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Field & Pullman, Pullman's Palace Car Co., Pullman Co., Pullman Inc., Pullman-Standard Mfg. Co. Pullman-Standard Co.
Field & Pullman 1858-1867; Albion, New York & Chicago, Illinois: Pullman's Palace Car Co., 1867-1899; Pullman Co., 1899-1927; Pullman Inc., 1927-1930; Pullman-Standard Mfg. Co. (div. of Pullman Inc.), 1930-1947; Pullman-Standard Co., 1947-1969; Chicago (Pullman), Illinois; Pullman-Standard Mfg. Co. (div. of Pullman Inc.), 1932-1947; Pullman-Standard Co., 1947-1952; Worcester, Massachusetts
Associated Firms
Edward G. Budd Mfg. Co.

The terms Pullman, Pullman Body or Pullman Limousine do not refer to automobile bodies manufactured by the Pullman Company. Rather they pay homage to the Pullman railroad car by using the term to describe the absolute finest limousines money can buy.

Mercedes-Benz in particular has made various Pullman models from the early 1920s all the way up to current model designations (eg: 2016 Mercedes-Maybach S600 Pullman Limousine). Another overseas manufacturer of Pullman's was Thrupp & Maberly who constructed a series of Pullman limousines on 1950s Humber chassis. Humber listed a Pullman range from 1930 through 1954. British funeral car builder Woodall Nicholson also manufactured a line of Humber Pullman Hearses in the 1950s.

The York Motor Car Company of York, Pennsylvania manufactured a Pullman automobile from 1905 to 1917. According to its president, A.P. Broomell, the moniker was used to reflect the same kind of quality and luxury offered by the rail car manufacturer, which was not related in any way to the automobile manufacturer. Several Pullman automobiles survive out of the estimated 12,000 to 23,000 cars constructed.

The Ranier Automobile Co. (1905-1911) claimed it was the "Pullman of Motor Cars" in its 1908 advertising and many other manufacturers, both domestic and overseas advertised their vehicles rode 'like a Pullman' or had 'Pullman-style' appointments or interiors.

Interestingly, the subject of the preceding accolades, the Pullman Company of Chicago, Illinois, made a significant foray into the manufacture of automobile bodies from 1919-1936. During that time they constructed large numbers of production all-metal automobile bodies for Moon (10,000 closed bodies in 1924-1925), Packard (open bodies from 1919-1925 and sedans 1924-1925) and several other firms (Peerless, Velie, Willys-Overland).

Production of all-steel bodies and stamped steel components continued on a smaller scale into 1925 when existing contracts were completed. After several years of dormancy Pullman sold off their auto related body patents to Budd in 1930. Between 1932 and 1952 the Pullman Co.'s (Pullman-Standard Car Mfg. Co. after 1947) Worcester, Massachusetts plant manufactured several series of trolley buses, producing 2,300 examples between 1932 and 1952. During the end of its corporate life Pullman also purchased ne of the Us' best known trailer manufacturers, Trailmobile, reorganizing it as the Pullman-Trailmobile division of Pullman, Inc., with plants in Northbrook, Illinois & Longview, Texas. That firm's history is covered on the site under the Trailmobile entry.

The railcar manufacturing history of Pullman's Palace Car Co. / Pullman Co. / Pullman Inc. / Pullman-Standard Car Mfg. Co. has already been well covered by rail historians so I'm only going to concentrate on the founder's life and the firm's foray into production automobile bodies and trolley buses.

George Mortimer Pullman was born on March 3, 1831 in Brockton, Town of Westfield, Chautauqua County, New York, to James Lewis (aka Lewis) and Emily Caroline (Minton) Pullman. Lewis was a native of Rhode Island and his wife Emily a native of Auburn, New York. Situated 1 mile south of the southern shore of Lake Erie, Brockton was a small farming community located approximately 54 miles southwest of downtown Buffalo.

George had 9 brothers and sisters, two of whom died in infancy: Royal Henry (1826-1900), Albert Benton (b.1828), Frances Carolan (1833-1834), James Minton (1835-1903), William Eaton (1837-1839), Charles Lewis (b.1841), Helen Augusta (b.1843), Emma Caroline (b.1846). and Frank William (b.1848) Pullman. Two of George’s older brothers, Royal Henry Pullman and James Minton Pullman became prominent Universalist ministers, Frank William became an Assistant US District Attorney for New York, while the other two, Albert Benton and Charles Lewis, would assist him in managing his Chicago enterprises. One of George's sisters, Emma Caroline, married Dr. William F. Fluhrer, chief surgeon of Bellevue Hospital, New York City, while the other, Helen Augusta, married George West, a prominent New York City woolen merchant.

Originally a farmer, George’s father, Lewis, had subsequently learned the carpentry trade and gathered some experience in the moving of old buildings. In 1841 he applied for a patent for a novel method of removing existing structures through the combined use of weights, trucks (multi-wheel), carriages (frames) and capstans:

Machine for removing buildings – US Pat. No. 2225 - ‎Issued Aug. 21, 1841 to ‎Lewis Pullman

The method is described as follows:

"…weights with expedition and safety and then by placing underneath, carriages so constructed with truck wheels axles, bolsters, pivots and poles, that they are strong and durable, and not liable to turn or rock sidewise, and can be moved in any direction required, thereby turning the building or other weight so placed on the carriages in the direction required and by the application of the power of the pulley attached to a capstan, so constructed, that by applying power on a lever attached to the shaft of the capstan any degree of power required may be applied, and the building or other weight can be moved with safety and expedition. The capstan can be easily fastened and when removed the rope will readily unwind therefrom.

He claimed for his invention:

"The combination of the pivot and bolts herein referred to, with the truck employed for removing buildings and other weights, consisting of an axle and wheels having mortises on their periphery, to which levers are adapted for moving them. Also in combination with said truck the screw, Fig. 3, having a movable nut, with hooks attached to it for raising buildings all as herein described."

In 1845 Lewis relocated the family to the Town of Barre, Orleans County, New York where he established his own cabinet shop and house moving service. George, our subject, having just completed the 4th grade, remained in Brockton for several years, taking a $40 a month position at the Buck & Minton general store which was co-owned by his uncle, John H. Minton.

By 1848 George had moved to Orleans County to work as an apprentice at his family's furniture works, which was then headed by his eldest brother, (Royal) Henry. During the next few years, his older brothers Henry and Albert married and moved away and by 1853 George assumed control of the firm.

Lewis, the family patriarch, had fallen ill several years earlier and after a long period of gradual decline finally passed away on November 1, 1853. His widow Emily was confronted with the necessity of providing for herself and her minor children and 22-year-old George, being the oldest unmarried son, stepped up to the plate and relieved her of her financial burdens.

In addition to cabinetry, the Pullman works built all kinds of furniture and several couches attributed to Pullman currently reside in homes and businesses located in and around Albion. Pictured to the right are 2 pieces that can be found in Albion's Merrill-Grinnell Funeral Home, the former residence of Lieutenant Governor (1851-1854) Sanford Church.

By the mid-1850s, the Erie Canal, begun in 1817 and finished according to the original plans in 1825, had become inadequate to the demands made upon it. Plans were introduced to widen the waterway and New York State advertised for bids for contracts to move/remove buildings in the way of the proposed canal improvements.

The tremendous business opportunity was not lost on Pullman who successfully secured one contract which called for the removal of approximately 20 structures, several of which were large warehouses located in downtown Albion.

The 1855 New York State Census lists the Pullman family in the Town of Barre, Orleans County, New York where George is listed with his mother Emily C. and five younger siblings; James (occupation cabinet maker), Charles, Helen, Emily (Emma) and Frank. Although it's very hard to read the original document it appears that his occupation is listed as gentleman.

In 1856, Pullman answered an advertisement seeking contractors to help raise Chicago buildings to help control flooding and to allow a modern sewer system to be installed. Chicago was constructed on marshland and. being level with Lake Michigan, during storms the water frequently backed into the cellars, causing massive flooding and unhygienic conditions. Many of the city’s blocks were at or near the water table, requiring that the entire east side be raised an average of six feet.

Most of the buildings and blocks were raised by the engineering firm of Brown and Hollingsworth, principals of the firm being Bostonian James Brown and Chicago engineer James Hollingsworth. However, smaller contracts were available and with $6,000 in capital Pullman joined forces with Charles H. Moore forming Pullman & Moore, which won several such contracts during the next few years greatly increasing the two partners personal fortunes. One of the largest jobs they secured was the raising of the old Tremont House, something like three feet above its foundation. Their listing in the 1861 Chicago directory being:

"Pullman & Moore, (George M. Pullman & Charles H. Moore), house raisers, 209 Washington."

Between 1856 and 1860 Pullman made frequent trips between Albion, Buffalo and Chicago tending to his various business interests and based on his own accounts it was at this time that he got the idea of an improved sleeping-car. His was not the first - that distinction goes to the Cumberland Valley Railroad who in 1836 put into service a bunk car christened the Chambersburg. This car, with its permanent bunks at three levels, was imitated by a number of railroads. In 1838, the Philadelphia, Wilmington & Baltimore Railroad put into service the first cars with convertible seats for both day and nighttime use. In 1843, the Erie, though only three hours end-to-end, put into service the 'Diamond Cars' so known because the truss-work in their sides dictated that the windows be of that shape. Other designs followed, as inventors tried to improve each other's' inventions. But early efforts had one thing in common: they were not known for their comfort.

One night while riding in a Woodruff sleeping car Pullman noticed that the rattling and jolting of the car as it traversed the uneven track bed made sleep all but impossible.

At that time the bunks provided were nothing more than three tiers of shelves similar to the bunks on the canal boats. It was necessary on rounding a curve to hold on tight to keep from being spilled out on the car floor. A person could recline in such a bunk, but it would have been foolhardy to try to sleep.

The unusual roughness and discomfort of the trip set Pullman to thinking, and during the six hours occupied by the run he considered the question in various ways. Before the end of the journey was reached he had decided to build a car in which it would be possible to sleep, and which would also give passengers as much comfort as the space at command permitted.

On a 1858 trip to Albion, New York Pullman met with his old friend, Benjamin C. Field (b. June 12, 1816 – d. August. 14, 1876), a prominent businessman and politician who was also active in railroad circles. He casually mentioned that he had received the rights to use Woodruff's sleeping-car patent on certain Western railroads - presumably in return for getting some favorable sleeping-car legislation through the New York State Assembly.

He had no Western partner to help develop the franchise, so along with his younger brother Spafford, Field took in the enterprising young contractor, forming Field & Pullman to see what income could be derived from the Woodruff patent. At the time Chicago was rapidly becoming the nation's railroad center, and Pullman, who now had some business experience in the city, was in the right place at the right time.

Benjamin C. Field's biographer claims the sleeping car incident took place while the two partners were travelling to Chicago from Albion:

"They had an uncomfortable ride to that city in what was then called a sleeping car, over the Lake Shore road. It was in reality, however, nothing more than an old-fashioned flat-top day coach fitted with a lot of cumbersome bedding without linen. When not in use at night the bedding was stored in an unsightly heap at one end of the car. The whole arrangement was very crude and unsanitary. With one end of the car stored with mattresses and blankets, a large part of the interior was practically useless, when the occupants were not snoring; besides no one but a foreign emigrant would ride in such a car in daytime, even if thoroughly aired."

Field & Pullman signed contracts with the Illinois and the Galena and Chicago Union to provide them with Woodruff-style sleepers, with Pullman serving as the firm's Chicago agent.

Field had previously constructed his own sleeping coach using a Dayton, Ohio firm. The car was afterwards run on the Alton road and was distinguished by its exterior, which was covered in lettering listing destinations from around the county - it is said "there was not a place on the side of the car but what had the name of some place on it." As Field & Pullman did not have any shops of their own, the task of constructing the cars was subcontracted to third-parties, who completed the work under Pullman's direction.

The partner's first sleeping cars were constructed at the Chicago and Alton shops in Bloomington, Illinois in 1857, and were made from old day coaches Nos. 9 and 19. The exact details of the sleeping furniture are not known, but if the arrangement of an 1897 replica can be believed, it differed from Woodruff's standard three-tier scheme. It was thought at this time by the railroad officials that two cars of this character would be sufficient. The two cars entered service during the fall of 1859, one to be run from St. Louis to Chicago, and the other from Chicago to St. Louis every night.

In remodeling the cars everything was taken out from the inside of the day coaches, and the contract between Field & Pullman and the Alton company was that the former company was to keep up the repairs on the inside of the coaches while the railway people were to make the necessary repairs on the outside.

The lower berth was a double berth, and there were two single berths above. Field & Pullman charged $1.00 for the lower and 50 cents for the upper berths. The car at that time was a great curiosity, not only to the general public, but to the trainmen as well. Old-fashioned stoves with blocks of wood for fuel furnished the heat in those days.

