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Midwest Rail Rangers on TrainWeb: The Former Santa Fe Hi-Level Lounges: A Retrospective 1954-2018

Farewell to the Pacific Parlour Car: Part 1 of 3

History and Photo Essay of the Santa Fe Hi-Level Lounge Cars: 1954-2018

By Robert & Kandace Tabern, Email:
President and Educational Officer, Midwest Rail Rangers Corportation

Published: February 5, 2018

In January 2018, Amtrak gave just a few weeks notice that the much-loved Pacific Parlour Car would be permanently retired from the Coast Starlight. This was one of our favorite cars; an excuse for us to fly 4,000 miles out to the West Coast a few times every year to ride. In honor of the Pacific Parlour Car, we will be writing THREE separate articles for TrainWeb over the coming weeks.

This, the FIRST article, will focus on the history of the car... and will feature over 50 photos of the cars taken between 1954 and 2018.

Our SECOND article, expected to be released in mid-February 2018, will focus on the "Farewell Trip" for the Pacific Parlour Cars that we rode between Salem, Oregon and Seattle, Washington on Train #14 on Saturday, February 3, 2018. This was the last northbound trip and featured two Pacific Parlour Cars.

Our THIRD and final, expected to be released in early March 2018, article will focus on the "mystery" Pacific Parlour Car #39971 that was sold off by Amtrak and never went through a complete re-build when the Pacific Parlour Cars got their latest re-design. Where is it?  What condition is it in?

This article starts at the beginning... so jump aboard our time machine... and let's go back to Chicago in 1950. This is the year the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy (CB&Q) Railroad received its first bi-level commuter coaches that ran between Downtown Chicago, the western suburbs, and Aurora. The CB&Q was able to get more passengers on a car by having two levels of seating, instead of one... something that was really not done until this point. (The one exception might be the prototype dome car the CB&Q had built in 1945!).

The CB&Q's then-rival, the Santa Fe, decided to try this new bi-level design for long-distance purposes. In 1952, two prototype "Hi-Level" coach cars were ordered by the Santa Fe for the coach-only streamliner the El Capitan, which ran between Chicago and Los Angeles. Budd delivered these prototype cars in 1954 and they were instantly a hit. Over the next decade (through 1964), Budd would build 71 more of these type of cars. When all was said and done, there were a total of 61 coaches, six lounge cars, and six dining cars. The Hi-Levels stood 15.5 feet high, 2 feet taller than most conventional equipment. In the coaches, seating occupied the entire upper level, with restrooms, baggage, and other non-revenue areas on the lower level. In most cars, vestibules connected the upper levels only. A central staircase linked the two levels. Hi-Levels featured a row of windows across the upper level; on the prototype coaches, this row slanted inwards.The two-level design offered several advantages over conventional single-level equipment. Budd and the Santa Fe expected the upper level, located 8 feet 7 inches above the rails, to provide a smoother, quieter ride for passengers. With the lower level free of passengers, designers could provide larger restrooms and baggage areas. Finally, the lower level contained all the electrical equipment, away from the passengers, and with easy access for maintenance. The Hi-Level cars cost $275,000 apiece at the time.

While the Hi-Level coaches and dining cars have their own unique story... in this article, we will focus our writings and photos almost entirely on the six Hi-Level Lounge Cars since these would later go on to become Amtrak's Pacific Parlour Cars.

Let's begin by taking a look at some of the early advertisements when these Hi-Level cars were introduced in the mid-1950's:

This advertisement for the El Capitan shows a Hi-Level coach (left) and several other photos of the train's interior (right).
The two middle pictures on the right are of the Hi-Level lounge cars that would go on to become Amtrak's Pacific Parlour Cars.

Even though this was a small part of the ad, we were able to enlarge it - so you can get a good view of the original interior of the Hi-Level lounge cars. This is a view of what the upper level of the cars once looked like before undergoing several refurbishments (which you will learn about below).
While the upper level of the Hi-Level lounges were excellent for sightseeing, those who wanted a coffee fix could head down to the Kachina Lounge on the lower level of the car. As the ad says, "Make yourself comfortable in the quite, intimate Kachina coffee shop in the lower lounge..."

Above is another early advertisement from the 1950's, promoting the new Hi-Level lounge car with the Kachina Coffee Shop-Lounge below.

Here is a luggage tag that you might have received in the 1950's if you were traveling on the El Capitan with the new Hi-Level equipment!

