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CMSP&P (Chicago, Milwaukee, St Paul & Pacific) "Milwaukee Road" 'Super' domes

{poster courtesy John Praggastis}

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This section covers the 11 cars built by PS and delivered in 1952. The first one built (50) was involved in a serious accident and burned{Warren Wing/Justin Nelson*}. The car shell was returned to Pullman and some parts were used to build a second #50.

These were the first "full domes" built, seated 68 above and 28 in a cafe downstairs, and were the first PS domes with curved glass. 16 tons of air was needed to cool the cars and a 70hp diesel generator was included.

Six of the cars were assigned to the Olympian Hiawatha, and two each to the morning and afternoon Hiawathas (Chicago-Twin Cities). After the Olympian "HI" was dropped in 1961, they ran in "City" trains in conjuction with UP and saw some use in Chicago-Madison short-hauls.

In 1964, the six surplus cars went to Canadian National for use in "Super Continental" and "Panorama" trains. CN re-christened them "Sceneramics". In 1971, CN rebuilt the upper deck into a 3 section lounge, cutting seating from 68 to 56. In 1973 the upper deck was converted into an open lounge seating 54, and the lower level cafe was converted to a diner with seating reduced from 28 to 20.

Princess Tours tried a brief run on Amtrak's Coast Starlight as the "California Sun Express" in 1990 with 3 of the cars owned by Tour Alaska that had been idled when Princess introduced "Ultra Domes" in Alaska service in 1988 (both Princess & Tour Alaska were owned by P&O Orient lines). Those cars were converted to 66 seats upstairs and 22 downstairs.

CMSP&P 50(1) - Wrecked and burned 5/31/53 - but a big hush hush was that this was a test trip. It still belonged to Pullman Standard at the time.

What happened was that the derailing train pulled down the wire resulting in arcing which caused the fuel for the Waukesha AC unit on the Super Dome to ignite with catastrophic results. PS had to built another Super Dome to replace this one. There were actually ELEVEN Super Domes built. Here is a brief description of this accident out of the PS files.

"This happened 6 1/2 miles from Superior MT early on Sunday May 31, 1953. The wreck was caused by a broken rail which derailed 7 cars. The loco and first 3 cars were not derailed. The Super dome was the first delivered #50. The sleeper was Lake Chatcolat and the Skytop was Alder Creek.

The interior of the dome car was completely burned out, and all sash demolished. The underframe and underbody equipment however are in good condition. The superstructure and roof carlines were severly buckled from the intense heat of the fire. All electrical switchboards and control panels were damaged beyond repair.

The fire was caused by the derailed cars damaging posts supporting the overhead electrical power lines, causing them to fall on the roof of the dome car. These lines which carry 3000 volts caused the fire to start in the dome section of the car and in turn working its way to the lower level. One of the diesel fuel oil tanks beneath the car was fractured causing oil to pour onto the wooden trestle on which the dome car spanned when it came to a halt. Sparks from the overhead power lines apparently ingited the oil and set fire to the trestle.

The rear truck of the dome was approx 8' off the rails with the unbalanced weight of the following cars still coupled, caused the rear dome car coupler shank to break allowing these cars to fall down the embankment."

Now hold on to your hat. Amtrak take notice.

PS estimated that cost of repair will no doubt exceed $150,000! ! ! !   After this memo was written July 9, it was decided to built a TOTALLY NEW car 50 using a few of the salvaged parts from original 50. (courtesy Dave Randall)

