Third Class Travel

Third Class Travel

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In 1833 the Liverpool & Manchester Railway began building new enclosed second-class carriages. The original second-class carriages now became third-class carriages. These carriages were open at the sides and did not provide passengers with any protection from the weather or the pollution created by the locomotive. These carriages were painted a uniform blue and had holes drilled in the floor to allow the rainwater to run away.

The 1844 Railway Act improved the quality of third-class travel. The act stipulated that all third-class passengers should be carried in covered accommodation. Railway companies also began providing lighting in third-class carriages. However, whereas there were several oil lamps in the first class carriages, third-class carriages only had one.

I advise passengers to get as far from the engine as possible as the vibration is very much diminished. Always sit (if you can get a seat) with your back towards the engine, against the boarded part of the waggon; by this plan you will avoid being chilled by the current of cold air which passes through these open waggons and also save you from being blinded by the small cinders which escape from the funnel.

In these third-class carriages there was a general feeling of bare boards and cheerlessness as you entered them and if you were travelling in the winter time they gave you a kind of cold shiver. The seats were cushionless and the longer you sat on them the harder they seemed.

I took a train to Rochdale. We were put into a truck worse and more exposed than cattle trucks. There were seats, or forms to sit on, but they were swimming with rain.

The sides and ends of the carriages are only two feet high. A moderate shock is enough to throw the passengers out of the carriage.

Portrait of Marjorie that hangs in the Marjorie Merriweather Post parlor in the Women’s Democratic Club in Washington, DC. (If you donate enough money to refurbish and furnish a mansion, you get a room named after you.) photo credit, us

When we left Marjorie, she was on her second marriage, this one to E.F. Hutton, and they were moving and shaking up New York and Palm Beach society. Marjorie had “strongly suggested” that the Postum Company should buy a new frozen food company, owned by one Clarence Birdseye, despite most homes and grocery stores not having freezers– and she had begun work on a very unique home in Palm Beach she named Mar a Lago.

Front gate to Mar a Lago, circa 1967 via wikicommons

Marjorie was quite the visionary…a very, very wealthy visionary!

Eventually, Postum did buy Birdseye (and a whole bunch of other prepared food companies) and became General Foods. Mar a Lago was joined on the Marjorie Property List by another estate in Washington, D.C. that she named Hillwood. She had a third daughter, helped feed the hungry in style during the Depression, did a great deal during WWII…and had another couple of husbands. Her third, Joseph Davies, enabled her to become the first American Ambassadress to Russia, and her fourth, Herbert May…well, that marriage probably shouldn’t have happened in the first place and wouldn’t have, if being gay wasn’t the social stigma that it was at the time.

Marjorie and Joe Davies onboard the Sea Cloud circa 1948

For the majority of her life, Marjorie spent her time and money on hosting society events, philanthropy, and philanthropic society events in Palm Beach, upstate New York, and Washington, D.C. She supported the arts in general and youth in the arts, specifically she wrote large checks to help the Boy Scouts of America and threw garden parties for Vietnam veterans, and earned a library worth of awards for her many contributions.

And she did it all with such style, sincerity, generosity, and gracious warmth that she was able to maintain her standing in society until her death on September 12, 1973, at 86 years old.


Many of your students have likely imagined themselves to be a knight or princess in medieval times during some play time in their past. In this summative performance task, your students will reflect on the past as they design a travel brochure for a historic time and place. Even if students had many opportunities for travel or have never seen a travel brochure before, they have likely watched a television advertisement for a vacation destination like Hawai&rsquoi or Disney.

Explore a time period or culture through primary and secondary sources, literature, images, museum visits and classroom discussions. Divide students into small teams and let them know they will be designing a travel brochure to encourage someone to visit a specific time, place or culture. Assign the culture or location to each team, or let them choose on their own based on the interests expressed by team members.

Have teams begin their research using a KWL chart to review what they know and identify additional information they need. Provide books, URLs, and other resources to support their additional research.

When each group has collected a solid amount of information, ask them to complete a Venn Diagram comparing life in that time and place to life now. This will help you identify misconceptions and will help them identify unique features to include in their brochures.