In an interview with Pullman historian Joseph Husband, Leonard Seibert, a former employee on the Chicago & Alton Railroad, recalled the first two Pullman Cars:

"In 1858 Mr. Pullman came to Bloomington and engaged me to do the work of remodeling two Chicago & Alton coaches into the first Pullman sleeping-cars. The contract was that Mr. Pullman should make all necessary changes inside of the cars. After looking over the entire passenger car equipment of the road, which at that time constituted about a dozen cars, we selected Coaches Nos. 9 and 19. They were forty-four feet long, had flat roofs like box cars, single sash windows, of which there were fourteen on a side, the glass in each sash being only a little over one foot square. The roof was only a trifle over six feet from the floor of the car. Into this car we got ten sleeping-car sections, besides a linen locker and two washrooms—one at each end.

"The wood used in the interior finish was cherry. Mr. Pullman was anxious to get hickory, to stand the hard usage which it was supposed the cars would receive. I worked part of the summer of 1858, employing an assistant or two, and the cars went into service in the fall of 1858. There were no blue-prints or plans made for the remodeling of these first two sleeping-cars, and Mr. Pullman and I worked out the details and measurements as we came to them. The two cars cost Mr. Pullman not more than $2,000, or $1,000 each. They were upholstered in plush, lighted by oil lamps, heated with box stoves, and mounted on four-wheel trucks with iron wheels. There was no porter in those days; the brakeman made up the beds."

The cars as stated above were run to and from Chicago and St. Louis. On the departure and arrival of every coach each evening and morning either Mr. Pullman or his brother, Albert B. Pullman, would be at the Alton depot to note the progress the car was taking with the traveling public. The employees of the railroad did not take kindly to the sleeping car, criticizing its president, former Governor Joel Aldrich Matteson for "putting $4,000 into new-fangled cars and not paying them their regular wages", a situation which led to the first railroad strike in Illinois.

Pullman historian Joseph Husband also interviewed J. L. Barnes, who was in charge of the first car run from Bloomington to Chicago over the Chicago & Alton.

"Mr. Pullman had an office on Madison Avenue just west of LaSalle Street and I boarded with a family very close to his office. I used to pass his office on my to meals, and having read in the paper that he was working on a sleeping car, one day I stopped in and made application to Mr. Pullman personally for a place as conductor. I gave him some references and called again and he said the references were all right and promised me the place. I made my first trip between Bloomington, Illinois, and Chicago on the night of September 1, 1859. I was twenty-two years old at the time. I wore no uniform and was attired in citizen's clothes. I wore a badge, that was all. One of my passengers was George M. Pullman, inventor of the sleeping car.... All the passengers were from Bloomington and there were no women on the car that night. The people of Bloomington, little reckoning that history was being made in their midst, did not come down to the station to see the Pullman car's first trip. There was no crowd, and the car, lighted by candles, moved away in solitary grandeur, if such it might be called.... I remember on the first night I had to compel the passengers to take their boots off before they got into the berths. They wanted to keep them on—seemed afraid to take them off.

"The first month business was very poor. People had been in the habit of sitting up all night in the straight back seats and they did not think much of trying to sleep while traveling.... After I had made a few trips it was decided it did not pay to employ a Pullman conductor, and the car was placed in charge of the passenger conductor of the train which carried the sleeping car, and I was out of a job.

"The first Pullman car was a primitive thing. Besides being lighted with candles it was heated by a stove at each end of the car. There were no carpets on the floor, and the interior of the car was arranged in this way: There were four upper and four lower berths. The backs of the seats were hinged and to make up the lower berth the porter merely dropped the back of the seat until it was level with the seat itself. Upon this he placed a mattress and blanket. There were no sheets. The upper berth was suspended from the ceiling of the car by ropes and pulleys attached to each of the four corners of the berth. The upper berths were constructed with iron rods running from the floor of the car to the roof, and during the day the berth was pulled up until it hugged the ceiling, there being a catch which held it up. At night it was suspended about half-way between the ceiling of the car and the floor. We used curtains in front and between all the berths. In the daytime one of the sections was used to store all the mattresses in. The car had a very low deck and was quite short. It had four wheel trucks and with the exception of the springs under it was similar to the freight car of today. The coupler was "link and pin;" we had no automatic brakes or couplers in those days. There was a very small toilet room in each end, only large enough for one person at a time. The wash basin was made of tin. The water for the wash basin came from the drinking can which had a faucet so that people could get a drink."

Pullman's first sleeping-car business was thus underway, but it was not promising enough to hold his full attention. The Field brothers, however, were content with the progress and Field & Pullman purchased several more sleepers named 'Tremont' and 'Southerner', one of which was built by Barney and Smith in 1860 or 1861. Operations were extended to the Galena and Chicago Union Railroad and by July of 1863 the Alton had four Field-Pullman cars in service and had contracted for four more.

Field remained a member of Field & Pullman for several years, until about 1866, when the company was succeeded by Pullman's Palace Car Company. His obituary in the August 16, 1876 edition of the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle briefly mentions his railroad interests:

"Subsequently Mr. Field became interested in politics, and gave his attention to the contract business, especially in the building of railroads—some of the most important in this country have been constructed under his supervision."

The 1860 US Census lists George M. Pullman temporarily back in Orleans County, his occupation, 'house raiser' and the household made up of George, his mother Emily C., and 3 younger siblings; Helen, Emily and Frank.

As early as 1860 Pullman began investing in Pikes Peak, Colorado, which was experiencing a gold rush.

He realized that the real money to be made was not though mining, but in supplying other fortune hunters with goods and transportation, and formed the firm of Lyon, Pullman and Co. with James E. Lyon.

The firm operated an ore crushing mill at the town of Russell Gulch as well as a mining supply store in Central City, operating a freight business to assist customers in transporting ore and supplies to and from their mines. Disagreements with his partner resulted in Lyon's share in the firm being acquired by Spafford C. Field, a partner in the Field & Pullman sleeping car business. He also acquired an interest in a silver mine and brought Charles H. Moore, his partner in the still active Chicago-based house-moving firm of Pullman and Moore out to Colorado to help expand his growing business.

During the next few years Lyon, Pullman & Co. developed 1,600 acres of property into the Cold Spring Ranch, a prominent base camp located on the road to Denver, where miners could bed down, camp, purchase supplies, and buy a meal and a drink. The Ranch also served as a depot where weary animal teams could be switched over for fresh ones, giving it the moniker 'Pullman’s Switch'.

He subsequently began to spend more time in Colorado, and began living there full time in the spring of 1862. Pullman's visits to Chicago were frequent enough to keep him active in the affairs of Field & Pullman and in April, 1863 he moved back to Chicago, a wealthy man – having earned more than $20,000 (equivalent to $300,000 dollars today) from his year in Colorado.

Now that the Pike Peak's gold rush was over, the sleeping-car business of Field & Pullman took center-stage and Pullman got serious about what up until that time had been just another side-line. At that time he was facing some stiff competition from both Webster Wagner (New York Central Sleeping Car Co. - later Wagner Palace Car Co.), Theodore T. Woodruff (T.T. Woodruff & Co.; Central Transportation Co.) and his younger brother Jonah Woodruff (Central Transportation Co.; Woodruff Sleeping & Parlor Coach Co.).

To make a mark of his own Pullman theorized he would have to pull out all the stops and  come up with a sleeping car so luxurious that wealthy patrons would get in line to board it.

In July of 1863, Field and Pullman took delivery of a new $20,000 56-passenger 58-foot-long four truck convertible parlor/sleeping car they had commissioned from the Wason Car Co. of Springfield, Massachusetts. Christened the Springfield after the hometown of its builder (which coincidentally shared its name with then-President Lincoln's Illinois hometown), it incorporated 14 sections with a stateroom occupying each end. During the day it functioned as a typical parlor car with sofas lining the perimeter. At night the sofa bottoms would slide out, their backs folded down forming beds separated by a 3 foot aisle down the center of the car. Each of the 12 center sections also included overhead bi-lateral sleeping berths that folded down from the ceiling, providing sleeping accommodations for 4 passengers. Each state room slept 4, providing sleeping accommodations for all 56 passengers. 

As magnificent as the Springfield was, Field & Pullman's next sleeping car, the Pioneer, gathered far more publicity, and marked the first time the partners constructed their own car, under their direct supervision. Its construction commenced in a leased portion of the Chicago & Alton car barns during late 1864 under the direction of George M. Pullman's brother Albert. The 48-passenger coach featured 12 identical 4-passenger compartments, its dimensions being one foot wider and two feet taller than its predecessors, due to its novel clerestory ceiling. Like the Springfield, the Pioneer was a twelve-section convertible sleeping car whose upper berths hinged from the back side of the car and tipped up in front. It included crossways seating and a combination linen closet, saloon, and washstand located at each end of the car.

In his 1917 book, 'The Pullman Car' Joseph Husband included the exact costs of the Pioneer:

"This model car was built in Chicago on the site of the present Union Station in a shed belonging to the Chicago & Alton Railroad, at a cost of $18,239.31, without its equipment, and almost a year was required before it was ready for service. Fully equipped and ready for service it represented an investment of $20,178.14."

Although period accounts (including many of Pullman's biographies and obituaries) claim the Pioneer was so heavy and wide its use necessitated raising trestles and bridges and cutting off station platforms, the facts tell another story. In his 2002 book, 'The Chicago & Alton Railroad; The Only Way,' railroad historian Gene V. Glendinning, states:

"Because of the Pioneer’s 10-foot width, it became legend that railroads could not operate the car until restrictive platforms and bridges were rebuilt, and to allow the car to operate over the C&A, crews hastily cut back offending platforms and timbers. In reality, the car’s dimensions were not that different from similar luxury cars of the period… The C&A was in the midst of its rebuilding program, so it is unlikely anything but the latest railroad clearance practices were employed. There is no evidence, for instance, that the recently rebuilt and covered bridge over the Kankakee River at Wilmington, the most formidable structure to pose a possible problem between Chicago and Springfield, was altered in any way."

The Springfield and Pioneer combined comfort and luxury with attractiveness of decoration, and when finished were regarded as a marvel far in advance of the competitions, however they were deemed too heavy, too wide, and too high, requiring that a few existing bridges and railway stations be raised and widened in order to accommodate them. Although they embodied many of the features that would become standard in all subsequent Pullman cars, they remained in the train-shed of the Alton Railway during most of 1864, a year in which Pullman was called to serve in the Union Army, but like many young men with means, hired a substitute to take his place.

Although the two cars were little used, they attracted the attention of James F. Joy, president of the Michigan Central, who gave Field & Pullman sleepers a shot on his railroad. Pullman took every cent of money he could get his hands on and ordered four new cars, built to his exacting specifications. They cost $24,000 each, and when Joy learned how much money had been expended on them it amazed him so much that he was on the point of ordering a discontinuance of all experiments. Joy held up the trial for a month, and then allowed the cars to go out only on condition that each one be accompanied by an old-style car. The old cars were deserted. People who traveled preferred to pay $2 for a berth in a Pullman car, rather than 50¢ or 75¢ for a bunk in the jolting, spring-less cars.

Still, most railroad men could not see the advisability of investing $25,000 in luxury sleeping cars, and they contineud to purchase the less expensive cars made by his competitors. This led Pullman to on the pathways to ecome both an operators and a manufacturer, a scheme that would make him a multimillionaire with a decade. He also set about getting patents on the moveable celestory sleeping berths and transformable seating systems Field & Pullman had introduced in their sleeping cars as follows:

Improvement in sleeping-cars US Pat No. 42182 - ‎Issued April 5, 1864 to Ben Field and George M. Pullman

Improvement in sleeping-cars US Pat No. 49992 ‎- Issued September 19, 1865 to Ben Field and George M. Pullman (reissued February 1, 1868, and again reissued January 5, 1869, and for a third time on September 21, 1875).

Upon the dissolution of Field & Pullman, Field later gave Pullman full rights to the 2 patents by assignments dated September 23, 1867, and October 24, 1868. In 1875 they were renewed and reissued solely under Pullman’s name:

Improvement in sleeping-cars US Pat No. RE6648 ‎Filed Jul 27, 1875 - ‎Issued Sep 21, 1875 to Ben Field and George M. Pullman

The following appears in the text of the renewal:

"To all whom it may concern:

"Be it known that BEN FIELD, formerly of Albion, in the county of Orleans and State of New York, and GEORGE M. PULLMAN, of Chicago, in the county of Cook and State of Illinois, did invent certain new and useful improvements in Sleeping-Cars for Railways, for which Letters Patent were granted September 19, 1865, and reissued February 1, 1868, and again reissued January 5, 1869, which said invention, with the Letters Patent intended to-secure the same, have, by assignments dated September 23, 1867, and October 24, 1868, now become the exclusive property of me, the said GEORGE M. PULLMAN, as assignee of the said FIELD and PULLMAN."

Investors did not flock to him, but he got together enough to start operations, and the five cars he already had on the rail were earning money. The big roads centering in Chicago were pushing out in all directions. The transcontinental roads were open for business. The ending of the Civil War had paved the way to railroad extension in the South. All these facts gave new opportunities for Pullman's business, however his prospects received an unexpected boost in late April, 1865 when the Pioneer was included as part of the train that ferried passengers from Chicago to Springfield, Illiniois.

