Quick Facts

Name"John T. Collinson"
Manufacture Date1917
Railroad Of RecordChicago & Alton Railroad, B&O Railroad
ManufacturerChicago & Alton Railroad
Rolling Stock TypeOffice Car


Virtual Tour:

Visual Tour Description:


The Collinson is painted navy along the top and bottom of the car, one thick stripe and two thin parallel strips run horizontally along the center on both sides. Each side features several rectangular windows placed with the thick gray stripe. Above the stripes, written in yellow is “BALTIMORE AND OHIO” and below also written is yellow is the number 908. The backend of the railcar has an observation deck with steps and black safety railing.


The interior of the Collinson features several rooms. Upon entry is a room with wooden paneling on the walls and navy upholstered seating. As you move back there is a small office space with white walls, a wooden desk and typewriter. Next is a bedroom also with white walls and a small twin sized bed. In the Center is a larger dining space with a wooden table and cabinetry on either side. Further back is another bedroom and a bathroom space. Each of these rooms are quite small but feature beds, curtains, and a full size rectangular window.

About the B&O No. 908 “John T. Collinson” Office Car

The B&O No. 908 is a private office rail car named in memory of John T. Collinson, President of the B&O from 1979 to 1983. Built in 1917 by the Chicago & Alton Railroad, the heavyweight coach was primarily used by B&O Railroad executives, like Collinson, for their right-of-way inspection trips and business excursions. In an era predating air travel, these luxury office cars were the equivalent of private jets.

Following the Civil War and the era of Reconstruction, America entered a period of rapid economic growth that would later be named the “Gilded Age.” It was then that many successful railroads began producing luxurious office cars for their officials, stockholders, and wealthy patrons. Nicknamed the “mansions of the rails,” private coaches were thoughtfully designed, built, and decorated to meet their owners’ corporate, domestic, recreational needs.

Office cars typically feature a backward-facing observation deck where passengers can enjoy panoramic views of the scenery. Most include a dining space/conference room, as well as a fully stocked galley. Like many private cars, the Collinson was serviced by two crew members: a top-tier chef to prepare gourmet meals at the passengers’ request, and a courteous porter to deliver food, prepare drinks, and ensure the riders’ comfort.

By the dawn of the 20th Century, there were about 2,000 office cars on the American railroad, 19 of which belonged to the B&O. Though private cars such as these were initially built for railroad officials, it would not be long before they became the preferred means of transportation among celebrities and politicians. As the ultimate display of wealth and status, some members of high society would use a private locomotive to pull their office cars. It was more common, however, for a private car to hitch a ride on the back of whatever passenger train was moving in the ideal direction. In the early 1970s, new Amtrak regulations prevented office cars from joining public trains. Consequently, many elites abandoned their private coaches in favor of private jets.


Monthly Tours

Go inside the No. 908

April 10, 13 & 14

Climb aboard the PEPCO No. 43

May 8, 11 & 12

Climb aboard the No. 1961!

June 12, 15 & 16

Go inside the B&O C-1775 Wooden Bobber Caboose

July 10, 13 & 14

Purchase a B&O Membership

for the ultimate ticket to explore every hidden gem in the series!

Did You Know?

The first passenger train ticket in the United States was sold on our historic site in 1830.

Anaheim, CA

The roundhouse was my favorite part, because it gives a true feel for what goes on in a roundhouse—the cars are stationary, but seeing the actual tracks is eye-opening.

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