The Mysterious “Golden Era” Passenger Railcars On The Northeast Corridor

The Pullman car "Babbling Brook"

The Pullman car “Babbling Brook”

Sometimes, very rarely, but sometimes, when taking a train into New York City, just after you pass through Newark, you can glimpse a jewel from a bygone era, a vintage Pullman or classic railcar.  Curious when I first saw one, I dug into some research and it turns out that you can rent them and, for a fee, Amtrak will, basically, tow you and your group along for the ride.  I’d imagine it would be a great way to take a trip across America, although starting in the industrial graveyards of Newark wouldn’t be a scenic place to begin your journey.  Apologies for the blurry-cams, that’s the consequence of only getting to see this on a train nearing full speed.

The Babbling Brook (above) was built for the New York Central Railroad in 1949.  Having problems competing with inexpensive and faster air travel, the heyday for passenger rail travel in the U.S. was ending, and the car was sold to Canadian Pacific Railroad in 1957.  Passenger jets and still cheaper air travel finally caught up to Babbling Brook, and, in 1969, the car was sold to the Quebec Mining Company, where it was used as the official car for executives.  Since 1986 the car has been in private ownership, available for rental.  Sleeping for 8, with buffet, observation lounge, full service kitchen, shower, and separate water and fuel tanks.

The Pullman car "Hickory Creek"

The Pullman car “Hickory Creek”

The Hickory Creek was built in 1948, again, for the New York Central Railroad, and was christened by Dwight Eisenhower.  As with the Babbling Brook, the Hickory Creek was retired after only about a decade in service, but has been fully restored to its former glory as an observation & parlor car.

The Louisville & Nashville "Ohio River" car

The Louisville & Nashville “Ohio River” car

Information about this car is hard to come by, but the Ohio River was built in 1926 for the Louisville & Nashville Railroad, a “Golden Era” leader in passenger rail travel.  The car is held by a private owner, and currently assocaited with the Morristown & Erie Railway, and was recently publicly featured in celebrations for the 100th anniversary of Grand Central Terminal.

Mike Knotts

Mike Knotts was born in 1968 in a small town in southern Indiana, and, even when very young, showed a love for all-things technical and sci-fi. Moving to California and graduating UC Santa Barbara with a degree in History, Mike continued to pursue his passions, working at ISPs in the early-1990's. Currently living in New York City, Mike is a project manager for an Internet startup and a co-founder of Geekometry.

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