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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Parlor Car: 1905

Parlor Car: 1905

Circa 1905. "Pere Marquette Railroad parlor car No. 25, interior view." 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.

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Hue and Me

I am imagining this in color: Maple or mahogany woodwork with inlays in a lighter colored wood. The seats would be covered in a royal blue or burgundy fabric, maybe even a forest green. Brass coat-hooks where the riders can hang their coats. The upholstery tacks on the chairs would, of course, be brass as well.

Comparing this photo to the one of the Amtrak train, I would rather ride in the older car where I could feel and hear the clickety-clack of the rails passing beneath the car. There was a certain class to Rail travel in those days.

B.C. (Before Carrier)

It's difficult for us to appreciate what life must have been like in the Coal Age prior to the advent of air conditioning.

Those open windows in the clerestory don't have screens. Imagine trying to keep that ornate interior clean when there was a constant intrusion of smoke, soot and cinders.

And, I don't know whether vacuum cleaners had yet been perfected, either.

[Actually, the clerestories do have screens. - Dave]


Amtrak is so much better than that.

What time is departure?

I just want to spend a day aboard and soak up the luxurious surroundings and take in the views.

Cigar anyone?


now you know why they used the term. And what a great name for a railroad.


This is exactly why the top of the line passenger cars were referred to as "high varnish." Don't you wish you could see the colors!

Parlor for Sleeping Rooms

I see the photographer behind his camera in the reflection in the mirror over the bench. Behind that partition might be some nice sleeping rooms. Looks like the parlor part might take up only half of this car.

[We do have a nice self-portrait of the camera. This parlor car had compartments for observation chairs and a cafe. - Dave]

Return Tray Tables and Seats to Upright Positions

As a 40-flight-per-year business traveler I can only dream of such luxury. Limitless leg room, pillows for your feet, ample headroom, and big comfy chairs -- ahhh. I'll bet the parlor car passengers didn't settle for tiny bags of peanuts, either!


The only way to travel. What great "thrones" for your passengers. We can only hope it gets half as good in the future.

SHORPY OLD PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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