Friends of the 261 acquires two dome cars

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Steve Glischinski
MINNEAPOLIS – The Friends of the 261, owners and operators of Milwaukee Road 4-8-4 No. 261, has purchased two dome cars from Canadian National. The cars are former Western Pacific California Zephyr dome coach Spirit of Superior and Algoma Central dome coach observation No. 901. The cars were last used on CN’s Algoma Central Railway Agawa Canyon Tour Train but have been stored for several years in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. CN gained ownership of the cars when it acquired Wisconsin Central and subsidiary Algoma Central in 2001. The cars are currently in transit from Canada to the Friends shop in Minneapolis.

The former WP car was named Silver Palace and numbered 813 when the Budd Co. delivered it to Western Pacific in 1948. It remained in Zephyr service until the train was discontinued in 1970, then was sold to Auto-Train. It went through a succession of owners, including country singer Merle Haggard, and was leased to operators such as Branson Scenic, White River Scenic, and RailCruise America before WC bought the car in 1998. It received a complete refurbishing in 2002. The car is Amtrak compatible and will enter service in 2018.

The Algoma Central dome was one 15 of the dome blunt-end observation cars with a bar and 37-passenger lounge ordered by Union Pacific from American Car & Foundry in November 1952, and delivered in February, March, and April 1955. UP received the car in February 1955 and assigned it to the City of Los Angeles. It was sold to Auto-Train in 1972 and renumbered 901. In late 1981 it was sold to a dealer, then in 1982 was sold to the Green Bay & Western Railroad for use as a business car. It was initially to be named Cross Lake but the name was never applied and was changed to Trempealeau River. WC acquired the GB&W in 1993, and in 1997 the car was moved to Algoma Central and renamed Algoma Country for use on the Agawa Canyon tour train. The car will need an overhaul before it can be returned to service.

With the addition of the two cars, the Friends will own cars built by the three major dome car builders: American Car & Foundry, Budd Co., and Pullman Standard. The Friends has owned P-S built Milwaukee Road full-length dome No. 53 since 2005. Two railroads, the Burlington and Southern Pacific, constructed dome cars in their shops.

Plans are to repaint the two domes into Milwaukee Road orange-and-maroon passenger colors as time and funding permit.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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