This is an image of the Santa Fe's Kachina - it was used by the railroad for many purposes.

This black and white photo is one of the earliest photos that we could find from the 1950's of people enjoying the new Hi-Level lounge cars.

Here is another photo of people in a quite crowded Santa Fe Hi-Level lounge car from the late 1950's or early 1960's; notice the nun!
(PHOTO COURTESY: John H. White, Jr.)

This photo was turned into a post card by the Santa Fe and were given out to passengers for promotional purposes on the El Capitan

In the above post card, you will notice the number of the car by the side of the door - #578. Did you know that the original Hi-Level lounges were numbered #575, #576, #577, #578. #579, and #580 by the Santa Fe?  (#578 in the above photo would later become Amtrak Pacific Parlour Car #39973 -- Santa Lucia Highlands). Each of the six lounges could seat 60 on the upper level. The seating was a mixture single seats and two-and four-top tables. Nicknames for these cars included "Top of the Cap" and "Sky Lounges". A glass top across two-thirds of the car distinguished it from the rest of the Hi-Levels. As seen in some of the photos we posted above, the lower level featured the Kachina Coffee Shop and a lounge area with seating for 26 passengers. The lounge cars weighed 83 short tons. Under Santa Fe operation there were attendants on both levels, and a newsstand on the upper level.

The Hi-Level lounges went into service on the Santa Fe in July 1956.

A typical train on the El Capitan comprised two step-down coaches, five standard coaches, a lounge, and a dining car. The Hi-Level cars continued in service after the Santa Fe combined the El Capitan and Super Chief in 1958. The Santa Fe also converted six single-level baggage cars to baggage-dormitories (Nos. 3477–3482), with a spoiler at one end to create a visual transition. The cars dated from the 1938 version of the El Capitan.

Let's take a look at some more promotional pieces featuring the Hi-Level lounge cars from the late 1950's and early 1960's.

The same image used for the post card posted earlier was used for this Santa Fe promotional brochure.

A brochure showing a side-view of the Santa Fe Hi-Level lounge car - now known more commonly as the "Top of the Cap" car

A diagram showing the upper and lower level of the Hi-Level lounge cars

The same diagram - zoomed in on the upper level of the Hi-Level "Top of the Cap" lounge car

The same diagram - zoomed in on the lower level of the Hi-Level lounge car; this is part of the Kachina Coffee Shop area

A Santa Fe promotional photo of the upper level of the Hi-Level lounge car

We move now into the 1960's; this is one of the first colored photos of the interior of the Santa Fe Hi-Level lounge car.
It is still in its original configuration here; note the Kachina symbols on both sides of the wall in the distance.

As you likely know, Amtrak took over operation of most intercity passenger service in the United States on May 1, 1971, including the Santa Fe's remaining trains. It acquired the entire now ex-Santa Fe Hi-Level fleet and continued to operate them. The primary assignment continued to be the combined Super Chief/El Capitan, known as the Southwest Limited from 1974–1984 and the Southwest Chief thereafter. The Chicago–Houston, Texas Texas Chief, another ex-Santa Fe train, also carried Hi-Level coaches (but not usually the lounge cars). With only a very rare exception, the Hi-Level lounge cars continued to run between Chicago and Los Angeles.

Photo comment from railroad historian Bob Phillips: If you look very carefully at the picture, you will see the Amtrak Stripe along the windows from the first window to the last.  This was how most of the ex-AT&SF Hi-Level cars were done up, right after the start-up of Amtrak on May 1, 1971.  It was sometime, not long after that, the Amtrak Stripes were taken off of the window level and placed below them.  This was done so the stripes were at same level as on the single level cars.  This decision was made about the same time Amtrak required that ALL passenger cars operating on Amtrak's trains, regardless of ownership, to be painted in Amtrak's color scheme.

Besides a paint job on the exterior, the former Santa Fe Hi-level lounge cars would also see some other changes after Amtrak took over. For one, the numbering of the cars changed to fit in with Amtrak's fleet numbering plan... #575 became #9970, #576 became #9971, #577 became #9972, #578 became #9973, #579 became #9974, and #580 became #9975. After being on the rails for nearly 20 years, the interior of the cars also got a re-make in the 1970's (a photo will appear below); you will likely recognize the classic Amtrak orange making an appearance on the interior of the cars.

