Sleeping cars on passenger trains existed before 1850. Like the sleeping cars of the “modern” age they featured seating for the day and mechanical transformation to a bunk for night. Not until after 1850, when train trips more often exceeded a day, did sleeping cars become common. Open-section sleeping cars appeared as a chair car by day, with the bedding hidden in berths above the passengers’ heads. Little nighttime privacy was available in the open configuration. Passenger pressure to have the luxury of private compartments or roomettes forced the primary sleeping car provider, Pullman Company, to invest in designing and building more cars with private rooms. The “Hunter’s Point” with its combination of different room sizes for different size travelling parties was a common layout. Compartments offered seating for day, private commodes and sinks, and were similar in features to hotel rooms for those driving from city to city.
Both the “Rose Bowl” and the “Hunter’s Point” were part of an unusual tourist attraction in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. In 1963, Verl Thomson opened a train motel, or traintel, out of three decommissioned Pullman sleeping cars and a chair car he bought from a broker in 1962. The chair car was refurbished to feature a television and snack room in one end, and the traintel office in the other end. Except for re-wiring the lights to 120 volt and exterior repainting, the sleeping cars were left much the same as they last operated on the Chicago & Northwestern, which was still very much the same as they looked inside when first assigned to the Union Pacific’s City of San Francisco and City of Los Angeles trains. Taped train sounds were played to add to the atmosphere. In 1965, the charge for a single person in a roomette was $5, and a drawing room for five was $12.85. The traintel closed in the summer of 1980 due to lack of sufficient tourist business.