(and another point of view)
However, there are also some facts that are not really quite accurate.   The first ten cars, numbers 50-59 Pullman Lot 6908 were built with the name SUPER DOME.   When 50 was damaged, it was returned to the Pullman works as a wreck damaged car.   In terms of official accounting, this was not a new car, but a repair, and was provided a repair lot number (R-6947). While this mat be somewhat akin to the Vietnam helicopters that were "rebuilt when all that was left was the tail boom and the all important serial number, it is an important distinction.  The "Second #50" was not regarded as a separate car as such by Pullman.  It might seem to be semantical, and there might have been a difference of opinion between some divisions within Pullman - but according to the official records left by Pullman, it is (or was) the same car.   The repair records are likely in the Newberry library which would provide a lot more detail as to just how much was actually utilized in the car.
As a matter of interest in these cars, Pullman had ordered a design for Santa Fe using these (Milwaukee) cars as the basis.  The actual cars were eventually built by Budd, of course, but there exists the original Pullman sketches for these cars (interior and exterior)
There are a host of other design ideas and drawings of other dome cars for other railroads that didn't make the cut, notably those for the PRR & NYC. 
(courtesy Bob Webber)

CMSP&P 50(2) - After retired by Milwaukee Road, became CN2400 "Jasper", VIA 2700, Tour Alaska TAIX 7092 (4/83) "Mt. Foraker", P&O Princess California Sun Express (800482), Amtrak 9310(HEP)-1990 Auto Train service, 12/95 to Holland America Westours 50 "Kenai" - began service 1996 - listed for sale 6/2002 - name recycled to Holland America new custom built dome #1050. Sold 9/05 to Canon City & Royal Gorge Railway

CMSP&P 51 - became CN 2404 "Qu'Apelle"(1/65), CN 2704(4/74), VIA 2704(3/78), retired 6/82 to Great Western Tours thru J Baldwin, 2/83 re-sold to John Larkin/Escanaba & Lake Superior RR. Car stored inside old P&H plant in Escanaba MI.

CMSP&P 52 - became CN 2405 "Columbia", VIA 2705, Tour Alaska TAIX 7090 (1983) (800481) "Mt. McKinley", P & O Princess California Sun Express, Amtrak 9311 (HEP) - 1990 AT service, 12/95 Napa Valley Wine Train Napa CA "Champagne".

CMSP&P 53 - became CN 2401 "Athabasca" (1/65), CN 2701 (4/74), VIA 2701 (3/78), retired 6/82 to Great Western Tours thru J Baldwin, rebuilt by Robert Bauman/Milwaukee Rail Car Corp for Rail Travel Associates (RTAX) (2/83) - repainted in full MILW RD colors as # 53 (8/84), Golden Arrow(lease) Janesville WI (1985), "donated" to Mid Continent Railway Museum North Freedom WI (never went there), sold thru Milwaukee Rail car in 1985 to C&NW 421 "Powder River", 1995 to UPRR - unused except for "OLS" and excursion use, 1996 to NCDOT 400301 "Mount Mitchell", in service on Amtrak's "Piedmont" (but not rostered by Amtrak) (1999), but was not used in service in 2000. An FRA inspector ruled that if the car derails and goes on its side the passengers in the dome have no emergency exit from the dome. NCDOT is currently trying to retrofit pop-out window emergency exits in the dome. Currently the car is in the fenced-in and secure Capital Yard where NCDOT keeps nearly all their equipment safe and secure from vandals and stone-tossing urchins.
5/2001 report that car has now had emergency exits added and returned to service June 2001. FRA subsequently ruled that lack of vestibules made care "unsafe" for emergency egress and car was again pulled from service and is for sale (yeah, like the cars have been in service for FIFTY YEARS and NOW they are "unsafe" - sheesh!). Car sold 01/05 to "Friends of the 261" group and moved to Minneapolis MN to begin excursion service as North Star Rail NSR 800862. Ran with Amtrak/NCDOT livery at first, but appeared at NRHS convention Portland OR 7/05 in a 'quasi' Milwaukee scheme. Ran on SP 4449 PDX-MSP-PDX trips in 2009 among other excursions.

CMSP&P 54 - became CN 2402 "Yellowhead", VIA 2702, retired, Mandak Metals Selkirk MB (10/81), Tour Alaska TAIX (1983), scrapped for parts.