As time went on, and Amtrak got organized, its railroad executives were impressed with the ex-Santa Fe Hi-Levels and used them as the basis for the design of the bi-level Superliner family of rail cars. The first of 284 "Superliner I" cars began arriving from Pullman-Standard in 1978. As the Superliners went into service, Hi-Levels could be found on more of Amtrak's trains throughout the Western United States (the new Superliners were compatible with the Hi-Level coaches, even though there was a few inch difference in height). Hi-Level coaches appeared on the Chicago–San Francisco San Francisco Zephyr, Chicago–San Antonio, Texas–Los Angeles Texas Eagle, and the Chicago-Seattle, Washington/Portland, Oregon Empire Builder. Dining cars displaced from the Southwest Chief filled in on the Ogden, Utah–Los Angeles Desert Wind. For the most part, the Hi-Level lounges remained on the Southwest Chief until the release of enough of the new Superliner Sightseer Lounge Cars were built as replacements.

We spoke with railroad historian Bob Phillips, who notes, "The Hi-Levels could not run with Superliner Equipment in the beginning, as they were not compatible, because the diaphrams were not compatible. They were also steam heated and had diesel generators.  In mid-1981, after they were done running on steam heated trains, a majority of the cars were sent to the AT&SF Topeka Shops and re-built. Yes, Amtrak choose AT&SF Topeka Shops to do the work, rather than their own shops at Beech Grove, Indiana. AT&SF stenciled this on the inside door of each electrical locker, reading, 'Re-built by AT&SF Topeka Shops 1981.' This is when they were converted to head-end power, and the steps were added at each end, along with new diaphrams to be compatible with Superliners.  Needless to say, that is when the diesel generators were removed."

Let's take a look at some more photos from the 1970's and early 1980's of the Hi-Level lounge cars under the now-Amtrak era:

A view of a Hi-Level lounge Amtrak #9972 (formerly Santa Fe #577) on the Southwest Limited at Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Note that this is the original Amtrak paint scheme for the Hi-Level lounge cars, featuring a wide red stripe, small white stripe, and wide blue stripe.

Another view of the Southwest Limited at Albuquerque. A Hi-Level coach is seen in this photo just ahead of the Hi-Level lounge car.

Another view of the original paint scheme for the Hi-Level lounge cars after being taken over by Amtrak.

Get your model!  This model railroad advertisement features the Hi-Level lounge car in its original Amtrak paint scheme.

This was what the first re-model of the interior of the Hi-Level lounge cars looked like after Amtrak took over. The configuration of the car did not change too much, however colors were updated (orange!) and different tables were put in that had ash trays and could hold four cocktail drinks each.

This is the second Amtrak exterior paint scheme designed for the ex-Santa Fe Hi-Level lounge cars. Commonly referred to as the "Phase III" paint scheme, it features equal stripes of red, white, and blue (compared to the previous paint scheme which featured the red and blue more predominantly).

This was the second interior change that Amtrak did to the ex-Santa Fe Hi-Level lounge cars -- accomplished sometime in the late 1980's. The "love seat" couches which were part of the car during the original Santa Fe design and the first Amtrak refurbishments were now replaced with tables and single chairs throughout most of the car.  These type of seats and tables are still featured in Amtrak's last remaining dome car "Ocean View".

After 30 years of faithful service between Chicago and Los Angeles, the ex-Santa Fe Hi-Level lounge cars were officially moved off their "home route". This was due to the fact Amtrak had enough Superliner Sightseer Lounge Cars by the mid-to-late 1980's to use for all departures of the Southwest Chief. These new Superliner Sightseer Lounge Cars featured bigger windows and were more modern (even featuring a piano for a year or so when first launched!) -- and Amtrak wanted to use the new Sightseers on what is considered one of the most scenic western long distance routes. However, until a second order of Superliner cars was completed in the early 1990's (sometimes referred to as "Superliner II's"), Amtrak still did not have enough of the Sightseer Lounge Cars for each of its western routes. So, the ex-Santa Fe Hi-Level lounges were moved off the Southwest Chief to such routes as the Texas Eagle (Chicago to San Antonio, with through service to Los Angeles a few times per week), and on the Sunset Limited (a train that operated several times per week between New Orleans and Los Angeles).  When upgraded to HEP (head-end power), a "3" was added in front of the then-current car numbers.  Through the 1990's, Amtrak was still running all six of the original Santa Fe Hi-Level lounge cars - now known as #39970, #39971, #39972, #39973, #39974, and #39975.

