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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 picked up our tickets for the trip this evening. Due to a damaged bridge, our run would be only going just over three miles down the railroad.

Cafe Lafayette Dinner Train kitchen car 2210, nee United States Army troop kitchen car 896xx built by St. Louis Car Company in 1953. This is where all food is cooked and is fresh.

The Cafe Lafayette Dinner Train was celebrating 25 years of service this year. It has been operating as a fine dining dinner train excursion since spring 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" built by Pullman-Standard and acquired by Missouri Pacific subsidiary International Great Northern in 1952. It operated from St. Louis Missouri to San Antonio, Texas in the mid 1950's as Missouri Pacific 596 then became Illinois Central 2211 in 1967 and in 1971, was sold to Joseph Brown of Tulsa, Oklahoma for use as the "Iron Horse Restaurant" then became several other restaurants before going to Iron Horse Railway Museum. In the early 1980's it was donated to Ford County Railroad Historical Society in Ford, Kansas then in the late 1980's, donated to Dodge City, Ford & Bucklin Railway for excursion use, moving to Dodge City, Kansas. It was traded to the Southeast Kansas Railway in 1991 and moved to Pittsburg Kansas and finally, sold in 1995 to the owners of the Cafe Lafayette Dinner Train.

The Cafe Lafayette Dinner Train station building in North Woodstock, New Hampshire, built in 2007.

Cafe Lafayette Dinner Train 221 "Indian Waters" built as a lunch-lounge car by Pullman in 1924 for New York Cental subsidiary Boston and Albany. It also served on the New York, Susquehanna and Western and Delaware and Hudson. 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 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 "Indian Waters" through foliage season utilizing the original kitchen and bar for a truly unique dining experience.

Cafe Lafayette Dinner Train cafe coach "Algonquin" built by Canadian Car and Foundry in 1954. It 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.

Pennsylvania Railroad caboose, number unknown, built by the railroad.

Canadian National Railways 8-4-4 sleeper 1140 "Enterprise" built by Pullman-Standard in 1954 and numbered 323 "Enterprise".

Another view of the station.

Tonight's dinner menu.

In front of the parking lot.

Me at the station. Next Robin and I boarded the train; this would be his first dinner train experience.

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

Our table settings.

Views of our dining area.

Robin making his first dinner train trip.

Me making my first trip on this particular dinner train.

The luggage in the racks are props.

Wesley Ross and his wife Shirley, NRHS members, were 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.

Our wonderful server was taking our dinner orders.

The view of where you enter the parking lot.

My rental car will wait for me to have a fantastic meal.

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 ex. Canadian National Railway 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. 6,000 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 dinner roll which was really good.

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.

Sky views on a summer's evening.

My Top Sirloin was excellent!

A chocolate square 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 and could now tour the entire train.

Interior views of the kitchen car.

Interior views of "Granite Eagle".

Interior views of "Algonquin".

"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, after which I exited the train. A special thank you to the Cafe Lafayette Dinner Train for having us aboard this evening. We left the parking lot to find more Hobo Railroad equipment.