Welcome to the AAPRCO Blog!


Welcome to the Step Box!

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Excursion by private rail car is probably one of the best kept secrets travel.  You have to know where to look and probably have to know someone to arrange a trip.  To those that have had the experience they are mostly likely hooked for life.  They will forego the floating circuses that cruise ships have turned into and expensive international airline travel to tourist destinations swarmed with thousands of others and instead take a several day trip within the United States by train.

The romance of a journey by train is still possible.  The long passed golden age of passenger rail travel is never going to come back.  However, the nostalgia is still possible to some degree on Amtrak or Via Rail,  but things are different.   Politics and tight budgets have trimmed down services and no longer are the trains the definition of luxury.  Most people are completely unaware of the standard of service that railroad passenger trains were known for.  A bar set so high that the cost would be unthinkable today.   Unless you travel on a private owned rail car…

I’ve heard the phrase land yacht applied to private rail cars.  To a degree that is true.  A great many of private cars are just that, private, and are not available to the public.  However, there are quite a few that make it a business to offer travel on a car towed behind a regularly scheduled Amtrak train.  With a willingness to be flexible and to give the car operator a bit of trust that you will have a great time, it’s worth it.  It’s difficult to explain the experience without doing it firsthand.  I’ve always found routine travel by Amtrak to be satisfying.  I annually take a cross country trip and I’ve always enjoyed even with the monkey wrenches that can get thrown into a train trip.  To take a private car isn’t just taking a sleeping car it’s a step into whole another class.

What can you expect from this blog?  Just about anything related to trains and rail travel.  Its focus is, of course, will be on private rail cars.  Whenever I get the opportunity to learn or see something unique and interesting I will be sharing it here.  I am a card carrying rail fan, I work for a Class I railroad, and my father is a retired railroader. I pretty much eat, sleep, and breath trains.  I have plans to explore rail travel destinations, available private rail cars for travel, rail cars that are currently being rebuilt, and the people that ride and owns them.

Welcome aboard and please feel free to give suggestions or content via the blog master email at: blogmaster@aaprco.com.

Thank you for reading!


Updated:   July 30, 2016.

8 thoughts on “Welcome to the AAPRCO Blog!”

  1. I have followed private cars and business cars for years. In fact as a youngster I first found out about them when I read Lucius Beebe’s book “Mansions and Rails.” When I was in high school my parent purchased a surprise for me by purchasing at Walther’s Business Car Craftsman kit in “O” scale. Unfortunately I did not have wide enough curves for it so I traded it for a tinplate version (which was quite good), and which I still have and which I treasure. My first trip on a bona fide private car was on the “Caritas” when it came through town on a 261 Special. I was a guest of the owner, and I will never forget that we enjoyed a Bombay Gin martini together. Bruce Schrimpf

  2. I began taking the Mexican Railway from Nuevo Laredo to Mexico City at a teenager in 1980. They were old 40’s Pullman cars and I remember the fare costing $27.00 one way. Trains left on the Mexican Side of the border around 6pm and the schedule time of arrival was 24 hours later. (most of the time it was 30 to 36 hours) My amigos in Mexico City would always say “Jaime call us when you arrive at the Station” knowing the train was notoriously late. We would go through the Sierra Madre Mountain range and at night it would get really cold. We would laugh at the railwaymen’s heavy wool coats when they punched our ticket in the desert heat of Nuevo Laredo in the summertime, but when the train inched up the mountain chain we would have killed for one of those coats. They pulled about 10-15 sleeper cars, half dozen passenger cars, very nice diner cars they served a thin Mexican steak or chicken which was charged extra. The best part was the bar/oberservation cars with thickly padded, red velvet that spun around for 360 degree views. The bar tender would chop block ice in his hand with an ice pick and serve drinks in real tall glasses. We always well exceeded the train fare by the money we spent in the bar car. As night fell we would wobble back to our “dormitories” and fumble with the back seats to get them down over the toilet and sink. Some trips the heat would come on, other trips not. There were always plenty of brown wool blankets to go around and the sheets were nicely washed and pressed. The large windows would look out over small Mexican towns at night in the distance and you could see the train wrap around the curves though the mountains. Many time we would hit things along the way. One time we left Mexico City in a hurry the train was running late. We hit a flour truck full of bags of flour which flew everywhere. Thankfully the driver was not hurt but he stood by as villagers came out from all directions and started dragging bags of flour home. Amazing sight. I will never forget my times on the Mexican trains it gave me a real sense of adventure and confidence in traveling.

    I got my first job out of college working for an Italian owned gear company and started doing work for several large US gear companies in California. It was the train that forever changed the path of my life and I will always cherish those memories. I am now in the food and beverage industry and own several bars in Austin. I plan to recapture these memories by trying to own my own short line from Austin to West Texas. I think my heavy industrial background, knowledge of Mexican and US industry, and my hospitality experience will prove helpful in the process. Looking forward to the Associations meeting in Mississippi meeting in May and hope to learn more about this exciting industry.

  3. Fun story. I bet a bunch of those cars were from my favorite railroad, the New York Central. I live in Dallas, my wife Karri, and hopefully my daughter Taylor, and I are heading to Gulfport for the car party. We hope to get our 1928 MC out on the rails in 2015 after an embarrassingly long reconstruction. (Went by pretty fast,haha). I want to talk with you re your short line plans. I was an early investor and investment banker with Gary Marino and Railamerica. I was on the board from 1996 until it’s first sale in 2007. I have always been interested in being part of a short line in Texas so hopefully we can have a chance to talk a little business and have a few laughs in Gulfport. We are pretty tight on time as we are heading to your city Saturday for a wedding.

  4. Baltimore and Ohio, office car 901. As a young man I was a messenger on the Pittsburgh and Lake Erie in Pittsburgh PA. One year perhaps 1951 there was a very large meeting of all Railroad Companies in PIttsburgh. Many private cars were set at the P&LE Pittsburgh station as well as the Pennsylvania and Baltimore and Ohio RR stations.

    This was before computers and any messages that came in for the various office cars had to be delivered by us messengers. We were very busy in the evening as that is when the officials got together to meet/visit with friends in their cars. We messengers would step up on to the car and knock or ring the bell. A neatly uniformed porter would open the door to accept and sign for the message. While the door was opened, one cold hear murmuring voices, the tinkling of ice in crystal glasses and smell the rich smoke of fine cigars. I remember the B&O private car 901 as that was the address of my house. I tried to see this car at the B&O museum in Baltimore but could not locate. Does any one know the location of the B&O office car 901?

  5. Can you tell me when on Sept. 27th the AAPRCO Convention train will depart Chicago Union Station? I would like to try and photograph it from the Roosevelt Road viaduct.

    Thank you.

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