A little-remembered fact was that during their time in the late 1980's and early 1990's on the Texas Eagle and Sunset Limited, the cars were referred to by Amtrak as "See-Level Lounges" (see clip from timetable below)... this of course is not to be confused with the newer Superliner Sightseer Lounges. The interior of the Hi-Level Lounge Cars received an upgrade to the interior pictured above.

A description in a 1989 Amtrak timetable shows the Santa Fe Hi-level lounges being called "See-Level Lounges" now

Another often-forgot fact is See-Level Lounge Car #39973 (which would later go on to become Pacific Parlour Car "Santa Lucia Highlands") was on the Sunset Limited in 1993 during the Big Bayou Canot wreck. Many people lost their lives in this tragedy, but the ex-Santa Fe Hi-Level lounge survived with little damage because it was towards the back of the consist, and was one of few cars that stayed on the bridge. A photo of the accident is posted below; several engines and Superliner coach cars were sent into the bayou. The lounge is not shown here because it was toward the rear, and again, stayed upright on the bridge. This could have easily been the end for #39973.

Former Hi-Level Lounge #39973 (not pictured here) was part of the Sunset Limited accident in 1993

These documents are from the FRA investigation into the 1993 Big Bayou Canot accident; a keen eye reveals that the Hi-Level lounge is incorrectly identified in the reports as "Superliner Lounge #39973". This is not correct, but they do look that much alike to some who don't know the history and distinctions between these two cars.

By the early-to-mid 1990's, Amtrak had built enough Sightseer Lounge Cars (with the release of "Superliner II" cars) for all of its western routes now, including the Sunset Limited and Texas Eagle, on which the cars had been running for between five and ten years at that point. The decision was made to "retire" the ex-Santa Fe heritage Hi-Level cars; they were sent to Amtrak's shops at Beech Grove, Indiana (outside of Indianapolis), awaiting a decision by Amtrak to either sell them off to a private railroad car group/owner, or possible sell them for scrap. By 1994, the cars were 40 years old, and it was looking like this was really going to be the "end of the line" for these historic lounge cars from the days of the Santa Fe.

Before the historic Hi-Level lounge cars could face either of those fates -- in stepped a person by the name of Brian Rosenwald, an executive from Amtrak who would often take the Santa Fe in the late 1950's and early 1960's between his home in Chicago (he grew up in the northern suburbs) and New Mexico (where had extended family). Brian remembered riding the Hi-Level lounge cars as a child, and now that part of his youth was sitting in Indiana - about to be part of history. You could say the cars just happened to be in the right place at the right time... and overseen by the right person. Brian approached his then-boss Gil Mallery with the idea of refurbishing the cars and turning them into a special "first class" type of lounge car that sleeping car passengers could enjoy.

Since only six of the cars were in existence, it would be a real stretch to put them on one of the two-night long-distance trains and guarantee that they would be on every departure. Brian realized that the cars could easily be put on the one-night Coast Starlight which operated between Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area, Portland, and Seattle. Given the schedule of the Coast Starlight, only four of these first class lounge cars would have to be on the road at one time -- leaving two to be spares or to go through routine maintenance schedules. The Coast Starlight was also a good choice because the route through California, Oregon, and Washington features almost constant beautiful scenery -- whether it's the Pacific Ocean in Southern California, Mount Shasta in Northern California, the Cascades in Oregon, or the Puget Sound near Tacoma, Washington.

During late 1994 and into early 1995, Amtrak spent $3,000,000 in order to completely refurbish five of the six former Sante Fe Hi-Level lounge cars -- giving birth to what has been known for the past 23 years as the Pacific Parlour Car. The decision was made to not spend the money to refurbish car #39971 because it was in the worst shape out of all six -- however Amtrak would keep this car in its possession for a period of time as a "spare" in Los Angeles in case it was needed on the train. It still received the exterior Pacific Parlour Car branding, but did not get the refurbished interior that most people are familiar with today.

The new Pacific Parlour Cars (again, with the exception of #39971) featured upstairs lounges with mahogany-paneled walls, glass sconces, domed viewing windows, swivel armchairs, couches, banquettes and full bars, and downstairs cinemas with big-screen TV's and classic movie theater seating for 19. Musicians and entertainers were even brought in for a short period of time to perform on these cars. Brian Rosenwald's idea for these cars became a huge success for Amtrak. There was (ugh! I hate using past tense here, but that is what it is now!) nothing like them on any other train in the Amtrak system. Rosenwald added a complimentary buffet breakfast for passengers and even a mid-afternoon wine tasting. The result was a 77% jump in first-class revenue between 1994 and 2001. Passengers were loving what Rosewald called a a "land cruise experience". The new motto "Superior Service" was catching on for the Coast Starlight.

