Tuesday, March 3, 2009

RR Observation Cars

An observation car is a type of railroad passenger car, generally operated in a passenger train consist as the last carriage. The walls of the car usually were curved together to form a large U shape, and larger windows were installed all around the end of the car.

At this end of the car, there was almost always a lounge where passengers could enjoy the view as they watched the track recede into the distance. The typical lightweight observation could include features of a coach, lounge, diner, or sleeper.

The cars were nearly universally removed from service on American railroads in the mid-1950s as a cost cutting measure in order to eliminate the need to “turn” the trains when operating out of stub end terminals.

New York Central Railroad Observation Car, Station, Croton-Harmon, New York, July 29, 1966 - Observation "Hickory Creek" on rear of the "20th Century Limited". (Photo credit: George W. Hamlin)

Northern Pacific Railway Observation Car, Union Station, Chicago, Illinois, August 16, 1966. (Photo credit: George W. Hamlin)

Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Observation Car, Union Terminal, Cincinnati, Ohio, August 20, 1966 - The Cincinnati Washington remnant of the "National Limited" after the through cars had been switched to the C&O's "George Washington" east of Cincinnati. (Photo credit: George W. Hamlin)

Louisville & Nashville Railroad Observation Car, Moore, Manassas, Virginia, April 29, 2007 - Privately owned "Royal Street", complete with "Crescent" tail sign, brings up the rear of Amtrak's "Cardinal" as it departs Manassas, following the "Crescent's" route into Washington. (Photo credit: George W. Hamlin)

LINK: Please visit George W. Hamlin's Website


Major Pepperidge said...

In the last photo, there is a car behind the observation car, it has a kind of "skylight". Was this just another kind of observation car?

Keith said...

What was the heyday of trains in the 20th century?

Viewliner Ltd. said...

Major: It was called a Domeliner observation car.

Keith: For steam it was the 30's and 40's. For diesel power it was the 1950's.

Ray Peacock said...

Obs cars were found in areas with low clearance, as opposed to domes which were used primarily on service west of Chicago, such as on the California Zephyr. The east coast had many low clearances, tunnels, etc. By the way, great photos Mr. Hamlin.

Lima Locomotive Works said...

Pretty private varnish.

Ugly signal bridges .

Gilbert B Norman said...

Mr. Viewliner, the generic term for a car with a glass encliosed raised area is a Dome Car. Domeliner was a trade mark of the Union Pacific Railroad for such a car.

Other terms and raods using them are as follows:

Vista Dome - CB&Q & Zephyr partners; Northern Pacific.

Lounge in the Sky - Northern Pacific

Super Dome - "my' Milwaukee RR (1970-81)

Great Dome - Great Northern

Planetarium - Missouri Pacific

Astra Dome - Union Pacific

Pleasure Dome - Santa Fe

Big Dome - Santa Fe

Viewliner Ltd. said...

Thank you Gilbert B Norman. I appreciate the additional information very much. I will be reading your blog. Richard.