New York Centrail James Whitcomb Riley, menu and photos





The two NYC photos below,  of a circular bar in a lounge car on the Riley and of an observation car, are reproduced here from Beebe & Clegg, The Trains We Rode.



I rode the Riley twice, first in 1963, connecting from the Challenger from LA, then in 1967, connecting to El Capitan. Having a chicken dinner in the white-linen dining car on the first trip, I remember asking my aunt why the water came in a bowl. I had never seen a finger bowl before.

The two pictures below are from Doughty, New York Central’s Great Steel Fleet, 1948-1967. The lower one is of the train loading at Cincinnati.



I have several Official Guides including three reprints. (Reprints are available from Cape Ann Train Company, In May 1945, the Riley left Cincinnati at 8:15 am and arrived Chicago at 12;45 pm, allowing for a close connection with, say, the Rocky Mountain Rocket, leaving at 1:55. In June 1954 the Riley left Cincinnati at 8:30, arriving Chicago at 1:10, providing a comfortable connection with, say, the Burlington Afternoon Zephyr, departing at 4:00, but perhaps too tight a connection for the Rock Island Golden State, departing at 2:15. If the Riley had come into La Salle Street, as most NYC trains did and as RI trains did, a traveler might chance the connection. But the Riley and other former Big Four Route NYC trains used Illinois Central track to get to Central Station. Central Station is pictured below, before and after a flat ceiling was installed in 1962. The bottom photos of the Riley coming and going behind three geeps on the IC is likely from the ’60s.




The three pictures above are from Lind, Limiteds Along the Lakefront: The Illinois Central in Chicago.

As a kid in the fifties, I didn’t know what the Big Four Route was (the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago & St.Louis Railway) although I saw mention of it. In my 1926 Official Guide it’s shown as a part of NYC system. According to the Big Four was formed in 1889 and acquired by NYC in 1906. Yet as late as 1937 NYC still printed Big Four schedules as below. This one has the then four-year-old Cincinnati Union Terminal on the cover.


Not many trains are mentioned in fiction, but in one of his novels (The Beautiful Room Is Empty, I believe) Edmund White refers to taking the Riley back and forth between his mother in Chicago and his father in Cincinnati after they divorced.

This entry was posted in Chicago stations, Dining car menus, New York Central and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to New York Centrail James Whitcomb Riley, menu and photos

  1. Jerry S. says:

    Does anyone have Photos of Central Station Chicago, Waiting room, interior, or offices. There are lots of bad scans of photos on here. I find plenty of photos of the building outside, but very few interior shots of this former building. Thanks very much, Jerry S.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s