George Pullman

 

George Pullman was born on March 1, 1831. At an early age, he learned the trade of carpentry in his brother’s shop. These skills would help him in what would become his future—working and designing railway cars.

 

He gained credibility for his workmanship when he was contracted to raise buildings in a high-rent district of Chicago above flood levels. After this, in 1858, he was asked to create two prototype sleeper cars for the Chicago & Alton Railroad. He remodeled two former coaches to make cars that held 10 sleepers each and had two tiny bathrooms, one at each end of the car. Despite the success of the remodeling, the cars were unpopular and went unused.

 

After initial disappointment, Pullman decided to build a car from scratch. During the Civil War, he created a large Pullman sleeper which he named the "Pioneer". This luxurious car was larger and wider than any other cars and would not fit through the tunnel and archways on standard tracks. Pullman pleaded with the owners of the tracks to adjust their lines to suit his car, but he was denied. However, all was not lost. After President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated and the funeral train was assembled, Mrs. Lincoln requested the use of the Pioneer for her own private car on the leg of the journey from Chicago to Springfield. Now the lines in the area were obligated to adjust their tunnels to suit this widowed First Lady’s wishes.

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(c) National Railroad Hall of Fame 2018. 

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