Silver Club arrives in time to 'wow' passengers

Former Burlington Route dome car received top-to-bottom restoration; delivered with less than a day to spare
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DomeAfter
Silver Club dome car seating after restoration.
Josh Miller, North Shore Scenic Railroad
DomeBefore
Interior shots of the former Burlington Route Silver Club dome car gutted and just prior to restoration.
Brandon Smith
DULUTH, Minn. — Just in time for the annual Grandma’s Marathon excursion train on June 17, ex-Burlington Route dome car Silver Club entered service on the Lake Superior Railroad Museum’s North Shore Scenic Railroad. The car arrived in Duluth from Minneapolis on BNSF Railway the night before the trip.

The car, built in 1948 for the famed California Zephyr streamliner, underwent an extensive restoration over the last two years at the Friends of the 261 shop in Minneapolis. Included were new wheels, new heating and air conditioning systems, and new windows. Dirk Lenthe of Fargo, N.D., a long-time supporter of the museum, donated the car to the museum.

In addition to mechanical work, the interior of the car was gutted when it was received by the museum. Friends of the 261 passenger car specialist Justin Young and other workers transformed the interior with new seats and tables in the dome, wood-wall paneling, new paint and lightening, booth seating and several lounge chairs. Still to come are a new bathroom and restoration of a dorm/bedroom area. The car will provide First Class lounge service on North Shore’s route.

The Budd Co. built Silver Club as a dormitory-buffet-lounge. As built, it had two dormitory rooms, one for the food steward, and one for the Zephyrette attendants who functioned as social directors, tour guides, babysitters, and nurses on the train. In the early 1960s, the cars were rebuilt by the Burlington, which installed the Cable Car Room: a San Francisco themed lounge-food area under the dome. Museum officials hope to restore the Cable Car Room to its as-built appearance, minus the wall photo of San Francisco, substituting a photo of Duluth and its famous aerial lift bridge instead.

After the end of California Zephyr service in March 1970, Silver Club remained in service for CB&Q successor Burlington Northern until 1971 when it was sold to Amtrak and renumbered 9810. It was retired in October 1981. After passing through several owners, it was purchased by Lenthe who donated it to the museum in 2011.

The car made its first trips during Friends of the 261 excursions pulled by Milwaukee Road 4-8-4 No. 261 on the Red River Valley & Western Railroad in North Dakota earlier this month.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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