• Maine Central Business Car #333

  • Discussion relating to the pre-1983 B&M and MEC railroads. For current operations, please see the Pan Am Railways Forum.
Discussion relating to the pre-1983 B&M and MEC railroads. For current operations, please see the Pan Am Railways Forum.

Moderator: MEC407

  by lvrr 560
Does any have any information on the origin/ history ?

(Topic moved to the Boston&Maine/Maine Central forum for better exposure. -the mod.)

  by Dick H
Quote from the Northern New England Color Guide to Freight and Passenger Equipment "MEC 333 Maine Central's newest business car was #333 (originally NITUNA) photographed at Rigby Yard in Portland in October 1967. Measuring 83 feet 7 3/4 inches long over couplers, this 1924 built all steel car had private rooms for four officials plus a dining and kitchen on the vestibule end and a lounge section at the observation end. Painted dark green with black roof, the car also had a yellow stripe at the bottom of the carbody sides."

Quote from Maine Central in Color, Volume 2 "The 333 was built for private use by Pullman in 1924. Originally named "Nituna" and then "Lone Tree", it came to tne MEC in 1939.

  by gokeefe
Stunning description of MEC #333 Lone Tree contained in the following article. The article is on the http://www.railmerchants.net website, in a sub section detailing the restoration of Conrail #4 while in Private Varnish status. Article is quoted here for posterity as it will probably be lost if changes are ever made to the http://www.railmerchants.net website.
Excerpt from

by R.J. "Bart" Barton and Kevin Johnson

on the http://www.railmerchants.net/america/index.htm website dedicated to Conrail #4 now in private varnish as America

"In 1990, Conrail 4 was sold to Raymond A. Rich.

Maine Central President E. Spencer Miller and Buck Dumaine, President of the Bangor & Aroostook, had known each other for quite some time. The two had even discussed the possibilotu pf merging the two lines. But Dumaine's Amoskeag holding company held a 35 per cent stake in the Maine Central and Dumaine had indicated pretty strongly to Miller that it would be Dumaine who would head up the resulting railroad.

To say that Miller, whose Maine Central was the stronger of the two roads, had no interest in a Dumaine-dominated MEC is an understatement. Still, he believed Dumaine would eventually find a way to pull it off.

Ron Palmquist was a political and transportation reporter for Local CBS affiliate WGAN-TV in Portland, Maine, back in those days, "I remember attending one Maine Central annual meeting," he remembers, : at which Amoskeag lawyers attempted to vote the stock. But crafty Spence Miller and his directors handily deflected the move. That matter settled, everyone in the board room, reporters included, adjourned for lobster elsewhere in the Maine Central office building. Covering the Maine Central was always a great assignment."

It was becoming abundantly clear that what Miller needed a financial angel to get control of the MEC, someone who wouldn't want to run the railroad and would therefore keep Miller on as a president.

That someone turned out to be Raymond A. Rich, Chairman of the Board of U.S. Filter Corporation. At some point the two got together and Rich was invited to see the line from the vantage point of Maine Central business car 333.

The 333 was Pullman-built in 1924 as private car Nituna for R. T. Crane, but was named Lone Tree when acquired by the Maine Central in 1929. It was a beautiful car with a Peruvian mahogany interior.

Rich is believed to have taken his first look at the Maine Central aboard the 333 sometime in the latter half of 1979. It impressed him enough that he began looking for his own private car, one on which he could travel with his wife, Virginia.

In March, 1980, U.S. Filter acquired Amoskeag's interest in the Maine Central and set out to purchase enough stock owned by MEC officers to get a controlling 51 per cent.

Rich made a second trip on the 333 during the 1980 Christmas holidays season, and it is this trip he made with his wife that is still remembered today.

"I recall they made a big fuss over Rich's wife," remembers Geoffrey Doughty, a Maine Central employee at the time. "This is the kind of trip that made "headlines" at the MEC in those days. Taking out the 333 was like bringing out a rare piece of family china. The car was an eye catcher, it was elegant as all get out, and when it rolled past the general office building, windows filled with faces. It is not an overstatement to say that the 333 was the pride of the Maine Central. It was, in fact, the crown jewel."