The Pioneer's legendary status was also bolstered by Pullman's claim that it was prominently featured in President Lincoln's Funeral Train, with some later accounts stating as fact that the Pioneer carried the President's remains.

In reality Lincoln’s remains were placed aboard 'The President's Car', an ornate open-vestibule car built in Alexandria, Virginia at the car shops of the Military Railroad System in 1864. Eight other cars made up the funeral cortège, none of which had any connection with Pullman or the Chicago & Alton Railroad. Also included on the train were the remains of his son, William Wallace (who had died in 1862), who would join those of his father.

The Funeral Train left Washington on April 21, 1865 making a circuitous journey across the Northeastern US for the next ten days, making lengthy stops at Baltimore, Harrisburg, Philadelphia, New York City, Albany, Buffalo, Cleveland, Columbus and Indianapolis. On the morning of May 1st, it passed through Michigan City, Indiana at 8:00 am, arriving at Chicago's Court House at 11:00 am after which his coffin lay in state until 8:00 pm the next day. The train left Chicago on the evening of May 2, 1865 travelling to Springfield where his remains were interred in a huge ceremony at the specially-prepared tomb the following day.

Gene V. Glendinning relates what additional facts that he uncovered concerning Pullman's involvement with Lincoln's Funeral Train:

"Over time, legends surrounding Pullman’s Pioneer and the composition of the funeral train took life. One story declared that Pullman’s then most famous sleeper carried the president’s coffin. Government records and published recollections written by those who had been there confirm the President’s Car was the only carriage in which his remains were placed throughout the slow, meandering trip. Another myth declared that Mrs. Lincoln rode in the Pioneer with her two sons, Tad and Robert. In fact, Mary Lincoln was still in Washington as late as May 22 and only then left the capital; she had not accompanied the president’s remains. It is possible that Mrs. Lincoln was afforded use of the car later when she finally returned to Springfield, a fitting accommodation for the bereaved widow, but not as part of the funeral train itself."

Glendinning concludes that while the Springfield and Pioneer were used during Lincoln's funeral ceremonies, they were part of a special train (which included 11 sleeping cars) that carried various Chicago and Northern Illinois dignitaries down to Springfield just ahead of the funeral cortège so they would be there to greet it. He concludes:

"…it can be safely concluded the best cars, the Pioneer and the Springfield, were included in that number."

Soon after Field & Pullman created their first full-service hotel on wheels, a matched two-car set called 'The President'. It marked the frist time they had combined a sleeper with an attached kitchen and dining car whose food and service rivaled the finest hotels of the day.

Although Field & Pullman's flagship Springfield and Pioneer saw little use during the next few months, clever exploitation made them household names, and they brought Pullman and the firm some much needed publicity which resulted in new cars, new investors, and more importantly new customers. The Michigan Central became a customer in October of 1865; the Burlington Line joined that November and by the end of 1866 Field & Pullman was operating 37 cars on six lines - including every major line operating out of Chicago.

During that year the firm placed a dozen more cars under construction and on May 19, 1866 Pullman formed a partnership with Hannibal I. Kimball and Robert H Ramsey, who controlled a similar operation running out of Atlanta. By 1888 the Pullman, Kimball and Ramsey Sleeping Car Co. had sleepers running on ten southern railroads.

Pullman soon tired of having to deal with partners, and sought the advice of Chicago businessmen John Crerar (of Crerar, Adams & Co., a railroad supply house) and Marshall Field (of Marshall Field & Co., a Chicago dept. store) who offered to back him in taking the company public. His longtime partner, Benjamin C. Field (unrelated to Marshall Field), was less than enthusiastic and in January 1867, the pair dissolved the partnership and Pullman assumed Field's share in the firm in exchange for future loans. 

Pullman's Palace Car Co.'s $1 million charter was approved by the Illinois Legislature on February 22, 1867 and the board of directors (who included Crerar & Field) elected Pullman as president and general manager; Charles W. Angell, secretary; and Albert B. Pullman, general superintendent. Its listing in the 1867 Chicago directory follows:

"Pullman's Palace Car Co. (George M. Pullman, pres. & gen. mgr.; Charles W. Angell, sec.; A.B. Pullman, supt.), 102 Michigan Ave."

The new corporation owned all of the sleeping cars on the Michigan Central Railroad, Great Western Railroad (Canadian), and New York Central Railroad, and with the increased capital as his disposal, Pullman set about implementing his vision of establishing a single nation-wide sleeping-car network. Pullman mostly handled marketing sleeping car services, while his brother Albert managed the manufacturing end of the operation. Charles Angell, a lawyer who later embezzled thousands of dollars from the company, handled all of the new company's financial and legal affairs.

Up until that time most of Pullman's cars had been manufactured/refurbished by third parties. In order to control costs it was essential that he have his own dedicated factory, which presented itself in the form of the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Railroad’s Aurora, Illinois car shops, which manufactured most of his equipment up until he purchased his own dedicated factory in 1869.

On June 13, 1867 Pullman married Harriet Sanger, daughter of a construction company owner, and the union was blessed with the birth of four children: Florence (1868-1937), Harriet (1869-1956), and the twins George, Jr. (1875-1901) and Walter Sanger (1875-1905) Pullman. In the 1890s a young German named Gustave Behring claimed that he was an illegitimate son of Pullman, a claim steadfastly denied by the Pullman family.

Building upon the success of 'The President', Pullman's first full-service hotel on wheels, he set his sights on building an even greater stand-alone dining car. 'The Delmonico', which debuted in 1868, was named after the famous Manhattan eatery of the same name. Built at a cost of $20,000, the 60 foot long, 10 foot wide car seated 48 and was staffed by 2 cooks and 4 white-jacketed waiters whose gourmet selections were served using the finest china, crystal, silver and linen money could buy. Pullman also provided employment to former house slaves who served as porters, waiters and chambermaids throughout the Pullman system.

After a chance meeting with future steel magnate Andrew Carnegie – who held a substantial stake in the Woodruff brother's Central Transportation Co., Pullman's largest competitor – at Manhattan's St. Nicholas Hotel, the two businessmen formed the Pullman Pacific Car Co., a $500,000 firm organized in November of 1867 to provide the Union Pacific railroad with sleeping cars.

The new contracts called for more cars and as demand increased, it became necessary for Pullman to consolidate his scattered manufacturing operations into one facility. In 1869 he purchased the Detroit Car and Manufacturing Co. which was located at the intersection of Crogham and Dequindre Sts. in Detroit, Michigan. The plant, which also intersected the Detroit & Milwaukee Railroad, was a full service facility which during the next decade constructed an ever-increasing variety of railcars which included; parlor cars, sleepers, dining cars and baggage cars.

Unlike most of Pullman's operations, the Pullman Pacific Car Co. was not a success. Competition from the Central Pacific Railroad's Silver Palace cars and from Union Pacific's line of budget-priced tourist sleepers resulted in an operating loss. In order to make the line profitable Union Pacific and Pullman Pacific entered into an association agreement in October of 1871, which gave both firms a 50% share in the sleeping car business which continued into 1884 when Pullman Pacific's share in the Association was transferred to Pullman's Palace Car Co. Also unsuccessful was the southern branch of Pullman's operations, the Pullman, Kimball and Ramsey Sleeping Car Co. which had run into numerous obstacles during it half-decade in operation, first and foremost being its chief competitor, the Southern Transportation Co.

However all of that ceased to be of concern when he acquired control of the Central Transportation Co. (and the associated Southern Transportation Co.) in February of 1870. Not a takeover in the traditional sense, Pullman shrewdly negotiated a $264,000 per annum 99-year lease with the Central Transportation Co.'s largest shareholders, making a similar arrangement with the associated Southern Transportation Co. whose main investors, Andrew Carnegie, Thomas A. Scott and J. Edgar Thompson, were the same.

Now that he controlled the lion's share of the nation's sleeping car business Pullman set about acquiring the remaining independents, and in February of 1871 he took over the Paine Lines (Enoch H. Paine of Louisville), forming the Pullman Southern Car Co., a consolidation of the Pullman-controlled lines in the Cotton states and in 1872, the Erie and Atlantic Sleeping Car Co., a firm which leased sleeping cars to operators in Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York. By the end of the year Pullman controlled over 500 sleeping, drawing room, and hotel cars and held numerous maintenance and operation contracts with various third parties. Another 400 cars were jointly owned with associated firms and Pullman's Palace Cars traversed the nation on approximately 30,000 route miles of track. Although his famous sleeping cars were unavailable for purchase, Pullman's car manufacturing operations enjoyed a brisk business in manufacturing and outfitting standard passenger (chair) and dining cars for third parties.

By 1875 the Golden Age of the Pullman Palace Car had arrived. Riders were treated to a full bar, freshly prepared gourmet meals, and a good night's sleep in modern rail cars equipped with electric lighting, leather seating and the latest heating and air conditioning systems. George M. Pullman's business model of leasing clean fully-staffed sleeping and dining cars to the nation's railroads was fully realized. At that time he had several hundred thousand dollars in reserve, controlled $100,000 worth of patents, and operated over 700 luxury rail cars on both sides of the Atlantic. The firm's listing in the 1875 Manhattan directory follows:

"Pullman Palace Car Co., 3 Broad st. & 287 Broadway."

By the early 1880s Pullman had a half-dozen manufacturing facilities at its disposal. In addition to its four main US facilities - St. Louis, Detroit, Elmira (NY) and Wilmington (DE) - he controlled several factories in Europe and England. Orders for rolling stock, which now included boxcars, refrigerated cars, baggage cars, parlor (chair) cars, dining cars, mail cars and its world-famous sleeping cars, would soon exceeded its capacity and Pullman set about searching for an ideal location to construct a car-building factory that would suit the firm's future needs.

In 1880 the Pullman board allotted $800,000 to purchase a 4,000 acre plot located 14 miles southwest of Chicago adjacent to Lake Calumet and the main line of the Illinois Central Railroad in the Town of Hyde Park. For many years Pullman had sought a permanent solution to the nation's ever-increasing labor problems, and after much thought and discussion settled on the idea of building his employees a company town – a clean and culturally invigorating community where they would live and work in harmony with their employers.

Architect Solon Spencer Berman and landscape designer Nathan Barrett were hired to design the new plant to be constructed adjacent to Pullman's planned community for which they would also furnish the plans.

The August 5, 1893 issue of Scientific American commented on a scale model of the city that Pullman displayed at the 1893 Columbian Exposition (World's Fair) in Chicago:

"At the extreme right will be noticed a part of the model of the city of Pullman, which forms a very interesting exhibit. This industrial city was founded by George M. Pullman, and, though established only thirteen years ago, the population already numbers more than 8,000. Pullman is in the city of Chicago, though fourteen miles from the City Hall, and is located on the Illinois Central Railway. Here are centered the great interests of the Pullman Palace Car Company, the Allen Paper Car Wheel Company, the brick works, etc. It was preeminently the design of the founder to build a city in which, as far as possible, all that would promote the health, comfort, and convenience of a large working population would be conserved, and many of the evils to which they are ordinarily exposed made impossible, while at the same time conducting the enterprise on sound business principles, looking for a moderate and sure return on the capital invested. Pullman is in many ways a model town; the wide, clean streets, the excellent water and sewage pumping systems render Pullman a healthy and pleasant place to live in. The town is well worthy of a visit, and, with proper introductions presented at the Chicago office, there is no difficulty in obtaining permission to visit the interesting shops of the company. The great Centennial Corliss engine runs the works. The model exhibited in the Transportation building gives an excellent idea of the way the town is laid out and of the principal buildings."

The town's massive 2,500 hp Corliss engine cost $77,000 and was fueled by scrap wood from the factory. Through a novel transmission system it helped power all kinds of machinery including a pump that transferred raw sewage to a company-owned farm where it was used to fertilize the fields that supplied produce to the community.

Completed in 1884 the town of Pullman was completely fireproof (constructed of brick, steel and mortar) and all of its inhabitants enjoyed state of the art facilities which included indoor plumbing and municipal gas, water, sewer, maintenance and sanitation services. The town's Arcade building was the forerunner of the shopping mall and featured a wide assortment of shops as well as a restaurant, bank, free library, post office and theater.

However Pullman differed from other municipalities in that it had no government. The town was merely an extension of Pullman's business empire and it too was expected to turn a profit (6% for the town, 8% for the factory). Its residents did not own their homes and residency required that at least one household member work at the plant.

Like its namesake, the town of Pullman was also dry – the only bar was housed in the Florence Hotel, and it was only allowed to serve alcohol to guests – requiring that Pullman residents interested in getting drunk had to do so outside the city limits. Pullman also kept tabs on which books were carried in the library, what merchandise could be carried in its stores and what performers could appear at the theater.

Despite a few downsides, most Pullman employees/residents were happy to live there, and were far better-treated than their contemporaries.

Pullman's various operations dominated the nation's railways during the 1880s and his designers and engineers came up with several important safety innovations, the most important being the vestibuled train – which effectively converted a passenger train (whose cars were bellows-equipped) into a single long interconnected car, a feature that all passenger trains continue to use today.

