Special Issue: Louis W. Hill’s Business Car Great Northern A-22

A Special Issue of the Mid-Continent Railway Gazette
Volume 38, Number 4, December 2005


Louis W. Hill business car Great Northern A-22 Gazette issue cover

Front cover of the Great Northern A-22 special issue Mid-Continent Railway Gazette.

Anniversaries seem to drive our choice of topics for these special edition Mid-Continent Railway Gazettes and the third in the series, this one being on the Great Northern business car A-22, was no exception. Built in 1905 for the GN’s then Vice President Louis W. Hill, the railroad car had the distinction of being designed to carry Hill’s automobile on his rail journeys. We were pleased to tell its story on the occasion of its 100th anniversary.

Great Northern A-22 blueprints

Blueprint view of the Great Northern A-22 car, appearing in the Mid-Continent Railway Gazette showing “Automobile Room” in the left end.

loading Packard automobile into Great Northern A-22

Louis W. Hill supervising the loading of his Packard automobile into the Great Northern A-22 car. This is one of the many historical images accompanying the article in this special issue Mid-Continent Railway Gazette.

The A-22 had been in Mid-Continent’s possession since 1972. It served for a time as our general manager’s office. But for most of its time at the museum, it was stored outside under a tarp in a remote part of our property. Few people knew of its existence. Even fewer knew its rich history in service to Hill and his family.

That all changed in 2004 when Laurence Dorcy, one of Hill’s grandsons, made a $25,000 donation to Mid-Continent to fund the initial research that hopefully would lead to the car’s eventual restoration. This was a first for our organization. It gave us the luxury of actually hiring an intern to do the research on our behalf.

Laurence Dorcy behind wheel of 1907 Packard

Laurence Dorcy, one of Louis W. Hill’s grandsons, at the wheel of a 1907 Packard. The car likely rode inside the automobile room of the Great Northern A-22 many times.

The result was a wealth of information gathered within a very brief period of time. Even though the A-22 still is awaiting sufficient funding to fulfill Dorcy’s dream of seeing his grandfather’s private car restored to its former glory, the material gathered by Leah Rosenow, our intern, became the substance of this special edition of our members’ magazine.

politicians on Great Northern A-22 platform

Explore the rich history of Louis W. Hill’s Great Northern A-22 car with this special issue Gazette. In this photo, William Jennings Bryan, a leading American politician, joins Hill on the A-22’s platform.

Co-written with Don Ginter, volunteer curator and member, the pages of the A-22 Gazette reveal an intimate history of the Hill family as well as insight into the role Louis W. Hill played in the development of the Great Northern Railroad. For those of you who would like to learn more about Hill, we recommend the biography Dutiful Son, written by Biloine “Billie” W. Young and published by the Ramsey County Historical Society.

For a more modest price you can enjoy reading about the construction and use of this fascinating business car, which truly merits the distinction of being one-of-a-kind. Copies of the Great Northern A-22 special edition Gazette can be purchased in our gift shop or by calling 800-930-1385.

All proceeds from these magazine sales serve to further the preservation work of our own historical society.

Don’t miss out on any further issues by becoming a museum member! A subscription to the Mid-Continent Railway Gazette is one of numerous benefits of membership to the Mid-Continent Railway Historical Society.

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