A Newly Digitized Menu Collection Shows Off America’s Lost Railroad Cuisine

I don't know if you care but I'm going to share anyway. :D
Got a 'heads up' email just now about this brand new article from Change dot org of all places.

A Newly Digitized Menu Collection Shows Off America’s Lost Railroad Cuisine
Once, Americans rode the rails for charbroiled steak, golden French toast, and prunes.

by Claire Voon December 2, 2019


Ira Silverman was always on the go. In the late 1960s, the train enthusiast enrolled in Northwestern University’s Transportation Center in Evanston, near the great national rail hub of Chicago. This proximity gave young Silverman and his classmates opportunities for research, adventure, and unparalleled feasting.

As graduate students in railroad transport, they regularly hopped on privately operated railroads that carried them to distant cities. But they always made sure to catch the evening return train, so that they could relish meals in a dining car while watching the shifting American landscape. With standard fare such as charbroiled steak, lamb chops, and fresh filet of sole, the experience probably far surpassed eating on campus.

Silverman, now 73, clearly cherished these memories. He began collecting dining car menus, eventually amassing an archive of 238 menus and related pamphlets. After a long career in transit, he donated the collection to his alma mater’s Transportation Library, which recently digitized it in its entirety. The pages (almost all, impressively, unstained) offer a ...
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Oh the good old days -hey?

I remember when I was a teenager, going with my Dad on a long train trip in a sleeper carriage. We had a room each, a shower each, a proper cooked breakfast served with scrupulously clean tablecloth, tableware and napkins.
Eggs cooked any way you liked them grilled kippers, fried potatoes (like hash browns)....endless good coffee....piles of warm toast and nice butter, jams etc.

I don't know if that still exists within the normal person's financial means.

It's interesting to see this "railroad cuisine" remembered.
I don't know if that still exists within the normal person's financial means.
Almost but not quite exactly an answer to your question, at least relative to the continental US;

Dinner Train Rides, 2019 Guide


Dinner train rides are a relatively new type of excursion, hearkening back to the days of yore when one could enjoy first class cuisine while traveling by train. Today's experiences lack an extended, multi-day journey and typically last just a few hours. Along with providing passengers with an excellent meal these trips usually include some type of entertainment, such as a play, murder mystery, or train "robbery." In addition, there has been a growing and increasingly popular trend of providing alcohol on-board which is either included with the dinner or presented as a wine/beer tasting event. You will typically find such offerings at finer organizations such as the Strasburg Railroad, Verde Canyon Railroad, and Grand Canyon Railway. This section covers either exclusive dinner trains or regular excursions in 2019 featuring a dinner/meal, all of which are broken down by state. Please note! The information included here highlights only tourist railroads (and only those including a dinner/meal setting), most of which host day-trips to the general public lasting just a few hours. If you are interested in long-distance, intercity passenger service please visit Amtrak's website, the national rail provider.

  • October 17, 2019
  • Intercity, Passenger
Amtrak’s Traditional Dining Service Disappearing
Written by David Peter Alan, Contributing Editor
Amtrak is no longer offering traditional dining car service on its trains east of Chicago and New Orleans. This is a sad development in the downward slide of Amtrak’s long-distance trains, especially under CEO Richard Anderson’s leadership. There have been a number of “obituaries” for Amtrak dining service, but they are misplaced in time. They have either come too soon, or they should have been written about 15 years ago.
There are dining cars on Amtrak, but traditional service (except for the Auto Train) can only be found west of Chicago or New Orleans. The termination of traditional dining service that went into effect on Sept. 30 did not reach that far west. Given the recent past, this might be a temporary situation. The is a definite trend toward reducing services on Amtrak, including reducing labor costs by eliminating crew members who serve meals to passengers. So a blanket obituary about dining cars is premature, but maybe not by much.

At one time, the dining car was a popular feature of rail travel. This writer remembers delicious regional food specialties prepared and served on the train, when railroads were proud of their dining service and dining car crews. The dining car was always a cost center and the railroads knew that, but it brought passengers to the trains, and it provided good publicity for the railroads. As late as 1966, the Pennsylvania Railroad touted its dining cars, particularly on its feature train between New York and Chicago, the Broadway Limited. The railroad’s ads described the dinners available to passengers and contrasted those offerings to airline food. Today, under the leadership of a manager who spent most of his career managing airlines, Amtrak serves airline-style food, provided by an institutional-food provider.


  • April 19, 2018
  • C&S, Class I, Freight, Intercity, Passenger, PTC, Regulatory
Want airline food? Take Amtrak
Written by William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief
Ex-Florida Congressman John Luigi Mica, a foodie who spent a considerable amount of time when he was Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee questioning Amtrak’s food service costs, must be very pleased with Amtrak’s announcement that it’s getting rid of dining cars on two long-distance trains.
Yes, you heard me right, and I believe it’s part of a plan to dismantle the National Network—shutting down most, if not all, long-distance trains, to focus on the Northeast Corridor, Midwest (Chicago) and California short- and medium-distance services, and state-supported trains. More on that later.

This morning (April 19), I received a press release with the following headline:

New and Contemporary Dining Soon on Two Amtrak Routes. Capitol Limited and Lake Shore Limited sleeping car customers to be offered fresh choices for meals this summer.

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