Welcome Guests – Ruth Ann Nordin and Janet Syas Nitsick

Janet Nitsick
Janet Nitsick
ruth nordin
Ruth Nordin

Train Travel: A Passenger’s Perspective

“The train chugged toward the station. Smoke bellowed from the engine’s stack.  Standing underneath the roof of the brick-and-mortar depot, Opal gulped as she watched it approach. …” (Excerpt from Janet Syas Nitsick’s novella, She Came by Train, included in Bride by Arrangement.)

Trains were vital to the Old West to not only transport goods but also for people traveling from East to West. They replaced wagon trains, a popular form of travel from the early 1840s to the late 1860s. Trains continued to be the dominant mode of travel until automobiles gained momentum in the 1930s and 1940s.

Tickets Please

Passengers could purchase first, second or third-class tickets, according to their financial abilities. First-class tickets cost the most and came with the most luxuries. A second class ticket cost more than third class with this class bringing the least benefits.

If a person purchased a third-class ticket, he or she would sit on a wooden seat, be placed in an open car and had to furnish their own meal. The ticket entailed them to one washroom (our current day restroom), and it was used by men and women.

A second-class ticket enabled the traveler to sit in an enclosed car with padded seats and included two washrooms — one for men and the other for women. This passenger had three meal options: bring your own food, eat at the buffet car, or get off the train to eat during a meal stop.

Photo by Robert Spittler of Omaha, Neb. Old Tucson railroad station served as the setting for some of Hollywood’s most famous television shows, such as “Bonanza,” “Gun Smoke,” “Have Gun will Travel,” and movies,  “Rio Bravo” and “McClintock.”
Photo by Robert Spittler of Omaha, Neb.
Old Tucson railroad station served as the setting for some of Hollywood’s most famous television shows, such as “Bonanza,” “Gun Smoke,” “Have Gun will Travel,” and movies, “Rio Bravo” and “McClintock.”

Passengers riding first class sat in leather or padded-velvet seats in an enclosed car. As in the second class, men and women had their own washrooms. But different from the other classes, a first-class traveler was provided meals, could eat in the buffet car or visit a restaurant at a destination stop.

If travelers didn’t bring a meal, such as second and third-class, ticket holders, they could eat at a restaurant near the depot or eat at the dining (also buffet) car during the train stop. However, passengers had limited time to eat these unappetizing, dining-car meals, probably between 15 to 20 minutes, so often they never finished their meals and continued their trips hungry.

Around 1899, Fred Harvey solved this problem by starting a chain of restaurants at the train stations. His restaurants served appetizing meals, such as plantation beef stew on hot buttermilk biscuits and smoked haddock. Harvey hired only females for his waitstaff to allure male patrons and help women find mates.

Baggage Tags

Originally, passengers picked up their own luggage from the baggage car, but as travel by train became more popular, it became necessary to have a system to track luggage to prevent loss or theft.  Metal tags, typically made of brass, were used. They included the railroad(s) involved, an identification number, and routing. One tag would go with the passenger, and a matching tag would be attached to the luggage.

When the Journey Ends

Once the train arrived at its destination, passengers needed to be careful when they got off their cars because of the short distance between the train and the platform. At the station, travelers walked, grabbed a cab or were met with individuals who took them to their ultimate destinations.

Click Cover to Order from Amazon
Click Cover to Order from Amazon

In She Came by Train, Opal has taken the long journey from Virginia to Lincoln, Nebraska, to be the governess to two young children of a lonely widower.  “Opal pulled out her smelling salts and sniffed.  She returned the salts to her belt before clutching her purse tight. Her new life faced her. …” (Excerpt from Janet Syas Nitsick’s novella in Bride by Arrangement.)

In The Purchased Bride, Ada fought the tears, which she believed could have filled up more than what the Mississippi River contained, as she stepped from the train to meet her betrothed, Pete Kelly. She did not know what her future would be like since her brother arranged the marriage. “With each mile that separated Ada from Virginia, she didn’t know if she felt better or worse. … her brother had seen fit to sell her to a stranger out in Nebraska — far removed from anyone …” (Excerpt from Ruth Ann Nordin’s novella in Bride by Arrangement.)


Ruth Ann Nordin and Janet Syas Nitsick are offering three paperback copies of their anthology, Bride by Arrangement, (which ranked in the top 100 in the Western romance category in the Kindle edition).

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35 thoughts on “Welcome Guests – Ruth Ann Nordin and Janet Syas Nitsick”

  1. Thanks for sharing the information on early train travel. I hadn’t realized that there were 3 class distinctions. I can’t imagine crossing the whole country in an open car (third class)exposed to the elements both rain and snow, and fluctuating temperatures, hot days and cold nights. I’ve read books featuring the beautiful Harvey girls and Mr Harvey’s restaurants.

    I’d like to read your duet anthology, BRIDE BY ARRANGEMENT, featuring two women as they go forth into new life roles as a mail order bride, Ada and a governess, Opal.

