Private Rail Trip: Part 2

In the first part of this series, I told you about our private car trip aboard the Dover Harbor from Washington to Chicago for out anniversary. This segment picks up with the car having left Chicago heading to Memphis on the City of New Orleans. Janet and I wanted to take this 8-day trip because it was the closest we would ever get to experiencing the heyday of the great trains. We’ve always wanted to see what train travel was like back in the 1930s and 40s, and this Pullman car was going to be the closest we would ever get to that wish.

Amtrak’s GE Genesis locomotive pulls into Central Station in Memphis where 2 friends will step off and 6 relatives will board. This station was the home of the original Illinois Central City of New Orleans as well as the famed Panama Limited.

Here are 5 family members ready to board at Memphis. Off to the right of this picture is the station parking lot which once was the scene of 7 stub end tracks for trains to back into.

A friend gets off the train to make way for the new passengers.

Before leaving the car gets serviced with more water added to the underbody tanks.

As the City leaves Central Station you can see the track bumpers in the back off to the right with the stub tracks long gone.

The onboard crew has readied the car for the new passengers. They’ve changed the bed linens and started the meal.

All the meals are prepared in this little galley kitchen which is about 7×7 feet. The quality of the food that came out of this small space was amazing, especially considering sometimes 3 people were all working in the space together.

The food was delicious and plentiful, in the evenings we were always served special hors d’oeuvres.

Fresh flowers and hot coffee were the order of the day.

Here we see Lake Pontchartrain is on the approach to the Crescent City where we were to spend 3 nights.

The Amtrak conductor came back to our car to guide the City into New Orleans Passenger Terminal. She called out the stopping distances before the train made a safety stop. Then she gave the final command, “That’ll Do”.

In the next installment we will continue our trip from New Orleans back to Washington Union Station.

More in this series:

Private Rail Trip: Part 1

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10 Responses to “Private Rail Trip: Part 2”

  1. Chuck Hitchcock

    Congratulations to your wife for putting up with you these many years. And congratulations to you for having the wisdom to keep your mouth shut and listen .

  2. Fred Eldridge

    Thank you for sharing. We would love to do this too. Fred

  3. Michael Haisler

    Wonderful story. I always wondered who rode in those follower cars. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Union Pacific could/would offer a once a year trip like that with a steam engine and rebuilt cars. Well it’s a dream.

  4. greg1

    Fantastic stills in the series. Must be a first since the 1940's. Greg Handler


    Love the pictures and commentary. When was this trip taken? I thought Amtrak stopped attaching private cars to the back of it trains?

  6. zechielj9

    Thanks for sharing your trip


    What a great way to travel. I have travelled first class on The Ghan, The Indian Pacific and The Overland but never in a private carriage. Thanks for showing us your trip.

  8. Andrew Tailby

    Is it possible when you complete this wonderful blog to give the readers a rough cost to hire such a wonderful car and a link to the people you hired the car from.

  9. Barry

    Your reporting is spot on. Being a Steward on the sleeping car Berlin I can attest that this is the best way to travel. First class all the way as we say.


    Fantastic. Thanks for sharing.