Although several vestibuled concepts had been tried, it was Pullman engineer Henry Harold Sessions that created the first practical bellowed system. Patents related to the system, one of which was attributed to Pullman himself, follow:

Railroad Car - US Pat. No. 373098 - filed Apr. 29, 1887, awarded Nov. 15, 1887 to H.H. Sessions and assigned to Pullman's Palace Car Co.

Vestibule-connection for railway-cars US Pat. No. 403137 – filed May 13, 1887, awarded May 14, 1889 to G.M. Pullman

Bellows Fold Coupling - US Pat. No. 403224 – filed Nov. 19, 1887, awarded May 14, 1889 to H.H. Sessions and assigned to Pullman's Palace Car Co.

For passing between cars, there was a passageway in the form of a steel-framed rectangular diaphragm mounted on a buffing plate above the center coupler. The vestibule prevented passengers from falling out, and protected passengers from the weather when passing between cars. In the event of an accident, the design also helped prevent cars from overriding each other, reducing the risk of telescoping.

Prior to the development of vestibules, passage between cars when a train was underway was both dangerous - stepping over a shifting plate between swaying cars with nothing on either side but chain guard rails - and unpleasant, due to being exposed to the weather, as well as soot, red-hot cinders and fly ash raining down from the exhaust of the steam locomotive hauling the train.

Pullman's first set of vestibuled cars were introduced on the inaugural run of the Pennsylvania Limited of the Pennsylvania Railroad on June 15, 1887.

With Pullman enjoying a virtual monopoly he had few worries during the 1880s and early 1890s, however his mishandling of employees after the panic of 1893 would ruin his until-then untarnished reputation. It was the worst economic depression the United States had ever experienced and was marked by the overbuilding and shaky financing of railroads, of which Pullman was a direct participant. Compounding the railroad bubble was a run on the gold supply and consequent run on banks, with the stock market seeing its worst decline in history. By 1894 the unemployment rate in Pennsylvania hit 25%, in New York 35%, and in Michigan 43%. Over 500 banks failed, 15,000 businesses went bankrupt, and thousands of farms went idle.

To offset any losses to his investors and himself, in late 1893 Pullman slashed production and - rather than invoking mass layoffs - cut hourly worker's wages roughly 33% across the board – all three reasonable response to the economic emergency. However Pullman made the grave mistake of keeping everyday expenses for his captive employees, eg: rent, utilities, food and other commodities, at pre-panic levels. As the rent for Pullman, Illinois residents was subtracted directly from their paychecks, many hourly workers found themselves with only a handful of dollars in take-home pay.

For example a typical hourly employee earning $30 per month before the panic saw their take-home pay reduced to $20. However their monthly deduction for rent and utilities stayed the same - $14 per month was typical for many Pullman residents – leaving them with $6 a month to pay for their family's food and other living expenses.

By 1894 Pullman workers residents were getting desperate, begging the company - and its president and namesake - to reduce the rents to reflect their reduced wages. Their cries fell upon deaf ears and Pullman's workers turned to the American Railway Union (ARU) for assistance, who soon enrolled a large percentage of the Pullman plant's workers. Enraged, Pullman refused to negotiate with the ARU or its president, Eugene V. Debs, and on May 11, 1894 as many as 90% of Pullman factory employees went out on strike (unaffected were the porters, cooks, maids, ticketing and maintenance workers of Pullman's Palace Car operating division). During the next few weeks some striking Pullman workers returned to work and Debs realized more drastic measures were called for and organized a boycott of midwest railroads carrying Pullman cars. Although the boycott was ultimately effective west of Detroit (at its peak it involved 250,000 workers in 27 states) opposition from the railroad brotherhoods and American Federation of Labor (AFL) in the east prevented the boycott from going national.

The situation in the Chicago suburb of Pullman escalated sharply during the month of June and Pullman, fearing for his safety, retreated with his immediate family to Castle Rest, his Thousand Islands estate (located on an island in Alexandria Bay) for the duration. Interestingly Alexandria Bay marinas enjoyed a brisk business renting out small vessels to journalists encircling Pullman Island hoping to spot or score an interview with the industrialist.

Officially the American Railroad Union urged its members to refrain from violence, however numerous riots took place and between July 5 and 7 several hundred blockaded railroad cars were torched. President Cleveland acted swiftly and obtained an injunction against anyone interfering with mail-carrying trains, dispatching 12,000 soldiers to points where the order was being ignored. The State of Illinois responded by dispatching the National Guard to protect the Pullman plant and residence. By the time Federal troops got the trains moving on July 10, 1894, several hundred soldiers and strikers had been wounded, 30 strikers had been killed and $80 million worth of property damage inflicted. The strike officially ended on July 12, 1894 and its legacy remains today as the Labor Day holiday which was pushed through Congress just six days after the strike ended in order to placate the nation's labor organizers.

Although the strike collapsed, George Pullman's model for handling his workers had failed miserably. Criticized and scorned, Pullman died of a heart attack on October 19, 1897 at the age of 66. Funeral services were held privately at his mansion on Prairie Avenue in the afternoon. To prevent his body from being stolen or desecrated by angry employees, Pullman had made special provisions for his burial in Chicago's Graceland Cemetery. His casket consists of a lead-lined box covered in one inch of asphalt, and rests in an eight-foot-deep concrete-filled pit. Eight steel rails rest above the casket and a final layer of concrete was poured on top. The funeral cortege arrived at Graceland Cemetery where a pit the size of an average room had been dug on the family plot, its base and walls of reinforced concrete 18 inches thick. Into this the lead-lined mahogany casket was lowered, and covered with 1” of tar paper and asphalt. The pit was filled with a layer of poured concrete on top of which 8 steel rails were laid at right angles to each other and bolted together. These rails were embedded in another layer of concrete upon which a layer of stoned, soil and sod were placed. It took two days to complete, then sod was put down and a gravestone, designed by architect Solon Spencer Beman, was placed.

His will appeared in the October, 28, 1897 edition of the New York Times:


“The Palace Car Man's Two Daughters Get the Larger Portion of the Estate.


“The Widow Is Well Provided for, and $1,200,000 Is Given to Build and Maintain a Free School at Pullman.

“CHICAGO, Oct. 27.—Tho will of George M. Pullman was filed in the Probate Court today. Norman B. Ream and Robert T. Lincoln are named as executors, his wife not being appointed because of his wish to relieve her from the labors, cares, and responsibilities of the position. The total value of the estate Is shown, by the petition for letters testamentary to be $7,600,000. Of his amount $6,800,000 is personal property and $800,000 realty. Attorney Runnells, who prepared the will, says these figures are a conservative but fair estimate of the value of the estate. The bulk of the estate goes to the two daughters, Mrs. Frank O. Lowden of Chicago and Mrs. Frank Carolan of San Francisco, who receive $1,000,000 each and also the residuary estate, the amount of which is now unknown except to the executors. The homestead at Prairie Avenue and Eighteenth Street, the construction of which cost $300,000; the furniture, pictures, &c., is given to his widow for life, and she is also to receive during her life the income of $1,250,000.

“'Castle Rest' to be Open.

“'Castle Rest,' the Summer home, on one of the Thousand Islands, is given to his daughter Florence, (Mrs. Lowden) with the furniture. She Is requested to keep 'Castle Rest' open from July 20 to Aug  14, for the accommodation of all the descendants of the testator's parents, and Is authorized to designate in her will who shall have the property after her death. The sum of $100,000 Is left in trust for its maintenance. The sum of $2,000,000 is left In trust for the daughters until they are thirty-five years old, when each Is to receive $500,000 to become hers absolutely, the other $1,000,000 to be still held in trust, the income going to them. If either daughter leave issue, the sum held in trust is to become absolutely the property of such issue. In case of the death of either daughter, leaving no issue, but leaving a husband, one-half of tho property then held In trust for such daughter is to be absolutely the property of such husband, the other half becoming a part of the residuary estate.

“The eighth provision of the will is as follows:

Two Boys Get Little.

"Inasmuch as neither of my sons has developed such a sense of responsibility as in my judgment Is requisite for the wise use of large properties and considerable sums of money, I am painfully compelled, as I have explicitly stated to them, to limit my testamentary provisions for their benefit to trusts producing only such incomes as I deem reasonable for their support. Accordingly, I direct that out of the remainder of my estate after satisfying the provisions hereinbefore made for my wife and daughters and with respect to said Island and Castle Rest, my executors shall set apart bonds, stocks, and notes, or other securities In two portions, each of such estimated value as will, in the judgment of my executors, yield an annual income of $3,000, and I give and bequeath said portions separately to the Illinois Trust and Savings Bank in trust, to receive the income and profits of: each portion and of all property substituted therefor, and to apply the net income and profits from the time of my death of one of said portions to the use of my son, George M. Pullman, Jr., during his life, and of the other of said portions to the use of my son, Walter Sanger Pullman, during his life, and upon the death of either son, leaving issue of a marriage, the property then held In trust herein the child or children of any deceased child of such son to take the share the parent would have taken If living; otherwise such property shall then become a part of my residuary estate.

"Brother Provided For

“Two brothers, Royal Henry Pullman and John M. Pullman, and the sisters, Helen Pullman West and Emma Pullman Fluhrer, are to receive $50,000 each. The sisters are to have equal shares In the furniture, pictures, &c.. in the Belgravla apartment house In New York City. The wife of his brother, Charles L. Pullman, is to have the Income of $25,000; the sum to go to her son, William Pullman, upon her death.

“Other bequests are; Florence Sanger. $20,000; Stuart West, $3,000; Bertha West, $5,000; Helen Fluhrer, $3,000; Lewis Pullman Fluhrer, $5,000; Mrs. Charles R. Smith, $5,000: Mrs. Charles H. Eaton, $10,000; William A. Angells, $10,000; Silas W. Bretzfield of New York, $10,000: Charles S. Sweet, $10,000, and Miss Maria Louise Orr, $5,000.

“The following amounts were left to 'faithful employes': Arthur Wells, $5,000; William Wells, $3,000, and William R. Johnson, $2,000. The household servants are to get from $250 to $500 each. Thirteen Chicago charitable institutions are to receive $10,000 each.

“Free School at Pullman

“The testator says It was his purpose to found, erect, and endow at Pullman, Ill., during his life, a free, school of manual training for the benefit of the children of persons living and employed at Pullman and to expend at least $200,000 for lands, buildings, and apparatus, and to provide a fund of $1,000,000 for the maintenance, management, and endowment of the school. His executors are directed to set aside $1,200,000 for this purpose.

“If the estate shall be more than sufficient to satisfy all the devises, trusts, and legacies, the executors are directed to divide the excess Into two equal shares and to add the same respectively to the two portions set apart in trust for the two daughters, who are to receive all tho property which becomes a part of the residuary estate. The Elberon property was given to Mrs. Pullman by her husband some time ago. The exact value of the estate will not be known until the inventory is filed in the Probate Court two or three weeks hence. About $5,350,000 is bequeathed by the will.”

After Pullman's death, both his town and his company experienced significant change. Following the departure of military troops in 1894, Pullman residents enjoyed domestic tranquility. In 1898, the Illinois Supreme Court ordered the Pullman Company to sell the nonindustrial land in the neighborhood to its inhabitants, determining that the Pullman Palace Car Company did not have the proper authority to provide nonmanufacturing services such as renting property. Finally, residents could buy their homes. The appearance of Pullman changed as residents renovated their homes and structures, such as the Arcade, deteriorated.

After the death of George M. Pullman in 1897 Robert Todd Lincoln (1843-1926) assumed the presidency of the Pullman Palace Car Co. Lincoln remained president of the company until 1911. When Pullman died he left behind an estate of $7.6 million, 2490 railroad cars and a $63.5 million corporation. At this time the company had 90% of the sleeping car business in North America, and it had the largest railroad car plant in the world. In 1898, during this transition period the sewage farm was sold; it never being a successful operation for the efficient treatment of sewage. The brickyards located south of the community at 116th Street was sold and became the Illinois Brick Co.

The company was rapidly restructured immediately following Pullman's death. In 1899 Pullman expanded into the construction of freight cars and coaches for subways, the Wagner Palace Car Co. (its chief competitor) was consolidated into the firm in 1900, and the resulting business was reorganized as the Pullman Company with Robert T. Lincoln, the son of President Lincoln, head of the firm.

In 1889 Pullman purchased the Union Palace Car Co., a recently organized firm that was a consolidation of the Woodruff Sleeping & Parlor Coach Co. and Mann Boudoir Car Co. Organized in December of 1888, the new firm operated a small fleet of sleeping cars (approximately 35) over 5,000 miles of railroad and was headed by Job H. Jackson, a principal of Delaware rolling stock and ship builder Jackson & Sharp.

In 1891 Pullman entered the streetcar and interurban manufacturing business, establishing an all new facility 8 miles southeast of Pullman in the Chicago suburb of Calumet, Illinois.