The trip took place in a snowstorm. "It must have been spectacular!" recalls Doughty, who secured a festive holiday wreath, liberated from a general office building door, to the car's platform railing when the train stopped at Portland before heading out on the highly scenic Mountain Division. "It began snowing at Waterville as the trip got under way with MEC railroad police officer Harry Littlefield, the designated cook that day, serving up a fine breakfast aboard in a dining room with its own special china and silver, white linen tablecloths, napkins, and windows accented with gold braided curtains."

"It was still snowing pretty good when the two-car train, headed by the MEC's sole surviving steam-generated-equipped GP-7, departed Portland around noon. The railroad and the operating department pulled out all the stops for this one and MEC 333 was riding like the Queen's Rolls.

Anyone who owns a private car already knows how this story ends, but for the record, there's just no way the Riches were not going to be impressed.

"Shortly thereafter, Conrail 4 arrived in Portland, but the deal must have been in the works well before then. It is widely believed Rich actually bought the car as a present for Virginia."

Stewart Park, the MEC's last Chief Mechanical Officer, still remembers how Virginia Rich charmed everyone with whom she came in contact on the railroad. Virginia certainly was a people person. Under the name of Mary Meade, she had been a food editor for the Chicago Tribune. While there she wrote several cookbooks under than name, and several guides to wine under the name of Mary Ellen Church. She was also a contributor to Sunset Magazine.

Virginia was in her mid-60's when she wrote her first novel. Between 1932 and 1985, three of her "kitchen mysteries" were published. The Cooking School Murders, The Baked Bean Supper Murders, and The Nantucket Diet Murders featured Eugenia Potter, widowed chef, a pleasant woman living a believable life. "Eugenia Potter is a doll!" gushed one reviewer.

Inside the front and back covers of each of her novels there were recipes (a first) connected with characters in the book.

At the time she died, Virginia Rich was working on a fourth book and had collected material and begun chapters for others. When her husband discovered all of this, he asked her agent if another writer could be found to continue the series. One was. An accomplished author in her own right, and a Eugenia Potter fan to boot, Nancy Pickard completed The 27-Ingredient Chili Con Carne Murders and wrote one or two others based on Virginia's notes.

"It came as a welcome surprise to Virginia," said a woman who interviewed her, "to discover that one's life could grow larger and richer and more delicious the farther one moved down its road. She was often simply astonished - and a bit superstitious - about how good it felt to be a woman of sixty-four in America in the late twentieth century. Virginia believed good fortune had a lot to do with money and health. If she could have bottled them she would have given those same ingredients in great doses to everyone."

Conrail 4 arrived a Rigby Yard at South Portland, Maine, very early in January of 1981. From there it moved to the MEC's Waterville Shops. Some work was done on the car at Waterville, "but not much," according to one observer.

In the same way U.S. Filter acquired Maine Central, Ashland Oil Company got control of U.S. Filter 15 months later. One of the first things the Ashland people did was to ask themselves why they owned a railroad. On June 16, 1981, Maine Central was sold to Timothy Mellon's Guilford Transportation Industries. That same month, former Conrail 4, now named Eagle-Bay (with a hyphen) but still sporting Conrail logo and painted Conrail blue, moved back to South Portland. The day it arrived it was added to a southbound Boston & Maine freight. Destination was the B&M's Billerica Shops in Massachusetts, 20 miles northwest of Boston. There it was rebuilt, the job completed by the end of 1982.

A couple of things about the rebuild stand out. Most noticeable is the car's decidedly different roof, definitely not Pullman, certainly not New York Central. "Shop forces at Billerica," remembers Bob Grindrod who saw the Eagle Bay while scouring the country at the time looking for cars to add to the Chicago & North Western's executive business car fleet, "fabricated the new roof on the shop floor and hoisted it into place with an overhead crane."

Two huge fuel tanks, fabricated from tanks salvaged from a Boston & Main commuter service RDC (rail diesel car) were installed under the car. Together they held a total of 400 gallons of fuel for the car's diesel generator, which Rich elected to have installed inside the car at the kitchen end.

