Diner-Lounge, Barney & Smith Car Co., 1914
#2017 was built in 1914 as a first class coach (using the same number) by the Barney & Smith Car Co. The car is of steel construction and has six wheel trucks. As a coach, the car had plush walkover seats, electric lighting, and full vestibules. The car was updated over the years as the Soo Line equipped it with air conditioning and removed the upper clerestory window sashes.
In 1948, #2017 was rebuilt into its present configuration as a diner-lounge by the Soo Line at its Shoreham Shops in Minneapolis. The car has a lounge, dining seating, a small galley, and wet bar. It was during the 1948 rebuild that the vestibule on the lounge end of the car was removed. #2017 was regularly used on the Soo Line’s Laker between Chicago and the Twin Cities until the passenger train was discontinued in 1966.
In 1966 the car was sold to a private individual and moved to Hayward, Wisconsin where it was stored for several years. It was resold in 1971 and moved to Duluth where the car was completely restored to its 1948 appearance. In July 1978 the car was moved to Mid-Continent at North Freedom and leased for use in first-class and dining service. It was purchased by Mid-Continent in 1996. Today, #2017 is operated during special events at Snow Train, Autumn Color, and for the Santa Express.
Articles of Incorporation for the Minneapolis Sault Ste. Marie & Atlantic Railway (commonly known as Soo Line) were filed in Madison, Wisconsin on September 29, 1883, by several Minneapolis businessmen. Their goal was to link the flour mills of the Twin Cities with the Great Lakes shipping port of Sault Ste. Marie. By the end of 1887, the line was completed across the northern part of Wisconsin to reach the road’s namesake. The next 25 years saw much expansion and consolidation with other smaller roads. The Wisconsin Central was leased in 1909; in 1961, it was formally absorbed as well as the DSS&A to form the new Soo Line Railroad. Soo Line successfully purchased the remains of the Milwaukee Road in 1985, forever changing its system map; two years later, the new Wisconsin Central Ltd. purchased the old WC route and other track from Soo Line. Today the Soo Line exists only on paper, under the Canadian Pacific banner, most of its original trackage now operated by other companies or abandoned.
The Barney and Smith Car Co. had its beginnings in Dayton Ohio in 1849. The company grew to be a major supplier of freight and passenger cars in the later half of the 19th century. The company produced many exquisite passenger cars in this time frame and records indicate that the prices were commensurate with the quality of the cars. The consolidations of many of the independent car builders and Barney & Smith’s inability to successfully convert to profitable steel car construction forced the closing of the works in 1922.