Part of the original postwar 24-car Creek series from Pullman-Standard, the Chippewa Creek is the only surviving car of its design, which features staggered windows and a unique “upstairs/downstairs” configuration. With 12 duplex single rooms and four double bedrooms, the Chippewa Creek can sleep 20 people in luxury and comfort. Once highly sought by business travelers, the spacious duplex rooms are still the largest sleeping rooms on any rail car operating in North America. William Howes, the respected railroad executive and author, has said the duplex single rooms were the largest private single-person accommodation available on any railroad. He further commented that whenever possible, he would reserve and travel between home and college in one of the duplex rooms of a Creek car.
Every room features a toilet and wash basin, with brand new shower facilities located at the end of the car. The double bedrooms have bunk bed arrangements, while the duplexes offer convertible sofabeds and writing tables. When combined with the Catalpa Falls, the two cars can easily accommodate overnight tour groups of up to 30 people in the glamour and luxury of yesteryear.
Buoyed by postwar optimism, the Pennsylvania Railroad ordered the Chippewa Creek as part of a $21 million order for 214 new cars in May of 1946 and delivered in 1949. The car was intended for the Broadway Limited, the most prestigious passenger train on what for decades was the top railroad in the nation. The Broadway Limited’s sleepers and lounge cars were staffed and operated by the Pullman Company under contract to the Pennsylvania Railroad. The Broadway Limited made its last run on September 9, 1995.
The Chippewa Creek was part of the “Creek” series of postwar railcars built by Pullman-Standard for the Pennsylvania, and is the only surviving car of its design. The Catalpa Falls Group purchased the Chippewa Creek from the Pacific Railroad Society Museum in Los Angeles, California, who had owned it since 1972.
Design & Restoration
The look of the Chippewa Creek reflects the “Fleet of Modernism” that famed industrial designer Raymond Loewy envisioned. The exterior’s striking paint scheme, featuring Tuscan red finished with gold pinstripes, gives a sense of the elegant décor to be found within. Interior décor items were carefully selected to be as close as possible to Loewy’s original intent, while also meeting today’s more stringent onboard safety requirements.
The restoration process has a dual goal of preserving the historical nature of the original design while bringing the car up to current safety and comfort standards. For example, significant work is being done to replace all of the steam heat in the car with electric heat, and replace the original generator and lead batteries with 480-volt, three phase electric power. The latest electronic amenities including flat-screen televisions, DVD players and wireless Internet access must be added in a way that doesn’t detract from the car’s original era.