96. Chicago Burlington & Quincy Business Car No. 96 (S)
Car 96 was built for the Chicago, Burlington and Northern Railroad by Barney and Smith in 1886 and became car B-99. The CB&N was the Burlington’s line to Minneapolis and Saint Paul at the time. The car was renumbered Chicago, Burlington and Quincy car 90 in the mid-1890s. Completely rebuilt in the Aurora, Illinois shops in 1896 or 1906 – sources differ -- the car acquired the number 96.
The car, used for business, usually by a vice president or the president of the railroad, was staffed by three individuals: a male private secretary, a steward, and a chef The black call buttons throughout the car summoned the secretary, and the white buttons called for the steward, who could identify which area of the car had originated the call through an annunciator panel located to the right of his cabin doorway and the associated legend to the left.
The furnishings and paneling in the car are comprised of a mix of Honduran mahogany and quarter-sawn oak. The stained-glass clerestory glass is original. The car could sleep twelve: Four in the observation lounge in two upper berths and two pull-out berths; two in each stateroom; two in the conference or dining room and two in the crew compartment.
The car was originally constructed from wood. The exterior steel sheathing was added in 1925. In 1958, the large windows were added.
During its early years, the car was used by then Burlington President Charles E. Perkins. His name may be familiar to you – he’s famous for having donated his ranch near Colorado Springs to become The Garden of the Gods.
In 1959, the car was retired from service on the Burlington. The car was placed in storage until early 1962, when it was acquired by the Intermountain Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society. The car traveled over 25 thousand miles on six different railroads in excursion service with the Society until 1971, when it was retired to the Colorado Railroad Museum as it could not meet AmTrak’s mechanical standards.
Five years of extensive restoration were undertaken by the chapter, costing thirty thousand dollars, and culminating in 2002 in the car you see now. This included the carpet, reupholstery, wood refinishing, repainting, new blinds, and heat and air conditioning rework. (The “air conditioning,” by the way, consisted of undercar boxes which contained 500-pound blocks of ice. When the car moved, air circulated through the boxes and up through the floor grate in the hallway).
The car’s last run on the rails was August 5th, 1972, on an excursion train pulled by Union Pacific’s Northern number 844 – then bearing the number 8444.