Canadian Pacific acquires former Southern Pacific dome car

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The former Southern Pacific dome passes Davenport Iowa on June 1, 2018, on Canadian Pacific train No. 475.
Erik Rasmussen
CALGARY, Alberta – Canadian Pacific has acquired a former Southern Pacific three-quarter-length dome car. Railroad spokesman Andy Cummings confirms the purchase to Trains News Wire. The car was purchased from Colorado’s Royal Gorge Route Railroad, where it had been in storage. After rebuilding it will join Canadian Pacific’s extensive business car fleet. The car was moved on a TTX flatcar from Colorado to Calgary in late May and early June. The car will require extensive rebuilding before returning to service.

SP’s seven dome cars were unique in several aspects. The railroad claimed that most dome cars were too tall to fit through its tunnels, so it designed and built its own domes out of older cars. They were designed by Frank H. Stengle Jr. and built by SP at its Sacramento Shops during 1954 and 1955 for service on the San Joaquin Daylight, Shasta Daylight, and the San Francisco Overland between Ogden, Utah, and Oakland, Calif. They were later used on the Coast Daylight between Los Angeles and San Francisco and the City of San Francisco.

Budd built the upper dome portions of the cars. At 15-feet, 2-inches tall, they had the shortest dome height of any dome car constructed, which virtually eliminated forward visibility. Further, they weren’t full-length domes – the dome only ran three-quarters of the length of the car. Rather than having all seats immediately under the dome as most cars had, SP cars had two levels. At “ground” level there was a 20-seat lounge with the dome high overhead. The lounge’s side windows were five feet wide, and with an 11-foot high partial glass ceiling the lounge was a sea of glass. Stairs went from the lounge to the dome – SP called them the “Stairway to the Stars.” The first four cars had seating for 58 on the upper level, while the last three seated 52 on the upper level. The portion of the car without the dome contained a small kitchen.

The Canadian Pacific car was fabricated from SP tavern car No. 10312, built by Pullman Standard in 1937, and was outshopped in May 1955 for Shasta Daylight service. It became Amtrak No. 9374 in 1972, and was retired in 1981. In May 1981 it was sold to a private individual who shipped it to Colorado Springs, Colo., for use as an office. The car was sold again in 1985 and was to go to a planned railroad museum in California. In preparation for the trip west the car was moved to Denver, but the museum plan fell through. In 1991 it was sold to Californian Bill Wallace, who used it in excursion service for Bananafish Tours in Mexico until 1993. It was then sold to a Mexican company and stored until Wallace repurchased it in mid-1995. He had it refurbished and rebuilt as a dome/sleeper/lounge and used it Copper Canyon excursion service in Mexico. In 2000 it was sold to the Royal Gorge Route and was placed in storage in Canon City, since the railroad had already purchased three other full-length domes.

In addition to the car owned by CP, four other SP cars survive, but only one is in railroad service. No. 3605 is painted in Kansas City Southern’s “Southern Belle” colors, named Rio Chagres, and used on Panama Canal Railway passenger trains between Panama City and Colon.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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