If there’s one thing we all share, it’s a need for glamour.
Enter “The Tara”: The vintage train, aka the Tara, was one of the first private railroad companies to pick up steam in the 1920s, operating between Washington, D.C., and Charlotte, N.C.
While the Tara didn’t get a mention in Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography, its social bona fides are unmistakable.
It not only had restaurants, a dance hall, and dressing-up shops, it also had swimming holes, bingo games, and entertainment venues for the ladies of the house.
Of course, there was plenty for the men, too, from whiskey and pinball games to strolling dances and relaxation areas.
Charles D. Howard, the businessman who ran the Tara, really wanted to think of it as a ladies’ luxury club, so he went so far as to pass a law mandating that the men and women wear matching ensembles. The fit was occasionally noticeable, but, hey, at least he stuck to his guns.
Though the Tara didn’t get a mention in Franklin’s autobiography, it certainly was well known in Washington.
Several different train companies came and went during its run from 1921 to 1974 (a former Tara train pulled into Union Station in 1931), but one of the last runs of the Tara took place in 2006 — it came to town in celebration of the passing of the streetcar age.
Today’s rail industry isn’t so adventurous, either: An Amtrak train from Chicago to Philadelphia can reach up to Philadelphia and pull off a trip into the Appalachian mountains in an hour and a half.
The only entry between the New York to Philadelphia rail line in 28 years traveled from South Bend, Ind., to Harrisburg, Pa., on a converted freight train.
The results? At $147 each way, it was roughly as expensive as an economy-class Virgin America flight. For those who wanted to visit Harrisburg, a nonstop train might have been a better deal — $293 one way from Manhattan to Harrisburg.