• Penn Central dining car china or other artifacts?

  • Discussion relating to the Penn Central, up until its 1976 inclusion in Conrail. Visit the Penn Central Railroad Historical Society for more information.
Discussion relating to the Penn Central, up until its 1976 inclusion in Conrail. Visit the Penn Central Railroad Historical Society for more information.

Moderator: JJMDiMunno

  by Otto Vondrak
Did Penn Central have its own dining car china pattern? or silverware? I know there were probably paper napkins and coffee cups with their logo. I would be interested to see anything that was used in PC dining cars or snack bars.


  by msernak
I have never seen PC china however found the remains of a PC electric lantern. It is in pretty bad shape but has the mating worms on it. I have two PC pencils also. I have had them since I was a kid and have no idea where they came from.

  by steve levine
As I recall the china and silverware was a hodge podge of NYC & PRR.In 1974,I remember riding from Po'keepsie to Rochester,the PC wanted $3.50 for a hamburger!Today this would be like $15! At that time a hamburger in a diner was about 75c.
  by Noel Weaver
Under Penn-Central just about all of the Northeast Corridor dining cars
came off and also the dining cars on the former New Haven Railroad also
departed the scene.
The diners that were withdrawn from service were stripped down and the
dishes, silverware etc were put into use on the remaining dining cars that
ran on some of the long distance trains.
I remember using New Haven silverware on a trip to Chicago in 1970.
The Penn-Central did buy some towels for their sleeping cars which by
merger time were all railroad operated and I have some Penn-Central
soap as well.
Believe they were using Pullman soap for some time after they took over
the sleeping car operation, there must have been a huge amount of
Pullman supplies left after the takeover and too good to throw out.
Pullman had the very best blankets around.
Noel Weaver
  by fm
As mentioned in other postings, Penn Central generally used china, glassware, and silverware carried over from the three predecessor railroads in its food service cars during the three and a half years or so before Amtrak took over. However, Penn Central did order knives, forks, and spoons marked with the PC logo for use in its dining cars. These items were identical to the pattern used in later years on the Pennsylvania railroad that featured several (three I think) raised lines on the handle of each piece.

I've seen a photograph of a large white restaurant-grade dinner plate marked with a green Penn Central logo in the center. Popular opinion has it that this was a sample plate submitted to Penn Central by one of the large pottery vendors but apparently no production orders were made by the railroad. Glass ashtrays were done up for the lounge cars that featured the Penn Central logo.

Penn Central also ordered special china and silverware for use on the MetroLiners. Rectangular Corningware dishes (similar to airline ware) and stainless steel knives, forks, and spoons ordered for the Metroliner service. These were not marked for Penn Central, but were marked with the Metroliner logo and the name "The Metroliners". Other food service items known to have been obtained by Penn Central with the Metroliner logo and name include sugar packs, plastic drink stirrers, at least two kinds of plastic beverage cups, and a cardboard holder for refreshment items.


  by Otto Vondrak
That's interesting! I didnt know about the Metroliner-ware. What was the "Metroliner" logo? I don't think I've ever seen a sample of that.

  by fm
The Penn Central Metroliner logo, as presented on food service items, is kind of hard to describe. Picture two elongated semicircles, one on top of the other joined on the flat parts, with a slight horizontal displacement between the two. On paper articles such as sugar packs, napkins, cups, cardboard trays, menus, etc., the logo was typically done in orange and black. A lot of this material is pictured in Penn Central Post Volume 3 Issue 2. This is the publication of the Penn Central Railroad Historical Society.


  by Dieter

I have a Metroliner Ticket Folder and a Napkin with the logo aforementioned. Keep reminding me and I'll dig it up and scan it for you.

People have FOREVER complained about the overpriced food on the railroads, so we can't single Penn Central out for that. In fact, it is absolutely commendable that they could offer anyone a hot meal, regardless of whose china it was served on. If you've ever lived or worked in Manhattan at any point in the past 50 years, dining car prices will never seem unreasonable.

Let's hash on the Metroliner for a minute since it was a Penn Central Intercity Passenger Service. The Metroliner was an R&D product of the Pennsylvania, and in the earliest artist's renderings I recall there being Keystones on the front and sides. I don't think the Metroliner rolled out until Penn Central times, but if I'm not mistaken, they might have had Keystone logos on them at the inception of service. Anyone remember that? Perhaps the Metroliner's first revenue run was under the Pennsylvania. If that were the case, why wasn't there ever a Metroliner offered in brass, painted in Pennsy? Don't you love forensics?

The two elongated, off center ovals (top black, bottom orange?) were NEVER part of the trains livery, but on menus, ticket folders, paper napkins and naturally, print advertisement.

In light of performance, and Penn Central's deteriorating reputation, using the logos might have been a marketing ploy to divorce the Metroliner from the rest of Penn Central's image. Regardless, once passengers arrived at the Metroliner at the base of the escalator, they were greeted by a modern Budd electric with "Worms" by the doors, and "Worms" on the conductor's uniform and cap.

The Metroliner was less a symbol of hope for a new corporation, and more of an independent entity for the business traveller. Another opportunity in marketing totally blown.

Back to china. I recall seeing coffee cups with the Metroliner logo on them. You won't find glasses, as Penn Central went to large sized Dixie (wax) cups for their beverages. I still have some of those, too. There might have been Dixie cups with the Metroliner logo. Anyone remember?

  by coalmine
They also had ashtrays. Clear glass with a green PC logo and the roadname, also in green. Got some in the "stack of stuff" at the house.

work safe

  by Nacho66
Any chance you could sell me one of those PC ashtrays?
I'd pay a reasonable price.

  by JimBoylan
There were PC playing cards, available in the snack bar coach train from Rensalaer to Boston on 4/4/71. There was PC soap in the NYC All Room Sleeper Coach out of Buffalo at 10:00 p.m. the night before. I can't remember what was in the roomette of the Federal from Boston that night. It did have a shiny insulated cold water holder, and I was told not to drink the water from the tap of the PRR sleeper.
The introduction of Metroliner service was delayed enough and started off slow enough to allow repainting of the cars before they were actually used in revenue service. I rode a Metroliner Parlor Car in 1970 or '71 and the plastic condiment cups said TWA on the bottom! Trans World Airlines supplied the food at that time. The plastic beverage tumblers may also have been marked that way.
Metroliner fare Philadelphia to Washington for that trip was $10 coach, $16 parlor, which included a $1 or $2 surcharge, at least in coach.

  by Dieter
Looking back at this for activity brings to mind that I still have a very large WAX CUP (remember those?) with the Worms and "Penn Central" beneath which I got either in Grand Central at a booze cart, or aboard a bar car in 1969.

I remember seeing the cups and I wasn't even thirsty - I just wanted the cup, so I bought a drink!

If you aren't old enough to tremble at the thought of taking Penn Central anywhere, you have to realize that in collecting railroadiana from Penn Central in it's day, you really had to take whatever you could get. You might be looking for china, cutlery, whatever. If you came away with some playing cards, or merely a lousy wax cup with the logo, you had hit the jackpot!

Getting anything worthwhile from a company determined to kill itself was like getting milk from a stone.