October 28, 2011

Private Rail Cars

....not for the faint of heart or pocketbook, but oh so much fun!

Original California Zephyr cars, once jointly owned by three railroads are now popular as private rail cars. Here the Silver Solarium and the Silver Rapids are seen in the Portland Union Station. Photos Copyright: The Geester. 2011.

Today, American businesses send their Presidents to various parts of the world in their private jets. At the turn of the 19th century, the corporate jet was a private rail car. From individual cars to business cars, the companies kept their staff on the rails. Each Railroad had their favorite builder, but many of the cars we see on sidings today were built by Budd or Pullman.

Most cars today are owned by very rich people and to pay their fees are leased or rented. The top link below has many glorious photographs of private rail cars at a 2002 convention.

With apologies, poor quality photograhs of the Gold Coast. Photos Copyright: The Geester. 2008.

One of the most memorable of the rail historians was Lucius Beebe. He, with his partner Charles Clegg, bought and restored two rail cars in a most flamboyant fashion. In blurred photographs above, you can see the living room and the kitchen of the Gold Coast now in the collection of the California State Railroad Museum.

Private Railroad Car Links

Photos of Private Railcars Attending the 2002 Convention

Patron Express - Friday on 20/20 interview with Barbara Walters; Video clip here

California Zephyr.Org

California Zephyr Virtual Museum

Wikipedia on Private Railroad Cars

Washington Post Private Railroad Car article


Colonial Crafts Railcar.com

California Zephyr Charter

Rail Journeys West

Cincinnati Railway Dinner Train

Flickr Private Rail Car photographs

Private Car Ownership


  1. I want to have a private car like those guys on "The Wild Wild West!"

  2. Now that would be a fun ride. Imagine a murder mystery game on one of those trips.

    Love the name Zephyr. One of my cats, who happens to be that same silvery-grey (and white) shares its name.. minus the California part. ;)

  3. It would be a hoot to take a trip in something like that, especially in the mountains. Sigh, what luxury. Fun to think aobut though!

  4. Trains and Agathe Christie...perfect! Did not know this and thank you for your enlightenment. Yes, my foot is healing very nicely. Still pain, but I walked almost a third of a mile today up the road!!

  5. I love these photos. I have to confess, the first thought that came to mind was the old TV version of Wild Wild West, where the main characters often rode in a private car. Ah, decadence!

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  7. Excellent work,,Search the web for videos on how to build a train horn you'll crack up are exactly what they say. They are air conditioned and horns that were made for trains. You have heard of it. Stand on your car as you roll through your hood. Massive blast there.

  8. It would be a hoot to take a trip in something like that, especially in the mountains.
    Load Arm


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Peter in front of a wall sculpture. We were invited up to Peter Knego’s home to see the latest installation.   Abstract flat ...