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The Historical Cars of the "Hoosier State" Train

The Historical Cars of the "Hoosier State" Train

APRHF Rail Rangers: Riding the Hoosier Rails

By Robert & Kandace Tabern, Email:

Published: December 1, 2016

The Hoosier State, now operating with Iowa Pacific equipment

Sunday, November 27, 2016 marked a new chapter for the Hoosier State train between Lafayette, Indiana and Chicago, Illinois... and for the APRHF Rail Rangers, an outreach affiliate of the non-profit 501(c)(3) American Passenger Rail Heritage Foundation, headquartered in La Plata, Missouri. Interpretive Guides with the Rail Rangers presented an onboard educational program aboard a public train for the first time since the APRHF broke away from its partnership with Amtrak and the National Park Service (Trails & Rails) last summer, and founded its own organization that presents onboard educational programs. For the past 16 months, the group had been focusing just on providing programs on private rail excursions. But, through an agreement struck with Iowa Pacific Holdings and the Indiana Department of Transportation, Interpretive Guides are now doing "test runs" aboard the Hoosier through March 26, 2017. If things go well and feedback from passengers is positive, the Rail Rangers could be a permanent addition to this state-operated train through Northwest Indiana and Northeast Illinois.

Lead Interpretive Guide Robert Neil presents a program in the dome car on the Hoosier State

So when and how can you participate in an upcoming APRHF Rail Rangers program on the Hoosier? The Rail Rangers will be presenting programs on select Sunday mornings on northbound Train #851 between Lafayette and Chicago. It is highly recommended that you purchase a Business Class ticket so that you can enjoy the full program's narration and views from the dome car. Check out the Rail Rangers: Riding the Hoosier Rails website at for upcoming dates. An abbreviated program with one guide and no narration will take place on Sunday, December 11, 2016. Full programs re-start on Sunday, January 1, 2017 and are scheduled to take place on ALL Sunday mornings in January.  There is no additional cost beyond your normal ticket price to participate in one of the Rail Rangers programs.

Chicago Coordinator Kandace Tabern hands two coach passengers a map of Chicago

Passengers asked the Rail Rangers a lot of questions about the various landmarks along the route on the November 27th trip. Many of the questions asked were also about the four historical railcars that are being used on this train. Since so many people wanted to know the history behind these cars, we decided to make the focus of this TrainWeb article.


A view of dome car "Summit View" as seen today on the Hoosier State train in Monon, Indiana

Business Class passengers get reserved seating in the upper level of ex-Santa Fe Big Dome ‘Summit View’. The bottom level serves as a dining car area for coach passengers. The Big Domes were a fleet of streamlined dome cars built by the Budd Company for the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway in 1954. Budd built a total of 14 of these cars in two batches. Like the Super Domes which Pullman had built two years earlier for the Milwaukee Road, these were full-length domes, with the dome extending the entire length of the car. The top level featured coach-style seating for 57, plus a lounge area which seated an additional 18 on sofas and in booths. The first eight Big Domes produced, which includes what is now ‘Summit View’, contained a cocktail lounge and nurses’ room on the lower level. The second batch of Big Dome cars featured a smaller bar/lounge and crew dormitory on the lower level. The Santa Fe assigned what is now the ‘Summit View’ to various routes, including to the El Capitan (Chicago to Los Angeles), and the Chicagoan and Kansas Cityan (Santa Fe regional trains that operated in the Midwest between Chicago and Kansas City, Missouri). When Amtrak took over the Santa Fe’s passenger train operations in 1971, the Santa Fe sold the dome car off to the Auto Train Corporation. For the next ten years, what is now ‘Summit View’ began its second life as part of the train that carried people and their automobiles from suburban Washington, D.C. down to Sanford, Florida (located outside of Orlando). In Spring 1981, the Auto Train went out of business and the car was sold off to private ownership for a number of years. It eventually ended up in Alaska as part of a Holland America Steamship Lines land cruise program. The car operated as ‘Eklutna’ for many years between Anchorage and Fairbanks via Denali. Scenic View operated for years in Alaska. This car came back to the mainland in 2007 and was re-named ‘Summit View’ by its current owner, Iowa Pacific Holdings. It was used in excursion service across the country, but has now been part of the Hoosier train from Indianapolis to Chicago since August 2015.
What is now called "Summit View" pictured on the Auto Train in the 1970's (left) and on the Alaska Railroad in the 1990's (right)


