Marie, Vicomte de Botherel may have been the first to try the concept of a dining car. In 1839 in Paris (or it's suburbs), he installed kitchens on buses and stocked the food from special kitchens he had built with the most modern equipment available. His enterprise failed, and he is just a very obscure footnote in history.
The golden age of railroad travel lasted for roughly 75 years starting in 1868 with the introduction of the first dining car (named Delmonico in honor of the N.Y. restaurant).
Railroad competition was so great that the best food possible was served regardless of cost. Terrapin stew, scrod and Cotuit oysters, broiled sage hen, aged Kansas City beef.
Fred Harvey was in charge of food on the Santa Fe line and supposedly fired a dining car manager who was only losing $500 per month on food, and replaced him with a man who was able to lose $1,500 a month!
Something to think about as you fly at an 35,000 feet eating airline food.
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