BLTC Press Titles

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Leaves of Grass

Walt Whitman

The Fairy Tale of the Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Thomas Carlyle, Rudolf Steiner

The Story of Doctor Dolittle

Hugh Lofting

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

A. Conan Doyle

How to travel

by Thomas Wallace Knox


Until within the last fifteen or twenty years we had but a single class of passenger cars in America, as the emigrant trains on a few of the trunk lines were hardly to be considered by travelers, but the invention of the palace and sleeping-coaches (generally coupled with the name of Pullman, their inventor), has given us two classes which are virtually as distinct as are the first and second of a continental railway. Hardly a train runs on any road of consequence without a Pullman car attached, and a seat may be had in this vehicle on payment of an extra fee. There is the parlor car for day use only, but the " sleeper" is intended for both day and night. By the magic wand of a colored porter the seats are converted into comfortable beds, and the traveler may be whirled along at the rate of thirty miles an hour, and all the while he sleeps as calmly as at home. Toilet-rooms are at the ends of every carriage, one for gentlemen and the other for ladies, where you may perform your ablutions and put your hair in shape, so as to present as creditable an appearance as when starting on your journey. That "necessity is the mother of invention" is well exemplified in the history of the Pullman car. The great distances to be traveled in America called for something which should soften the asperities of sitting in an ordinary seat by night as well as by day. Step by step the work went on, till finally we have the perfection of railway travel.

The expense of a place in a parlor or sleeping-car on American railways varies from two to three dollars for twenty-four hours, with the addition of a fee to the porter of 25 cents a day. For this he looks after your personal needs, polishes your boots, and opens or closes your bed when you desire it. There has been considerable mystery relative to the sleeping hours of a porter in a palace car on long routes, as he appears to be on duty all the time from one day's beginning to another. It is suspected that he belongs to a race apart from the rest of humanity, and is so constituted that he never sleeps. The tickets for the palace car are not usually sold at the same place as the regular passenger tickets, but at a separate window or in an office by itself. It is well to secure your place in advance, as the cars are often crowded and you may arrive at a station to start on a long journey and find that every bed has been sold. Places may be secured hours and days ahead, and the earlier you take them the better choice do you have. The tickets for the car are collected by a conductor, and if any places are unsecured he can sell them to those who apply for them.

Never buy your tickets, either for passage or for a place in a palace car, of strangers in the street or of chance "runners." Such tickets may be good, but the probabilities are not in their favor, while there can be no doubt about the tickets at the regular offices. Where there are rival routes it is often difficult to get the exact facts concerning them, as the runners are apt to be inexact about the merits of their own lines or the demerits of others. They have been known to state that the track of a rival railway had been torn up and sold for old iron in order that a dividend might be declared to the stockholders, and the steamboat agent who told a timid old lady that his company had removed all the boilers from their boats, so as to destroy the possibility of an explosion, is not without imitators.

Beware of playing cards with strangers who wish to start a friendly game of euchre which is subsequently changed to draw-poker or some other seductive and costly amusement. This advice is superfluous in case you are in the gambling line yourself, and confident that you can "get away " with any adversary you may be pitted against. Be cautious, however, about "waking up the wrong passenger," as not unfrequently happens to skilled performers with cards.

On most of the railways each passenger has an allowance of 100 pounds of baggage, but it is never weighed unless the amount is greatly in excess. West of the Missouri river they are more particular, and all trunks must pass the scales. On the Pacific railways all extra baggage above the allowance is charged for at a certain rate per pound, but on the eastern roads the extra charge is generally for the trunk or box without much regard to its weight. On most of the eastern roads a passenger can take a single trunk without extra payment, even though it may rival a square piano in size. Sometimes a question about extra trunks may be settled by a fee to the man in charge of the baggage-room of the station or the baggagecar of the train. The passenger's ticket must be shown at the baggage-room, where a metal check will be given to the place of destination. The check secured, the traveler may proceed to the palace or other car of the train and give his trunk no farther consideration till he nears the place to which it is checked.

Baggage expresses exist in most of the large cities. They undertake to deliver your impedimenta on payment of a fee of from 25 to 50 cents for each parcel, at any hotel or private residence in the place, on the surrender of your check. If you are in a hurry and must have your trunk within a few hours after your arrival, it will be unsafe to trust to the baggage express; the agent who passes through the train to collect the checks will assure you that your baggage will be delivered within an hour of arrival, but if you ask a written guarantee to that effect he will be pretty sure to refuse it, and admit that he does not know when the delivery will take place. The writer speaks knowingly and feelingly of his experience with baggage expresses in New York; in only one instance in a period covering more than twenty years has a baggage express delivered his trunk or valise in the time promised by the agent, and he has been compelled to wait all the way from two to ten hours beyond the time stipulated. On one occasion a trunk that was promised for 7 A. M. was delivered at 8.30 p. M., and on another a valise promised for'2 P. M. did not reach its destination till II p. M. and the driver of the wagon demanded extra payment for night delivery.

Carriages from railway stations are always to be had, and in some of the cities, notably in Boston, the rates are reasonable and honestly stated, and the service is good and prompt. In New York very little can be said in praise of the carriage system, as the drivers are inclined to make as much as possible out of the stranger within the gates, and are more likely to overcharge him than to state the proper and legal fare. Most of the large hotels have their own coaches at the stations on arrival of the principal trains, not only in New York but in other cities, and by taking one of these coaches the traveler will greatly lessen the probabilities of being defrauded. If he intends to take a carriage from the station, and has only ordinary baggage, he will not give his checks to the express agent, but will hand them over to the driver whom he engages.

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