The conveyance of choice for first class daytime travel in the "steam and steel" era was the parlor car. For the price of a first class ticket plus an accomodation or "seat" charge, the well-heeled traveler could enjoy a comfortable single seat, often of the swiveling variety, to either take in the scenery or engage fellow passengers in conversation while a helpful white-gloved porter stood by to cater to his every whim. Many parlor cars offered daytime roomettes or drawing rooms, where business could be conducted privately while en route (Okay, my jacks over aces beats your flush. Ante up for the next hand, boys). 

The New Haven's Merchants Limited was one of a very select number of all-parlor-car trains; no coach passengers were carried. Aimed squarely at the businessmen's traffic between New York and Boston, it was clearly male-dominated territory; one source records that women were seldom seen except in the private room accommodations and that, being reluctant to leave their private sanctuary, they often had their dinners sent in from the dining car.[*] The train had its pick of the best equipment the New Haven could muster; at the time of this schedule it was operating largely with equipment which had been built new in 1929. According to the various records left behind one of the true delights were the New Haven's dining cars, featuring cream of oyster soup, crab gumbo, braised rib ends of beef with browned potatoes, and the New Haven's trademark broiled scrod.  

From the pages of the Official Guide, February 1933

New York, New Haven & Hartford RR herald

The Merchants Limited

New York, New Haven & Hartford RR. Co.
January 15, 1933

26 Train Number 27
ExSa Miles Services ExSa
5 00P Dp 0.0 New York, NY (Grand Central Tml.) (ET) T C Ar 10 00P
4.2 New York, NY (125th St.) C D 9 49P
6 37P Ar 72.3 New Haven, CT T C Dp 8 20P
6 40P Dp Ar 8 17P
8 57P Ar 185.3 Providence, RI T C Dp 6 00P
9 00P Dp Ar 5 57P
D 9 55P Boston, MA (Back Bay Station) C R 5 04P
10 00P Ar 229.1 Boston, MA (South Station) (ET) C Dp 5 00P

Train 26 (New York-Boston): 3 stops, 5:00, 45.8 MPHTrain 27 (Boston-New York): 4 stops, 5:00, 45.8 MPH


THROUGH CAR SERVICE—Coaches on all trains except as otherwise noted.

No. 26—Merchants Limited. Daily, except Saturday. (No Coaches.)
Club Smoking Car...New York to Boston.
Parlor Cars...New York to Boston.
Observation Smoking Car and Dining Car...New York to Boston.
Extra fare train.

No. 27—Merchants Limited. Daily, except Saturday. (No Coaches.)
Club Smoking Car...Boston to New York.
Parlor Cars...Boston to New York.
Dining Car...Boston to New York.
Observation Smoking Car...Boston to New York.
Extra fare train.

Due to the Depression, followed by World War II, there would be no new equipment for the Merchants Limited for almost two decades. The 1929 equipment would serve valiantly for the duration. Even during the depths of the war years, though, the New Haven jealously guarded the Merchants' status as an extra-fare, all-parlor-car train—the last one in operation anywhere in North America.