In the years of railroading's past, holidays and holiday meals were something of an event. Those were curious days by today's standards: dining cars employed chefs who cooked on stoves and ovens using fresh ingredients from along the way. The Northern Pacific, for example, restocked dining cars with fresh fruit from Central Washington as trains made their way through. Railroads had their own recipes that made their dining cars famous and specialties that set them apart from competitors. Moving people was important, and the business of railroading reflected that.
The holidays had their own menus in many dining cars, reflecting the best meals for travelers who found themselves out on the rails. For many years, even Amtrak changed its regular meal plan to offer special holiday turkey for Thanksgiving. The picture above reflects one such holiday specialty: Alaskan Railroad Cranberry Pie. It is a thing of beauty, and has become a tradition for our friends and family many years after it first pampered travelers in dining cars long forgotten. To compliment this rare cranberry delicacy, a Fred Harvey apple pie is sure to round out a Thanksgiving meal.
I hope you find reason for Thanks this holiday season - and try some of your own railroad recipes if you feel so inclined. They are a unique way to look back to times when things were just a bit different, and truly, nothing is finer than some old forgotten recipe from a diner.
Lost Rail is pleased to share a first publication. This is a collection of photographs taken over the course of a year spent in the Palouse. The photos are broken into the distinct and beautiful four seasons of the country. Photos are sourced from the pages of this blog as well as others taken around the Palouse and Inland Empire of Washington State.