Happy Valentine’s Day! For this post, we are sharing a little bit of Colorado Midland and Pullman history, plus a recipe that you can share with your sweetheart.
We have several Pullman-built cars here on our site, but perhaps one of the most fascinating is our Colorado Midland Observation Car No. 111.
Midland Observation Car No. 111 was frequently used for trips where people would travel into the mountains to pick wildflowers. These “wildflower excursions” certainly would not have happened around Valentine’s Day since it is not anywhere near wildflower season in Colorado. Nonetheless, what a perfect activity to do with a sweetheart in the springtime!
The Colorado Midland offered wildflower excursions to passengers from 1887 to 1918. Passengers boarded the train at 8:45am in Colorado Springs, ate a nice hot lunch, and then rode the train west into the foothills of the Rocky Mountains towards South Park. Once they got to a spot deemed safe by the engineer and that had a good amount of flowers, the train would stop and passengers were given time to wander the meadows, literally picking armfuls of wildflowers.
One of the stops along the way was the town of Florissant, known for its Petrified Forest and fossil beds. In addition to picking wildflowers, tourists were given the opportunity to stop in Florissant and hunt for fossils. Today, the Florissant fossil beds and Petrified Forest are part of a national monument, and fossil hunting is illegal so as to save the area for future generations to enjoy. The train’s final destination was Spinney, where it would turn around on a wye for the return trip to Colorado Springs, arriving back by about 5pm.
Built by Pullman in 1887, Midland Observation Car No. 111 was originally used as a first class coach. It went through a couple of remodels through its life, changing into a parlor car, and ultimately an observation car by 1909. When Colorado Midland stopped running in 1919-1920, the Midland Terminal took over ownership of the car and renumbered it 29. Midland Terminal passenger service ended in 1931, and the car was ultimately sold to the Colorado Railroad Museum in 1960 where it remains today.
Although Midland Observation Car No. 111 was not used to serve food, passengers would enjoy lunch served out of another combination car on the consist which had a food counter. Perhaps the following Pullman recipe was shared by some sweethearts back in the day… We hope you enjoy it, too! If you try it, please share photos or comments on our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages!
Old-Fashioned Southern-style Strawberry Shortcake
Makes 8 servings
5 cups flour
1 teaspoon sugar
½ Tablespoon salt
1 Tablespoon baking powder
2/3 cup butter at room temperature
2/3 cup lard at room temperature
4-6 Tablespoons milk
1 pint whipping cream, ice cold
2 Tablespoons sugar
Dash of vanilla
2 quarts strawberries
Butter at room temperature
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift together flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Using a pastry blender, work the butter and lard into the flour mixture until of a course, mealy texture. Add just enough milk, one tablespoon at a time, to make a soft dough that is not sticky. On a lightly floured surface, knead smooth. Using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll dough to ½ inch thick. Cut out 8 biscuits, place on a cookie sheet, and bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes.
While hot, open biscuits, butter well, and close. While biscuits cool, pour the ice-cold whipping cream into a cold bowl. Whip until stiff, adding sugar and vanilla to cream after it begins to stiffen, then place in refrigerator to chill. Meanwhile, crush the strawberries, retaining 8 large berries for decoration. To serve, put 2 generous tablespoons of berries on the bottom half of each biscuit and top off with 1 tablespoon of whipped cream. Then, top with other half of biscuit, another generous layer of berries, and 2 tablespoons of whipped cream. Garnish with 1 whole berry in the center of each biscuit top. Enjoy!
Recipe by Pullman from Dining By Rail by James D. Porterfield.