Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Got a little baggage?

The Great Northern Railway is one of the Northwest's greatest railways and the Northwest Railway Museum is delighted to have baggage car 485 in its collection. The 485 was built in 1921 by Pullman as heavy weight sleeper Epicurus, which was owned and operated by that company as part of their famous sleeping car service. Following retirement in 1948, Great Northern purchased this and several additional cars to convert to rider mail storage cars, which appeared as baggage cars for many passengers on trains of that day.  Later, the car was assigned to the maintenance of way department and carried car number 968060, and as its final assignment was used as part of the Burlington Northern Railroad's Operation Lifesaver public crossing safety outreach program.  The car was donated to the Northwest Railway Museum in 1986. 

Recently, 485 received some limited rehabilitation. Deteriorated external panels at each corner were renewed and some minor body defects were repaired. The car body was smoothed and primed.  There were minor mechanical repairs performed.  Then the spectacular orange and green "Empire Builder" paint scheme was applied.  Time constrains imposed by this year's Santa Train schedule did not allow lettering to be applied at this time, and the three inch gray stripe along the bottom is temporarily missing too.  But given its prior oxide brown exterior, the recent work represents a positive step forward in responsible collection care.  The total investment is more than $7,500 and benefited from the contribution of more that 400 volunteer hours, including the invaluable assistance of trustees from a local prison.  Kudos to the Museum's staff shipwright Gary James who did all the layout, which was a vital yet particularly tedious part of the job.  And special thanks to the fine folks at the Minnesota Transportation Museum in Minneapolis who shared the paint color codes.