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Vintage Rail Coaches |1800 luxury for the most elite officials and businessmen

Updated on April 30, 2013

The Quebec Rail Coach was used in 1920s-1950s by the Canadian government to transport dignitaries.

While hot and dusty stagecoaches were still being used prominent and wealthy travelers rode the rails in high class coaches equivalent to a modern day bus coach.

These old time wooden rail coaches were completely self contained including Air Conditioning!

Private railroad coaches owned by the most successful business people were used in the 1800s and early 1900s to transport high ranking, politicians, business executives, as well as private wealthy families.

Up until the 1930s the only transport was either by stage coach or rail.

Imagine travel today without jets and tour buses.

The only other option back then was by horse drawn coaches for cross country trips or by ship to ports.

Many US President’s made cross country trips stopping in cities to give speeches from the back of a private rail coach platform.

Of most recent President Obama used a vintage rail coach in 2008 to rekindle the nostalgic campaign tours made by Eisenhower, Truman and Roosevelt.

These old time rail coaches are mostly museum pieces today, although some private individuals still own and use private rail cars.

Private owners coordinate with railroads to lease a hitch onto trains to travel across the country on vacations.

The early coaches were wood frame construction built on a metal train car gear and frame.

Many may call this a Pullman car. The Pullman was the manufacturer of many coaches including the sleeper cars which became widely called "The Pullman"

The Pullman Palace Car Company was the most successful rail coach manufacturer.

The Pullman Company also went on to build street cars and trolleys used on large city streets that were equipped with railroad tracks.

The pictures are of a 1879 rail coach named the Quebec. It was rescued in Canada in 1962 as it was about to be burned for scrap metal.

With no real use for rail coaches in modern times many were sent off to salvage for the scrap metal value.

Since this coach was made with even a wood floor it was determined that it would be better to sell to an interested business man than to scrap it.

The Quebec was not a Pullman built coach but rather it was built and used by the Northern Railway of Canada as a passenger coach up until 1922.

The Canadian government then acquired it and converted the coach for government business.

They also reinforced it with steel plates and flooring to haul the Prime Minister and other visiting government officials.

The coach was used to transport Canadian Prime Ministers, American Presidents, and dignitaries from all over the world as they toured across Canada.

Which Canadian Prime Minster would have traveled the most on the Quebec? (Answer below)

In 1962 business man and rail enthusiast Arthur LaSalle convinced the Canadian officials to allow him to purchase the car for just $1500.

It was moved to North Carolina and partially refurbished and used as a living quarters and office before being moved to Florida for a railroad exhibit.

In the early 70s it was being moved to New Mexico, for a museum but in a strange twist the coach was vandalized while parked awaiting the transfer to the soon to be museum location.

During the turmoil that occurred after the vandalism the New Mexico Museum failed and the coach was then acquired by a Texas Historical Park located just South of Rosenberg Texas.

The coach was never refurbished and later was auctioned and acquired by the Rosenberg Texas Rail Road Museum where it underwent an historical preservation refurbishment.

The complete interior was stripped down to the original wood and refinished as it was used in the period.

This coach provided several sleeping areas complete with a toilet and sink.

The front end of the coach contained a dining room while the back contained a sitting area complete with a work desk.

The coach also contained a complete galley kitchen to serve the dignitary travelers five star meals.

The galley was completely lined in fire blocking in case the galley caught fire to keep it from quickly spreading through the rest of the coach.

Upper storage cabinets were built to hold fine china plates and dishes in place as the coach rocked back and forth on the tracks.

The coach was completely self contained with a coal fired boiler for hot water and heat.

Coal would be loaded in at the top as the coach was ready for travel and then auto feed into the boiler furnace.

The coach was also air conditioned, something that was not even used in homes or businesses at the time.

The wealthy and Canadian government evidently could afford this luxury including the 40 tons of ice that was stored in wooden boxes cargo compartments underneath the coach.

Cold ice water was pumped through radiator coils located in the passenger compartments.

As the water returned to the ice blocks it would spray on them to assist in melting more into cold water.

Blowers and pumps were operated by batteries, that were recharged with wheel mounted generators.

Although the coach had some electricity from the batteries the fine glass chandlers were still lit with oil lamps.

Fabric pouches were made to cover the chandler glass Icicles so they would clang together when the coach rocked back and forth.

Since chewing tobacco was widely used during that time frame spittoons were available in each compartment.

You can almost imagine the long trips with card games and stiff drinks that were served at both ends of this coach.

Honestly, I would of just enjoyed a cross country Canadian trip in this type of luxury.

The beautiful mountainous terrain must have just been breath taking. Especially in the unspoiled countryside in the early 1900s.

So which Prime Minster would have traveled the most on the Quebec?

William Lyon Mackenzie King, the 10th 1921–1926; 1926–1930; 1935–1948

Pictures Courtesy of Cottage Craft Works .com back-to-basics online general store.


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