When Pullman died he left behind an estate of $7.6 million, 2490 railroad cars and a $63.5 million corporation. At this time the company had 90% of the sleeping car business in North America, and it had the largest railroad car plant in the world. President Lincoln's son, Robert Todd Lincoln (b. 1843 - d. 1926), assumed the presidency of the Pullman Palace Car Co., remain at the helm until his retirement in 1911.

Continuing conflicts within the community prompted an 1898 Illinois Supreme Court decision ordering the Company to sell all of its nonindustrial land in the City of Pullman to its inhabitants, determining that the Pullman Palace Car Company did not have the proper authority to provide non-manufacturing services such as renting property.

In 1899 Pullman expanded into the construction of freight and subway cars, and on January 1, 1900 purchased the Wagner Palace Car Co. of Buffalo, NY, its chief competitor.  The purchase coincided with the reorganization of Pullman's Palace Car Co. as the Pullman Co. to better reflect its status as a constructor of all kinds of rolling stock. At the time the $60 million firm controlled over 2,500 sleeping, parlor, and dining cars carrying 5 to 6 million passengers a year over 125,000 miles of railway. The reorganized firm now owned and operated repair and manufacturing facilities in Buffalo, New York; Calumet and Pullman, Illinois; Atlanta, Georgia; Richmond, California; Wilmington, Delaware and St. Louis, Missouri.

After the all-steel freight car was introduced in the 1890s, several railroads began investigating all-steel passenger cars as a way to increase both passenger capacity and safety. By that time long distance rail travel had became affordable for America's middle class, who could even afford to ride in a Pullman car, if they wanted to splurge. Although infrequent, the horrific crashes of passenger trains were front page news and various railway proponents and government officials urged the adoption of all-steel 'safety' cars.

Although safety was a concern, the move to all-steel cars was first and foremost an economic one for operators like Pullman, and the April 3, 1901 edition of the Newark Daily Advocate (NJ) detailed the profits that could be had on a typical cross-country journey:

“Many people have wondered how much money can be made by a sleeping car. The income or earning capacity of a sleeping car is considerable. Take the run from New York to Chicago, 1,000 miles. Every road in the United States pays three cents a mile for the privilege of hauling a sleeper, and contracts to return said car in as good shape as it is received, and pay for all damages. The journey on the limited express to Chicago is made in 24 hours, therefore the car earns $30 a day for travel. If it is full, which is generally the case, receipts from berths, sections and state rooms amount to $185, making a total revenue of $215 a day. Out of this must come the wages of the porter and conductor, the former, however, usually having charge of several cars—the towels, sheets, soap, ice, etc., the whole amounting to but a small sum. Earnings of $60,000 a year per car will about cover the case.”

At that time scions of industry and finance sat on the Pullman board and at one such meeting in 1906 the subject of building all-steel Pullman cars was placed on the agenda. Although the firm's chief engineer, Richard Dean, had prepared a lengthy presentation on the subject, it wasn't necessary as Andrew Carnegie and J.P. Morgan had already decided Pullman should move ahead with the program.

Within the year Pullman's first all-steel sleeping car, 'The Jamestown,' debuted at the June 1907 Master Car Builders Association Convention in Atlantic City. Named in honor of the tercentennial of the first English settlement in the United States, the 12-section car closely resembled the firm's wooden offerings and weighed in at 80 tons – twice the weight of a comparable wooden coach. As the firm had little expertise in welding sheet steel, the Jamestown was constructed of readily available steel panels attached to various steel I-beams and sills.

In 1909 a new steel car plant was outfitted at the firm's Pullman, Illinois works and during the next two years 90 all-steel passenger cars of various types were produced for the New York Central and Harriman railroads. Pullman engineers slowly gained experience using the new material and by the time they debuted their second prototype sleeper, 'The Carnegie,' in January of 1910, Pullman's engineers had reduced the weight by 12 tons to 68 tons.  It brought in over 500 new orders for steel cars and the company instituted an accelerated plan to replace its wooden cars with steel ones.

Pullman also took the opportunity to standardize their passenger car building operations which up until that time had changed on the whims of its customers. From now on the firm's passenger cars were structurally identical. The frames, trucks, shells (roof and body) and mechanical equipment were the same. Sleepers, day coaches, dining cars and even baggage cars all used the same blueprint, only the windows, doors and interiors (seats, berths, tables, chairs, etc.) varied from one type of car to another. Although the interiors of the cars experienced periodic changes, over 50% of the firm's passenger cars constructed from 1910 into 1935 were constructed using one single basic design.

The changeover to all-steel construction occurred in phases. Recently constructed cars were retrofitted with steel underframes, greatly increasing their safety without having to rebuild the entire car. By 1913 over 600 existing Pullman cars had been so equipped, and 857 new cars constructed, the latter at a cost of $22,000 each. By 1926 75% of Pullman cars were all-steel and all but 4% of the remainder were steel-underframed. By 1935 all of their steel-underframed wooden-bodied cars had been retired.

In addition to rail car construction, Pullman's Manufacturing Department also handled the conversion of town of Pullman properties to private ownership and engaged after 1919 in the manufacture of all-steel auto bodies for such firms as Velie, Packard, Willys-Overland, Moon and Peerless. Pullman's vast models shops, engineering facilities prototype and stamping departments were equipped for runs of from one to ten thousand – whatever amount the customer desired.

An office for the new Auto Body Dept. was established in Room 701, Pullman Building, Chicago, Illinois and a sales manager and design/engineering staff hired. An underused plant at the corner of Maryland Avenue and 103rd Street in North Pullman currently used to manufacture phonograph cabinets was outfitted for the production of all-metal automobile bodies, and News of the Week column of the Sept 20, 1919 issue of The Music Trades announced that Pullman had just gotten their first contract to produce phonograph cabinets for the Edison Co.:


"Celebrated Wood Working Concern Added to Ranks of Famous Firms Engaged in Manufacture of Edison Cabinets

"Announcement was made by Thomas A. Edison, Inc., that the Pullman Palace Car Co. is now devoting its entire working capacity to the manufacture of Edison phonograph cabinets. It is likely that the Pullman people will make the first deliveries of cabinets during the last week in September. Thomas A. Edison, Inc., is establishing an assembly plant contiguous to the Pullman wood-working shops in Chicago (Pullman), Ill., where laboratory built and tested mechanisms will be installed by laboratory trained men in the cabinets manufactured by the Pullman Co., the Edison cabinet plant in Wisconsin and an Indiana cabinet manufacturer. This arrangement will greatly facilitate the delivery of completed phonographs to Mid-Western dealers and will bring considerable benefit to Eastern and Pacific Coast dealers, because it will enable the Edison Co. to devote a larger portion of its own output to their needs.

"Arrangements have also been made whereby another new manufacturer will begin the delivery of Sheratons during the first week in September. Still another new manufacturer will begin the delivery of oak Sheratons a little later in the month, and Heppelwhites, in all finishes, will be flowing from a new manufacturer before the end of September.

"It has been difficult for the trade to understand why cabinet manufacturers who have made Edison cabinets for years should have been able during recent months to produce cabinets in so large quantities as was the case prior to war-time curtailment of their production. As explained at the Dealers' Convention in New York, in June, the principal cause for the decreased output of the Edison old manufacturers was the Edison Co.'s insistence on standards of quality, which they found it difficult to meet until they had eradicated from their workmen and foremen the lax habits developed during the war."

The November 11, 1919 issue of Business Digest and Investment Weekly announced that Pullman had just gotten a contract to produce 4,000 automobile bodies for Packard:

"Pullman Company Chicago

"Harold Vanderbilt of New York has been elected a director to fill a vacancy. The stockholders have approved a contract valued at $5,370,000 for the manufacture of 4,000 auto bodies for the Packard Motor Car Co. and a $2,000,000 contract for phonograph cabinets for the Edison Co."

The Supply Trade Notes column of the November 15, 1919 issue of Railway Review carried much the same news:

"Stockholders of the Pullman Company at the annual meeting elected Harold S. Vanderbilt to the directorate. The directors' meeting re-elected the retiring officers and approved a contract to manufacture 4,000 automobile bodies for $5,370,000 for the Packard Motor Car company and also for a $2,000,000 contract for phonograph cabinets for the Edison company."

The November 15, 1919 issue of the Lumberman carried the following news

"Car Builders Are Optimistic

"An optimistic view of the future of the car building trade was expressed at the annual stockholders‘ meeting of the Pullman Co., held Wednesday in Chicago. The company is not now busy, it is believed that with the return of the railroads to their owners by the Government, which is expected within the next few weeks, more orders for equipment will be forthcoming from the carriers. The company has received several car inquiries from abroad and is now working on an order for freight and passenger cars for Belgium. The Pullman Co. recently finished the last of the 8,000 cars it had to build of the 100,000 car order placed by the Railroad Administration during the war. The company is not confining its attention to car building alone. for the trend of the times has caused it to accept an order for 4,000 automobile bodies for the Packard Motor Car Co. and it is also building phonograph cabinets for the Edison Phonograph Co."

These bodies were produced in a plant constructed in 1919 in the north part of the manufacturing area at Maryland Avenue and 103rd Street. During 1919, 50,000 phonograph cabinets were produced in this plant for the Edison Phonograph Works. Pullman Co. archives state that from July of 1920 through 1922 the company produced approximately 13,000 steel automobile bodies for the Packard Motor Car Co.

In her authoritative work on Packard, Beverly Rae Kimes mentions:

"Though the public were not told many bodies for the 116* and some open versions for the Twin-Six were produced by the Pullman Company, the manufacturer of Railroad cars in Chicago."

(*The 1920 Packard Single Six is referred to as the Series 116 by Packard historians.)

Most post-war Packard production bodies were furnished by Anderson Carriage/Towson Body, Buffalo (American Body Co.), Limousine Body Co., Pullman CO., C.R. Wilson and later on Murray and Briggs.

The February 9, 1922 issue of Automotive Industries reported that Pullman was ramping up to get 600 bodies per month to Packard:

"Pullman Packard Output

"Chicago, Feb. 6 – Starting March 1 the Pullman Co. will begin a schedule of 600 Packard automobile bodies a month. The company has maintained a Packard department for some time, but its operation has been sluggish for several months."

The Men of Industry column in the March 16, 1922 issue of Automotive Industries:

"J. Henry Smith has been appointed manager of sales of the automobile body department of the Pullman Co. with headquarters at Chicago."

August 31, 1922 issue of Motor Age:


"CHICAGO, Aug. 28 - Rapid increase in its production of automobile bodies is announced by the Pullman Co. of Chicago, builders of Pullman sleeping cars and other railroad equipment. This company for a number of years has been building bodies on a limited scale for high class automobiles, but with the growth and enlargement of the business the company has created an automobile body department as an established functioning part of the organization. The manager of the automobile body department is J. Henry Smith who announces that the company is prepared to turn out bodies in any quantity. This service includes painting and trimming and tops for the open models. The Pullman company also has entered largely into the production of metal stampings and pressings."

The Body Builders column of the September 1922 issue of the Automotive Manufacturer:

"Pullman Co., Chicago, builder of Pullman sleeping cars and other railroad equipment reports rapid increases in its production of automobile bodies. This company for a number of years has been building bodies on a limited scale for higher priced automobiles."

September 14, 1922 issue of Automotive Industries:


"CHICAGO, Aug. 28 - Rapid increase in its production of automobile bodies is announced by the Pullman Co., builder of Pullman sleeping cars and other railroad equipment. This company for a number of years has been building bodies on a limited scale for higher priced automobiles."

November 30, 1922 issue of Automotive Industries:

"Builders of Closed Bodies Assured of Big Business in 1923

"Output will average about 35 per cent of total. Increases in demand is not likely to be sensational. Sport types also have strong appeal. Plan must be made to get dealers models they want when they want them or sales will suffer.

