Sunday, August 26, 2012

Private Owner's Train in Minneapolis-Saint Paul

In July I took a short vacation to Minneapolis-Saint Paul. While there, I did a little railfanning (of course). In addition to catching a little CPR action, as in the photo above, I stopped in at the Saint Paul Amtrak Station--where I happened upon a string of private passenger cars.

In the string were the following cars:

The Budd dome Sierra Hotel (ex-CB&Q 251 Silver Lounge). The car, which is available for rent, has four bedrooms and comes with a chef and steward.

Caritas observation car, built as a 14 roomette, four bedroom sleeper for the StLSF in 1948.

Ex-Army hospital car 89553, built in 1953 by for the U.S. Army and acquired by Amtrak in 1973 and reconfigured to Le Pub bar-lounge 3403. It was rebuilt early 1980s to Heritage lounge 3103 and refurbished by Railroading Heritage of Midwest America (RHMA) as Milwaukee Road Wisconsin Valley in 2001.

Beside it was Superdome 53, built for the Milwaukee Road by Pullman Standard in 1952. It was acquired by CN in 1964 and named Athabaska. It was sold the Chicago & North Western Railway for business service in 1986 and renamed Powder River. It was acquired by RMHA 2005.

MKT 403, originally built in 1913. The car was built specifically for the Vice President of The MKT Shops. The car is owned by a private collector, and is based in Orange Park, Florida.

Hiawatha observation car, designed by famed industrial designer Brooks Stevens and built by the Milwaukee Road in 1948. Retired in 1970, it as acquired by the RHMA in 1998 and returned to service.

To the east of the station was the Gritty Palace, ex-Rock Island office car #98 built by Pullman in 1912. The car’s reporting marks are GNW&B, which apparently stands for Going Nowhere & Back.

I can't afford to own or ride on a private passenger car, but longer-time readers of this blog may remember that a private owner's train regularly traverses my layout; you can read about it here and here.

(The Milwaukee Road cars in the consist above are owned by Railroading Heritage of Midwest America (RHMA), formerly the Friends of the 261, a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote public understanding of the history of railroading in the Midwest. The RHMA owns a fleet of passenger cars, most of them painted in Milwaukee Road maroon and orange passenger train colors, which travel with Milwaukee Road 4-8-4 261.)


  1. I was there in early August and saw the same cars... your pictures are much better as I saw them in the morning with the sun behind them. Thanks for the detail on them!

  2. Nice catch. Thanks for taking the time to research and share.

  3. It seems the nicer cars in their fleet are stored at the Amtrak station. The rest of the cars are stores at Minneapolis Junction. If anyone from the RHMA is around, you can go inside and see the MILW 261 for a small donation.