|Cochiti Dining Car interior, California State Railroad Museum|
Santa Fe Super Chief China
You'll find an excellent museum and historic exhibition in Frisco Texas, a northern suburb of Dallas. The founding of Frisco Texas, it's strong connection with the Misouiri, Kansas and Texas Railroad, the MKT, and life in an early frontier environment is all presented in fine detail at the Frisco Heritage Museum.The original china was made available to the public in two sales held in 1971.
|AT & SF Mimbreno china teapot|
The Santa Fe Railroad adopted the southwest and Indian cultures as a major way the rest of the country would view their railroad. Much of this was coordinated by Mary Colter who worked for the railroad beginning in 1910 and served as it's chief interior designer and architect. Colter worked at this capacity for both the railroad and for Fred Harvey. Many of the features you see today relating to the old Santa Fe train stations and Harvey Houses and dining rooms are part of Colter's legacy.Other well known creations designed by Mary Colter include the Desert View Watchtower constructed in 1932 at the Grand Canyon National Park's south rim. Also, the interior designing of the famous El Tovar Hotel, the Lookout Studio at the Grand Canyon south rim, the Phantom Ranch buildings at the canyon's bottom and the designing of Bright Angel Lodge at the south rim. In total, Mary Colter has twenty-one projects for Fred Harvey.
|AT & SF Mimbreno cup and saucer|
Three additional Western Trips photo articles you'll enjoy are the Cochiti Dining Car ... A Tour of the Old La Posada Harvey House in Winslow Arizona...and a Tour of a Pullman Car.
Mary Colter and the AT & SF China
The Mimbreno China that was utilized by the Santa Fe Railroads's Super Chief dining cars were all about the Southwest. Mary Colter was given the commission to design AT & SF Railroad china based on the concept of the Mimbres Indians.
|Mimbreno Mary Colter creation|
The Mimbres Indians lived in the Mimbres Valley in southwest New Mexico. Archeologists believe that the Mimbres Indians evolved from the Mogollon culture. It's believed that the Mogoillon culture evolved from the Anasazi Hohokam cultures. The most famous artifact from the Mimbres culture was their pottery. Their pottery had designs based upon animals and geometric forms. Like other elements of the train's interior, Mary Colter's china adapted the Mimbres likenesses of birds, turtles and fish to contemporary life. Colter's original designs had shades of brick red with charcoal accents.
|Animal designs on salt and pepper shakers|
See Original Santa Fe Railroad China
In addition to the Santa Fe Railroad china on display at the Frisco Heritage Museum in Frisco Texas, a fine collection is on display at the California State Railroad Museum located in Old Town Sacramento California. At the California museum, which is one of the largest in the world, on display there is also the Cochiti Dining Car that was part of Atchison Topeka and Santa Fe's Super Chief train. The photo at the top of this article show the place settings inside the Cochiti Dining Car.
Another excellent venue displaying a wide range of authentic railroad dining car china is the Galveston Railroad Museum in Galveston Texas.
(Photos from author's private collection)