"CLOSED-CAR production for 1923, so far as it can be estimated from the tentative schedules of the leading companies, will show a substantial increase over 1922, but the growth in demand will not be so sensational as it has been this year in comparison with 1921. Taking the output of the entire industry for 1922, the percentage of closed cars probably has averaged between 27 and 28. On the same basis, the percentage for next year probably will average from 33 to 35. According to price classifications, the closed car production for next year probably will be between 25 and 30 per cent in the low-priced lines; between 30 and 40 per cent in the medium field and between 40 and 60 per cent in the high price class. The big business in closed cars this year has been due in large measure to the development of low-priced models early in the year by two or three far-sighted companies which sensed the trend of public demand. When it became apparent that with a sharp reduction in price there would be large sales of closed models, practically all companies went after a share of the business. Notwithstanding the heavy sales of closed cars this year, there is a strong feeling in Detroit that 1923 will bring a pronounced demand for special sport models and that public interest will be centered on them. Until the last few months, prospects have had to make their selections, for the most part, from standard open models, low-priced closed jobs or standard closed cars. Practically all manufacturers have made haste recently to get into the sport model field. They have found that such cars possess a strong appeal for the purchaser and that the price differential of $100 or more over the standard open line does not appear to have limited the demand in the least. It remains to be seen whether this estimate of demand is entirely correct. It may be that the sport models will prove to be more or less of a fad, although there probably will be a strong demand for them in the spring. It undoubtedly will be found in the future, as the prices of closed models are brought steadily nearer to those of open cars, as they will be, that the volume of closed car sales will approach more closely the total of open model business and ultimately exceed it to a considerable degree. When there is no great difference between the price of a touring car and a coupe or sedan, it will be found j hat the average purchaser in cities and towns where the weather is not mild the year 'round, will favor the closed model. There always will be, however, a big field for the sale of open cars in sections of the country where there is no real winter and among farmers. The sport model, or anything 'different', also will have a strong appeal to many persons, especially the younger generation and there is substantial reason for expecting a heavy sale of such cars. It unquestionably is true that the shortage of bodies has held down the sales of closed cars all this year and some of the companies making popular lines are far behind on deliveries even now. The demand for closed models, at reasonable prices, was underestimated early in the year and a great many people who actually preferred them have had to be content with something else because they could not get what they wanted. When they come into the replacement market the chances are that they will still want a closed job. Some system must be worked out in the automotive industry under which people can get what they wan1 when they want it. It is comparatively easy to buy closed cars in the spring and open cars in the winter, but no plan has been devised under which dealers and prospects can get an ample supply of the kind of vehicles they desire at all seasons. Dealers in the more popular lines have been far behind in deliveries of closed cars all year and this fact has cost them many sales. When a dealer or a distributer can sell more closed cars than he can get in November and December it doesn't soothe his temper to have his factory sales manager tell him what a noble thing it would be for him to stock a lot of nice, new open cars for spring delivery so his customers won't have to wait. The sales he's going to make in the spring don't pay overhead in the winter. It should not be forgotten, either, that when he stocks open cars for spring sales, he has to pay cash for them and if the factory decides, before the spring selling season opens, to reduce prices the dealer has to pocket a loss instead of make a profit in a good many cases. F'ACTORIES are going to have increasing difficulty in convincing dealers that it's their patriotic duty to pay cash for cars and then warehouse them for three or four months just so they'll have a stock on hand when they get a chance to sell them. They'll contend that it's the business of the factories to make prompt deliveries of merchandise when it can be sold to the best advantage. They will point, for example, to the clothing industry, in which summer clothes are made in winter and winter clothes in summer. One outstanding reason for the shortage of closed car this year has been the inadequate body building capacity of the country. This condition will be greatly improved by the beginning of 1923 and manufacturers generally seem to have provided for their needs. Ford, in its own factory at River Rouge, can build about 1000 sedans daily and the Briggs Mfg. Co. gives it 500 coupes a day as well as about 200 of the new four-door sedan type. Chevrolet, soon after the first of the year, will complete body plants at many of its car manufacturing and assembly plants which will give it adequate body supply to meet any demand. The body plants will be operated by Fisher. Practically all the closed bodies for General Motors cars are being built by Fisher, though there are exceptions in which they are made by companies outside the corporation. Fisher is operating upward of thirty plants in and around Detroit and Cleveland, and except for General Motors is building only closed bodies. Approaching completion is a huge plant in Detroit which will give Fisher an additional 1,000,000 ft. of space for its body manufacturing requirements. Dodge Bros., now making all their own bodies, will complete soon after the first of the year a large addition which will be used almost exclusively in meeting body requirements. Dort makes all its own bodies and declares its plant facilities adequate to meet demand. Hupp controls its source of body supply and is prepared to meet increased business. Maxwell-Chalmers has its own body plants and while these have fallen down badly in meeting closed body demand this fall, their facilities are being extended to meet additional requirements. Studebaker operates its own body plants and is extending them to provide for a larger closed car business. Hudson-Essex has been hard pushed to meet demands for its coach models, but has kept abreast of them fairly well because of simplified assembly. The Hudson sedan body is made in Amesbury, Mass., and the business has outstripped the body factory production capacity. Hudson has not announced plans for more adequate supply, but undoubtedly will make them. Lincoln bodies are being made by custom body builders exclusively and output is consequently limited. The completion of an addition to the Lincoln plant now under way is expected to provide for the building of some body types there, so that production in these models will be greatly increased. Gray bodies are being made by the Kelsey Wheel Co" which has facilities to manufacture any number of any type required. Packard gets its closed bodies from the Towson Body Co., Detroit, and its open bodies from the Pullman Co., Chicago. Both of these companies are equipped to handle any increase in Packard business which may arise. Paige-Jewett bodies are made by the Wilson Body Co., which is making a large increase in its factory space. The Durant body supply for Stars and Durants is not anywhere near ample to meet the production requirements they have outlined, but plans have been made to meet requirements by the organization of new companies. Closed-Car demand is now running about 33 per cent with Ford and Chevrolet; Hudson and Essex, with their coach popularity, are exceeding 50 per cent. The same is true of cars like Cadillac and Packard, whose demand is close to 75 per cent. Similarly, the General Motors companies with low-priced closed models with Fisher bodies are having a closed business approximating 50 per cent. This figure probably is an average for all medium-priced cars now. Many factories, however, are not able to get closed bodies up to this figure. Sport cars now are winning buyers who otherwise would be in the closed-car market, easing the situation somewhat. Now that provision has been made for meeting the body needs of the industry, there will be less legitimate excuse for those manufacturers who fail to fill orders promptly. Conceding that it will be impossible at the beginning of each year for factories to establish arbitrary production schedules for models of various types, they can determine more definitely than they have in the past, by scientific sales analysis, what the probable demand will be. It is perfectly logical to assume, for example, that inasmuch as the major part of automobile buying this year has been in the larger cities and industrial centers, it will switch in 1923 to the agricultural sections which possess 45 per cent of the country's buying- power. This would include the Middle West, the Northwest, the Southwest and the Southeast. The farmer, generally speaking, is not addicted to the closed car. He wants not only open cars, but open cars without frills, so he is not an enthusiast over sport models, either. He is the man to whom the Ford is sold without starter or demountable rims. He prefers to turn the crank and save $95. He buys with an eye to economy. While it is logical to assume that buying will shift to the rural districts in a few months, buying ability isn't going to be equal in all such sections. This is one illustration of why careful market analyses now will mean profits a few months from now. What seems on the surface like a perfectly logical conclusion does not always work out in practice. Body design and body production methods are becoming increasingly important. Body changes and refinements rather than chassis improvements will be featured at the New York and Chicago shows. No matter how long the strides which may be taken in body design and production, however, they will not attain their full measure of importance unless manufacturers can work out better than they have in the past the problem of getting into the hands of dealers a plentiful supply of the models prospects want when they want them."

Ware Bros. 1923 Vehicle Yearbook lists the firm as follows:

Pullman Company

Auto Body Dept.

Room 701

Pullman Building, Chicago, Illinois

Listed as president is E.F. Carry with William Bonn as Body Superintendent.

This division was listed as "building passenger car bodies both open and closed made of wood and metal construction."

Using patented designs developed by Peter Parke (Pullman's Chief Engineer), Joseph Brack and Carl H. Apel, the company built experimental prototypes for Packard and Willys-Overland and manufactured bodies for Moon and Peerless automobiles.

Pullman's auto-related patents consist of the following closed metal body:

Metal automobile body – US Pat. No. 1608228 - Filed Jan 14, 1924 - ‎Issued Nov 23, 1926 to ‎Carl Apel, Joseph Brack and Peter Parke; assigned to the Pullman Company

The 'Men of Industry' column in the March 29, 1923 issue of Automotive Industries:

"Pullman Appoints Thompson

"The Pullman Co. announces the appointment of W. F. Thompson, an experienced automobile manufacturing man, to have full charge of the manufacturing facilities of its automobile body plant at Pullman. Thompson has been actively connected with the Peerless, Cadillac and Packard companies, and has been associated with companies manufacturing bodies for other automobiles."

Men of Industry column in the April 12, 1923 issue of Automotive Industries:

"Pullman Appoints Brewster

"The automobile body department of the Pullman Co. announces the appointment of Henry Brewster to its engineering and designing department. Brewster is well known as an automobile body engineer and builder, having been connected with Brewster & Co. of New York, C. P. Kimball & Co. of Chicago and Smith-Springfield Co. of Massachusetts."

Pullman constructed open bodies for the 1924 Packard Model 126 Sport models.

"The Pullman Company Exhibiting on Packard Chassis" from the 1924 Chicago Salon program.

January 24, 1924 issue of Automotive Industries:

"Pullman Steel Body to Appear at Salon Will Be Shown on Packard

"Chassis-Weighs Fifty Pounds Less Than Usual Type

"CHICAGO, Jan. 23-Announcement is made by the Pullman Co. that it will exhibit for the first time at the Automobile Salon, which opens at the Drake Hotel Saturday, an automobile body with steel frame. This will be shown on a Packard chassis, and it is said that the steel body is fifty pounds lighter than the ordinary automobile closed body. Among the advantages claimed for the Pullman steel body are freedom from warping, squeaking and loosening of joints, greater strength and rigidity without increase in weight, safety and economy in production. The body is made in sectional assembly units which are joined together by bolts with lock washers. Fabric saturated with paint is placed in the joints. The cowl and windshield frame are welded together in one unit, which is slid over the front end of the bottom frame in assembling, and supported thereon. The front posts of the side frames are joined to the corner posts telescopically, while the box-shaped top plate is provided with a ridge to receive the overlapping roof. A box-shaped top plate and "U" shaped sill or shoe are used for the sides into which posts are fitted and held by "U" brace plates. The front post is made to fit into the comer post of the front section door openings with hinge lugs. The rear unit connects the twin side framing members by means of a flanged and bolted joint, concealed on the outside by a moulding which is clamped tight before the bolts are fitted. At the top is a ridge to receive the overlapping roof; at the bottom there is a flange for fastening the bottom frame. The side doors also have a steel frame, all parts being assembled and welded together in jigs."

An overview of the Chicago Salon (Drake Hotel) by Edward J. Schipper appeared in the February 7, 1924 issue of Automotive Industries:

"Chicago Salon Shows Present Body Design Trends

"Pullman exhibits all-steel model built in accordance with railroad practice. The berline type seems likely to replace limousine. Many sales reported.

"By Edward J. Schipper

"Steel Panels and Structural Members in New Pullman Body

"The Pullman all-steel body, which was shown on a Packard Single Six chassis, is painted green and upholstered in Laidlaw cloth fabric. The fenders and running gear are the same color as the rest of the body. This all-steel model follows Pullman railway car practice in its construction. The body has been under development for over a year and represents an experiment to show what can be done in all-steel construction. Pullman company officials state that they are convinced that the cost can be made equal to wood-framed bodies in moderate quantities and lower in large quantities. The body at the show is a deluxe type and has not been constructed with a view to maximum economy. The back, window frames, doors, etc., are rounded, and in other features expensive construction has been used. By using square corners, by eliminating lefts and rights, and by standardizing such parts as the doors, marked economies might be effected. Probably the most interesting feature of this body, which is built up entirely of pressed steel parts over pressed steel structural members, is that it is a rigid unit in itself and does not depend on the chassis for requisite stiffness. Tests at high speed on rough roads, it is claimed, have failed to produce any working of the joints or to cause squeaks or rattles. The body is built like a railway coach, with a steel frame bottom unit having integral sills and a web acting as a floor. When this is applied to the chassis frame it acts not only as a foundation for the body, but also as a large plate cross-member in the chassis itself. The front unit comprises a one-piece cowl, dash, part of windshield pillars, and the front quarter side panels. This unit is a spot-welded and bolted assembly. The side units are constructed so that the front pillars telescope, and when drawn together by the fastening bolts combine to form a box section which is narrow, light and strong. The side units comprise part of the front pillars, the door frames and the rear quarters. In the case of the inside-drive car shown on the Packard single six chassis at the show, the rear quarters are steel. The rear unit includes the back panel and the frame for the rear light. In the car shown at the salon, the steel rear window frame has been arranged to take a rear window which swings out, giving back ventilation. The curve forming the rear part of the roof is also in this rear unit. The entire structure is tied together by the roof, which acts not only as a cover, but as a structural member. The roof is supported on steel cross-beams and is tied to longitudinal members of combined Z bar and channel section. Anti-squeak material is inserted at the joint. Bolts are used to draw the side structure and the roof structure together in such a way that when the assembly is complete the equivalent of a longitudinal box beam is secured for the length of the car along the sides of the roof. Considering the entire car as a beam supported between the wheels, these members are at the greatest distance from the neutral axis of the car and consequently are a large factor in maintaining the rigidity of the entire structure. Most of the joints are so arranged that when the assembly is complete a section is formed which will contribute to the rigidity of the u nit. The joints are fastened together by bolts with lock washers, Fabric saturated with paint is placed 111 the joints. The cowl and windshield framings are welded together into one unit which, in assembling, is slid over the front end of the bottom frame and is supported by it. The corner posts receive the front post of the side frame telescopically, the joint being completed by bolting. The box-shaped top plate is provided with a ridge to receive the overlapping roof. With box-shaped top plate and the "U" shaped sill or horseshoe construction into which posts are fitted and held by "U" brace plates, the sides present a strong and rigid structure thoroughly welded together. The front post is made to fit into the corner post of the front section door openings with hinge lugs jigged for doors. The top plate is provided with a ridge to receive the overlapping roof. The rear unit connects the two side framing units by means of a special flanged and bolted joint concealed on the outside by a molding which is clamped tightly before the bolts are fitted. At the top is a ridge to receive the overlapping roof, at the bottom, a flange for fastening to the bottom frame. Side doors have all-steel frame to insure perfect and uniform fit. All parts are assembled and welded together in jigs. Hinges are secured to metal only and will not become loose in service. The particular all-steel body exhibited at the Drake Salon on the Packard chassis is claimed to be 50 lb. lighter than the ordinary inclosed body of similar size."

