"The Little Nugget"

Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Landmark No. 474

Colorful interior of Union Pacific's famous club car "The Little Nugget" - a souvenir postcard circa 1946.

“The Little Nugget” car was built in 1937 by the Pullman-Standard Car Manufacturing Company. It was part of the Union Pacific Railroad’s  NEW passenger train – The Streamliner City of Los Angeles.  This new train represented the zenith in modern train design and technology.  “The Little Nugget” car was one of the most unique and lavishly appointed railroad cars of all time.  It served as the club-lounge for the train’s first class Pullman passengers.  The luxury train was host to a veritable Who’s Who of international businessmen and Hollywood entertainment elite. Celebrities like George Burns, Bob Hope, and Cecil B. DeMille were regular clients in those days before commercial air travel became popular.  First-Class trains like the City of Los Angeles, and the rival Super Chief of the Santa Fe Railway, were the most comfortable, stylish, and fastest ways to travel between coasts.  In 1937, these two famous “extra fare” streamliners, pulled by innovative new diesel locomotives, made the trip from Chicago to Los Angeles in only 39-3/4 hours; a full day faster than standard trains of the time.

Bartender Johnny Ruh was always at the ready with a delicious refreshment!
Der Bingle was one of Johnny's regular travelers! Photos courtesy of grandson John Ruh.

Please be a friend to the Trains!

Consider making a donation to help our museum volunteers restore the trains and improve your  Travel Town experience!

More Interesting Information:

The big claim-to-fame for “The Little Nugget” was its fanciful interior, designed by American artist Walt Kuhn.   The car was created as a publicity draw for the Hollywood crowd; the main club room was decked out to resemble an Old West dance hall saloon – complete with Victorian-style furnishings, velvet and lace curtains, and gilded Cherubs.  The highlight of the car was a collection of 125 vintage photographs and original Kuhn paintings that depicted Vaudeville comedians, clowns, dancers and other footlight favorites.  No expense was spared on the car’s interior, with every detail being custom-made to Mr. Kuhn’s personal specifications.  Sadly, much of this original decor was lost during the car’s early years of display at Travel Town.

Distinctive 'Heart & Ribbon' motif on "The Little Nugget" missing furniture - have you seen it anywhere?

Retired from railroad service and donated to the Travel Town Museum in 1956, “The Little Nugget” is now one of the very few remaining examples of the pre-World War II streamlined passenger car era.  In 1990, “The Little Nugget”  was designated a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Landmark (474).  She survives as a great reminder of the grandeur and elegance that was once synonymous with rail travel in America. 

Passengers enjoy the lounge in the 1940s.

After 50 years of display outdoors in Griffith Park, “The Little Nugget” is now undergoing a complete cosmetic restoration; taking its interior and exterior back to the way it would have appeared while in service on the City of Los Angeles streamliner. It is Travel Town’s goal that “The Little Nugget” and its companion Streamliner sleeping cars Rose Bowl and Hunters Point will be enclosed within a climate-controlled museum structure planned for the Museum complex. They will become the focal point of a series of educational exhibits pertaining to the bygone era of American railroad travel.  We greatly appreciate your help and support in attaining these goals.

Menu from 1945