You can have student teams use other graphic organizers before they begin writing to:

  • explore ways their audience might feel with a fact vs. opinion chart.
  • determine what information to share or skip with a pros vs. cons chart.

Give students time to complete additional research as they begin to organize their information.

A few weeks ago, I visited the amazing National Railway Museum in York for the first time. If you’ve never been, it’s definitely worth the trip – you don’t have to be mad about trains! There are some fascinating exhibits relating to the Victorian era, the expansion of the railways in Britain and how the passenger experience changed.

Victorian railways reinforced the Victorian social structure with a choice of first and second class carriages third class was not offered until late 1838. At the National Railway Museum, it was wonderful to see some early surviving carriages from this era for the Bodmin & Wadebridge Railway. There is a composite first and second-class carriage that would originally have been exclusively first-class. The first-class passengers had upholstered seats while in second-class, they had to make do with wooden seating. You can sit in the second-class section of the composite carriage which gives an amazing feel for the past and how little legroom there would have been, even without the added problem of voluminous petticoats and crinolines!

Composite first and second class railway carriage, National Railway Museum , York (Credit: Hugh Llewelyn [CC BY-SA 2.0 (

This is what an ordinary second-class carriage would have looked like with a window in the door only:

Second-class carriage at National Railway Museum, York (Credit: Hugh Llewelyn [CC BY-SA 2.0 (

Coupled next to the composite carriage is the third-class accommodation, more reminiscent of a cattle truck than a carriage.

Third-class carriage at the National Railway Museum, York (Credit: Hugh Llewelyn [CC BY-SA 2.0 (

Dating from 1896, this image captioned ‘the oldest rolling stock in England from the Bodmin & Wadebridge Branch, London & South Western Railway, in use for fifty years ‘ may show the same or similar carriages to those in the National Railway Museum:

From Locomotive engineering – a practical journal of railway motive power and rolling stock (1896) (Wikimedia Commons/Internet Archive Book Images)

Passengers travelling by train in the 1830s and 1840s had to be a hardy lot. Compartments were unheated, even in first class, although there was a foot warmer for these better-off passengers. In The Early Victorians at Home, Elizabeth Burton describes how noxious these carriages were at night, as they were illuminated ‘by an evil-smelling and dripping oil lamp fixed in the roof’. The cushions in first-class carriages were also inclined to catch the dust from the steam engine.

Second-class carriages had a roof but were open at the sides. Wrapping up warm with a rug, cap and cloak was essential, as was an umbrella. ‘A Constant Traveller’ wrote to the Leicester Chronicle in 1843 about the ‘miserably cold and wretchedly devised carriages’. He commented: ‘The day was windy and wet, the rain poured in so heavily that a pool of water above an inch deep deluged the floor, and…most of the passengers…were wet through, not being provided with any protective clothing.’

‘Second Class: The Parting’ by Abraham Solomon, 1854. (Credit: Abraham Solomon [Public domain] )

The early third-class carriages were little more than cattle trucks with no roof and hard wooden seats. This mirrored the experience of third-class passengers on the top of a stagecoach, but railway travellers also had to contend with the hazards of smoke, soot and cinders.

A passenger travelling from London to Liverpool via Birmingham on the Grand Junction line wrote to the Leeds Mercury in 1841, complaining of the third-class accommodation: ‘I witnessed several instances in and near the carriage in which I was placed, of clothing, umbrellas &c being burnt and utterly spoiled by the ashes from the engine, some pieces the size of a walnut being precipitated, red-hot, into the midst of us. In fact, on arriving at Birmingham, if the seat and floor of that part of the carriage in which I rode had been swept, not less than half a pint of cinders might have been gathered.’

Despite the sub-standard accommodation, railway travel was hugely popular. According to the Railway Times, in the first six months of 1839, the London to Birmingham railway carried 267,527 people. In eight months, the line between Sheffield and Rotherham attracted 330,000 passengers. The Morning Chronicle (1844) reported: ‘Last week, some of the Yorkshire railways offered the public of the West Riding a trip down to Liverpool and back for a few shillings a place, and though the accommodation in the carriages was no better than that given to cattle on the Liverpool and Manchester line, yet no less than five thousand persons availed themselves of this opportunity of visiting Liverpool and the sea!’