CMSP&P 55 - to Amtrak 9380 (leased at inception, later purchased by Amtrak), Blackburn (1977), 1985 Holland America Westours as WTMC 555 (800066) (never re-built), Transcisco Tours 91 - seized as a result of Transcisco Bankrupcy, 1991 to owner of Blue Mountain & Reading/nee Reading Blue Mountain & Northern, with car stored still un-rebuilt in PA. Refurbing work finally begun and car photographed on a special 12/2003 (see photos). In service 2006 as #4.

CMSP&P 56 - became CN 2403 "Fraser" (1/65), CN 2703 (4/74), VIA 2703 (3/78), retired 6/81, 4/83 Great Western Tours thru J Baldwin, 2/84 Tour Alaska TAIX 7091 (800485) "Mt. Susitna", P & O Princess California Sun Express, Amtrak 9312 (HEP) - 1990 AT service, Holland America Westours 56 "Knik" (1995) - entered service 1996 - listed for sale 6/2002 - name recycled to Holland America new custom built dome #1051. Sold 9/05 to Canon City & Royal Gorge Railway

CMSP&P 57 - to Amtrak 9381 (leased at inception, then purchased by Amtrak), to private owner "Allen" (1978) as "Silver Garden" restaurant in Portland OR - later named "Warsaw Express" (2nd owner), (1985) Westours - car numbered WTMC 557 but not rebuilt. Car sold to Transcisco in 1991, reposessed after bankruptcy and moved to storage on Washington Central, then purchased 5/94 (800067). rebuilt as WCRC 152 for service on "Atlantic Clipper" dinner train on the NYS&W (which never happened). Car sold 5/97 to BC Rail as BCR 152 "Stardust" for the Pacific Starlight Dinner Train. Car had the "Temple Treatment" i.e. fluting added to lower car sides. Operation shut down and car listed for sale late 2002. Sold to Ontario Northland 2/2004 as ONT 900 and moved east on rear of 'Canadian' 4/04 with entire dinner train consist. Repainted in ONR livery as "Otter Rapids" and in use on 'Polar Bear Express' in 2005.

CMSP&P 58 - to Amtrak 9382 (leased at inception, then later purchased by Amtrak), Tom McOwen (1977) - sold half interest to William Sprague and named "Super Dome", McOwen later donated his interest to Railway Exposition Co of Cincinnatti OH/Covington KY, leased to Chessie Safety Express #20, returned to full Milw delivery colors, sold to Henry Hillman/Oregon Rail Corp/American Orient Express/Montana Rockies Rail Tours (8/98) (800265) - car stored in Denver, then moved to Western Jct WA 9/2001. Reported for sale. Rusted beyond repair and never used. Donated to Chehalis-Centralia Railroad & Museum when AOE closed down. After several (fruitless) attempts to sell for preservation, scrapped Nov 2009.

CMSP&P 59 - to Amtrak 9383 (leased at inception then later purchased by Amtrak), Joseph Fertitta (9/78) for use as the "Lindsey M" at "Central Station" a restaurant and railroad museum in Shreveport, LA (bombed), sat derilict for a couple of years, several private parties, 1985 Tour Alaska TAIX 7093 "Mt. St. Elias", TAIX taken over by P & O Princess, leased to Washington Central for use on the "Spirit of Washington" dinner train. Numbered WCRC 59, repainted silver red / black stripes, and re-named "City of Renton". Car purchased by WCRC during 1993 (WCRC 108), and it too was given the "Temple Treatment" with the addition of fluting on the lower car sides (see #57). Relettered CBRW (Columbia Basin Railway) 11/02.

Please e-mail us any additional info or corrections.
Additional info: Roy Wullich, PTJ, Tom McCann, Erik Langeland

Additionally, Milwaukee Road constructed a unique set of 'observation' cars that gave such a view that they are classed as "honorary" domes. See the information at

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