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This vintage private rail car was photographed in the Galveston Railroad Museum (Texas). It shows a considerable amount of weathering, but with only a little imagination, one can imagine the luxury it provided in the heyday of rail travel in this country.
A private railroad car, private railway coach, private car or private varnish is a railroad passenger car which was either originally built or later converted for service as a business car for private individuals. A private car could be added to the make-up of a train or pulled by a private locomotive, providing splendid upholstered privacy for its passengers.
They were used by railroad officials and dignitaries as business cars, and wealthy individuals for travel and entertainment, especially in the United States. They were sometimes used by politicians in "whistle stop campaigns". Pay cars with less opulent sleeping and dining facilities were used by a paymaster and assistants to transport and disburse cash wages to railway employees in remote locations without banking facilities.
In the late 19th century Gilded Age, wealthy individuals had finely appointed private cars custom-built to their specifications. Additionally many cars built by Pullman, Budd, and other companies that were originally used in common carrier service as passenger cars were later converted for use as business and private cars. There are various configurations, but the cars generally have an observation platform, a full kitchen, dining room, state rooms, secretary's room, an observation room, and often servant's quarters.
Railroad barons including Leland Stanford had their private cars. Abraham Lincoln disliked the ornate railroad car supplied for his service as president: he rode in it only in his coffin. Private cars were more common in the heyday of passenger rail service and during the pre-Amtrak era (before 1971). In modern times, some private cars have survived the decades and some are used for tour rides, leasing for private events, etc. Others are on static display. A small number of private cars (along with other types of passenger cars), have been upgraded to meet current Amtrak regulations, and may be chartered by their owners for private travel attached to Amtrak trains.
Note: This image has been processed using a digital watercolor filter. It will be more effectively printed on a matte surface paper such as watercolor paper or Somerset Velvet.
February 3rd, 2012
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