Sky-Wide and Handsome

In 1954 and 1955, Southern Pacific converted seven lounge and observation cars into three-quarter length dome cars. At one end of these cars, a lower-level lounge was overtopped by a high, domed ceiling, producing an expansive atmosphere accurately conveyed by this brochure.

Click image to download a 3.4-MB PDF of this brochure.

The brochure plays on the phrase “high, wide and handsome,” “meaning, as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), ‘In a carefree manner, in good style’ or, according to the Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE), ‘Grandiloquent, stylish, successful.'” This “bone fide American phrase” can be traced back to the late nineteenth century. In the twentieth century, it was the title of a 1937 musical and a 2009 song, but perhaps has been most identified with the American West, especially Montana. In any case, it appropriately describes SP’s dome cars.


Sky-Wide and Handsome — 1 Comment

  1. How odd that the SP would use a color photo for a picture of the sky and only black and white photos and sketches for the dome car itself. I had the opportunity to ride in one of these domes on the San Joaquin. It really was a beautiful and impressive car, but the engineer that designed the A/C system should have been fired. The temperature was pushing 100 that day, and the temperature in the dome car was probably near 90. It was one of the few times I’ve ever had a dome car to myself.


Leave a Reply