The Alton after
by Gulf Coast Railroad Museum volunteers.
Photo by Don Kendall.
GM&O parlor car Alton is
one of four
identical cars built by American Car & Foundry (ACF) of St. Louis
the railroad. These cars provided first class service on the
Chicago to St. Louis streamliners Abraham Lincoln and Anne
The Alton was ordered by the GM&O in January 1947, and was
by ACF in December 1947 or January 1948. The other cars were
(numbered) Springfield (2107), Bloomington (2108) and St.
The cars remained in Chicago-St.
until 1971, when the National Railroad Passenger Corp. (AMTRAK) took
operation of most passenger trains in the U.S. AMTRAK did not
the four cars for its truncated service network, and all were
In 1972, the Alton was sold
Railroad Car Parts, a scrap dealer based near Longview, Texas.
car served as an office and later for storage space. A Gulf Coast
Railroad Museum member brought the car to the attention of the museum’s
board of directors, which negotiated its purchase in 1993. The
cost to purchase and move the car to Houston was paid for by donations
from museum members and the general public. The car is now used
museum meetings and other events.
The Alton is representative
of the streamline
era of American passenger railroading. However, the Alton
is not a lightweight streamlined car such as those produced by other
builders of the period. Rather, the car is built with traditional
heavyweight construction techniques, using riveted steel extensively,
rides on three-axle trucks, a type generally not found on lightweight
Interior fixtures are representative
of the era.
Originally fitted with 26 parlor seats and a five-seat drawing room, in
later years two more parlor seats were added to increase
The car essentially is a modified coach, with a luggage area
inside the vestibule door and overhead luggage racks above the parlor
only six of which remain. The drawing room incorporates a private
toilet, and individual men’s and women’s toilets with annexes are
at the rear (non-vestibule) end of the car. The women’s toilet
incorporates a mirrored, two-seat makeup lounge.
The Alton moved from the scrap yard
to the museum in Houston on its own wheels thanks to the efforts of
Coast Railroad Museum volunteers, employees of Southwest Railroad Car
and Union Pacific staff in Longview. Thanks to them all!
Above and two photos below, the Alton as we
first saw it.