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Pullman Palace Sleeping Car
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Carleton E. Watkins
American, 1870 - 1875
Albumen print
Image: 5 1/16 x 3 3/8 in.
2000.53.1

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In this ornate sleeping car, not even the rowdiest Westerners were allowed to wear their boots to bed. Carleton Watkins photographed this Pullman Palace Sleeping Car shortly after the invention revolutionized rail travel for the American public. Prior to the Pullman car, most rail coaches consisted of little more than rickety wooden boxes with wooden seats or benches, inadequate heating and ventilation systems, and inadequate springs that made for a rough ride. This photograph shows Pullman's elaborately designed coach fitted with his patented folding bed. A carpeted floor, upholstered seats, and black walnut paneling all add to the luxurious interior. In the mirror at the back of the car, Watkins's camera is visible.

Pullman's sleeping car was revolutionary for its service as well as its comfort. Courteous employees, efficient baggage handling, and cleanliness made these cars a popular choice for the modestly affluent passenger. Each car was equipped with a hundred sheets and pillowcases, forty blankets, and various towels. The legendary "Pullman porter" enforced company policies, such as the rule against wearing boots to bed.