By J. Bruce Richardson, Corridor Rail Development Corporation; December 29, 2020
The Lehigh Valley Railroad, dating to its earliest times in 1846 was known as a “coal road” – it was principally a railroad which hauled coal. In 1953, the Lehigh Valley bragged on its dinner menu: “Diesels! Another Milestone of Progress in Lehigh Valley Service to Passengers and Freight Shippers.” The Lehigh Valley has forsaken its founding on coal for Alco PA-01 Diesels.
Other railroads held out even longer, such as the Norfolk and Western Railway – another “coal road” which felt loyalty to its biggest coal mining customers – it would not retire its last steam locomotives until 1965.
The Lehigh Valley connected Buffalo, New York with New York City, even though its principal route between the two terminals was via Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The last Lehigh Valley passenger trains ran in February 1961. Gone were its named trains: The Star, The Major, The Maple Leaf, The Black Diamond, The Lehighton Express, The Asa Packer, and The John Wilkes.
But, in 1953, the Lehigh Valley was still offering and promoting its passenger trains, and the dinner menu was more than incidental:
May we suggest a Manhattan, Martini or an Old-Fashioned Cocktail?
Tomato, Vegetable or Grapefruit Juice; 30 cents
Orange Juice; 35 cents, Double; 60 cents
Fruit Cocktail or Chilled Cantaloupe (half); 35 cents
Cream of Corn; 30 cents
Hot or Cold Consomme; 30 cents
(Please order by number)
- Charcoal Broiled Sirloin Steak, Long Branch Potatoes, Vegetable, Bread and Butter and Beverage; $3.25
- Broiled Lamb Chops, Parsleyed Potatoes, Vegetable, Bread and Butter and Beverage; $2.60
- Baked Ham with Raisin Sauce, Baked Potato, Vegetable, Bread and Butter and Beverage; $2.50
- Broiled Young Chicken with Currant Jelly, Mashed Potatoes, Vegetable, Bread and Butter and Beverage; $2.10
- Broiled Fresh Fish with Sauce, Boiled Potatoes, Vegetable, Bread and Butter and Beverage; $2.00
- Omelette a la Creole, Hashed Brown Potatoes, Vegetable, Bread and Butter and Beverage; $2.00
- HOT WEATHER COMBINATION: Sardines, Swiss Cheese, Boiled Ham, Potato Salad, Sliced Tomato, Bread and Butter and Beverage; $1.95
- Grilled Salisbury Steak, Hashed Brown Potatoes, Vegetable, Bread and Butter and Beverage; $1.90
Lettuce, Pineapple & Cream Cheese, French Dressing; 35 cents
• Homemade Pie; 30 cents, with Cheese; 40 cents
• Neopolitan Ice Cream with Wafers; 35 cents
• Fruit Compote; 45 cents
• Butterscotch Pudding; 30 cents
• Chilled Cantaloupe; 35 cents
• Swiss Cheese with Toasted Crackers; 35 cents
Brandy; 75 cents, Benedictine or Benedictine and Brandy; 90 cents
The traditional note of the era at the bottom on the menu: “We endeavor to provide efficient and good food in our dining cars and will appreciate your reporting any shortcoming directly to the Steward or by writing to me. – W.M. Sharp, Superintendent Dining Car Service, Easton, Pa.”
Also at the bottom of the menu was an advertisement for “New York’s Famous Knickerbocker Beer” which said it was New York’s fastest growing beer and Extra Light, Frosty Dry and Less “Filling” too. Knickerbocker Beer was “The New Modern Low Calorie Beer!”.