Restored dome car to make debut on fall 261 trips

Trains Industry Newsletter
Get a weekly roundup of the industry news you need.
By signing up you may also receive occasional reader surveys and special offers from Trains magazine. View our privacy policy.
'Silver Palace' before the seats and dome glass were reinstalled.
Terry Chicwak
MINNEAPOLIS – A restored California Zephyr dome car will make its debut this weekend on Friends of the 261 steam excursions pulled by Milwaukee Road 4-8-4 No. 261. Budd built the car, former Western Pacific dome coach Silver Palace, in 1948. The Friends are operating “Gourmet Express” steam excursions over the Twin Cities & Western Railroad out of Minneapolis Sept. 8-9.

At its Minneapolis shop Friends of the 261 employees and volunteers led by passenger car specialist Justin Young installed all new dome windows, removed paint and a red painted band from the side of the car, replaced damaged side windows, repaired the head end power system, updated the car to Amtrak standards, rebuilt generators, performed electrical clean ups and updates, serviced the plumbing system, serviced and repaired the HVAC system, and put in new window sills. New custom carpet was installed, as was LED lighting.

The former WP car was named Silver Palace and numbered 813 when the Budd Co. delivered it to Western Pacific for the Chicago to Oakland California Zephyr. It remained in Zephyr service from 1949 until the train was discontinued in March 1970; it was 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 Wisconsin Central bought the car in 1998 for use on subsidiary Algoma Central Railway’s Agawa Canyon Tour Train. Canadian National gained ownership of the car when it acquired Wisconsin Central in 2001. The Friends purchased the car from CN along with another dome in December 2017.

With completion of Silver Palace, there are now two former California Zephyr dome cars operating in Minnesota. The North Shore Scenic Railroad operates former Burlington dome lounge Silver Club on its line between Duluth and Two Harbors.

For more information, go to
Leave a Comment
Want to leave a comment?
Only registered members of are allowed to leave comments. Registration is FREE and only takes a couple minutes.

Login or Register now.
Please keep your feedback on-topic and respectful. Trains staffers reserve the right to edit or delete any comments.
Winter on the Rails

Winter on the Rails

Railroading to the arctic.


Learn more about the stories and photos in this months issue

Newsletter Sign-Up

By signing up you may also receive occasional reader surveys and special offers from Trains magazine.Please view our privacy policy
Subscribe Up To 54% off the newsstand price!
Subscribe To Trains Mag Today