During 1924 several other all steel prototypes were constructed on Willys-Overland and Packard chassis in the hopes of securing a large order from the two firms, however the two automakers decided to pursue other options and all the money and time spent on developing the beautiful all-steel Berline displayed at the 1924 Chicago Salon did not produce any new business for the firm.

Pullman manufactured the coachwork for the 1924 Peerless Model 6-70 5-passenger touring phaeton, of which one example survives today. It's unknown whether the survivor was a production vehicle or a prototype although the Pullman archives contain daily production reports, 1923-1925, for both Moon and Peerless auto bodies and financial records (monthly financial statements, 1922-1924, billing records, 1924-1925, and journals, 1920-1924).

The Pullman archives also note that "some" Pullman bodies for Peerless cars were in storage during 1924 although no distinction is made as to if they are production or prototype bodies. Circa 1923-1925 the bulk of Peerless' production bodies were being supplied by Budd, Murray, Raulang and Springfield Body Co.'s.

Introduced in January, 1924 production of the Peerless 6-70 spanned from March, 1924 to March, 1925, when the mechanically similar but re-designed 6-72 replaced it. The 1925 Model 6-72 featured a new radiator shell, new hood and boat-tail rear decks on the roadsters and roadster coupes.

By the fall of 1924 operations at Pullman's automobile body department started to wind down, and Walter F. Thompson, its director, left to pursue other opportunities, the October 23, 1924 issue of Automotive Industries reporting:

"Thompson Made Head of Model Body Corp.

"Company Is Reorganized, New Capital Secured and Expansion Planned

"DETROIT, Oct. 22-The Model Body Corp. has been reorganized and additional capital put into the business for expansion. The production of passenger car bodies will be continued, but in the future the company will also specialize in bus and commercial bodies. Walter F. Thompson has been elected president and general manager of the company to succeed G.L. Gast, who becomes vice-president. George Mercer and C. Lester French continue as secretary and treasurer respectively. Mr. Thompson served his apprenticeship in the body business in the factory of Thrupp & Maberly, London, England. Since that time he has been associated with the Peerless Motor Car Co., the Cadillac Motor Car Co., the J.C. Widman Co. and the body division of the Pullman Co."

Over time Packard, at one time one of Pullman's largest customers, had become disenchanted with its various production body suppliers. Firm contracts for specific quantities of bodies had led to disputes and costly cancellation charges with Anderson/Towson (later Murray), Pullman and Buffalo whenever car production diminished and bodies were no longer required.

A switch to Briggs brought complaints of poor quality with higher prices sought as more rigid controls were instituted by Packard. Gradually more body fabrication was brought in-house and, on October 14th, 1925, board minutes noted, ". . . it was decided to build all of our own bodies when, and as, arrangements can be made to that end" (according to B.R. Kimes).

The Edward G. Budd Mfg. Co. threatened Pullman with litigation over the alleged infringement of several of Joseph Ledwinka's metal automobile body patents, however the matter never reached the courts and Pullman grew to become a major Budd customer and shortly after their 1929 merger with the Standard Steel Car Company (forming the Pullman-Standard Car Manufacturing Company) sold their existing automobile body-related patents to Budd.

In 1924 the Pullman Car & Manufacturing Co. was organized from the previous Pullman manufacturing department to consolidate the car building (including automobile bodies) interests of The Pullman Co. The parent company, The Pullman Co., was reorganized as Pullman, Inc., on June 21, 1927.

The best years for Pullman were the mid-1920s, and in its banner year of 1925 the Pullman operating system included 9,800 cars, which were manned by 28,000 conductors and 12,000 porters.

No further automobile work is mentioned in the Pullman Co. archives nor the automotive press. However they did make several thousand trolley coaches (aka trolley bus) that found favor with several east coast operators. The firm's trolley coach business was a result of Pullman's February 18, 1930 acquisition of Worcester, Massachusetts Osgood Bradley Car Co. which was reorganized as the Osgood Bradley Car Corp., later becoming a subsidiary of the Standard Steel Car Corp. a wholly-owned subsidiary of Pullman Inc.

Just prior to the initial acquisition, Osgood Bradley had produced a prototype trolley-coach for a Brooklyn surface transit operator. In 1932 the customer ordered six examples of the prototype which resulted in several more batches of similar coaches for other operators during the following few years.

After the introduction of single-motor coaches in 1936, interest in their trolleys and trolley coaches increased, and Pullman's Worcester subsidiary won a sizable share of the east coast business. Transit systems in Boston and Providence were particularly steady Pullman customers, and other large fleets ran in Atlanta, Mil­waukee and Birmingham. A modified design for the export trade was offered after 1945, and some were sold to Valparaiso and Sao Paulo. Between 1930 and 1954 Pullman-Standard constructed approximately 2,100 trolley-coaches in its Worcester plant and many of its coaches remained in service into the 1970s.

The Depression marked the end of prosperity for the Pullman Co. Both the number of car orders and passengers for their sleeping cars declined precipitously forcing massive layoffs.

Just as the firm was returning to prosperity the U.S. Department of Justice filed an anti-trust complaint against Pullman, seeking to separate the company’s sleeping car operations from its manufacturing activities. The court concurred and in 1944 ordered Pullman Incorporated to divest itself of either the Pullman Company (operating) or the Pullman-Standard Car Manufacturing Company (manufacturing). After three years of negotiations, the Pullman Company was sold to a consortium of fifty-seven railroads in 1947 for $40 million.

Carroll R. Harding was named President of this new Pullman Companywhich started out optimistically in 1947 with good passenger traffic figures, but the years following brought steady and marked decline. Regularly scheduled lines were cancelled, all shops except St. Louis and Chicago were closed, employees were furloughed, and major railroad owners such as the New York Central and Pennsylvania Railroad totally or partially withdrew from service.

Although not directly related to their automobile body business, Pullman constructed one of the largest road-going vehicles ever manufactured, the Pullman Arctic Explorer (popularly known as Admiral Byrd's Snow Cruiser).

Dubbed the Penguin by the press, and 'Big Bertha' by its crew, the massive vehicle was constructed at Pullman's 111th street plant from August to October 1939 for use by Admiral Richard Evelyn Byrd's 3rd Antarctic expedition which ran from late 1939 into 1941.

Byrd's 1934 expedition relied upon Citroen half-tracks which proved to be too cold and cramped for long-distance travel. Dr. Thomas C. Poulter, Byrd's second-in-command, envisioned an all-in-one solution for the next journey which would not only be impervious to the extreme conditions, but serve as a mobile base of exploration.

Poulter, whose PhD. was in physics, joined the Research Foundation of Armour Institute of Technology after the 1934 expedition, and proselytized about the future of arctic exploration and the need for an all-in-one polar exploration vehicle that would solve the problem of moving between outposts in the Antarctic interior.

After Admiral Byrd announced plans for a third expedition Poulter went to Washington, D.C. and on April 29, 1939 presented plans for his massive polar exploration vehicle to the officials of the United States Antarctic Service. He had the financial backing of the Armour Institute back in Chicago and pledged to personally oversee the construction of the massive $150,000 36-ton vehicle, which measured 55 ft. 9 in. in length, 19 ft. 11 in. in width and 16 ft. in height.

The novel vehicle featured a number of innovative features designed to handle the harsh climate and terrain of the World's southernmost continent. To prevent cracking of the 12-ply Goodyear rubber tires, its wheels could be retracted into housings where they warmed by the engine's exhaust gases.

Long overhangs front and rear assisted the vehicle to traverse crevices of up to 15 feet - the front wheels would retract, allowing the rear wheels to push it across the divide. Once safely over the crevice the front wheels would be extended, and the rear retracted, allowing the vehicle to pull its rear half to safety.

A hybrid Diesel-electric drive train provided an exceptionally spacious interior and had the secondary benefit of providing built-in heat. A pair of General Electric generators powered by two 150 hp 672 cu. in. Cummins diesels supplied the electricity to four 75 hp GE electric motors, each one powering one of the Goodyear-equipped wheels. The Cummins' antifreeze circulated through radiators to heat the living quarters and the GE generators also supplied current to a bank of storage batteries that powered the vehicle's equipment when the engine wasn't running.

A pad on top of the vehicle carried a 350 hp 5-passenger Beechcraft Model 17 'Staggerwing' observation plane that could be offloaded by the crew.

The Explorer carried 5 persons and included a kitchen, living quarters, a darkroom and a machine shop as well as a rear storage area which housed 2 spare tires, provisions and two fuel tanks - a 2,500 gallon tank of low-temperature diesel for the Cummins engines and a 1,000 gallon tank of aviation fuel for the Beechcraft.

Pullman commenced construction of the Arctic Explorer on August 8, 1939 and on October 24, 1939, it began its shakedown cruise – a well-covered 1,020 mile journey from Chicago to the Boston Army Wharf where it would loaded onto the North Star, en route to Antarctica.

The vehicle was covered in great detail inside the pages of the December, 1939 issue of MoTor by the periodical's technical editor, Harold F. Blanchard:

“First Hand Impressions of How World's Largest Automobile Is Operated

“Can you imagine driving all over the Antarctic in a motor car? Not only to the Pole itself, which is 750 miles south from the Bay of Whales, but to everywhere else of interest except where high mountains get in the way or where there are areas with deep crevasses too broad to cross. Yet that is exactly what the Snow Cruiser was built to do.

“There is gold and platinum in some of the mountains, stone for building houses and coal for heat. All that is lacking is transportation which may some day be provided by a fleet of snow cruisers to take supplies to the mines and bring back precious metals. Such is the dream of a certain professor.

“The immediate purpose of the Snow Cruiser, however, as part of the U.S. Antarctic Service under Admiral Byrd's command, is to speed up exploration work and scientific investigation as well as to claim the continent as a United States possession by maintaining colonies there for three years as required by international agreement. Assisted by a five-passenger airplane, it is believed that the Snow Cruiser will add as much to the knowledge of the South Polar regions in two or three months as all previous expeditions combined. This plane, along with others, is expected to map most of the South Polar Continent by means of aerial cameras. The Snow Cruiser, world's newest and largest automobile, has almost nothing in common with conventional cars except that it runs on four pneumatic tires, but even this comparison is not exact because the tires are so large and soft that a spring suspension is unnecessary. Unlike an ordinary car, it has two engines instead of one, four-wheel drive, four-wheel steering by two levers instead of a steering wheel, two accelerator pedals, two brake pedals, a built in hydraulic jack on each wheel, enough Diesel fuel for a 5000-mile run (2500 gallons), 1000 gallons of airplane gasoline, bunks for four men and food for a year.

“With ordinary cars, a potential buyer might look to acquire an auto refinance loan in order to purchase the car of their dreams; however with an automobile as large as the Snow Cruiser, an individual would need a lot of money at their disposal since its very unlikely that any bank or auto refinance agency would be willing to help someone out with such a grand undertaking.

“Two 150 hp six-cylinder Diesel engines drive electric generators which supply current to a 75 hp motor in the hub of each wheel. Wheels are steered by oil at 2000 pounds pressure under the guidance of two levers located at either side of the driver who sits in an individual chair in the center of the control room. The right lever steers the front wheels and the left one the rear.

“Hydraulic band brakes, actuated by the same oil pressure, are controlled by a pair of treadle pedals operated by the driver's left foot, one pedal for front brakes and the other for rear. Similarly, the Diesel engines are controlled by two treadles depressed by the right foot. Normally one Diesel engine drives the front wheels and the other the rear, although either engine may be used to drive all four wheels. Toward the rear of the driver's seat are two long levers which are electrical controllers for the front and rear wheel motors. They connect the two motors in parallel for starting or climbing a grade and in series for running. They also enable the wheel motors to be used as brakes when descending long grades since the hydraulic brakes are intended for occasional or emergency use, brake lining area being insufficient for continued retardation of this 75,000-pound vehicle.

“The Diesel engines are started by operating two switches underneath the flat instrument board. The two controller levers are then moved from neutral to connect the pair of front and rear motors in parallel, the engines are speeded up and the Cruiser glides away after the driver has given two warning toots on a dual horn to tell the crew to get aboard and to draw up the boarding ladder which hangs down to the road from the door in the engine room.

“In normal operation the driver sits with one hand on each steering lever and his right foot on the two Diesel pedals. The left lever is ordinarily kept in neutral position with rear wheels pointed parallel fore and aft while steering is done by the right lever controlling the front wheels. The motion of the driver's arm in steering is spasmodic. When the car is on its course he holds the lever in neutral, moving it now and then, either back or ahead as the Cruiser needs correcting toward right or left. The motion is much like that of a steering wheel rim on a car which has a little play in the steering mechanism.

