• In the dome

  • Tell us where you were and what you saw!
Tell us where you were and what you saw!

Moderator: David Benton

  by John_Perkowski
No, not From the Dome ... that was Professor Patten's byline in PTJ.

In the Dome. Sitting at the roofline of a standard car.

Watching the world go by.

UP dome lounges were wonderful things. The ability to see the whole train up on the Wyoming plateau was fascinating. On my 1967 trip, I think we even had an SD unit helping the City of Saint Louis as we wended eastward.

On the westbound trip, I remember the attendant laying down the runners so the car could go to the coach yard as we arrived back at Union Station LA.

UP dome diners ... breakfast at Victorville. That memory will never go away.

"THE PLEASURE DOME" of the ATSF... even its name connotes decadence. The single swivel chairs up in the dome (as opposed to UP bench loveseats). Watching Arizona come and go, getting a view for miles in any direction.

The 3/4 domes of the SP: They came back to the Starlight while I was in college (they were occasional visitors before Amtrak on the Daylight). No forward visibility, but a fun place to watch the Santa Susana mountains and my own San Fernando Valley as I rolled home for quarter break.

Finally, the NP dome Pullmans: Again, an Amtrak trip (can't remember whether the train was still called the Super or if it was the SW Limited). I had a single BR under the dome that trip. Never even went to find the lounge car in the hi-levels that time; I had the dome :)

Gil, I know you have memories, and I hope others do as well :)

  by Gilbert B Norman
Just a few; first Dome Diner meal (just a ham sandwich) April 1961 (college interview) from roundly Byron IL to Lanark on MILW 111, cresting the summit of Homestake Pass June 1962 on NP #25 (North Coast Ltd), a Dome Diner Dinner on UP #103 Oct 1968, Evanston to Ogden with a "what's a train" Air Force buddy, the ascent and descent on SP #9 (Shasta) over the Cascades and the 'race" at dusk down the Valley to the Bay, as well as many otheres that will come to mind as soon as I close this "Morganesque" sentence and the posting.

  by David Benton
On the westbound trip, I remember the attendant laying down the runners so the car could go to the coach yard as we arrived back at Union Station LA.
What does this mean / involve ?
  by Gilbert B Norman
A runner is a protective cloth laid atop a carpet. Carpeting, once solely made from natural fibers, was considerably more of fixture of the "landed gentry" than today. Prior to Amtrak, the only railcars with carpeting were the First Class cars, including Diners - and the Southern Ry did not see a need for carpeting in them.

However, in this age of synthetic fibers, anything be it a Rail Coach or a McDonalds now has carpeting.

On a related note, over at the Amtrak Forum, a prospective traveler was asking about on-board travel tips. I noted that while you are free to move about the train, be certain that everyone in your party always wore hard soled footwear. On the Union Pacific trains there were always carpets laid accross the diaphram of each car, which I guess would obviate the need for footwear for movement between cars.

However, thirty five years ago, people tended to "dress up' for travel "a might bit more' than today, which in itself I would think would compel any person to not be seen walking about without footwear.

  by Tony T.
On the Union Pacific trains there were always carpets laid accross the diaphram of each car, which I guess would obviate the need for footwear for movement between cars.
When I was quite small and my older brother and I would get to ride the C&O/B&O between Chicago and Fostoria to visit my dad's family, my fondest memory was to stand in the vestibules and either look out of the dutch door or stand with one foot on each car while making track speed (watching those floors move past one another was really fun for a kid!). Track conditions of the time made it more exciting too! Good thing my mom never saw that!

I even think I have a memory of seeing the track via a hole in one of the coaches floors (this would have been the last year or so of operations prior to 04/71.

Back to the topic, I never got to see the domes on these trains, but I on the old N&W 611 excursions of the '80s, I rode the 'front' seat in one of the classic Budd domes of the train - my kingdom for a digital video cam back in those days!!
  by bill haithcoat
My first dome to ride was on the Texas Eagle on the Little Rock to Dallas portion of a ride from Memphis to Dallas. They were called planeterium domes.