After 1844, railway companies were forced to provide roofs on all third-class carriages under new legislation. At least one train every weekday had to run for third-class passengers, stopping at every station along the line. From this time, lighting was also provided in third-class carriages although there was only a single oil lamp per carriage, compared with several in each first-class carriage.

‘First Class: The Meeting’ by Abraham Solomon, 1855, also known as ‘The Return’. (Credit: Yale Center for British Art [Public domain] )

Before 1868, it was not possible for passengers to communicate with the guard if they had a problem, and it was not until the 1890s that they could walk from one compartment to another along a corridor. The corridor walkway became more common after the early 1900s when lavatories started to be introduced on trains. In 1875, the Midland Railway abolished second-class travel altogether and upgraded third-class passengers to second-class standards it also reduced the fares in first class. Other railways followed suit to keep up with the competition. Around the same time, dining cars were introduced for wealthy passengers. Later in the nineteenth century, long distance trains started to offer refreshment baskets for the less well-off.

Please note: this post contains affiliate links for the British Newspaper Archive.

Express train crosses the nation in 83 hours

A mere 83 hours after leaving New York City, the Transcontinental Express train arrives in San Francisco.

That any human being could travel across the entire nation in less than four days was inconceivable to previous generations of Americans. During the early 19th century, when Thomas Jefferson first dreamed of an American nation stretching from “sea to shining sea,” it took the president 10 days to travel the 225 miles from Monticello to Philadelphia via carriage. Even with frequent changing of horses, the 100-mile journey from New York to Philadelphia demanded two days hard travel in a light stagecoach. At such speeds, the coasts of the continent-wide American nation were months apart. How could such a vast country ever hope to remain united?

As early as 1802, Jefferson had some glimmer of an answer. “The introduction of so powerful an agent as steam,” he predicted, “[to a carriage on wheels] will make a great change in the situation of man.” Though Jefferson never saw a train in his lifetime, he had glimpsed the future with the idea. Within half a century, America would have more railroads than any other nation in the world. By 1869, the first transcontinental line linking the coasts was completed. Suddenly, a journey that had previously taken months using horses could be made in less than a week.

Five days after the transcontinental railroad was completed, daily passenger service over the rails began. The speed and comfort offered by rail travel was so astonishing that many Americans could scarcely believe it, and popular magazines wrote glowing accounts of the amazing journey. For the wealthy, a trip on the transcontinental railroad was a luxurious experience. First-class passengers rode in beautifully appointed cars with plush velvet seats that converted into snug sleeping berths. The finer amenities included steam heat, fresh linen daily and gracious porters who catered to their every whim. For an extra $4 a day, the wealthy traveler could opt to take the weekly Pacific Hotel Express, which offered first-class dining on board. As one happy passenger wrote, “The rarest and richest of all my journeying through life is this three-thousand miles by rail.”

The trip was a good deal less speedy and comfortable for passengers unwilling or unable to pay the premium fares. Whereas most of the first-class passengers traveled the transcontinental line for business or pleasure, the third-class occupants were often emigrants hoping to make a new start in the West. A third-class ticket could be purchased for only $40–less than half the price of the first-class fare. At this low rate, the traveler received no luxuries. Their cars, fitted with rows of narrow wooden benches, were congested, noisy and uncomfortable. The railroad often attached the coach cars to freight cars that were constantly shunted aside to make way for the express trains. Consequently, the third-class traveler’s journey west might take 10 or more days. Even under these trying conditions, few travelers complained. Even 10 days spent sitting on a hard bench seat was preferable to six months walking alongside a Conestoga wagon on the Oregon Trail.

Railroad promotions, however, naturally focused on the speedy express trains. The arrival of the Transcontinental Express train in San Francisco on this day in 1876 was widely celebrated in the newspapers and magazines of the day. With this new express service, a businessman could leave New York City on Monday morning, spend 83 hours in relaxing comfort, and arrive refreshed and ready for work in San Francisco by Thursday evening. The powerful agent of steam had effectively shrunk a vast nation to a manageable size.

