The history of The Railroad, as we most commonly know it, began on the South Carolina Railroad in 1830. A small locomotive, The Best Friend, began the first regularly scheduled service in the United States. Less than a year later, it’s boiler exploded, and service was discontinued until a new locomotive, The West Point, was delivered.
From that meager beginning in rural South Carolina the railroad, more than anything else, allowed this country to move into a the great unsettled West by providing dependable transportation for people and freight.
In 1859, George Mortimer Pullman converted a wooden day coach into the first sleeping car, complete with linen closets, washrooms, and upper berths. Today, this car with its wood burning stove for heat. And its bumpy ride would look very crude, but in that day it was the first glimpse at elegant travel.
By 1890, The Pullman Palace Car Company had a virtual monopoly on the sleeping car business in the United States. The Company built, staffed, and operated cars similar to the One at The Station Dinner theatre on all major railroads. During this time, travel by rail was both elegant and exciting. Unfortunately, this period of leisurely travel on beautiful trains ended with the coming of high-speed air travel in the 1950’s.
In 1967 a group of Erie Businessmen decided to build a restaurant, which would recapture the spirit of this bygone era. After two years of planning and a year-and-a-half of construction, the result was the Station Restaurant. Rich Victorian furnishings, elegant table settings, hearty food, and a Pullman Sleeping Car have been coordinated to recreate a busy small town railroad station of the 1890’s.
The Pullman Company built the sleeping car, named the St. Helier, in 1922. The car operated out of the Chicago General Service Pool until its retirement in 1968. During its restoration in 1970, all original seats, windows, light fixtures, mirrors, brass fittings, and call buttons were refurbished and retained, while the general décor was changed to reflect the turn of the century.
In 2003, The Station Restaurant was the converted into a Dinner Theatre by Paul and Rae Jean Urbanowicz. The main dining room was expanded and remodeled to provide tiered seating. A stage was built, and lighting and sound system installed to provide the best possible sound and atmosphere for our patrons. In it’s entirety, The Station Dinner Theatre represents a nostalgic step backward into an era of charm and beauty that has long since disappeared.
The Station Dinner Theatre operates year-round and is the home of the original “A Canterbury Feast”, the longest running medieval dinner theatre in the United States. Along with it’s many original themed musical comedies, the Station Season also includes a variety of comedies, farces and musical reviews combined with Chef Bob Stewart’s delicious cuisine add up to the region’s most unique and entertaining dining experience.