Ralph L. Barger was born in Putnam County, New York in 1929. As a child, he and his brother J.P. Barger, collected model trains.
Their interest prompted Ralph Barger to write various railroads asking for information about famed passenger trains. During
service in the Army beginning in 1948, he served as an instructor at West Point, then as a 2nd Lieutenant stationed in Germany,
the Dominican Republic, and Vietnam.
In 1961, he began to collect passenger car prototype information and started to compile passenger equipment roster information
on U.S. railroads. His interest in Pullman cars was piqued by Lucius Beebe's book MR. PULLMAN'S ELEGANT PASSENGER CARS.
The works of John H. White, Jr., Arthur Dubin, William Kratville and Robert Wayner inspired him to assemble a compendium of
all known Pullman cars.
Mr. Barger and his wife, Lois, who were married in the mid 1950s, have two daughters, Keven and Carol, and a son, Ralph III.
His brother, J.P., continues to be interested in railroad history, with a focus on railroad photography. Mr. Barger belongs
to numerous historical societies, including the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Historical Society. He has written two books, A
CENTURY OF PULLMAN CARS (2 volumes) (1988; 1990)) and UNION PACIFIC BUSINESS CARS, 1870-1991: INCLUDING INSPECTION AND INSTRUCTION
CARS (1992). He is presently working on a third volume of A CENTURY OF PULLMAN CARS as well as a roster of all operating
The Pullman Company (incorporated in Illinois in 1867 by George M. Pullman as the Pullman Palace Car Company) led the United
States and Canada in sleeping car construction and the provision of luxurious and comfortable cars for passenger railroad
travel. By 1880, the company operated cars on 60,000 miles of track across the United States and Canada and its stock was
worth over 6 million dollars. The Pullman Company built manufacturing shops at Detroit and the world's largest car plant
in 1879 at Lake Calumet, Illinois, 14 miles south of Chicago. Adjacent land was purchased and developed as a company town.
In 1881, 12,000 people lived in the town of Pullman. An economic downturn prompted layoffs and pay cuts which led to the unionization
of Pullman workers and a strike at the shops in 1894 to try to force a rollback of wage cuts.
The Pullman Company, as it was renamed in December 1899, was very profitable, particularly in the 1920s. In the 1940s, an
anti-trust lawsuit was brought against Pullman by the U.S. Department of Justice. As the result of an unfavorable ruling in
1943, Pullman was ordered to sell either its operating division, the Pullman Company or its manufacturing division, the
Pullman-Standard Car Company. The Pullman Company along with its 256 parlor cars, over 600 sleeping cars and sleeping car
leasing operations, were sold to a consortium of U.S. railroads on July 1, 1947. However, railroads continued to lease sleeping
cars back to the Pullman Company.
A major downsizing of shops, laundries, and other real estate helped Pullman remain competitive, but business began to decline.
The Pennsylvania Railroad, Penn Central and other railroads began to withdraw from Pullman service. In 1969, all railroads
with Pullman service cancelled their contracts with Pullman. The company began to sell off its assets, including the inventory
of equipment maintained on each car. Pullman retained a small staff to complete sales and settle lawsuits. The Pullman Company
ceased to exist in 1981.
Barger, Ralph L. A CENTURY OF PULLMAN CARS. 2 vols. Sykesville, Maryland: Greenberg Publishing Company, 1988; 1990.
Pullman Company. ANNUAL REPORTS. 1948-1956, 1969 (calendar year).
White, John H., Jr. THE AMERICAN RAILROAD PASSENGER CAR. Baltimore, Maryland: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1978.
"George Mortimer Pullman." In RAILROADS IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY, edited by Robert L. Frey, pp. 335-339. New York: Facts
on File, 1988.