Author Terry Gainer recently published The Soo Line’s Famous Trains to Canada (my review here) and shared a few Soo Line timetables from his research. I’m happy to be able to share them here for reference.
First up, a timetable from 1897 featuring the Atlantic Express #108 and Pacific Express #107, St. Paul-Minneapolis to the west coast. The train went up to Minot, North Dakota and took what is now the CP Weyburn subdivision to Pasqua, SK where it joined the recently-completed CP transcontinental line.
I find these very old timetables interesting because some of the station names have changed over the years. For example the station between Castle Mountain and Stephen is called “Laggan”, but today it is well known as Lake Louise, Alberta.
Twin Cities to Montreal, Boston and the East
These trains traveled the “Route of the Montreal-Boston Express”, not the catchiest of names. I believe these two tables are from a 1900 era timetable.
This listing of train equipment is from the 1912 public timetable. It’s interesting to see the different car types in operation at the time – coaches and diners and sleepers, of course, but also observation cars, cafe-parlour cars, cafe-LIBRARY cars (!) and “chair cars”.
I’ve never heard of a chair car before but apparently they were fairly common in earlier passenger trains. The difference between a coach car and a chair car appears to be the style of seating. Coaches have bench seats where more than one person sits on it, like most passenger cars today. Chair cars had plush chairs, often reclining, and usually only one chair per side of the car – much more luxurious and only one person per chair.
It’s interesting that the “Twin Cities-Manitoba Express” is advertised as “vestibuled and electric lighted” – since electric lighting was definitely not a given on trains at the time. Many passenger cars of the time were still illuminated by gas lighting, usually Pintsch gas. The train didn’t have sleepers because it did not run overnight.
1923 Mountaineer Schedule
This 1923 schedule showed the “Mountaineer” and other trains, including their equipment. I see the chair car has disappeared by this time, but the cafe-library car is still around! Wouldn’t that be luxurious?
Thanks to Terry for sharing these gems!