The Air Conditioned Empire Builder

This 1940 brochure prominently mentions that the Great Northern has installed air conditioning in the heavyweight Empire Builder. Air conditioning is not the only new technology featured aboard the train: Page 3 has a photo of young people tuning a radio as eagerly as people today might log into WiFi. Listening to the radio aboard a train required frequent retuning as the train passed from the broadcast area of one radio station to another.

Click image to download a 9.6-MB PDF of this 12-page brochure.

Curiously, the floor plan of the train’s observation car doesn’t show where the radio was located, though it is supposed to be in the “buffet lounge.” It does show men’s and women’s shower baths, a feature that–along with the barber shop–would be dropped from the streamlined Empire Builder, presumably because the railway believed people could go 44 hours without a shower or haircut.

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