In the Roaring Twenties, most high-class rail travel was by Pullman, especially on long-distance or overnight routes. Coach travel was reserved for the unwashed masses, offering straight-back seats and few amenities. It would be well into the Depression before most railroads, hungry for business and facing competition from the automobile, offered high-quality, daytime coach service.
In the late 1920s, however, several New York Central trains offered a preview of the deluxe coach trains that would later become a trend. One of the handsomest was the Motor Queen between Cincinnati and Detroit (named, oddly enough, after the Detroit product that would soon become the train's chief competition). Decorated in rich brown and fawn and trimmed with pinstripes, the Motor Queen offered a café lounge, a separate smoking area, bucket seats in the coaches and, of course, an open platform observation.
Small "C.C.C.&St.L." lettering at the ends of each car's letterboard indicated the train operated over New York Central subsidiary Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis Railway, also known as The Big Four Route. Beginning on April 28, 1929, twin versions of the Motor Queen left Cincinnati and Detroit daily at about 3 p.m. and arrived at their destinations six hours later. Similar NYC deluxe coach trains plied the routes from Chicago to Buffalo (The Niagara Falls Deluxe Special) and New York to Buffalo (Day Coach Deluxe). Relive the magic of deluxe daytime travel in the era of the speakeasy and the Charleston with the Motor Queen set, led by the New York Central's signature motive power, the 4-6-4 Hudson. Add-on cars are available to extend your Motor Queen up to nine heavyweight passenger cars.