The American Association of Private Rail Car
Owners held its 42nd annual convention in Albuquerque, New Mexico
from September 17 to 20, 2019. Seven cars were present for the meeting:
The Acoma, built in 1936, was designed for the
Santa Fe by Budd Company for the new streamlined Super Chief. It was the first,
full sized, all stainless steel, “streamlined” lounge car built for any
railroad. In 1994, the current owners put the car through a multiyear renovation
including new trucks, backup generator, new kitchen with a large fridge and two
freezers, beautifully restored lounge, and fully functional crew’s quarters.
San Marino was built under lot 4399 and plan
2926 as car San Marino lettered for the San Joaquin and Eastern Railroad ( a
railroad owned by Huntington but was not suitable to handle the all steel full
size private car). Car was delivered in September 1916 as the private car for
Henry E Huntington. Car was kept indoors at Huntington's home in San Marino
California. It replaced MKT 170.. originally the 110, that Huntington bought a
year or so earlier as his personal private car and was housed with San Marino 2
a combine for his help and goods, and the Alabama, a St. Louis Car Co private
interurban built for Huntington. The MKT 170 San Marino was sold when the newly
built 1916 San Marino was delivered.
It is believed based upon personal letters
from Huntington to the Pullman Company, in 1917, that the car was to be
re-lettered Chesapeake and Ohio and retain the name San Marino as the Huntington
family had a controlling interest in the C&O. Records indicate that in 1920, the
car was re-lettered again for the Southern Pacific which the Huntington's also
had a controlling interest in and it is believed the car retained the San Marino
name until after H.E. Huntington's death in 1927. The car was sold to the
Southern Pacific at that point and re-named Delmonte and became car 107.
The car much later in life was sold to the
Ferrocarrill del Pacifico and became their car ASR 6078 while in Mexico. In
1985, Anbel Corporation bought two SP cars back to Texas that included the San
Marino/Delmonte and the SP Los Angeles. Both cars were offered for sale upon
returning to the United States.
An attorney from California purchased the San
Marino/Delmonte and had the Anbel Corporation do the initial work to return the
car to Amtrak compatibility. The cars return to mainline service happened in
July 1986 in private ownership. The attorney from California ran the car for a
few years, and then started a second lengthy rebuild for Amtrak service but the
project was never finished due to an untimely automobile accident that took his
life. The estate sold the car, then at the Filmore and Western RR in California
to a gentleman from Birmingham who took on the remaining restoration and
completed it in 1999.
Hollywood Beach was built at Pullman in 1956
for service on Seaboard Air Line’s New York-Florida Silver Meteor. Later owned
by Seaboard Coast Line and renamed Sun Ray, it was sold to Amtrak in 1971 and
sold again in 1989. It was acquired by current owner Keith R. White in 2016.
Northern Sky was built by ACF in 1955 as Union
Pacific 9003. Assigned to City of Los Angeles, it was sold to the original
Auto-Train in 1973. Rebuilt and redecorated by current owner. Has been in deluxe
charter service since 1992 and was redecorated in 2013. Northern Sky is based in
Caritas was built in 1948 by Pullman-Standard
as a 14 roomette, 4 bedroom sleeper for the St. Louis-San Francisco RR’s crack
streamliner The Texas Special. It was sold to the CN in 1965 and was in regular
service on the Super-Continental. Retired in 1982 and purchased by High Iron and
completely rebuilt and modernized. The Caritas began its new life as the premier
“rare mileage car” in November, 1984.
Moonlight Dome was the first of three
(1850-53) private room-dome-cabin cars originally built for the C&O and intended
for service on the Chessie, the planned but never-operated Washington-Cincinnati
dayliner flagship of Robert Young’s fleet of projected post-World War II luxury
liners on rails. The three cars were sold to the Baltimore & Ohio in December
1950. Beginning on December 20, 1950, Moonlight Dome operated on the Shenandoah
until October 1963. Thereafter it became the spare car for the Capitol Limited.
Birch Grove was built by The Budd Company in
1950 as a 6 double bedroom, 10 roomette sleeping car 9020 for service on the
Southern Pacific’s Los Angeles-New Orleans “Sunset Limited.” It was acquired by
Amtrak in 1971 and renumbered 2696. In 1980 it was converted to Heritage 10-6
sleeper with handicapped roomette. Renumbered to 2451 and named Birch Grove, it
was retired in 1995 and sold to current owner. Upgraded 2002-03. Complete
interior upgrade in 2005.
On June 26, 2019, the Santa Fe Southern Railway ran a charter from Santa Fe,
New Mexico, to Lamy. Five miles short of its destination, SFSR 93 suffered
an engine failure. For a considerable time, it rested near the crossing of
Avenida Eldorado south of Santa Fe, before an engine from the New Mexico
Railrunner rescued it along with its four cars, and moved it to Lamy.
Through the efforts of a talented mechanic, parts from 93 were put on 07,
the other SFSF locomotive, to make it operational.
The Santa Fe Southern Railway is a short line railroad that operates from
Santa Fe to Lamy, New Mexico, a distance of 18.1 miles. The SFSR began
operations in 1992, after the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway ended
operations on their Lamy to Santa Fe line and a group of local
businesspeople purchased the track to continue freight service in the area.
Passenger service was added later on.
The railroad is currently owned by Karl Ziebarth, an independent
transportation consultant. He had operated the railway with excursion trains
for tourists between Lamy and Santa Fe until operations ceased in 2013. At
the time service was halted after some 20 years, he told The Santa Fe New
Mexican, a local newspaper, that money was the issue.
The railway currently has no scheduled service and operates on a charter
basis. Ziebarth says, “We are trying to develop that and hope to be doing
that fairly often in the summer months.”
Private cars are becoming more rare on long distance Amtrak
trains due to obstructive rules by Amtrak CEO Richard Anderson. On those
occasions when they are on the Southwest Chief, we make a special effort to see
them. On Labor Day, 2019 Salisbury Beach and Colonial Crafts made an appearance
in Lamy, New Mexico on Amtrak 3.
Visiting Lamy is always fun but there were at least 100 people enjoying the
summer afternoon at the Lamy Junction park, eating hot dogs and hamburgers and
listening to live music.
Cindy Lu, Johnny, Sara, and the rest of the crew at Lamy have done an amazing
job bringing this old depot to life. Follow them on Instagram @lamyjunction
The Legal Tender is now open several evenings a week for dinner. This historic
restaurant was purchased by Allan Affeldt and his wife Tina Mion.