Short biographical sketches on the jackets of two of Rich's novels state that "Virginia divides her time between a working cattle ranch in Arizona and a cottage off the coast of Maine."

The original plan was to use the Eagle Bay primarily to travel between the Northeast and Phoenix. At some point during the last years of her life, Virginia developed a heart problem, and this, too, may have figured in the plan to make the journey by private car.

One of the things Ray Rich was sure his wife was really going to like about the car when he bought Conrail 4 was the Secretary's Room, which he referred to simply as an Office. It had a desk, typewriter, and storage cabinets. Just the thing for an author traveling by rail. But for some reason, it is said that Virginia was less than enthralled.

In fact, Virginia seems to have lost interest in the Eagle Bay altogether, and the couple may not have actually ever traveled on it, something alluded to in a classified ad that is supposed to have appeared in TRAINS magazine offering the Eagle Bay for sale. In photos of the car taken inside the shop at Billerica in December of 1982, it does not appear that the car left the shop following the rebuilding.

St. Petersburg, Florida, Oldsmobile dealer E. W. Bert Smith, who had just recently sold what is today Bennett Levin's Pennsylvania 120 to Florida dentist Joel Mitchell, purchased the Eagle Bay early in 1984. Smith's wife, Barbara, recently recalled the first time she laid eyes on it.

She was home in Florida when Bert, skiing in Colorado with business associates, phone from Aspen. "Hop on a plane and fly to Boston," he said. "I'll be there when you land."

Then he hung up.

When Barbara stepped off the plane at Logan International, her husband greeted her with two dozen roses. "Come on," he said, escorting her to a waiting limousine, "you and I are going for a ride."

"Where?" she asked.

"Grocery shopping," he said.

Grocery shopping?" she replied incredulously.

"You'll see," he said.

Limo packed with groceries and a couple cases of Evian spring water, the driver drove them to Billerica Shops where the Eagle Bay was waiting.

Barbara's first impression was that she was not at all impressed with what she remembers as the Eagle Bay's "awful shade of green."]

"It'll change," Bert promised her.

Somewhere on the way on the move to Florida, the Eagle Bay ran out of water. Barbara was in the shower. "I rinsed off with Evian," she says.

Smith parked his new acquisition on the siding at the automobile agency and the Smith's spent the next 2 1/2 years further upgraded the car and creating an elegant modern interior."

From: http://www.railmerchants.net/america/index.htm
So...where is Lone Tree now?
  by gokeefe

Final Question still stands...

Where is Lone Tree now?

Nobody seems to know, amazing. How a large piece of gaudy equipment like that can just disappear off the face of the earth and all of the people who read this forum have no idea whatsoever. What a world.

I'm going to post this question in the New England Railfan forum too. Perhaps better luck there...
  by MEC407
Could this be the 333? http://naphotos.nerail.org/showpic/?pho ... key=mec407

If so, that car was sold a few years ago. It had been in storage at Waterville since '99 or 2000.
  by jwhite07
Time has made me far from certain of it, but something makes me think I saw MEC 333 in the yard at the Conway Scenic Railroad the last time I was there, about 12 years ago...

Update: While I can't seem to find any of the photos I took of the car, there is this photo on the NERAIL Photo Archive: http://photos.nerail.org/showpic/?photoid=17711

That's probably the car I recall seeing, and it's definitely not the 333. Judging from its basic configuration and the arched windows, it's more likely former MEC 2001.

And MEC407, 333 was a gorgeous old six-axle heavyweight observation car, not a postwar streamlined car like the one in the photo you pointed out.

So I guess the question still stands on what happened to MEC 333. I don't suppose Guilford kept it and it's buried in a dark corner in Billerica or something?
  by gokeefe
Mr. jwhite,

Thank you for your response regarding the ongoing mystery of MEC #333 "Lone Tree". I'm pretty sure the car you have linked in the photo is a former MEC passenger coach or possibly an NJT/CNJ (?) coach that CSRR once owned. If I'm not mistaken this coach is now at the Downeast Scenic Railroad but I could be wrong about that too.

