Cover

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Title Page, Copyright, About the Series

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Contents

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p. vii

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Personal Observations

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pp. ix-x

For most of us who regard ourselves as veteran wayfarers, travel and food are as inseparable as Moses and the bulrushes, Antony and Cleopatra, Holmes and Watson, Hope and Crosby, the Lone Ranger and Tonto, Garrison Keillor and Lake Wobegon, or—more to the point—the Northern Pacific and the Great Big Baked Potato. True, each of these, with the rather obvious exception of...

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Acknowledgments

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p. xi

Any work of authentic history is, essentially, a collaboration for which the author unjustly receives most of the credit. To remedy that miscarriage of justice, in this instance, at least, I must express my gratitude to many "co-laborers," but especially to my wife, Violet, without whose help the book could not have been written. She...

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1. A Trip in a Dining Car

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pp. 1-22

IT WAS MID-MORNING IN MiD-JuLY in the mid-1960s. Fluffy cumulus clouds drifted to the southeast in leisurely fashion, seemingly reluctant to take leave of the Mississippi River that flowed placidly between high white bluffs below. The air was unseasonably cool for a Minnesota summer, and quite still, smelling faintly of diesel locomotive exhaust with a hint of freshly...

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2. Eating on the Road

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pp. 23-30

EATING HAS BEEN A MAJOR CONCERN of travelers almost since time began, especially when trips were of some distance and duration. The kinds of food chosen and the amount of time required to eat them have been tied closely to progress in modes of transportation and in methods of food preservation and preparation. For millennia before the first rustic inn...

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3. Building the Northern Pacific

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pp. 31-42

IT MIGHT BE SAID THAT the Northern Pacific Railroad was, from the outset, a manifestation of a familiar New Testament warning: The first shall be last, and the last shall be first. For, although it was the last of the federally chartered transcontinentals to place a last crosstie, line a last rail, and drive a last spike, it was a vision in the minds of men even before railroads were invented. It might even be said to have been first imagined by Thomas Jefferson.1 The dream...

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4. Henry Villard and the Dining Cars

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pp. 43-56

SDON AFTER HIS BIRTH in 1835 at Speyer, in Rhenish Bavaria, Ferdinand Heinrich Gustav Hilgard began to exhibit the independence of spirit and action that would mark him for the rest of his life. As a precocious 13-year-old, he became caught up in Germany's campus unrest of 1848-49. His jurist father, mindful of his own political future, sent him to various schools in order to separate him from the prevailing revolutionary...

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5. Across the Continent

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pp. 57-64

BEFORE 1883, FEW EVENTS HAD BEEN considered important enough to bring together heads of state or their highranking personal emissaries. And certainly no one but a Henry Villard would ever dream that a used and rusty iron spike being driven into a rude wooden tie in a remote mountain valley in the largely uninhabited American West could accomplish that very thing. But dream it he did, and to...

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6. Hazen Titus and the Great Big Baked Potato

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pp. 65-80

WHEN J. P. MORGAN BECAME SAVIOR to the NP, James J. Hill also came to have a voice in its affairs. Hill's role was far smaller than historians and his lionizing biographers have given the world to believe, but somewhat larger than his detractors claim. In scale, it was rather more like a Hollywood superstar's making a cameo appearance in a bigbudget movie than that same star's playing the leading role, whatever...

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7. Waiters and Unions

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pp. 81-90

ALTHOUGH NONUNION RAILROAD employees fared better financially under government control of the industry, they were among the first to sacrifice some of their gains when the high-flying passenger business began to lose altitude after 1920. Large wage increases granted by the U.S. Railway Labor Board that year were short-lived for all but the "ops," or operating...

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8. Dining Car Line to the Pacific

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pp. 91-104

THOMSON AND HIS MINIONS in the dining car service did not suddenly set out to make money during the war. Profit was accidental, merely a by-product of efficiency and timesaving changes that enabled overworked crews and overtaxed space to accommodate record numbers of guests at each meal. Furthermore, the huge increase was not so much a matter of high passenger counts on the trains as it was the unheard...

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9. The End of the Dining Car Service

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pp. 105-108

MANGES WERE ACTUALLY TAKING PLACE before Bill Paar's retirement. And even before 1966, when Louis W. Menk, former president of the CB&Q, became president of the Northern Pacific, the nation's railroad leaders had reached the conclusion that, bottom lines aside, passenger service was a losing proposition; no longer could aging equipment function as a...

Notes

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pp. 109-114

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10. Recipes

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pp. 115-158

Despite widespread bootlegging and smuggling, most Americans writhed beneath the yoke of the Volstead Act for 15 parched years. With ratification of the 21st Amendment on December 5, 1933, the railroads moved as quickly as possible to slake the thirsts of their passengers. When liquor was available once more, the NP's dining car department...

Index

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pp. 159-161

Recipe Index

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pp. 162-163

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About the Author

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pp. 164-164

William A. McKenzie (1926-2003) worked for Also available from the University of Minnesota Press: thirty years as editor, public relations manager, and corporate historian...