Short Lines, Where Customer Service Is Key!

According to the STB and American Short Line & Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA) the 2016 definition of a short line is any earning an annual operating revenue less than $36.633 million.

Table Of Contents

This figure is adjusted yearly, which factors inflation using the base year of 1991 according to the ASLRRA.  Class III's may be the smallest but they offer perhaps the greatest level of interest, hearkening back to an era when single car service was commonplace. 

This practice has been largely abandoned under Class I's which favor lucrative long haul, unit consists.  

As a group short lines comprise nearly double the annual revenue, mileage, and employees of their larger counterpart, the regional  In addition, many are part of a large conglomerate such as Genesee & Wyoming, Watco, or OmniTRAX.

Warrenton Railroad 45-tonner #7 (built as U.S Navy #65-00104) is about to cross County Road 1322 in rural Warren Plains, North Carolina during a lazy summer's day in September of 1985. The historic line, which first opened in 1884, saw its final day of service on this particular afternoon having delivered a Seaboard System boxcar to the interchange in Warrenton. Warren Calloway photo.

The short line offers a good example of how railroading was performed more than a half-century ago.  

While the caboose is gone, crew sizes reduced (conductor and engineer), foot-boards outlawed, and less-than-carload business a thing of the past the focus on customer service has remained steadfast.  

These small carriers depend greatly upon their customers and you will find none other providing higher quality service than a short line.  

A particular carrier may rely on a few precious annual carloads to make ends meet, unable to afford such a loss. In some cases a single customer will generate most, or all, of its yearly business. Such a situation occurred at the Elk River Railroad in West Virginia.   

Tacoma Rail SD40-3 #3001 (built as Penn Central SD45 #6237) rolls across a former Milwaukee Road bridge in Tacoma, Washington with a special excursion bound for Eatonville on June 23, 2011. Drew Jacksich photo.

Unfortunately, within a few years the mine closed and business abruptly stopped.  Now, more than a decade later, the Elk River survives largely by storing and repairing cars. 

List Of Short Lines

Short Lines By Region






Defunct Short Lines

By contrast there are large systems operating several hundred miles that nearly achieving Class II status. These include names like RJ Corman Iowa Northern Twin Cities & Western and Livonia, Avon & Lakeville.  

There are also those which have historic connections dating back a century or more like the Indiana Harbor Belt (a Chicago belt line), St. Marys Railroad, Utah Railway, and Ann Arbor (Michigan's reborn survivor). The bottom line is you can find Class III's of all shapes and sizes.  

Some railfans have become resentful of Genesee & Wyoming, a conglomerate which has spent the last few decades amassing a wealth of once-independent short lines, including one-time rival RailAmerica.

 However, it has been extremely successful so successful in fact that no railroad under its control has either failed or been sold.  

The company began humbly as a small short line incorporated in 1891, the Genesee & Wyoming Valley Railway.  

Apache Railway's famous Alco's darken the skies as C424 #99 leads its freight atop the hill at Elkins Ranch, Arizona on August 30, 2012. Drew Jacksich photo.

The railroad remained unchanged for more than 70 years until new ownership in 1977 formed Genesee & Wyoming Industries, which branched out into the rail car leasing and management business.  

In 1986 it picked up its first short line subsidiary when Chessie System sold off much of the old Buffalo, Rochester & Pittsburgh property in western New York and Pennsylvania renamed under G&W as the Buffalo & Pittsburgh.  

Since then the company has expanded prodigiously, acquiring railroads where potential is recognized.  

t the present time it operates ten different North American regions (Pacific, Mountain West, Central, Coast, Southern, Midwest, Ohio Valley, Coastal, Northeast, and Canada), boasts a Europe Region, and maintains two operations in Australia ("Genesee & Wyoming Australia" and "Freightliner Australia").  

The success of short lines/regionals in the post-1980 era has been unquestioned, preserving many corridors which would have otherwise been abandoned.  

This has left analysts and industry experts to conclude that shedding so much infrastructure during the 1970s and 1980s was a severe overreach despite the industry's troubles during that time.

