Hickory Creek Restoration


Builder: Pullman Standard Car Mfg. Co.
Type: 5 Bedroom, Lookout Observation Lounge
Built: August 1948
Original Owner: Pullman Company
Storage Location: Boonton, NJ
History: This car was christened on September 15, 1948 in Grand Central Terminal, New York City. General Dwight D. Eisenhower officiated the celebration of the New York Central Railroad’s rebuilt 20th Century Limited train entering service between New York and Chicago. During it’s 20 years of service, the Hickory Creek graced the rear end of the “most famous train in the world” and was used in advertisements, promotions, and Hollywood’s finest movies to reflect a standard of excellence in premier rail travel. In 1968, it was retired and sold to Ringling Brothers, Barnum & Bailey Circus. URHS of NJ obtained the car in 1991 and contracted Star Trak. to rebuild the car to Amtrak standards. Its inaugural trip was run on June 26,2005 between New York and Niagara Falls. It is currently available for charter through Luxury Rail Vacations, Inc.

Detailed history of the Hickory Creek

Below is a copy of the slide presentation that summarized the restoration of this car. Click to enlarge!
























Erie Lackawana 835 E8 Restoration

Time to repaint 'Erie' E8 locomotives

The URHS "Erie" E8s are being restored again.  The Erie paint was applied in 1991 to two E8s, numbered 834 and 835.  Unfortunately, both locomotives have been stored outside in the weather all that time.  Since the actual Erie locomotive number 833 has already been restored, the 834 and 835 are being restored to reflect two other railroads.  834 will again reflect its original NYC lightening stripe paint scheme as NYC 4076, while 835 will become Erie Lackawanna Railway 835.

ex-New York Central Hickory Creek Inaugural Run

On Sunday, June 26th, the Hickory Creek made its inaugural run as a restored signature car of the 20th Century Limited.  It was indeed fitting for this car to run most of its trip on the ex-New York Central trackage – tracks that it had plied upon for so many years past.

The fact that it departed Penn Station, New York on ex-Pennsylvania Railroad track was an acceptable compromise, since the journey soon took it over ex-NYC trackage in the form of the ex-NYC west shore freight line to Spuyten Duyvil.  At that point it joined the ex-NYC main line from Grand Central Terminal.

Hickory Creek on Amtrak Train 286 in Utica, New York on Wednesday, June 29, 2005

The "Niagara Weekender" excursion, sponsored by Railroad Passenger Services of Union, New Jersey had scheduled a trip to Niagara Falls.  However, they were unable to use "business car", NYC 3, for that excursion.  The car was being chartered for a trip to Portland, Oregon.  So the sponsor inquired whether the Hickory Creek could be used for their trip to Niagara Falls.

Ray Clauss of Star Trak, Inc.  who was still in the process of rebuilding the observation car's trucks to meet Amtrak specifications, told Railroad Passenger Services his crew would do their best to have the car ready for the trip.  Ray and his son, Scott, had been working long days, nights and weekends for some time to complete the Hickory Creek.  It would not be long now.

On June 20, 2006 after regular correspondences with Amtrak inspectors the car was approved for service.  Arrangements were made with NJ Transit to move the car from Lebanon, New Jersey to "Hudson" via a regular shop move on Thursday night, June 23rd.  Amtrak then moved the car from "Hudson" to Sunnyside Yard in Long Island City on Friday, June 24th.

At 9:45 AM on June 26th, Amtrak Train 287 left Penn Station with the Hickory Creek at its rear.  The "Creek" rode like a brand new car just delivered from Pullman Standard.  Actually, the Hickory Creek is a new car.  Star Trak, Inc.  had rebuilt it from the ground up and had made "state of the art" improvements over its original 1948 design.

The trip was eventful.  Amtrak Train 287 was delayed by track work and the many CSX freight trains in its path.  The train arrived at Niagara Falls station (former a Lehigh Valley Railroad freight station) after a circuitous "back-up" move which turned the train for its return.

The passengers were taken to a hotel in Canada and spent Monday and Tuesday sight-seeing and visiting various attractions.

Below is a picture of the passengers and crew aboard the inaugural run. From left to right –  Fred Heide, Ray Clauss, Scott Clauss, Ted & Terese Heim, Charles Leemans, Ed Schmidt, Nancy & Walter Grosselfinger, Tom Vaught, Peter Calleo Sr., Peter Calleo, Charles Reinbold, Tim Bruno.

Passengers and crew

On the cloudy Wednesday morning of June 29th, Amtrak Train 286 started eastward with the Hickory Creek's passengers enjoying a fabulous breakfast.  As the morning progressed, the weather improved and everyone enjoyed the friendships that had developed over the last few days.  Station stops at Rome, Syracuse and Utica were interesting because NYC fans were out there to view and record the "passing of the Century" once again.  We assured them that this would not be the only time and that the Hickory Creek would return.

Chef d'jour

The Hickory Creek Chef – Ray Clauss dressed in his New York Central attire.

After several delays due to freight trains and track work, the train returned to Metro North rails at Poughkeepsie, NY.  From there it "flew" down the Hudson River to Spuyten Duyvil, finally arriving in New York, Penn Station around 9:00 PM.  Only three hours late! But, who cared? The Hickory Creek had passed its test – it is still very much the "most famous car in the world".

Come, join us in the celebration of the return to service of this great car.

If you or your group are interested in riding on the Hickory Creek email the URHS at info@urhs.org.  Charters are also available through Luxury Rail Vacations, Inc.  We are always establishing a list of potential passengers for another excursion.

Fairbanks-Morse H-12-44 locomotive acquired

In 1998 the URHS acquired, from United States Steel, the only Fairbanks-Morse locomotive to its collection.  This rare H-12-44 locomotive (ex New York Central 9121) will round out the Heritage Center collection and represent the fourth major American diesel locomotive builder that supplied the railroads during the twentieth century.

Fairbank-Morse NYC 9121

The picture above was taken by Jeff Lubchansky on June 18, 2006 at Bridgeport, NJ.