What is now named ‘DuQuoin’ was built in 1950 by Budd as a 44-seat passenger coach; it was originally named ‘Golden Sand’.  This car was owned by the Southern Pacific and mainly saw service on the Golden State, a train that was operated between Chicago and Los Angeles in conjunction with the Rock Island Railroad. ‘Golden Sand’ became Coach #4010 when it joined Amtrak’s fleet in 1971. For 24 years this car was used on various passenger train lines that used single-level equipment. This included frequent trips between Chicago and New York on such trains as Amtrak’s Broadway Limited and the Lake Shore Limited.  Since 1995, this railcar has had several private owners, including the Illinois Transit Assembly Corporation and Wisconsin Southern Railroad. The original ‘Golden Sand’ name was briefly restored after it was purchased by Mid-America Railcar Leasing. The car is still owned by Mid-America, who is currently leasing it to Iowa Pacific Holdings for use on the Hoosier train between Indianapolis and Chicago. Iowa Pacific re-painted the car in its heritage brown and orange paint scheme and re-named it ‘DuQuoin’ after a city on the old Illinois Central route in Southern Illinois.

What is now called "DuQuoin" is pictured on the Rock Island in the 1950's (left), Amtrak in the 1980's (center), and as a private car in the 2000's (right)



The car that is now known as ‘Durant’ was built as a 48-seat passenger leg-rest coach by the Budd Company in 1953. It operated on the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway as Coach #2826. This railcar spent a lot of its early life operating from Chicago to Los Angeles on the famed El Capitan. A photo of this car in its original Santa Fe appearance is below. In 1971, this railcar became part of Amtrak’s single-level coach pool, and was used on many eastern train routes. Amtrak numbered what is now known as the ‘Durant’ as Coach #4819, and then Coach #4725 when it renovated in 1980. It remained in Amtrak service until 1995. After passing through the hands of several private railcar operators, this railcar became part of Mid-America Railcar Leasing. It was used as a coach and table/lounge car known as the ‘Mohave’.  Mid-America still owns this car, but it has been leased to Iowa Pacific Holdings for use between Indianapolis and Chicago. Iowa Pacific renamed it ‘Durant’, a city on the old Illinois Central route down in Mississippi.

What is now called "Durant" is pictured on the Santa Fe in the 1960's (left) and in its Amtrak colors in the 1980's (right)

Rail Rangers Chicago Coordinator Kandace Tabern inside the "Durant" on November 27, 2016


The newest railcar on the Hoosier train today is known as ‘Dyersburg’, however this coach is still over 55 years old. It was built in 1960 by the St. Louis Car Company as a 44-seat coach. It was used on various Union Pacific passenger trains in the central and western United States. The Union Pacific ended up leasing this coach car to Amtrak when it took over the country’s passenger rail service in 1971. Union Pacific sold this car to Amtrak outright the following year. This railcar was re-numbered by Amtrak as Coach #4554 and Coach #4618 (following a 1979 refurbishment). This railcar remained in active passenger service through January 1995 and was stored by Amtrak until 2001, when it was sold to a private railcar owner. Today, the coach is owned by Mid-America Railcar Leasing. It has operated in charter service under the names ‘Bryce Canyon’ and ‘Reveler’. It is currently in a long-term lease to Iowa Pacific Holdings, who has repainted it and named it after Dyersburg, Tennessee, a city north of Memphis on the old Illinois Central.

What is now called "Dyersburg" is pictured on the Union Pacific in the 1960's (left) and as a private rail car in the 2000's (right)

The "Dyersburg", as seen today on Iowa Pacific's Hoosier State Train (above)


Riding the Hoosier Rails Website |  APRHF Rail Rangers Website |  Official Iowa Pacific Hoosier Train Website


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