Inaugurated in 1937, the Rock Island-Southern Pacific Californian was an attempt to compete with the Union Pacific Challenger in the Chicago-Los Angeles market. In other words, it was a low-cost train with tourist sleepers rather than Pullmans and low-cost meals in the dining car: breakfast for 25 cents, lunch for 30, and dinner for 35 cents. A dining car photo in this 1938 brochure shows Prairie-Mountain Wildflower china.
Yet the train did have some amenities designed to attract non-business travelers (since business travelers would probably take the Golden State Limited), including an on-board nurse-stewardess and a coach designated for women and children only. While this brochure advertises new streamlined coaches, the tourist sleepers look primitive, with no dividers between sections. At least the train had a full-length lounge car for sleeping-car passengers only. The Californian disappeared from the timetable in the late 1940s.