901 West Pratt St., Baltimore, MD 21223
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Detailed Information

 

Name: BOMX Royal Blue

Other Numbers: NYC No. 50, KCS No. 46, KCS No. 43, NYC No. 48*, MARC No. 1

Railroad of Record: New York Central Railroad

Type of Car: Round End Observation Car; Tavern-Lounge Observation Car

Manufactured by: BUDD Company

Date Built: 1948


In March 1944, the New York Central Railroad ordered four round end observation cars from the Budd Company. They were delivered in February 1948 and numbered 48-51. The cars featured a buffet and seating for up to fifty three passengers. Through the next decade, all four cars were used on prominent passenger lines. Two of the cars were assigned to the Pacemaker, No. 50 to the James Whitcomb Riley, and one was a spare. The Pacemaker was NYC’s all-coach train between Chicago and New York City. The James Whitcomb Riley ran between Chicago, Indianapolis, and Cincinnati. NYC No. 50 was attached to this route from 1948-1958.

During the 1960s, with rail passenger service in decline, many railroads began shedding extra or non-essential equipment, including observation cars. In 1960, all four cars were sold to Kansas City Southern Railroad, renumbered, and changed to the KCS paint scheme. NYC No. 50 was renumbered to KCS No. 46. In 1963, No. 46 was sent to the Pullman Company where two windows were removed, seating arrangement changed, and the buffet replaced with an 8 seat lunch counter. With these modifications, the car was reclassified as a Tavern-Lounge Observation Car. At some point in the 1960s KCS No. 46 was renumbered to 43.

In 1969, KCS cancelled passenger service. KCS No. 43 was stored at the shops in Pittsburgh, Kansas. In 1970, the car was officially retired and then sold to William B. Stewart. The new private owner inquired about the origins of the car and received a letter from a KCS mechanical officer, who identified the car as NYC No. 48. With this information Stewart went about restoring the car to its original New York Central appearance and number. He worked with Danville Industries, Inc., out of Danville, Illinois. Once there, the black, yellow, and red paint scheme was removed. The seating had been reupholstered to a teal colored vinyl, which was reverted back to a fabric. Teal colored tile had also been added, which was replaced with carpet.

From 1971-1972, the car operated on several charter trips along its original route: the James Whitcomb Riley, now a part of Penn Central. It also saw some use on Amtrak’s National Limited to St. Louis and return. In 1973-74, Penn Central discontinued switching service in the downtown Indianapolis area, insurance rates for private car operations began climbing, and Amtrak sought other routes for its trains in Indiana, due to seriously deteriorating track conditions on Penn Central. It was at this time that State Shows, Inc. of Florida approached the owner and made him and offer on the car, which he accepted.

In 1978, John Hickman and business associate Bill Jenkins purchased the car from States Shows, Inc., converted it to head-end power, and operated it on an Amtrak charter service; based in Washington, D.C. Mr. Hickman and Mr. Jenkins subsequently sold the car. In 1992, the car was acquired by Kasten Railcar Services Inc., of Illinois.

Around 1995, Kasten traded the car to MARC for ten RDC cars. MARC had Kasten retruck the car to PRR trucks for commonality with the MARC Heritage car fleet. MARC upgraded the car to a Stadco generator, Moran HVAC control, installed emergency glass windows, and renumbered MARC No. 1. The car operated on about five special events and was used as a meeting room on special occasions. In 2003, MARC signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum. This MOU allowed the Museum to use the car to provide HEP power for the MARC donated Heritage coaches being used by the Museum for its Mile One Express train ride. On October 14, 2009 the car was officially donated to the B&O Railroad Museum.

Initially, MARC No. 1 was accessible from Platform 2. It was used for private catered events and photo shoots. From 2012-2016, the car was modified or restored. On the exterior, the blue and orange MARC decals and coloring were removed and changed to blue & yellow, the paint scheme for the BOMX fleet. The car was renamed to Royal Blue, after the famous passenger line of the B&O Railroad. In 2016, the car was re carpeted and the 8 bar stools were removed for ease of access. By early 2017, the museum began offering a regular “First Class”
Train Ride experience for visitors.

*From 1970-2017, the car was identified as NYC No. 48. This misidentification stemmed from inaccurate information from the Kansas City Southern Railway to the first private owner. While working on the exterior in 1973, the owner noticed the outline of the number “50” on the rear door, which was different than the information given to him by KCS. Despite this observation, the owner continued restoring the car as No. 48, relying on the information that had been provided. Based on this story, archival research, and Amtrak records, the car is undoubtedly NYC No. 50.

 


 

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