Friday, April 20, 2012

April 18, 2012. Topeka, Kansas. Part 3 Of 3. The Great Overland Station.

While in Topeka,
I checked out the AAA book for more things to see and do and ...

... decided to hit up the Great Overland Station.

Outside the train station 
is the All Veterans Memorial,
the centerpiece of which is this flame-shaped sculpture.
 This sculpture represents the flame of liberty,
embodying the American ideals of freedom and democracy.
It is erected in tribute to the members 
of America's Armed Forces,
past, present, and future,
who defend our nation 
and safeguard liberty and freedom
throughout the world.

The inscriptions at the bottom read:
Defend our Nation.

Preserve Freedom.

Vanquish Tyranny.

Promote Peace.

Kansas Medal of Honor Recipients,
the Bravest of the Brave,
are honored here.

The sculpture is flanked by the flags of the 50 states.

Four is a repeating theme of the sculpture,
including the elements:
EARTH:  represented by black granite,
symbolizes a solid foundation
and the blank slate on which we will inscribe our future.
WATER:  giver and substance of life,
the flow of time, and reflection of heaven.
FIRE:  enduring symbol of liberty, rebirth,
renewal, and hope,
bringing light in darkness.
WIND:  life force, movement,
the uplifting of the spirit.

Across from the Memorial Plaza
is the Great Overland Station.

The building was designed by renowned architect,
Gilbert Stanley Underwood.
When it opened January 27, 1927,
it was reported to be 
"one of the finest passenger stations on the line."
With ornate glazed terra cotta ornamentation
and a 34-foot ceiling,
the building is perhaps the finest representation of
classic railroad architecture in Kansas.

The last passenger train left the station May 2, 1971.
Later remodeled for railroad offices,
the building was abandoned in 1988
and damaged by fire in 1992.
Railroad Heritage, Inc.
secured a lease from the Union Pacific Railroad 
to prevent the building's demolition
and a Use and Feasibility Study
suggested that the most desirable use for the satation
would be a museum celebrating railroad heritage.
Union Pacific Corporation formally donated the station
July 1998 to the Topeka Railroad Days
and a project team was established to preserve the station
and transform it into a railroad heritage museum.
In June 2004, the Great Overland Station
opened its doors as a community landmark.

Inside is an intricately designed model railroad.

In 2004,
a local preservation group
completed restoration of the neglected
Union Pacific depot,
returning it to its 1927 splendor.
The grand waiting room features
34-foot-high ornamental ceilings,
large windows, 
and 12-foot-wide, 120-bulb chandeliers.

The Main Waiting Room is elaborate,
featuring a boxed-beam design with ornate stenciling
and plaster brackets on the 34-foot plaster ceiling.
Large windows allow natural light
to flood the interior space.
The original wood and glass ticket booth 
is recreated along the North wall on the left.

The 900-pound chandeliers 
are designed as the original,
each containing 120 light bulbs.

These are the actual turquoise and salmon colored chairs 
used in the dining car of the Super Chief
of the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway.

In 1911, Santa Fe launched a Chicago-Los Angeles
train with custom-designed Pullman cars,
brass beds, an ice-cooled dining car
with "Meals by Fred Harvey,"
a ladies' maid, 
and a stenographer for its important business travelers.
Female passengers received bouquets of flowers,
and men got elegant wallets.
There was only one name for a train like this:
The tradition continued in 1936
with the Super Chief.
A favorite of the Hollywood set,
it was unofficially dubbed
"train of the stars."

From Cool Things Harvey:
Fred Harvey changed travelers’ eating habits forever. In 1876 he leased the lunch counter at Topeka’s Santa Fe depot and operated a business built on cleanliness, service, and good food. Impressed with his work, the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe turned over control of food service along the rail line. The Harvey House restaurants that developed--including ones at Florence, Newton, Hutchinson, Dodge City and Lakin, as well as many along the Santa Fe lines--became known for quality ingredients, reasonable prices, immaculate dining rooms, and efficient waitresses. The Harvey Houses became the first chain restaurants.

“There are still men and women in Topeka who remember the scene at the depot when the train came in. A white-aproned waiter, beating a brass gong with a wooden mallet, brought the passengers quickly to the dining room door. The first course was on the table and as soon as the diner was seated, the waitress went down the table asking, “Tea, iced tea, coffee, or milk,” and at the same time positioning the coffee cup at each place accordingly, so that the girl coming behind to pour the drinks knew just what to pour. The service in the dining room was table d’hote with two choices for the main course. The plates already served in the kitchen with meat and vegetables, were quickly placed on the tables.”

Santa Fe practically invented the Grand Canyon
as a tourist destination:
its trains stopped only steps away from the South Rim.
The railroad built the elegant El Tovar Hotel
on the canyon's South Rim in 1905
and contracted with the Fred Harvey firm to operate it.
Many of today's Grand Canyon attractions-
including Hopi House, the Watchtower, Hermit's Rest,
and the Lookout Studio- were also collaborations
between the railroad and Harvey.

Sante Fe and Fred Harvey redefined the tourist experience
at a formative stage for the National Parks.
The branch line from Williams, Arizona, to the South Rim
still offers passenger trains
and the El Tovar Hotel is still open -
and the National Park Service encourages
rail tourism as a greener alternative
for the Grand Canyon's ecosystem.

The Great Seal of the State of Kansas was adopted in 1861.
The state didn't have any railroads yet,
but the Seal recognizes the importance of transportation
to a frontier economy.
Within a few years, railroads would meet
the new state's needs better than rivers or covered wagons ever could.

As always, Rosie is all about the food.
Check out the menu.
Meals 75 cents.

Blue Points on Shell
English Peas, au Gritton
(I don't know what au Gritton is.
Perhaps they meant au gratin?)
Filet of Whitefish, Madeira Sauce
Potato Francaise
Young Capon, Hollandaise Sauce
Roast Sirloin of Beef, au Jus
Pork with Apple Sauce
Turkey, Stuffed, Cranberry Sauce
Mashed Potatoes with Marrow fat
Boiled Sweet Potatoes
Elgin Sugar Corn
Asparagus Cream Sauce
Salmi of Duck, Queen Olives
Baked Veal Pie, English Style
Charlotte of Peaches. Cognac Sauce.
Prairie Chicken. Currant Jelly.
Sugar-Cured Ham
Pickled Lamb's Tongue
Lobster Salad au Mayonnaise
Celery     Beets     French Slaw
Apple Pie       Mince Pie
Cold Custard, a la Chantilly.


Marilyn said...

I want that dinner!

Rosie Hawthorne said...

You and me both, Mar!

75 freaking cents!!!!!

Rosie Hawthorne said...

I remember when I was in freshman year at college. Randolph-Macon Woman's College in Lynchburg, Va. I would take the train home to Danville every Friday afternoon. I sat in the "dining car" and had a ham sandwich. A gentile black man in a white coat made and served me my ham sandwich each week. It was lovely.

That was 1971-1972.

Wonderful times.

And that ham sandwich was the best thing I ever tasted.

Funny how you remember times and tastes.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting. I love the model trains.

vera charles