Louis E. Lowman and his colleagues in B&O dining cars made train travel extraordinary
Louis E. Lowman, 1892 - 1960
The snap of white starched table cloths, beautiful B&O china, excellent food and superb service were long remembered by passengers on the Capitol Limited, an all-Pullman train that ran from New York City’s Pennsylvania Station to Chicago, via Washington, D.C.
Louis Eugene Lowman was a dining car waiter on the Capitol Limited. He, along with other dining car staff, provided an exceptional level of service for passengers in the dining cars. He worked for the B&O for 37 years and spent 20 of them on the Capitol Limited.
Mr. Lowman was born in Woodbine, Maryland in 1892. He married Violetta Dodd in 1916, and they had five children. Louis was a longtime member of Bethel AME Church in Baltimore.
He was part of the time in railroading history before the advent of air travel, when Americans traveled on railroad trains that crisscrossed our nation.
The Capitol Limited was inaugurated on May 12, 1923. It was designed to compete against the luxury trains of the rival Pennsylvania Railroad and New York Central Railroad. Although the B&O's longer route put it at a competitive disadvantage in New York for travelers short on time, the B&O offered such luxuries in the 1920s as onboard secretaries, barbers and valets.
Mr. Lowman worked in the Capitol Limited’s Martha Washington-series dining cars. They were particularly noted for their Chesapeake Bay cuisine, served in ornate cars with leaded glass windows, glass chandeliers and colonial-style furnishings. The Capitol Limited derived much of its passenger traffic from businessmen and government officials traveling between Washington and the Midwest. 1
Louis returned from Chicago on June 19, 1960, Father’s Day. Sadly, while opening Father’s Day presents, he became ill and passed away. He had a previous heart condition, but had not complained of being ill that day.
Louis Lowman is buried in Arbutus Memorial Park, in Arbutus, Maryland, Section E, Lot 2.
References and further reading:
2. Best in Service, a temporary exhibit at the B&O Railroad Museum, Baltimore, Maryland
3. The Baltimore Afro-American, June 22, 1960