railroads was that the Pullman name was removed from the letterboard of all Pullman-owned cars.)