My first dome "just to see" was on the Panama Limited northbound while it was stopped at the station in Memphis about midnght., same time frame as above memory. The porter allowed me to go inside and explore for a few minutes. It was a Northern Pacific car leased to the Illinois Central, and duly painted in IC colors. That fresh coast of paint gave it a distinctive smell.

One of my favorite memories was the dome diner on the City of LA(I was riding on the City of SF, combined with the City offo LA). I ate the expensive steak dinner and enjoyed every bite.
  by NellieBly
Ah, domes! I encountered my first domes on an eastbound ride from Oakland on the California Zephyr in 1968. They were wonderful! After that trip, a train never seemed quite complete without a dome.

I knew what a dome was, from books and from seeing them on the City of Miami when I hung out at the train station during our winter visits to Florida, but I'd never ridden in one.

One memory of the Zephyr trip I will always carry is of a meet in the Nevada desert late at night. I had made my way to the first coach dome, righthand side (the engineer's seat for a railfan). We were wisking along in the moonlight at 79 per, somewhere east of Sparks, when I saw an approach signal reflected from the silver roofs of the cars. We slowed, and next came a red over green. We snaked into the siding, ran down to the east end, and came to a stop at the home signal. We sat there in the darkness; the only sounds in the dome were the ticking of cooling metal and the whisper of air through the ducts. I heard a trap open, and saw the brakeman unload and cross the tracks for a roll-by.

Then a light showed in the distance, reflecting on the silver rails. It rapidly came closer, and then in a blur of dim lights and silver metal, the westbound Zephyr zoomed past, with just a quick impression of four darkened domes and the red light on the obs. We rocked gently in its wake. I heard the door slam as the brakeman climbed aboard. The home signal cleared, and we were quickly on our way. But I will never forget that meet in the desert.

My next encounter with a dome was on the Capitol Limited in 1969. Even with its lower height, it provided a great vantage point for trainwatching as we left Chicago on that wonderful B&OCT route.

Next after that was a trip to Florida in early 1970 with the dome sleeper on the rear of the Silver Star from Richmond (the car had been bumped from the Florida Special by a charter move), and on the Florida Special northbound. No mountain scenery, of course, but a dome is a dome.

The same summer, I rode the CP Canadian west from Winnipeg and came back on the CN "Super Continental", so got both Budd domes and the ex-MILW long domes.

Then came Amtrak, but on an August 1971 EB trip on the Super Chief, the Pleasure Dome was still in service. Later the same year, the "Stairway to the Stars" was in service on the "Coast Starlight".

There were also several trips on the Auto Train, where I finally got to eat in a dome diner, albeit while rolling down the main street of Rocky Mount, NC.

Then there were some unlikely dome rides during Amtrak's "rainbow years": on the Cardinal between Chicago and Charlottesville, VA, for example. But then came the Superliners, and domes were history -- until the Graham Claytor revival in the late 1980s. I was lucky enough to ride HEP domes at one time or another on the "City of NO", the "Lake Shore" EB to Albany, and the "Capitol".

But now they're gone, again -- except on the Canadian and, for the moment, the VIA Ocean. They remain, in my opinion, the single greatest innovation of the streamliner era.
  by Gilbert B Norman
A great piece, Ms. Bly, your journalistic talents continue even 82 years after your death.

So I guess Ms. Seaman, or Nellie reincarnate, must have ridden the Amtrak Auto Train cicra 1992. That was the only time a Dome Diner was in consist, public or private sector notwithstanding. Amtrak acquired three ex-MILW Super Domes from Princess Tours that used them as a luxoservice attached to the Coast Starlight until that train was Superliner equipped. For the cars in question, I refer one to http://www.trainweb.org/web_lurker/WebLurkersDOMEmain/

I personally thought those cars represented the "Zenith" of Auto Train dining.
  by jhdeasy
My first ride in a dome was in August 1974, from Albany-Rensselaer to Fort Edward and return, on the CP Skyline domes leased by D&H for use on Amtrak's Adirondack. I returned in March 1975 to do the entire A-R to Montreal and return in the dome.

My second dome ride came only 2 weeks after my first, riding Amtrak's San Francisco Zephyr from Chicago to Oakland in late August 1974. It was an an x-SP "three-quarter" dome lounge.