I am under a strong impression that "Lone Tree" was sold into the private varnish system 'under cover of darkness'. Images of the Mayflower vans moving the Baltimore Colts to Indianapolis come to mind. I'm sure it wasn't really that sinister but somtimes it feels like it. As I've said before it's really amazing to me that such a distinctive car was able to disappear without any sign whatsoever to the extent that NO ONE up to this point has any idea where the car went.

This is the first and only instance I am aware of on these forums that a question about a less than obscure piece of railroad equipment has not been met with a definitive answer.
  by MEC407
jwhite07 wrote: So I guess the question still stands on what happened to MEC 333. I don't suppose Guilford kept it and it's buried in a dark corner in Billerica or something?
I would be shocked if they still had it. They did a major house-cleaning a couple of years ago. Among the items to go were several surplus passenger cars, a steam locomotive bell, and a few surplus snow plows.
  by GP40MC1118
While I can't confirm as yet, the 333 and a companion combine, are squirreled away
in Waterville. Apparently been for sale for a few years.

  by gokeefe
GP40MC1118 wrote:While I can't confirm as yet, the 333 and a companion combine, are squirreled away
in Waterville. Apparently been for sale for a few years.

Please make sure to post further information if you can confirm. If you can get photos that would be even better, interior shots would be great! Maybe it will help get the car sold.
  by GP40MC1118
The 333 and 322 are both in Waterville. Sorry, no photos.

It's unclear if the 333 is for sale or not.

  by gokeefe
322?? Is that the combine?
  by radioman
The picture from the link above is of the former Maine Central rules car #2001, which was used system
wide for conducting rules classes and examinations. At one time it contained a small class room, as
well as bunks and kitchen facilities for the traveling examiners. It would primarily be used in smaller
outlying terminals such as Rumford or Rockland, that were considered home terminals for outlying
  by MEC407
MEC407 wrote:I would be shocked if they still had it. They did a major house-cleaning a couple of years ago. Among the items to go were several surplus passenger cars, a steam locomotive bell, and a few surplus snow plows.
I am having a huge "EUREKA!" moment right now!

The 333 and the 320 were indeed among the pieces of equipment that GRS put up for sale back in 2005. They had an ad on their web site and everything. I was rummaging through some e-mails that I had sent to a colleague, and found the one I sent in 2005 which told him about the ad on the GRS web site, and I mentioned in the e-mail that he should pay close attention to the section of the ad that mentioned the 333.

Eventually the ad was taken down, which I assumed to mean that everything had been sold. If, however, the 333 is still at Waterville, that would be very interesting. I would take it to mean that GRS wasn't able to get their asking price for it. I would also take it to mean that, like everything else they own, it is still for sale... for the right price.

Thanks to the wondrous Internet Archive Wayback Machine, we can now view that old ad:

http://web.archive.org/web/200504071820 ... ipment.htm
  by gokeefe
I'm speechless...Unbelieveable.

Clearly an act of corporate stewardship on the part of GRS/PAR. Although the company is often given a bad name for past events etc., clearly they still understand that it would be absolutely horrific for them to sell these cars to a party that did not have the capacity to maintain them, perhaps preferably in their historic state.

I'm even more impressed that they were selling the cars as a set.

It would be nice to see a non-profit of some kind in Maine take over this equipment for them and put it in it's properly deserved place. If the Maine State museum weren't rail locked I would say they might be a good option in some shape or form, unfortunately I don't think they have the floor space either, nor will they in the near future, if ever.

Funny to think of it but Waterville would have the beginnings of a nice museum and historical society if they were to invest some time and effort in creating a "Central Maine Railroad Museum", or better yet, "Railroad Museum of Maine", or "Maine Transportation Museum", etc. perhaps coupled with a home for the future form of a "Maine Central Railroad Historical Society/Association".

I'm sure MEC #470 would give the operation a nice start.

Not bad for a city that is not even the county seat, such as Augusta or Lewiston/Auburn.