An announcement in the 1995 timetable talks about the new First Class Lounge Car that was going to be offered.

Lounge Car #39972 begins its transition into a Pacific Parlour Car -- still in old Amtrak paint here, but with a new Pacific Parlour logo by the door.
Amtrak's Pacific Parlour Car #39975, still in its original paint job, but with a Pacific Parlour Car sign by the door.

The new paint scheme release in the late 1990's for the Pacific Parlour Car -- the "Pacific Parlour" lettering matched that of "Superliner" that many cars featured at the time.

Another view of the Pacific Parlour Car in its new paint scheme and lettering.

Pacific Parlour Car #39972 in its "Pacific Parlour" lettering -- note the paint is beginning to get quite worn out by the early 2000's here.

A shot of a Pacific Parlour Car in Beech Grove, Indiana in 2006 - it will be getting a new exterior design put on in the coming weeks.

This was the design on the exterior of the Pacific Parlour Cars for much of their last decade of service -- often referred to as a "Phase IV" paint job.

The year 2000 marked the last time all six of the ex-Santa Fe Hi-Level lounge cars would be part of the same fleet; they survived together for 17 years of the Santa Fe and 29 years of Amtrak up until this point. In early 2001, management at Amtrak decided that is really only needed five of these lounge cars given the Coast Starlight schedule (four on the road at any given time and one spare) and sold off the un-refurbished #39971 car to a private rail owner.  (Stay tuned... in the coming weeks we plan to do a special article here on TrainWeb just about this car -- what happened to it?  where is it now?  what does the interior look like in 2018?)

The decision was also made to give actual names to the five remaining Pacific Parlour Cars... all had to do with areas the train passes through between Los Angeles and Seattle.  #39970 was now called "Columbia Valley", #39972 was now called "Napa Valley", #39973 was now called "Santa Lucia Highlands", #39974 was now called "Sonoma Valley", and #39975 was now called "Willamette Valley".

Highlights of the Pacific Parlour Car grew to include daily afternoon wine tastings that were free to sleeping car passengers... and the wines were coordinated so you would be sampling from the area of the country you were traveling through. For example, northbound passengers going from Los Angeles to Seattle on Train #14, would get a wine tasting featuring California wines on Day #1, and then Oregon/Washington wines on Day #2.  Amtrak also added dining service to the Pacific Parlour Car. Instead of eating meals in the traditional dining car, sleeping car passengers could now choose to have a meal served to them in the Pacific Parlour Car!  This was really meant to elviate overcrowding in the dining car, but was received very well. One of the fun features were people could get their own dining table in the Pacific Parlour vs. having to share a table with strangers in the traditional Superliner dining car. Even parties of one could have their own table in the Parlour.

The authors of this article, Robert & Kandace Tabern, have enjoyed many trips on the Pacific Parlour Cars in recent years.

Author Robert Tabern enjoys the Pacific Parlour Car's "big purple comfy chairs", as seen here in May 2009

Authors Robert & Kandace Tabern enjoy some time together sitting on the couches in the Pacific Parlour Car.

Authors Robert & Kandace Tabern enjoy sharing time with their friend Mike Pace on the Pacific Parlour Car in 2015

One of the beautiful features of the car was the etched glass with the Coast Starlight logo from 1995; it survived through the last run in 2018.

This photo provides a good view of the interior of the Pacific Parlour Car; note the "comfy purple chairs" behind Robert and Kandace. The buffet serving area and stairs are located next to them. The couches and tables are in front of them.

Kandace Tabern and the Pacific Parlour Car's famed "purple comfy chairs".

Kandace Tabern uses her cell phone to take photos of the California Coastal Mountains from the Pacific Parlour Car.

Daily wine tastings were often a highlight in the Pacific Parlour Car, as seen here in July 2017.

A glass of white wine and the Pacific Ocean out your window of the Pacific Parlour Car -- could it get any better than this?