Aberdeen & Rockfish GP38 #405 leads a short freight near Rockfish, North Carolina on November 8, 2005. Warren Calloway photo.

Locomotives comprise another interesting aspect of the short line phenomenon.  If you have an interest in classic designs they abound on these railroads anything from little switchers like General Electric 44-tonner's and American Locomotive S-1's to Electro-Motive's line of GP7's and SD9's. All of these date to the 1950's or earlier and can still be found working revenue service.  

A pair of classic Winchester & Western RS11's roll through the four-lane Route 50 crossing at Hayfield, Virginia with the "Sand Man" on July 10, 1992. Wade Massie photo.

In some cases, a short line, for a variety of reasons, actually prefers a particular design or manufacturer's build.  

Even today, new Class III's continue springing up like the once-dormant, historic Grafton & Upton, in Massachusetts.  

"Regional" And "Short Line" Railroad Statistics, 2021

220 Railroads (1980, Pre-Staggers Act): 470 Railroads (1990, Post-Staggers Act) 

27 Holding Companies Control Nearly 270 Short Lines/Regionals

17,800 Employees (10% Of Industry Total)

47,500 Miles (29% Of Industry Total)

Current And Future Capital Infrastructure Needs: $6.9 Billion

Sources:, Federal Railroad Administration

Industry Facts & Figures

Railroad Type Number Mileage Employees Revenue (Billions)
Class 1795,264163,464$67.6
Regional (Class 2)2110,3355,507$1.4
Short Line/Local (Class 3)58237,16512,293$2.6

Source: Federal Railroad Administration's "Summary Of Class II and Class III Railroad Capital Needs And Funding Source" Report (October, 2014)

Shenandoah Valley Railroad GP9 #5940 along with an original Chesapeake & Ohio caboose are seen here tied down for the evening on April 22, 2019. Jon Wright photo.

The short line concept is not new.  There have been many famous carriers dating back to the pre-Staggers era such as the bucolic Maryland & Pennsylvania, Colorado's Great Western Railway, fabled Virginian & Truckee, and little Virginia Central.

There were also numerous belt lines and terminal roads (many subsidiaries or larger railroads) such as the Baltimore & Ohio Chicago Terminal, Portland Terminal, Belt Railway of Chicago, Peoria & Pekin Union, andꃚvenport, Rock Island & North Western.  

However, only since the industry's deregulation have their numbers more than doubled.   So, if you get the chance be sure and see one in action.

While watching a container train on a Class I zipping across the Heartland is always thrilling, nothing can likewise beat a local line switching a local customer.

If you want to see the human side of railroading, no one does it better than these small lines. To learn more about them please਌lick here to visit the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association's (ASLRRA) website.

This member organization is similar in nature to the Association of American Railroads but geared towards smaller, non-Class I carriers. 

Passengers traveling third class

Third-class, or steerage passengers were primarily immigrants, hoping to start new lives in the United States and Canada. Third class passengers paid between ਷ (򣔔 today) and ਹ (򣙠 today) for their ticket, depending on their place of origin ticket prices often included the price of rail travel to the three departure ports. Tickets for children cost ਲ਼ (򣈠 today)

S - Survivor

C - Casualty

Names in Blue, Bold Italics were survivors.

This fascinating series of adventure quest novels have exceptional staying power. They are perfect picks for riveting class read alouds or for your voracious advanced readers to devour.

What are your favorite 3rd grade books? We’d love to hear about them in our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook.

Berwick was a ping-pong ball for centuries

It’s a trick question, of course.

You’re not in Scotland, but in the northernmost town in England. This is Berwick-upon-Tweed, a harbour settlement on a hooked-shaped estuary on the sand-blasted Northumberland coast. And yet, historical quirks and head-scratching peculiarities from all perspectives make you think of the country’s northern neighbour, just 4km away.

