Private cars, or Private Varnish is one of the beautiful sights on the Southwest Chief. Here are some that have visited New Mexico that we haven't previously shared.
The Silver Splendor was built by the Budd Co. in 1956 as Chicago, Burlington & Quincy No. 4735, this stainless steel Vista-Dome coach raced between Chicago and Denver on a daily basis until 1980. Originally named Silver Buckle, she was part of the last 2 complete conventional train sets to be ordered in the pre-Amtrak era and traveled over 4.5 million miles.
The Frisco Cimarron River (original #1466) which was built by Pullman Standard in 1948 as a 14 roomette-4 double bedroom sleeper for the Frisco Railway's streamlined "Meteor". The "Meteor" ran from St. Louis Union Station to Oklahoma and had through sleepers to Chicago, New York and Washington. The sleepers were all named for rivers along the train's route. The Frisco substantially reduced their passenger system 1965 and the Cimarron River and other sleepers were sold to the Canadian National Railway. The Canadian National rebuilt the car, removed the stainless steel fluted siding and renamed the car Rainbow Falls. The interior configuration was not changed. VIA Rail Canada assumed ownership of the car in the late 1970's and repainted it blue. In 1981, VIA discontinued many trains and Rainbow Falls was surplus to their needs. In June 1983, two brothers, Andy and Tony Marchiando, bought the car from VIA. The car was returned home to St. Louis and renovation work began. The exterior is now repainted in the original colors and lettering.
Pacific Sands first operated by the Pullman Company until the late 60's, when the Pullman Company was dissolved and operation of the cars was taken over by the Union Pacific Railroad. Pacific Sands was a regular on all of the "City" trains—the City of Portland, City of Los Angeles, and City of San Francisco among others, and provided classic Pullman service in its 6 double bedrooms and 10 single roomettes until Amtrak’s formation on April 1, 1971.
Silver Solarium was built in 1948 by the Budd Co. for the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad. It was one of the six dome-sleeper-observation cars specifically built for the California Zephyr. Ownership of the car was transferred to Amtrak in 1970 after more than 20 years of service between Chicago and San Francisco, and Amtrak retired the car in 1980. Silver Solarium was placed in storage for decades and fell into disrepair until Amtrak sold it to a private owner. Today, Silver Solarium has been fully renovated and has been operating as a private car, delighting passengers with stunning views from its vista dome and observation lounge. The private railcar, Santa Fe No. 33, "The Redwood Empire," was built by the Pullman Manufacturing Company in 1923 for the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway (AT&SF). Most railroads utilized similar passenger cars, known in the rail industry as "business cars," for senior executives. The Redwood Empire is a heavyweight, riveted, all-steel car with a Mission Revival interior of quarter-sawn white oak, built-in cabinets, trim, paneling, and mostly brass fixtures.
Designed as a self-contained residence on rails, this car and its sisters were utilized by Santa Fe executives from its four Grand Divisions—Eastern, Western, Gulf, and Coast Lines—to do the company's business. That included inspecting track and right-of-way, serving as a temporary residence on construction sites, and, since it was equipped with a full kitchen and dining room, providing a hospitable venue to entertain local businesspeople patronizing Santa Fe's freight service.
In 1969, AT&SF sold Number 33 to the Atlantic Richfield Corp. It was sold again in the 1980s when it bore the name "Tamalpais." As Mount Tamalpais is the dominant peak in the county just north of the Golden Gate, it reflected the locale of many of its then-owners. Redwood Empire Railcar, LLC, a California limited liability company, and SF-PV, LLC, a California limited liability company, are the current owners of the car. The current owners chose to retain the Marin, Sonoma, and Mendocino identity and the area's Northwestern Pacific Railroad heritage by renaming the car the "Redwood Empire" while retaining the Number "33" car designation.
If anyone has any history on the Silver Foot, I'd appreciate see it.