California Limited, Fred Harvey Dining Car Service 1906
This glorious 1906 menu is from The California Limited, one of the passenger trains on the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. The service ran between Chicago and Los Angeles and a journey took 80 hours and 50 minutes and required 15 locomotive changes.
But don’t be too sorry for the passengers – their journeys were completed in luxurious surroundings. There were sumptuous private sleeping quarters in Pullman cars, opulent passenger lounges and, as evidenced by this menu, a fine on-board restaurant. Later trains on this line were equipped with air conditioning, shower-baths and the services of a barber and a beautician.
The California Limited made its first run on November 27, 1892, and food service was by the famous Fred Harvey Company.
English-born entrepreneur Fred Harvey founded his business in 1875 to cater to the growing number of Americans traveling by train. He opened eating houses along the Santa Fe line and other railroads, staffing them with ‘Harvey Girls.’
These were women aged between 18 and 30 who resided in housing adjacent to the restaurants and were supervised by a Senior Girl, who enforced curfews and chaperoned male visitors. Roughly 5,000 Harvey Girls moved out West, many of them marrying and having families.
Fred Harvey expanded into restaurants, on-board catering, souvenir shops and hotels and is regarded as America’s first hospitality chain.
The California Limited was withdrawn from service in 1954, giving it the longest tenure of any train on the Chicago-Los Angeles run of the Santa Fe. By then, the journey had been reduced to about 60 hours.
The illustrations on this more than a hundred-year-old menu represent native American tribes.
*Courtesy The Chapman S Root collection at the Culinary Institute of America’s Menu Collection.
Gallery quality Giclée print on natural white, matte, 100% cotton rag, acid and lignin free archival paper using Epson K3 archival inks. Custom printed with border for matting and framing.
Each order includes a print of the interior menu.