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The Cafe Lafayette Dinner Train Trip 6/21/2015

by Chris Guenzler

Robin and I drove from the Parker's Motel to the boarding site of the Cafe Lafayette Dinner Train and we picked up our tickets for the trip this evening. Due to a damaged bridge our run would only be going just over 3 miles down the railroad.

The Kitchen Car where all food is cooked and is fresh. The Cafe Lafayette Dinner Train is celebrating its 25 years of service in 2015. The Cafe Lafayette Dinner Train has been operating as a fine dining dinner train excursion since the spring of 1989. There are only 12 moving dinner trains in all of North America, making The Cafe Lafayette a very unique attraction. Being one of only a handful of Dinner Trains worldwide with a complete kitchen car cooking fresh food to order while underway has earned us a spot in the Wall Street Journal's feature of only four fine dining Dinner Trains worldwide.

The "Granite Eagle". Originally built for the Missouri-Pacific Railroad, operating from St. Louis Missouri to San Antonio Texas in the mid 1950's, she was soon acquired by the Illinois Central RR and run on train 1; "The City of New Orleans" immortalized written by Chicago native Steve Goodman and released in 1971. It was based on a train trip he took on the Illinois Central Railroad, and later Arlo Guthrie. The retired and unusual dome car was found sitting idle in Pittsburgh, Kansas in the late fall of 1995 and quickly purchased by the Cafe Lafayette. It was brought across the United States by rail and refurbished in the engine house of the Hobo Railroad during the winter of 1996, put into service for the spring season, and remains our flagship car. Only two of these original dome cars are known to have avoided the scrap yard and remain today.

The Cafe Lafayette Dinner Train station building in Lincoln, New Hampshire.

The "Indian Waters". This beautifully restored 1924 Pullman dining car was originally built as a lunch and lounge car for the New York Central RR. This car, the first in the Cafe Lafayette's history, was rebuilt from the trucks up in the Winnipesaukee Rail Yard by skilled craftsman and the original owner in the mid 1980's. It operated for two years on the Winnipesaukee Railroad before being moved to Lincoln in the summer of 1988, where it then operated for one year on the Hobo Railroad. The following year it was purchased and put into service for the Cafe Lafayette. We continue to operate the Indian Waters car through foliage season utilizing the original kitchen and bar for a truly unique dining experience.

The "Algonquin". A 1954 Canadian National RR Cafe Coach, this car was purchased in 1995 from the Canadian Government. Refurbishment began in the summer of 1999, and now its spacious and open interior makes it perfect for private parties, corporate outings, and weddings.

The caboose of the Cafe Lafayette Dinner Train.

Power car of the Cafe Lafayette Dinner Train.

Another view of the Cafe Lafayette Dinner Train station.

The Dinner Menu for tonight's Cafe Lafayette Dinner Train.

Out in front of the Cafe Lafayette Dinner Train parking lot.

Me at the Cafe Lafayette Dinner Train station. Next Robin and I boarded the train. This would be Robin's first dinner train experience.

This card gives you your seating table on the Cafe Lafayette Dinner Train

Our table settings on the Cafe Lafayette Dinner Train.

Views of our Dining Area on the Cafe Lafayette Dinner Train.

Robin making his first dinner train trip.

Me making my first trip on the Cafe Lafayette Dinner Train.

Fake luggage in the racks.

My car will be waiting when we return on the Cafe Lafayette Dinner Train.

Wesly Ross and his wife, NRHS members are on the train with us tonight.

A view into the kitchen where everything is cooked fresh on the Cafe Lafayette Dinner Train.


A Mason Jar holds my Coca-Cola on the Cafe Lafayette Dinner Train.

Our wonderful server is taking our orders for dinner.

The view of where you enter the parking lot.

My rental car wil wait for me to have a fantastic meal on the Cafe Lafayette Dinner Train.

Cafe Lafayette Dinner Train Background

This two-hour, 20 mile round trip will take you on a spur of the historic Boston and Maine Railroad laid in the late 1800's to serve the historic "Grand" Hotels of the region.

The popular 1952 Pullman Planetarium car, the Granite Eagle, is an unusual tri-level car with an upper observation dome that also has windows fore and aft, giving the diner views forwards and back while the car is underway. There are also two coach-level sections, and a sunken lounge. This car was the very first DOME car to enter New Hampshire when brought from Kansas by rail in the winter of 1995. The Algonquin 1953 X-CNR Cafe coach, with its spacious and open interior is perfect for private parties, weddings, corporate outings and bus groups. The older car, the Indian Waters, is an exquisite 1924 Pullman-Standard Victorian Coach, filled with brass, stained glass and deeply aged woods.

These three unique dining cars will offer spectacular views of the picturesque Pemigewasset River with its surrounding fields and forests. In the spring and summer keep your eyes peeled for moose, deer and bear while waving to the canoeists and kayakers floating lazily down the river. Observe the spectacular foliage right outside your window in the fall. 6000 watts of halogen flood lights illuminate the outside scenery for excellent nighttime viewing all year long. We travel rain or shine.

Our goals

We invite you to escape the ordinary and relive the romance of dining on the rails. Experience this while riding in one of three beautifully restored Pullman dining cars, enjoying five courses of fine food and spirits served to you in the Grand European manner. With salad greens, herbs and edible flowers fresh from our gardens: always fresh meats, poultry, seafood and homemade rolls through dessert, you are guaranteed the unusual and the delicious. As dinner is served, period music keeps time with the rail's rhythmic rumbling, punctuated by the haunting wail of the engine's whistle. With magnificent mountain vistas and lush New England forests surrounding The Cafe Lafayette Dinner Train, you are assured of having the best seat in the house, all evening long. After dinner, with the compartment lights down low and the dramatic sunset outside your window, you may allow yourself a wistful romantic journey back in time, and you might wish the evening would never end.

Our Trip

We left the parking lot and headed out into the New Hampshire woods at 5:00 PM.

The dinner train follows the Pemigewasset River.

We were each given a big diner roll which tasted really great.

A view looking down the end of the road through a tree tunnel.

I love travelling through the forest.

The train crossed this highway.

The forest.

Rails at a staging location on this railroad.

More views along the Pemigewasset River.

Passing through the New Hampshire forest.

The fan on our table.

Views of the sky.

My Top Sirloin was excellent!

a candy for one dessert.

Interesting sky aboard the Cafe Lafayette Dinner Train.

More views of the Pemigewasset River.

The candle on our table.

The Pemigewasset River.

Large ferns along our route.

Views of the Pemigewasset River.

The chocolate mousse dessert I was served.

The Cafe Lafayette Dinner Train flyer.

Large ferns are in this forest. We returned to the boarding area after a fantastic meal aboard the Cafe Lafayette Dinner Train. We could now tour the entire train.

Views inside of the Kitchen Car.

Views inside of the Granite Eagle.

Views inside of the Algonquin.

Views inside of the Indian Waters.

A view down the side of the Cafe Layfette Dinner Train.

Hobo Railroad S-1 958 pulled our dinner train tonight and headed back to the Hobo Railroad. I exited the train. A special thank you to the Cafe Layfette Dinner Train for having us aboard their train this evening. We left the parking lot to find more Hobo Railroad equipment.