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The Midland's "Centennial Cars"
In 1876 most railroads were clamoring to transport what they perceived as hoards of travelers to the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia and the New York & Oswego Midland, although in almost desperate financial straits, also participated in this once in a lifetime event.
At both Middletown and Oswego the Midland converted several coaches into parlor and sleeping cars. Following is an account from the Oswego Palladium of Monday, May 1, 1876 which describes this operation. -Richard Palmer
A Visit to the Shops in this City - The Amount and Quality of Work Being Done - New Cars for the Centennial.
A visit to the Midland shops in the Second ward will convince our people that the managers of the road are determined not to be behind in furnishing ample and luxurious accommodations for people on the line of the road who desire to go to the Centennial this summer. There is great activity in the shops and the hum of busy machinery and the employment of sixty mechanics show that the road is being prepared for better days.
The managers of the road desirous of doing everything in their power to make a trip to Philadelphia pleasant and cheap have made arrangements to run the Midland cars on the Pennsylvania Central from Jersey City to the Centennial grounds, and realizing the necessity of furnishing lodgings for the people have commenced the remodeling of coaches.
At present there are five coaches, two at Middletown and three here, being converted into elegant drawing-room and sleeping cars, and others will be changed as the necessities may require. The three here undergoing the change will be named Philadelphia, New York and Oswego, while those at Middletown will be named Oneida and Norwich. All that will be left on the old coaches will be the outside shell, the interior, of necessity, being new, while new trucks and platforms will be supplied.
The coaches will have the new Westinghouse air brake, a new thing in this portion of the State, which is entirely under the control of the engineer. The interior of the coaches will be finished with black walnut, the floors carpeted with heavy Brussels, and will be furnished with the new adjustable folding chair, which can be changed in an instant to four different styles, including a bed. The chairs, which are of the Turkish easy pattern, are models of beauty, upholstered in the latest style and covered with the best quality plush.
In the rear of each car will be a private sleeping room for ladies and children, with wash rooms off, and at the forward end will be a large dressing and smoking room for gentlemen, with all the modern conveniences. Each coach will be furnished with a refrigerator for storing provisions and a heating apparatus for tea and coffee. There will be adjustable tables and a full supply of table and bed linen so that changes can be made each day.
A competent porter will be in each car and nothing will be left undone to conduce to the comfort of passengers. The cars will each accommodate twenty-five persons night and day, and will be chartered to a limited number at fixed rates per day in addition to the fare. On arrival in Philadelphia the cars will be placed in the storage grounds at the entrance of the Centennial grounds and will remain there as long as the chartering party may wish.
A moment's reflection will convince one that no better place can be devised for lodging, and lodging is a thing that there will be a great demand for in Philadelphia. Tired and fatigued after a ramble through the Centennial grounds, all one who is a patron of the Midland has to do is to go to his car and woe Morpheus and seek repose.
At present two locomotives, numbers 42 and 26, are on the stocks in the shops and are being thoroughly rebuilt, while coach number 29 is ready to go to the middle division. Last week coach number 28, refitted, remodeled, repainted and in complete repair, was sent to the middle division and will be run on the fast line from Oneida to New York.
The coaches now being turned out of the shops are painted on the exterior a bright straw color and beautifully ornamented, while the interior is painted in elegant taste and relieved by handsome sketches of points of interest along the line. During the past three weeks three locomotives thoroughly rebuilt have been sent from the shops.
Mr. E. Minshull, who has charge of the work here, is a thorough mechanic, as his work fully attests.