Amtrak seemed to have entered into a very different culture as the calendar turned into the 2010's. Some members of Congress took notice of the Coast Starlight and began to grumble that passengers enjoying "free wine and cheese" on a government-subsidized train. That was not really the truth because of the cost of the wine and cheese tasting offer on the train was built into the sleeping car fare that was being paid. However, Amtrak bowed down to the pressure of some Congressmen and eliminated the wine and cheese tasting on all of its long distance trains - including the Coast Starlight, Empire Builder (held through Montana on Day #2 of the trip), and the Lake Shore Limited (for eastbound passengers out of Chicago; was offered instead of a full dinner which was previously done). The wine tasting was eventually restored on the Pacific Parlour Car, with passengers paying a $7.50 fee to participate.

Most cuts would come to the Coast Starlight and other Amtrak long distance trains as the 2010's rolled on. Daily newspapers were no longer offered in the sleeping cars. Trivia games in the Pacific Parlour Car were cut, along with the trivia prizes. Souvenir selections in the Pacific Parlour were dwindled down to nothing, or maybe a single cup. All-day juice and coffee in the sleepers was no more. Classy railroad China was replaced with plastic ware -- even wine glasses transitioned into plastic cups believe it or not! Fresh flowers in the dining car and the Pacific Parlour were cut. The list goes on and on.

It's no surprise that many of these changes went down after Brian Rosenwald, the brain-child of the Pacific Parlour Cars decided to retire. Ironically, he owns a wine shop on the north side of Chicago today that features some of the wines that were available in the early years of the Pacific Parlours! We have been to the shop several times and really enjoy the atmosphere and selection.

In 2016, Amtrak announced that the famed Pacific Parlour Cars would no longer operate during the less-traveled months of January, February, and March. Many saw this as a possible "writing on the wall" that these historic ex-Santa Hi-Level lounges would not be around forever. Amtrak mentioned in their news release that these cars would be going through maintenance work during this period to keep them in operational mode during the busier seasons. However, this came into doubt when many employees and passengers saw the Pacific Parlours just sitting in the train yards in Los Angeles during the "maintenance period" with very little work actually being done on them.  A similar period of no Pacific Parlour Cars occurred between January and March 2017.  Amtrak issued a similar statement announcing the cars would be pulled again between January and March 2018.

The "end of the line" announcement for the Pacific Parlours took place on January 17, 2018. On this date Amtrak issued an advisory to employees that the Pacific Parlour Cars would only run on a limited schedule the next two weeks -- and after that -- they would be prepared for either sale to a private railroad car owner or even be scrapped.  The final northbound run of the Pacific Parlour Cars took place between Los Angeles and Seattle on February 2 and 3, 2018... and the final southbound run of the Pacific Parlour Cars took place between Seattle and Los Angeles on February 4 and 5, 2018.  The last run of the Parlour Cars featured two back-to-back, something that had never occurred... #39970 and #39972 were open to passengers who rode.  The arrival of #14 into Los Angeles on February 5, 2018 marked the end of a 64-year era for the ex-Santa Fe Hi-Level lounge cars... whatever happens to them... they will not be in public daily service any longer.

Amtrak issued this advisory on January 17, 2018, marking the end of the Pacific Parlour Car service on February 5, 2018.

Two Pacific Parlour Cars were added for the last round trip between February 2-5, 2018, as seen here on #14 in San Luis Obispo, CA.

A special commemorative note was given out to each sleeping car passenger on the last run of the Pacific Parlours in February 2018.

We had the unique opportunity to ride on the last run of the northbound Coast Starlight with Pacific Parlour Cars between Salem, Oregon and Seattle, Washington on Saturday, February 4, 2018. In fact, Kandace was served the last meal on a northbound Pacific Parlour Car. In the coming weeks, we will be writing a trip report for TrainWeb about that experience.  Check back soon!

We hope you enjoyed this special in-depth look back at the ex-Santa Fe Hi-Level lounge cars, also known as the Pacific Parlour Cars for the past 23 years. Hopefully you had the chance to ride as much as we did -- and make some very special memories.

If you enjoyed our writing, we would also encourage you to check out the 11 "Outside the Rails" railroad route guidebooks that we published for the various Amtrak passenger rail routes through the Upper Midwest. They are available on our website, We also feature the guidebooks written by Eva Hoffman for various Amtrak railroad lines in the west and east.


LINKS FOR THIS REPORT |  Advisory on Parlour Car Removal (Jan. 2018) |  TrainWeb Photo Tour of Parlour Cars

Trip Advisor Forum on Pacific Parlour CarsTravels with Jim Loomis Article on Pacific Parlour Cars


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