Maybe once or twice a year, Amtrak 4 is running late enough to meet Amtrak 3 in Bernalillo, NM. June 25, 2018 was one of those rare moments.
What made this event more interesting was Amtrak 4 had the Silver Rapids and Silver Solarium on the rear and Amtrak 3 had the Puget Sound.
Special thanks to the engineers who wave, say "Hi", and blow their horns for those of us that get out in the 100 degree heat to shoot video of their trains.
Few people realize that the California Zephyr partner railroads included the Pennsylvania and the New York Central, in order to provide transcontinental sleeper service. The Pennsylvania Railroad purchased a roomette-bedroom sleeper, Silver Rapids, identical to the other CZ sleepers, in order to fulfill its obligation. When transcontinental sleeper service ended in 1957, the car acquired a black roof and “Pennsylvania” on the upper signboards. The Silver Rapids was purchased from the estate of rail videographer David Goodheart, who bought the car from Amtrak in 1985, and passed away in 2004.
Today Silver Rapids has 6 bedrooms accommodating 2 persons each. Each bedroom contains an enclosed annex with toilet and sink. Each pair of bedrooms opens ensuite for families or friends who wish to travel together.
Silver Rapids also has 8 roomettes, which accommodate single travelers. Each roomette has a sink in the room. The total sleeping capacity, therefore, is 20.
A shower-changing room has been added for the convenience of guests, as well as a galley station providing hot and cold beverages.
Conceived as ‘the last word’ in train travel, the Silver Solarium combines all the best features of luxury rail travel in one car. Its 3 bedrooms, 1 drawing room, and 1 master room accommodate a maximum of 11 people overnight (nine guests plus two staff if traveling solo). All bedrooms are equipped with enclosed restrooms and showers. This is the ideal car for small groups traveling on longer itineraries.
Silver Solarium has a classic round end, or boat-tail observation lounge with comfortable seating for 10 guests. Twenty four guests are accommodated for meals and sightseeing in Silver Solarium’s Vista-Dome.
Silver Solarium features an owner's Stateroom, which has booth seating that makes down into a double bed at night. The Stateroom has a generous closet and an annex with toilet, sink, and shower.
Built in 1955 for the Great Northern Railway by The Budd Company, the Puget Sound (GN-1323) traveled the Empire Builder route between Chicago, Seattle & Portland. It later did service on Amtrak’s western routes (Amtrak 9463) until retired in 1985. It was acquired by the current owners in the late 1990’s and was completely refurbished in 2001. Owned by Puget Sound Inc. the rail car has been in private and charter service since then. Owned by Puget Sound Inc. with overlapping ownership with Sierra Hotel Railway Inc., the Puget Sound was originally designed to run with the Sierra Hotel and the two cars complement each other nicely with the rear platform and copious lounge space in the Sierra Hotel, and the larger bedrooms with their own shower and toilet on the Puget Sound.
The Chapel Hill was originally built in 1922 for Post Cereals Heiress, Marjorie Merriweather Post, and stock broker and investment banker E.F. Hutton, at the St. Charles, Missouri plant of American Car & Foundry in Lot 9336 to Plan 2081.
Originally christened Hussar, the car was used for company business and personal travel between their principal residence in New York City; their Hispanic-Moresque winter estate, "Mar-a-lago", in Palm Beach; and Camp Topridge, the couple’s summer retreat in the Adirondacks of upstate New York. It was also used extensively for entertainment, as Post was known as a lavish hostess.
The Huttons divorced in 1935 and the Hussar became a part of Post’s settlement. She later remarried Joseph E. Davies, a Washington, D.C. attorney and ambassador to the Soviet Union and Belgium. After the Davies left for the Soviet Union in 1937, the Hussar was sold to the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway.
The Chesapeake & Ohio Railway – Office Car 3 Shortly after the car was acquired, a Pullman air-conditioning system, complete with roof ducting, was installed. The Hussar was renamed simply Office Car 2. It was renumbered several times before finally settling on Office Car 3.
In 1957, the Chesapeake & Ohio (C&O) modernized the entire window line. Other exterior changes through the years included roller bearings added to the trucks, a rebuilt open-platform and the service door relocated to the opposite side of the car, across from the kitchen and pantry.
DeWitt Chapple, Jr. purchased Office Car 3 from C&O in 1971. Chapple retained the car’s number, but added the name Chapel Hill after his alma mater, the University of North Carolina, in Chapel Hill.
Chapple’s interest in private cars stems from early school years. He was a guest of Frank Pidcock III on the Georgia Northern’s business car Moultrie, which later became the Gold Coast, the first private car owned by Lucius Beebe and Charles Clegg. It is now an honored show piece at the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento.
In 1972, Chapple made his first private car trip aboard the now renamed Chapel Hill to Philadelphia on the rear of the National Limited. Since then he has accumulated over 250,000 miles aboard the Chapel Hill both in the United States and Canada.
The Chapel Hill has the further distinction of being one of three private cars in attendance at the American Association of Private Railroad Car Owners (AAPRCO) first private car convention in Chicago in 1978. DeWitt Chapple was also a founding member of AAPRCO and served as its president in 2004 and 2005. DeWitt has attended all 37 annual AAPRCO conventions since its inception, and the Chapel Hill has attended 30+ AAPRCO conventions.
Rich in history, the Chapel Hill continues its travels throughout the United States today, logging thousands of miles annually. In 2009, Jeff and Tracy McClorey sold their share of Chapel Hill, to John and Anne Atherton, and Lee and Lisa Nordloh in order to concentrate on Bromwell’s. In 2012 the Nordlohs sold their interest in Chapel Hill in order for Lee to concentrate on his surveying business. At that time Mark and Karen Werner were welcomed into the Chapel Hill family as partners.