Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Second Class Rail Etiquette

1840’s depictions of Third, Second and First Class Railroad car in Great Britain – It was only in the 1840s that a law was passed to ensure third-class carriages were covered. These drawings of 1st, 2nd and 3rd class railroad cars appeared in the Illustrated London News in 1847 – from

Travel in Second-Class Cars

Editors Press: —As we have much pride in the good name that the young and growing State of California should bear, I will endeavor to point out one step that we, as well as the older States are taking, which it would seem a little thought might show unprofitable and ungenerous, if not inhuman, wicked and immoral in its tendency. I refer to second-class railroad travel. Most of the railroads have provided themselves with a plain, cheap car for each passenger train, to which they invite the emigrant, the common laborer, and all who may feel, from necessity or otherwise, obliged or inclined to economize. That is all well. Now we would invite the readers attention to the daily picture presented in this second-class car. 

The outside appearance is quite plain, needing no other sign to indicate to the traveler which one in the train it is. As you enter you find plain seats, may be cushioned, and may be plain boards, with equally cheap finish of inside work generally. That too, is all well. Seated in this plain car may be seen men of all nationalities, and possibly among them as pure hearts as can be found among the passengers of the ears before or behind them. We also find lady-like looking young women and quite frequently the mother with her precious charge of children, with a heart yearning for good influences to aid her feeble hands in teaching sobriety, good language, and decorum. But the opposite is true of the picture which this car presents. It is made the receptacle of all the bold drinking, profane language, and unmitigated old pipes, and cigars , struggling over each other for mastery in the amount of smoke they may be able to get into a small coach. To add further to the imposition on the better portion of the inmates of the befogged car, many passengers from first-class coaches feel an apparent pride in retiring to a second-class car to indulge in all those ungentlemanly and filthy habits.

We believe this state of things is unprofitable to railroad companies, as it is certainly unpleasant to many who travel in such cars. It drives many of the better class of poor from these thoroughfares and we believe its reformation would be attended with results similar to those which were noticed in the reform of the postal system. When the Government charged twenty-five cents for letters the poor could send but few, making very limited interchange of thought, and not paying mail expenses. But when the postage was reduced to three cents, a revenue sprang up. All can now afford the gratification of a correspondence. Now suppose the same watchfulness by the conductors in the second-class car, as in the first, in regard to etiquette. The mighty people, the masses, would travel; gaining information and paying back in cash. All railroad men who become instrumental in abating the nuisance complained of, and aiding the poor, but highminded, to travel in your plain but respectable second-class cars. –Way Side, 1871

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia

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