“Each wheel, including its motor, is mounted on a tall kingpin which is nearly a foot in diameter. As shown in the plan view the wheel position is maintained by two telescopic struts, forming a V, which are hydraulically operated by 2000 pounds oil pressure controlled by the steering lever. In other words, to swing a wheel, the steering lever opens valves which apply oil pressure to one strut piston and reduce oil pressure on the other. With steering lever in neutral position, the valves to both pistons are closed and the wheel is securely held in the position it had when the lever was last moved to neutral. Pistons on right and left wheels are interconnected so that ordinarily the two wheels move in unison but they may be turned separately when desired, as when negotiating a right-angled street intersection. Such a sharp turn is taken at one mph or less. At this low speed, the pressure supplied by the control oil pump is insufficient to swing both front wheels at once. Hence they are turned separately, by operating valves underneath the instrument board in conjunction with the steering lever. As shown in one of the photographs the wheels are readily brought back to parallel position with the aid of an instrument directly in front of the driver.

“How the Cruiser Is Steered

“During the writer's ride from Schenectady, N. Y., to Pittsfield, Mass., steering was done entirely by the front wheels except when we stopped at a roadside restaurant for a late lunch. There, all four wheels were swung to the right to move the Cruiser off the road into a convenient parking area.

“Throughout the trip, the driver, who was Dr. Thomas C. Poulter, designer of the Snow Cruiser, always kept his left hand on the rear wheel steering lever ready for any emergency which might require swinging the rear to one side or the other.

“Maximum swing of wheels is 25 degrees which enables the outside wheels to turn on a radius of about 37 feet when the front wheels are deflected all the way in one direction and the rear wheels are oppositely pointed. With a wheelbase of 20 feet, this 55-foot long ship overhangs the front wheels 18 feet and the rear wheels 17 feet. Its tread is 14 feet, body width 15 feet and overall width from hub to hub is 19 feet 8 inches. Therefore, even with a comparatively small turning radius it requires considerable space for maneuvering. Overall height is 15 feet, a dimension to be considered in selecting bridges.

“Maximum speed of the Cruiser is undoubtedly in excess of 30 mph but whether this rate will ever be attained over Antarctic snows is a question. Certainly it is too fast for concrete roads because of the pitching of this spring less vehicle on its huge tires which incidentally are 10 feet in diameter, 33.5 inches in section and are mounted on 66-inch rims.

“These tires, inflated to only 15 pounds per square inch, provided a comfortable spring suspension except, of course, there is no way to attach shock absorbers to control tire action. Therefore at a speed of only 15 mph it was not unusual for the extremities of the vehicle to bob up and down a few inches when a stretch of wavy concrete was encountered, and once, when traveling nearly 30 mph, a wavy surface caused a motion of at least a foot.

“Speed during the 60-mile trip from Schenectady to Pittsfield varied considerably. On the level it ranged from 15 to 25 mph or more depending on width of road and smoothness. Being nearly 20 feet wide, the Cruiser so fully occupied modern two-lane concrete roads that sometimes speed had to be reduced on them. On one such road, a bridge was crossed where the clearance at either side was less than six inches. It was taken at a snail's pace with four men on the top of the cruiser each watching the clearance of one hub. Back in Ohio a bridge was found which was exactly 20 feet wide which left a total clearance of four inches. It took three hours to cross it.

“Driving out of Schenectady, nearly an hour was consumed on a street which, with cars parked along either curb, left about a foot to spare on either side. However, outside of an occasional street which was too narrow for comfort, there was no difficulty with parked cars or with traffic. In New York State, for example, a half dozen police cars running two abreast preceded the cruiser. Farther ahead were other police cars and/or motorcycles which ordered all approaching vehicles to pull onto the road shoulders and stop. Vehicles following from behind were not allowed to pass. Thus the Cruiser had the road entirely to itself. Considering its low average speed this was tough on the cars following but there seemed to be no other solution.

“Speed upgrade was perforce reduced as with all other motor vehicles. Furthermore, the weather was entirely too 'hot' to permit the engines on this Polar machine to be run at full power without overheating. Atmospheric temperature was about 40 above zero whereas normal Summer temperature in the Antarctic is 10 below and 80 or more below in Winter. At 40 degrees above, with all doors and windows open, the engine room reached a temperature of 150 degrees on long hills, which was entirely too hot to permit effective cooling of the radiators which are located directly ahead of the engines and therefore take their air from the engine room instead of from outside. It was so hot that the handles on the short ladder leading up into the control room were too warm to grasp for more than a moment. Hence it was necessary to run the engines at less than full power when ascending a steep grade of any length, such as Lebanon Mountain, leading into Pittsfield, which was negotiated at about 5 mph.

“Down in the Antarctic with both engines running at full load it is expected that all four windows and perhaps the door also will have to be left open to keep the engine room temperature within reason. In view of the fact that the engines may burn more than 10 gallons of fuel per hour, which is enough to heat several ordinary houses, the heat in the engine room is readily understandable.

“Downgrades Taken at Low Speed

“Downgrades were also taken at reduced speed merely as a precaution. On descents of 10 per cent or more, the speed was cut to 5 mph.

“Stops were frequent. Luncheon took more time than anticipated. There was a halt at the Gurley plant in Troy for a number of scientific instruments. Another stop was necessary when the Massachusetts Police took over the escorting job. There were two stops to replace broken oil lines and another stop or two for inspection. Hence it took from noon to nearly 9 pm to drive the 60 miles from Schenectady to Pittsfield.

“The tires were built by Goodyear in the same molds used for the tires on the Gulf Refining Co.'s Marsh Buggies which are used for exploring Southern swamps for oil. The Snow Cruiser's tires, however, have twelve plies instead of four or six. They have a thin, smooth tread, total thickness of plies and tread being only an inch. Two spares are carried in the rear of the machine.

“The tires have smooth treads apparently because nonskid treads are unnecessary for Antarctic conditions, although the cost of cutting non-skid molds perhaps was also a consideration. Another reason will be mentioned in a moment.

“The surface over which the Cruiser will travel in the Antarctic is largely, if not entirely, composed of small, hard crystals of ice which resemble sand from a standpoint of motor vehicle traction. Underneath is a layer of ice ranging in thickness from perhaps 50 up to several hundred feet which rests on the Antarctic Ocean for roughly 300 or 400 miles south from the base at Little America but from there on the layers of snow and ice lie upon a rocky continent with ranges of mountains at intervals. Going Southward toward the Pole the surface slopes gently upward to a plateau which has an elevation of 8000 to 11,000 feet. This entire surface, except where broken by mountains, is covered by a fine, sandlike snow.

“The Snow Cruiser, with its enormous tires, was built to run successfully on such a surface. Dr. Poulter, its designer, was second in command and chief scientist, on the previous Byrd expedition where several tractors were used with some success. Some were of American manufacture with metal belts and others were French Citroens with metal belts in the rear and two wheels in front with pneumatic tires. The latter design has been used for some years on the Sahara Desert.

“The tractors proved the worth of motorized equipment but they lacked living quarters and they were unable to cross crevasses which are to be found in numerous areas. The width of a crevasse may be anything from a narrow slit to a chasm 50 feet or more wide. Its depth varies from a few feet to possibly several hundred. Most of these cracks, however, are less than 15 feet wide and the Snow Cruiser has been designed to cross them. Areas with wider crevasses can be detoured. Some of the crevasses are concealed by snow but are readily detected in good light by a difference in color of the surface.

“How Crevasses Will Be Crossed

“To cross a crevasse, the front wheels of the Cruiser are driven up to the brink, and lifted up, by operation of the built-in jacks, until the front of the ship rests on the four steel runners which extend the full length of the underbody curving up at the ends as on a toboggan. Next the rear wheels are used to push the Cruiser forward until they reach the brink. Then the front wheels are jacked down until the front is lifted clear of the snow and the rear wheels are jacked up, permitting the front wheels to tow the rest of the vehicle across the chasm on its runners.

“The Snow Cruiser was successfully tested in the sand dunes on Lake Michigan. Whereas a large truck quickly sunk to its hubs and had to be towed out by a tractor the Cruiser tires, with a contact area of nearly 9 square feet each, only sunk into the sand an inch or so.

“Rubber becomes brittle at a temperature of 72 degrees below zero while temperatures to be encountered may run more than 80 below. No difficulty is expected while the vehicle is in motion because of heat generated by the flexing of the tires-although the heat might not be sufficient to prevent non-skid tread buttons becoming brittle enough to break off. However, if Dr. Poulter drives the Cruiser to the Pole and parks there for several days, as he plans to do, or if a long stop is made anywhere along the way when temperatures are too low, all four wheels will be jacked up. When ready to proceed, the tires will be covered with curtains and warmed up above the brittle point, the front ones by engine exhaust and the rears by blow torches.

“To permit adjusting tire pressure for altitude or temperature, or to compensate for a small leak, it is proposed to install apparatus for regulation of tire pressure from the control room. This scheme is not as difficult as it sounds.

“Since the tires make only 200 revolutions per mile, double reduction bevel gearing is necessary between each wheel and its motor.

“A tire and its rim weigh 3,100 pounds. In case one has to be changed there is provision for attaching a derrick at four points in the roof of the Cruiser adjacent to the tire.

“The Cruiser is equipped with two powerful headlamps for driving through the long Antarctic night. To mark the trail, reflector units, visible in all directions for 15 miles, will be used.

“A two-way radio unit will keep the crew in touch with the other groups in the expedition.

“The Snow Cruiser was built in three months by the Research Foundation of Armour Institute of Technology which owns the ship. Its construction, costing $150,000, was financed by friends of the Institute and 80 manufacturers. Principal units in its makeup include a special alloy steel body built by the Pullman company, two six-cylinder 672 cubic inch, 150 hp Cummings Diesel engines, General Electric generators and. motors, and controls for steering, braking and jacking, by Hydraulic Controls Inc. The airplane is a specially designed Beechcraft with a 350 hp Wright Whirlwind engine.”

As magnificent as the vehicle was, it had an Achilles heel, which so hampered the vehicle's progress it was abandoned and turned into a stationary, albeit well-insulated, workstation after just one Antarctic trial. The problem presented itself as the vehicle was first offloaded at Little America in the Bay of Whales, Antarctica in January of 1940. As the vehicle traveled down the wooden ramps, one of the tires broke though the ramp. Although Dr. Poulter was able to power the vehicle free from the ramp mishap, it promptly dug itself into the snow-covered icepack when it landed on-shore.

Unbeknownst to Dr. Poulter, or anyone else connected with the Byrd party, the 75,000 lb. vehicle's treadless 12-ply Goodyear tires had almost zero traction in snow and ice. In desperation they mounted the two spares to the front axles and mounted snow chains on the rear, however the vehicle remained virtually stationary, and could only manage to traverse the snow when driven in reverse.

The large, smooth, tread-less tires were originally designed for a large swamp vehicle; they spun freely and provided very little forward movement, sinking as much as 3 feet into the snow. The crew attached the two spare tires to the front wheels of the vehicle and installed chains on the rear wheels, but were unable to overcome the lack of traction. The crew later found that the tires produced more traction when driven backwards. The longest trek was 92 miles – driven completely in reverse. On January 24, 1940, Poulter returned to the US, leaving F. Alton Wade in charge of a partial crew. The scientists conducted seismologic experiments, cosmic-ray measurements, and ice core sampling while living in the snow- and timber-covered Snow Cruiser.

Funding for the project was canceled as the focus in the United States became World War II and the crews were sent home and the Arctic Explorer abandoned. In the late 1940s, an expedition team found the vehicle and discovered it needed only air in the tires and some servicing to make it operational.

Thomas Poulter emerged unharmed from the episode. In 1948 he joined the Stanford Research Institute in Menlo Park, California, where he remained until his death in 1978. In that long period he ranged widely in his research, from the dynamic phenomena of explosives and ballistics to the communication of marine animals.

In 1958 an International Geophysical Year expedition located the now-buried Arctic Explorer using a bamboo pole left by a previous group. The gained full access using a bulldozer and found the interior exactly as the crew had left it, with papers, magazines, and cigarettes scattered all around.

It has not been seen since.

In 1957, Pullman Incorporated closed its Pullman plant and only three years later, the city of Chicago included Pullman on a list of 'blighted and deteriorating areas' that required clearance and redevelopment. Residents responded by forming the Pullman Civic Organization and began working to gain landmark status. South Pullman, currently bordered by 111th Street, 115th Street, Cottage Grove Avenue, and the Calumet Expressway, became a state landmark in 1969, the same year that Pullman Company ceased operations after 101 years in business.

Pullman's former phonograph cabinet and automobile body plant at S. Maryland Ave. and E. 103rd North Pullman, Chicago was converted into an apartment complex during the 1970s and was razed to construct Corliss High School's Gately Stadium, which is located at 810 E. 103rd St., Chicago, Ill.

© 2015 Mark Theobald for







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