Other dome rides that come to mind:

September 1977: Atlanta to New Orleans and return in the x-Wabash dome parlor car on the Southern Crescent.

October 1977: Nashville to Chicago in a domecoach on the Floridian.

August 1981: Montreal to Vancouver on the Canadian; Skyline and PARK car. The Candian Rockies were great, but I also remember watching an impressive nightime thunder and lightning storm over the prairies, with just the brakeman and I riding in the PARK dome.

mid 1980s: Several trips between Washington and Chicago in dome coach on Amtrak's Capitol Limited.

1984 - early 1990s: Several trips on x-UP dome diner on Maryland Midland Railway and The EnterTrainment Line in Maryland.

November 1990: Houston to New Orleans in private dome SIERRA HOTEL on the rear of the Sunset Limited.

Autumn 1999: Private dome sleeper MOONLIGHT DOME on the Potomac Eagle, South Branch Valley RR in West Virginia.

Although they are not a traditional dome, I would have to include my rides in the "dome" on the original turbotrains:

-- Amtrak: New York to New London in early 1970s.
-- Via: Montreal to Toronto in about 1981.

  by Rhinecliff
My memories of the domes go back to the late 1960s and early 1970s onboard the Empire Builder.

My parents frequently took us from Saint Paul, MN to Minot, ND. I recall anxiously waiting for the train in concourse of the old Great Northern station in Minneapolis. My father would hold me up to the window when the train arrived, and it was a thrill to count the number of dome cars as the train rolled underneath.

Once onboard, I spent the wee hours exploring each and every of the domes -- each offering its own perspective of the train's operation. I particuarly enjoyed the first dome on the train, as it was closest to the engine where the revolving light could be observed and the whistle heard heard best. The last dome on the train was also interesting, because from there one could view the entire train.

Each dome seemed to have its own atmosphere. I recall there always being at least one super dome on the train, as well, and this dome had a snack bar downstairs. The variety of equipment in those days was just great for railfans -- although, as we know, from an operational standpoint it left a lot to be desired.

Although I have always enjoyed Amtrak's superliner equipment, and I find it to be an overall upgrade over the old streamliners, I do miss the experience of having multiple domes throughout the train to explore.

More recently, I have traveled on most of VIAs trains, and the domes remain a great feature of VIAs fleet. But for what ever reason, they just don't match the feeling of my childhood memories.
  by NellieBly
In answer to Gilbert: no, my dome diner experience was at Christmas 1976, on the original Auto-Train. When I next rode Auto-Train in the mid-1980s, I traveled coach, and got to sit in a dome but not eat in one.

To Jack Deasey: yes, I also rode the Turbotrains, Boston to NYG in 1970 and Washington to Cumberland a few years later. Never rode the Canadian version, unfortunately. And there have been numerous rides in domes on excursion trains ranging from a couple of Clark Johnson's "Explorer" trips to various steam excursions. Most recently, was in dome of "Sierra Hotel" on the "Grand Excursion" trips.

There is *nothing* in railroading like a dome.
  by jhdeasy
After a lengthy repair at the (now defunct) Northern Rail Car Company, followed by additional work at the prosperous Avalon Rail, in Milwaukee, the former C&O / B&O / SCL / Amtrak dome sleeper (now a dome business car) MOONLIGHT DOME, a 1948 product of the Budd Company, will move from Wisconsin to South Carolina in late October 2004.

Chicago to Milwaukee: Amtrak Hiawatha Service, Friday 9/22.

Chicago to Philadelphia: Amtrak Three Rivers, Saturday 9/23

Philadelphia to Charlotte: Amtrak Carolinian, Monday 9/25.

The newsworthy photo op here is an occupied dome car operating under the catenary from Philadelphia to Washington on the NorthEast Corridor!


  by jhdeasy
CORRECTION: The dates in the previous post should be 10/22, 10/23 and 10/25.

  by AmtrakFan
I have sadly never ridden in a dome I wish I could in the Golden Age of Rail Travel. Maybe I should ride VIA on the Candian but cost $$$$$$$$.


  by MBTA F40PH-2C 1050
i would love to ride in a dome car, but i would probably have to go to Canada