Berwick-upon-Tweed is the northernmost town in England, lying just 4km from the Scottish border (Credit: Dennis Barnes/Getty Images)

That’s because, long before the town became English, Berwick-upon-Tweed was as Scottish as Edinburgh, Dundee or Glasgow. In the 1120s, it was one of only two royal burghs in Scotland, with a teeming quayside that laboured as one of the biggest ports in Britain. For almost 200 years, merchants took wool and yarn to Flanders, France and beyond, with history claiming that the port generated a quarter of the equivalent tax revenue for all of England. This was Berwick-upon-Tweed’s lucrative golden age and the "Alexandria of the North", as the town was known, was the most important economic anchor in Scotland.

That, according to Derek Sharman, a local historian who’s been studying the town’s tangled timeline for 33 years, is just the start of the story. Because from this point in Berwick-upon-Tweed’s curious history, the tiny harbour town then feverishly swapped sides in a political and economic tug of war between the two nations. In fact, it did so a bewildering 13 times.

“Berwick was a ping-pong ball for centuries,” said Sharman, when we met on an aglow July morning for a walk through the town’s living history. “It was captured, controlled, sacked, traded and fought over, time and again. Both nations wanted control of Berwick. But these shifting allegiances have led to the town having its own inimitable sense of independence – and today there’s not any feeling of English or Scottish sentiment or nationalism.”

The English town was once one of the biggest ports in Britain and an important economic anchor for Scotland (Credit: jiGoGo/Travel/Alamy)

As Sharman puts it, the town now has a palpable third identity. “People here are genuinely first and foremost Berwickers,” he said. “Do we have a third ‘nationality’? You bet we do. And I say this with feeling: I’m a proud Berwicker.”

Take a short stroll around the town’s historical centre today and it’s clear to see that Berwick-upon-Tweed remains a place pulled in opposing directions. If not exactly a town divided, it is one with a complex sense of its own uncommon identity. You feel you are not so much in a town as in a scrapbook of British history.

To begin, start on St Andrews Place near to Queen Victoria’s Fountain and The Elizabethan Town House B&B. Wallace Green, a historical marketplace that may or may not be named after mythic Scottish warrior William Wallace, looks on to St Andrew’s Wallace Green and Lowick Church of Scotland. Also in view nearby is the town’s undoubted highlight: an imposing curve of fortified walls and ramparts built during the reign of Elizabeth I.

The most expensive and ambitious project during the English monarch’s dogged regime, the arrowhead-shaped bastions were built 450 years ago to keep out the unwelcome Scots. From here, you can see the one-time border country, home to some 30 battlefields and fought over for centuries by the two warring nations. Not for lack of history, there are no souvenir stalls, no postcards, no other visitors.

This understatement is typical of Berwick-upon-Tweed: only a laminated plaque hints at the structure being one of the best-preserved examples of fortified walls in Europe. Elsewhere, the platform of the town’s railway station is built where the Great Hall of Berwick Castle once stood. All manner of kings and nobles – King David I of Scotland, Edward I of England, banner-wavers Robert the Bruce and Richard the Lionheart among them – played a role in the fortress’ history during the border squabbles. Not that the commuters rushing through to elsewhere today would ever know.

Berwick’s fortified walls are among the best-preserved in Europe (Credit: jlee2374/Getty Images)

8 The Kocek Of The Ottoman Empire

In Turkey, dancing was a revered art form during the Ottoman Empire. People spent a lot of money to attend dance performances, including an infamous dance style performed by the kocek. The kocek were men who dressed in feminine clothing and performed exotic dances for audiences throughout the empire. Some of the kocek were amateurs, and some were even slaves. But many were professional, popular, and highly paid.

Despite their gender-bending appearances and feminine dance moves, the kocek were not trying to impersonate females. Instead, they were a third gender, who embraced both their masculine and feminine features.

Although kocek performances sometimes ended in &ldquoglass-breaking and . . . dagger-brandishing,&rdquo many individuals (mostly adult males) saw the kocek dancers as serious objects of desire. The kocek were known to be sexually adventurous and were often courted by men.

Although the kocek began as respected and elite members of society, their scandalous lifestyles eventually became too much for some people to accept. In 1857, kocek dancing was outlawed, with widespread disapproval extending to the kocek lifestyle. After that, the dance and lifestyle only persisted in small areas of the empire.

Watch the video: Lake Como Italy best of 4k UHD u0026 1080 HD. by RGR food travel (May 2022).


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