On March 16, 2018 and July 1, 2018, two Amtrak Surfliner F59PHI locomotives
moved across the country on the Southwest Chief. These two locomotives are part
of a purchase by Metra in Chicago from Amtrak in California. Amtrak maintains a
dedicated fleet of 15 EMD F59PHI locomotives painted to match the livery of the
"Surfliner" cars. This fleet is slated to be supplemented and eventually
replaced by a new order of 20 Siemens SC-44 Charger locomotives from 2018-2020.
The EMD F59PHI fleet will continue to be used under Chicago commuter rail agency
Metra's operations following their retirement from Amtrak.
The F59PHIs, which were built by the Electro-Motive Division of General Motors
in 1998 and have been rehabbed within the last five years, have similar parts
and operating characteristics to Metra’s existing fleet of EMD F40s, some of
which are 35 years old and are in need of overhaul. That means they can be
integrated into the Metra system quickly and without extensive and expensive
training of maintenance and operating crews. The F59s would also increase
reliability, reduce pollution and achieve fuel savings of about 10 percent to 25
percent over the older engines.
The Chapel Hill was originally built in 1922 for Post Cereals Heiress,
Marjorie Merriweather Post, and stock broker and investment banker E.F.
Hutton, at the St. Charles, Missouri plant of American Car & Foundry in Lot
9336 to Plan 2081.
Originally christened Hussar, the car was used for company business and
personal travel between their principal residence in New York City; their
Hispanic-Moresque winter estate, "Mar-a-lago", in Palm Beach; and Camp
Topridge, the couple’s summer retreat in the Adirondacks of upstate New
York. It was also used extensively for entertainment, as Post was known as a
The Huttons divorced in 1935 and the Hussar became a part of Post’s
settlement. She later remarried Joseph E. Davies, a Washington, D.C.
attorney and ambassador to the Soviet Union and Belgium. After the Davies
left for the Soviet Union in 1937, the Hussar was sold to the Chesapeake &
The Chesapeake & Ohio Railway – Office Car 3 Shortly after the car was
acquired, a Pullman air-conditioning system, complete with roof ducting, was
installed. The Hussar was renamed simply Office Car 2. It was renumbered
several times before finally settling on Office Car 3.
In 1957, the Chesapeake & Ohio (C&O) modernized the entire window line.
Other exterior changes through the years included roller bearings added to
the trucks, a rebuilt open-platform and the service door relocated to the
opposite side of the car, across from the kitchen and pantry.
DeWitt Chapple, Jr. purchased Office Car 3 from C&O in 1971. Chapple
retained the car’s number, but added the name Chapel Hill after his alma
mater, the University of North Carolina, in Chapel Hill.
Chapple’s interest in private cars stems from early school years. He was a
guest of Frank Pidcock III on the Georgia Northern’s business car Moultrie,
which later became the Gold Coast, the first private car owned by Lucius
Beebe and Charles Clegg. It is now an honored show piece at the California
State Railroad Museum in Sacramento.
In 1972, Chapple made his first private car trip aboard the now renamed
Chapel Hill to Philadelphia on the rear of the National Limited. Since then
he has accumulated over 250,000 miles aboard the Chapel Hill both in the
United States and Canada.
The Chapel Hill has the further distinction of being one of three private
cars in attendance at the American Association of Private Railroad Car
Owners (AAPRCO) first private car convention in Chicago in 1978. DeWitt
Chapple was also a founding member of AAPRCO and served as its president in
2004 and 2005. DeWitt has attended all 37 annual AAPRCO conventions since
its inception, and the Chapel Hill has attended 30+ AAPRCO conventions.
Rich in history, the Chapel Hill continues its travels throughout the United
States today, logging thousands of miles annually. In 2009, Jeff and Tracy
McClorey sold their share of Chapel Hill, to John and Anne Atherton, and Lee
and Lisa Nordloh in order to concentrate on Bromwell’s. In 2012 the Nordlohs
sold their interest in Chapel Hill in order for Lee to concentrate on his
surveying business. At that time Mark and Karen Werner were welcomed into
the Chapel Hill family as partners.
Maybe once or twice a year, Amtrak 4 is running late enough to meet Amtrak 3
in Bernalillo, NM. June 25, 2018 was one of those rare moments.
What made this event more interesting was Amtrak 4 had the Silver Rapids and
Silver Solarium on the rear and Amtrak 3 had the Puget Sound.
Special thanks to the engineers who wave, say "Hi", and blow their horns for
those of us that get out in the 100 degree heat to shoot video of their trains.
Few people realize that the California Zephyr partner railroads included the
Pennsylvania and the New York Central, in order to provide transcontinental
sleeper service. The Pennsylvania Railroad purchased a roomette-bedroom sleeper,
Silver Rapids, identical to the other CZ sleepers, in order to fulfill its
obligation. When transcontinental sleeper service ended in 1957, the car
acquired a black roof and “Pennsylvania” on the upper signboards. The Silver
Rapids was purchased from the estate of rail videographer David Goodheart, who
bought the car from Amtrak in 1985, and passed away in 2004.
Today Silver Rapids has 6 bedrooms accommodating 2 persons each. Each bedroom
contains an enclosed annex with toilet and sink. Each pair of bedrooms opens
ensuite for families or friends who wish to travel together.
Silver Rapids also has 8 roomettes, which accommodate single travelers. Each
roomette has a sink in the room. The total sleeping capacity, therefore, is 20.
A shower-changing room has been added for the convenience of guests, as well as
a galley station providing hot and cold beverages.
Conceived as ‘the last word’ in train travel, the Silver Solarium combines all
the best features of luxury rail travel in one car. Its 3 bedrooms, 1 drawing
room, and 1 master room accommodate a maximum of 11 people overnight (nine
guests plus two staff if traveling solo). All bedrooms are equipped with
enclosed restrooms and showers. This is the ideal car for small groups traveling
on longer itineraries.
Silver Solarium has a classic round end, or boat-tail observation lounge with
comfortable seating for 10 guests. Twenty four guests are accommodated for meals
and sightseeing in Silver Solarium’s Vista-Dome.
Silver Solarium features an owner's Stateroom, which has booth seating that
makes down into a double bed at night. The Stateroom has a generous closet and
an annex with toilet, sink, and shower.
Built in 1955 for the Great Northern Railway by The Budd Company, the Puget
Sound (GN-1323) traveled the Empire Builder route between Chicago, Seattle &
Portland. It later did service on Amtrak’s western routes (Amtrak 9463) until
retired in 1985. It was acquired by the current owners in the late 1990’s and
was completely refurbished in 2001. Owned by Puget Sound Inc. the rail car has
been in private and charter service since then. Owned by Puget Sound Inc. with
overlapping ownership with Sierra Hotel Railway Inc., the Puget Sound was
originally designed to run with the Sierra Hotel and the two cars complement
each other nicely with the rear platform and copious lounge space in the Sierra
Hotel, and the larger bedrooms with their own shower and toilet on the Puget
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