Sleeper Car, Barney & Smith Car Co., March 1903

#1257 at North Freedom, April 2000.
#1257 at North Freedom, April 2000.

Soo Line #1257 was built as a tourist car by the Barney & Smith Car Co. The car is one of a series of 16 cars (Nos. 12511266) delivered to the Soo Line in March 1903. The car is of all wood construction, has six wheel trucks, and was built with full vestibules. No. 1257 was built with 14 upper and lower berths and it also included men’s and women’s lavatories. The interior featured oak woodwork with black leather upholstery.

About 1921 the car was renumbered No. 1182 (series became Nos. 1176-1191), probably due to the delivery of the sleeping restaurant lounge cars (Nos. 1251-1256). In August 1927 the car was converted to bunk and dining car No. X-117 at the Shoreham Shops. The car was used in the Schiller Park wrecker outfit until it was sold by the Soo Line in 1967. It was eventually moved to the MCRM in 1969.

The planned restoration of the car by its private owner never came to fruition over its many years at the museum. Then in 2016 Mid-Continent acquired Barney & Smith-built DSS&A sleeper “Duluth,” a car in excellent overall shape but missing key components including trucks, brakes, and draft gear. As a fellow Barney & Smith car, #1257 was a logical choice as a parts donor for the Duluth. Mid-Continent purchased #1257 from its owner in early 2016 and completed salvage work in early 2017. In addition to the providing parts to the Duluth, parts from #1257 will also be used in the restoration of the Duluth’s sister car, the Sault Ste. Marie, located in St. Johns, MI.

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.