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Tuned to Railroad Band as reviewed in Railfan & Railroad

to acquire a small number of steel dining cars from the Central. The D&H bought the 450/518 in 1949, renumbering it to 154. By the 1960s, secondhand lightweight cars made the 154 obsolete on the D&H. In 1965, the Empire State Railway Museum purchased the 154 and leased it for private excursions, primar- ily in the northeast on trips operated by the High Iron Company. The year 1967 was its busiest in excursion service under the direction of concessionaire William Whitehead, who would later on found the Black River & Western Railroad. Out of regular service soon after, the car was stored in the Central Railroad of New Jersey’s Elizabethport Yard until it was moved to the Valley Railroad in Essex, Conn., where the car returned to service. The railroad’s chairman suggested the car be re-named Lion Gardiner at this time, a designation it contin- ues to bear along with the number 154. The Valley Railroad used the car for numerous formal events, including weddings and a publishing party for Michael Koch’s book The Shay Locomotive in 1972. At first glance, it was in reasonable

shape when it was first arrived in Connecti- cut. However, deterioration from moisture accumulated over years of food service, condensation, and use had begun to make the car less serviceable for the short tourist line. Railroad car experts often fault the high carbon content in the steel used to construct Lion Gardiner and other cars of the World War I-era as being especially prone to rust. Additionally, heavyweight steel cars receiv- ing air conditioning systems were more likely to suffer from rust deterioration. A water line leak in Lion Gardiner’s kitchen area eventually sidelined the car in the late 1970s. Though the car traveled from Connecticut to Kingston, N.Y., by rail in 1986, it has sat still ever since. Today, after 29 years of disuse, the Lion Gardiner shows signs of severe deteri- oration, including heavy rust in the floor framing, side sills, and window posts. Its deteriorated condition does little to

indicate its remarkable completeness. With an intact sideboard, pantry, kitchen, and a bewildering array of underbody systems, the car is a rare remaining representative of the institution that was railroad dining during this era. Sadly, the Lion Gardiner is emblem- atic of the challenges that face the preserva- tion movement. The effects of time and nature have, due to any number of reasons, outpaced the ability of the small group of people who saved the car initially to maintain it. A lack of

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Susquehanna and Western

a national census of railroad artifacts meant that knowledge of the car’s existence was not widespread. A lack of a national system of prioritizing artifacts for preservation meant that many of those who were aware the car existed did not realize its significance. The result of these two facts was that, until recently, a community of interest sufficient to save the car had not been able to develop. The NRHS chose the car for its very first Most-At- Risk list for precisely these reasons. Owned by Empire State Railway Museum,

the Lion Gardiner is currently resting on the Catskill Mountain Railroad near the end of that line’s useable track. The CMRR is pushing very hard to open the rest of its line for service, and the Gardiner is, unfortunate- ly, in the way. The car must be moved very soon or it will be scrapped. A new home has been located for the Gardiner, offering some bright hope for the future. The Colebrookdale Railroad in southeastern Pennsylvania is restoring a fleet of Edwardian-era cars for service through the Secret Valley, a largely unknown but remark- ably beautiful corridor with an important iron-making heritage. “The Committee to Save the Lion Gardiner” is raising funds to move the car to safety, then ultimate- ly stabilize and restore it. The CMRR has offered to donate the cost of craning the car on the northern end of the move. The deadline is fast approaching, with hopes

of having funds in place to move the car by July 1. It seems the fastest way to raise funds today is through crowdfunding, and that’s the primary route the current drive is taking. You can help save the Lion Gardiner through the secure crowdfunding site Fundly at The Committee to Save the Lion Gardiner

is affiliated with the Colebrookdale Railroad Preservation Trust, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization restoring tourist passenger service through Pennsylvania’s Secret Valley.


Before the era of container trains and big diesels, we take a fond look back at the old Susquehanna operations from Jersey City tidewater into the mountains and coalfields of eastern Pennsylvania. You’ll enjoy rare black and white views of Ten-Wheelers and Decapods, early Alco and EMD diesels, as well as streamlined motorcars and Budd RDCs.



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