Curzon - Story of a Railway Car (1 of 13)
Picture the year 1907. Railroading is developing in leaps and bounds across North America. Some of this continent's finest railcar construction is underway at the shops of the Pullman Company, near Chicago, and at the Barney & Smith Company in Dayton, Ohio.
Just out-shopped by Barney & Smith in June is a complete order for six sets bound for the new Soo Line & Canadian Pacific's joint international service called the "Soo-Spokane Train De Luxe." This brand new train will link the Twin Cities (Minneapolis & St. Paul) in the mid-west United States, with Spokane, Washington, heart of the wealthy Inland Empire. But, the service will go through western Canada instead of the mid-western states! The whole train is advertised as the "best money can buy."
Inside, the art nouveau marquetry covers much of the walnut panelling. All is enhanced by the new electric light, and reinforced by the beautiful stained glass over the windows and in the upper clerestory ceilings. Green plush-covered wicker chairs are spaced around the lounge, and a reading library will soon be complete including daily newspapers supplied along the route of train. This is set next to the beautifully carved sideboard and writing desk complete with leaded glass.
Next along a hallway is the pantry where the car steward will prepare and serve light refreshments to the well-heeled passengers. Further along are five private staterooms four compartments and one drawing room each panelled in a different exotic wood, including mahoganies and walnuts. As in the lounge, art-nouveau inspired marquetry adorns the surfaces. Fold-down sinks, hoppers (or toilets), and plush-covered seats, and head-rests with monogrammed antimacassars grace the electrically lit, deep carpeted rooms. It is the latest in design and creature comfort !
Names have already been chosen for the six tail end cars. Since the cars will traverse a foreign country, and as an acknowledgement of the international flavour of the train, names have been selected representing Canadian cities from the East Kootenay region in the southwest corner of the Province of British Columbia. The Canadian names will be Fernie, Yahk, Nelson, Cranbrook and Curzon. Only the name Spokane broadens this conformity. Due to a special arrangement between the railways for ownership based on mileage in each country, four of these tail-end cars will be owned directly by the Soo Line. The Spokane and the Cranbrook will be directly owned by the CPR.
Ahead of the end car is the "12-1" first class sleeper, followed by the dining car, the first class coach, the tourist sleeper, and at the head, the exceptionally long mail-express-baggage car. At the front will be placed a fast "Pacific" (4-6-2) type locomotive capable of maintaining a very fast schedule. All in all, to equip the six complete train sets needed to maintain a daily schedule, there are 36 cars, all specially built, for this new service.