Railroads recognized very early that dining was a key way to distinguish themselves from competitors. Passengers benefited from each railroad's effort to offer the best food, best service and best dining environment. Even the china became a mark of distinction. Railroads often used unique china patterns to brand the railroad and their unique passenger routes. Union Pacific featured different china patterns for each of its premier routes and even had special china for children on certain trains.
Diners enjoy their meal in the dining car on the distinctive Streamliner china. While this particular diner was typically part of the Challenger train service, it was added to the City of Los Angeles in the busy summer time months.
Union Pacific's famed "City" trains, such as the City of Los Angeles or City of Denver, all used a distinctive Streamliner pattern featuring a winged locomotive. This pattern featured gold pin striping and a winged train emblem that ranged in color from rust-red to green or brown. Introduced in 1936, this distinctive pattern is still in use on Union Pacific's private passenger fleet.
The Streamliner design was carried onto other items as well. Pictured here is a close-up of the letterhead from the City of Los Angeles notepaper available to passengers for letter writing.
Authentic railroad china is typically marked with the name of the china maker and some combination of the train name, china pattern and railroad name, logo or initials. The distinctive Streamliner designed china was manufactured by several different makers, including Homer Laughlin, Syracuse China, Sterling and Trenton. This pattern was not always back stamped, or marked on the back with the maker, but when it was, it included the name of Union Pacific R.R.
Railroads carried thousands of pieces of china in each passenger train, from egg cups to butter pat plates to demitasse cups and saucers, in addition to the standard plates, bowls, cups and platters. More styles, types and patterns of railroad china can be seen on display in the "America Travels by Rail" exhibit.
The distinctive winged locomotive design came in a variety of color variations, but the distinctive red and green with gold pin striping was the most common.