Sleeper Car, The Barney & Smith Car Company, Lot No. 1779, April 1902
Duluth South Shore & Atlantic sleeping car “DULUTH” is one of a series of five 10-section sleeping cars built by The Barney & Smith Car Company of Dayton, Ohio in April 1902. The car is of all wood construction, with varnished mahogany interior, fine marquetry throughout, stained glass windows and green plush upholstery. In addition to the sleeping section the car features a stateroom, a smoking room as well as men and women lavatories. As built the car was painted in the usual South Shore vermillion with black and gold ornamentation.
The car was used on the DSS&A’s North Country Mail (Trains #7 and #8) that operated between Duluth, MN and Sault Ste. Marie. By 1932 the demand for sleeping cars had decreased on the South Shore and second hand steel sleeping cars were purchased, making the wood sleeping cars like the DULUTH obsolete. The DULUTH car body (minus trucks and draft gear) was eventually sold to a Calumet, MI resident in December 1934 for $169. In early 1935 the car body was hauled down snow covered gravel roads by a pair of tractors from Calumet to the shores of Lake Superior where it was set up and used as a summer cottage for over 81 years.
In December 2015 the owners, Bob and Beth Krasche, generously offered to donate the DULUTH to Mid-Continent Railway Museum. Recognizing the historical significance and the fine condition of the car the MCRM Board unanimously accepted the donation offer. For the next 8 months museum volunteers finalized plans to load, move and acquire appropriate trucks for the car. After an extensive search for 6-wheel trucks the museum eventually decided to acquire another Barney & Smith built car (Soo Line) to salvage the trucks, draft gear and brake rigging needed for the DULUTH. Following a 325 mile trip on a semi-truck trailer with the DULUTH on it arrived at Mid-Continent Railway Museum on September 7, 2016. The sleeping car was unloaded on the following day and is now setting on a pair of 6-wheel trucks for the first time in 81 1/2 years.
Current efforts are focused on developing the restoration plan for the car and installing the draft gear and brake system so the car can be moved around the MCRM property. The goal is to restore the DULUTH sleeping car to its former glory when it operated on the DSS&A. Funds are continuing to be raised to assist with the restoration of the DULUTH.
The Duluth South Shore & Atlantic Railway was formed in 1886 through the merger of several smaller railroads and leased trackage rights to complete an American transcontinental rail route over the northern tier of states. The goal was to connect Duluth with railheads in the lower peninsula of Michigan and avoid the Chicago high tariffs and traffic delays. By 1889 financial troubles caused control of the railroad to be passed into the hands of the Canadian Pacific Railroad. Much of the traffic was directed to the CP at the Sault Saint Marie Canadian gateway making that the mainline , instead of using the original mainline to St. Ignace, for a route to eastern markets. On January 1, 1961, the DSS&A ceased to exist when it was officially merged into the newly organized Soo Line Railroad.
The following image gallery consists of images taken in 2015, shortly before the car was donated to Mid-Continent.