    • I didn’t think there was a third class passenger car either until Janet and I studied up on the topic. Like you, I couldn’t imagine how difficult that would’ve been for the poor people, especially if they had children to take with them.

  2. Hi Ruth Ann and Janet! Welcome to P&P. We’re thrilled to have you visit. I’ve always been fascinated by early train travel. I’m sure the populace welcomed it with open arms. Despite the burning embers and soot that sometimes flew in raised windows it had to have been lots better than a stagecoach. And trains were so much faster too. I did not know about the baggage tags though. Very interesting. My brain is whirling. I can see a scenario where a person had a bag stolen (it would’ve been very easy) or who innocently picked up a bag that was identical to theirs.

    Congratulations on BRIDE BY ARRANGEMENT! It looks like a great read.

    Wishing you much success!

  3. What a fascinating time. I’ve been watching the show Hell on Wheels that depicts the building of the railroad. Such an interesting topic!

    • Hi! Catsiady, My youngest autistic son loves the show, “Hell on Wheels.” He also is the biggest fan of John Wayne’s cowboy movies. I like those, too. It is great to get a look at the past and feel that time period. God bless.

  4. Love your books Ruth.. Always have. Do you think you and Janet will ever write a book together from the male and female Sides . One of you write a chapter from the female the next chapter of the book from the males side.. etc

    • Hi! Donna: Never thought of doing that. I think that way might break our stories flow. However, you have given me an idea. It would be interesting to have one of us write from the main character being female and the other novella being from the man’s perspective. That could be quite interesting. Ruth Ann Nordin and I will have to put our heads together. Right now, we are working on another anthology, A Groom’s Promise, with scenes together as our last one but yet separate stories. We have such fun doing these, especially the sipping on our lattes as we write. God bless.

  5. Thanks, Cathy!

    Linda, thanks for having us! I agree about the stagecoach. Considering how slow travel is by horses, I’d choose the train if I had to go somewhere.

    Thanks, Ashley!

    Anon1001, I hope it is something you might be able to use in the future. 🙂

    Catslady, I saw a movie about the hardships the men endured to build the railroads. It was hard not to tear up at times. They sacrificed a lot to make travel possible.

    Thanks, Colleen!

  6. I also love mail order bride books. I have read Bride by Arrangement and it is amazing!! Ruth Ann Nordin and Janet Nitsick are great authors. I have read all of Ruth Ann Nordin books and many of Janet’s.

    • Hi! Tina, Thanks for your kinds words. It warms our hearts. Watch for my new sweet Christian romance, Courtships and Carriages. It is released in e-book in early October with paperback to follow. God bless.

  7. How scary it must have been to leave everything behind in Virginia to move to the unknown of Nebraska as many real women did. Going by train must have been much better, even in third class, than going by wagon or stagecoach.

  8. This is very intresting i’m always fascinated by these historical facts i love to learn and know more about that time period. Being a big fan of historical romances i always try to picture how it was at that time. most of the time i wish i could’ve lived in that time period 😀 anyway,thanks for this throw back in time now i know how it was for people to take the trai :-)..

    • Hi! Lacey, I long for those days when life was simple,r and women wore beautiful gowns, but I do not want those conditions, such as outhouses and two-room homes. I visited John Wayne’s childhood home in Winterset, Iowa. It was three rooms and if my memory is correct there were nine children living in it. I cannot imagine living like that. Wish we could take a little of both worlds and mix them up. God bless.

  9. Thanks, Donna! It’s an interesting idea. I hadn’t thought of doing something like that with her. At the moment, we’re working on another anthology that features two brothers, one whose story she writes and the other’s story I write. I’d have to ask Janet what she thinks of trying a book where we have the same story but alternate chapters. I’m not opposed to trying it, but we’d probably have to make it a clean romance since Janet writes those and I’ve done both clean and spicy.

    Thank you, Tina!

    Hilltop Farm Wife, it would be scary to do something like that in real life. These women had a lot of courage. 🙂

    Lacey, I often wish I had lived back then, too. I know it’s not as romantic as the books make it seem, but there’s something nice about a simpler time that is appealing. 🙂

  10. I love mail order bride stories. Loved this post on trains. I can only remember riding on a train one time. That was when I was in the second grade of school and it was our field trip for school. We road to Lexington by bus and got to ride back by train. I thought it was awesome at the time.

    • Hi Quilt Lady: I rode in a passenger train twice, all the way from Nebraska to California. I remember the luxurious dining car with its linen napkins. I thought I was in seventh heaven. I also remember fainting on one. With no air conditioning, the heat got to me. God bless.

  11. Thank you for sharing the train information. When I was growing up (some 60 years ago) my best frien lived in the train depot. Her father was station master. I grew to love trains!

  12. Quilt Lady, that would have been a fun school trip!

    Connie J, how neat! I bet her father had a lot of interesting stories to tell about the people he got to meet.

    Thanks, Melanie!

    And thank you, Judy! I’m glad you were able to get over here. 🙂

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