This club car was designed for the Union Pacific by the American artist, Walt Kuhn. Kuhn had previously designed a pair of specialty club cars for U.P.'s City of Denver train both named "The Frontier Shack." They featured rough-hewn wood rafters and interior panelling, animal skins and antlers on the walls, and hanging oil lamps. For the Streamliner City of Los Angeles, a Union Pacific train carrying passengers between Chicago and Los Angeles, Kuhn improved on his own gaudy and extravagant imagination. The result was "The Little Nugget" car, a Victorian dream of red velvet sofas and drapes, bevel-edged mirrors, gas lamp-style, stars twinkling on the ceiling and caricatures of famous vaudevillians crowding the walls. Bartenders and waiters wore gay nineties attire. "The Little Nugget" was the show-stopper of the City of Los Angeles, despite its other classy observation cars, lounges, and diners.
Club cars were developed by the Pullman Car Manufacturing Company in the 1880s, a time when both Pullman and the railroads were experimenting with new types of cars that would make train travel more comfortable and entertaining. In this same period, Pullman was developing first-class sleeper cars, hotel cars, diners, and private salon cars. Used exclusively by first-class, Pullman patrons, club cars were de luxe parlors with comfortable chairs and sofas, a window view for all, and usually furnished with a bar and a library. After 1920, club cars were often used as waiting areas for seating in the dining car. Our club car features another innovation developed in the 1930s; about one half of the car, behind the bar, is sectioned off into five tiny dorm rooms for bartenders, waiters, or other train employees.