SP Dome Overview
Build date: 1954-1955
Manufacturer: Southern Pacific
The first of Southern Pacific's Dome Cars, No. 3600.
Southern Pacific Dome Cars
Southern Pacific converted seven lounge and observation cars one three-quarter length and six slightly less than full-length dome cars in 1954 and 1955. A lower-level lounge at one end of the car was topped by a high, domed ceiling.
The Southern Pacific designed and built its own dome cars out of older cars it had on hand due to the fact that most dome cars were too tall to fit through its tunnels. The first car was built from a 1938 Coast Daylight observation car using a dome lattice and windows manufactured by the Budd Company. This car also had a crew-dorm at the rear end and was shorter (81 feet compared to 85 feet) than the other SP domes. On June 24, 1954, this car was introduced on the San Joaquin Daylight.
These were among the shortest domes ever built at only 15-feet, 2-inches tall. This was a full inch shorter than the Baltimore and Ohio’s Pullman-built domes for their Columbian passenger train, and five inches shorter than the Milwaukee Road’s Super Domes. Most of the Budd-built short domes were a whopping eight inches taller.
The SP domes featured upper deck with seats that extended approximately half the car’s length. The first car’s upper deck had approximately 28 coach-like seats and 16 more seats that faced tables. The five dome cars built after the first car featured coach seats with bench seats at tables. The last two cars were built for the Shasta Daylight and featured upper decks that had bench seats and tables.
Each car had two stairways, with one stairway leading to the door to the next car and the other going down to a 20-seat lounge with the dome above, which gave it a cathedral-like feel. A small kitchen for serving drinks and snacks to passengers was in end of the car that did not have a domed ceiling.
In addition to the San Joaquin Daylight and the Shasta Daylight, Southern Pacific’s domes also served on the Coast Daylight.
Classic Streamliners - TRAINCYCLOPEDIA
The upper level of an SP dome.
SP Dome Car No. 3601.
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Text: wikipedia.org. Images: Public Domain; http://www.commons.wikimedia.org (unless otherwise specified) and 17 U.S. Code § 107 fair use. References: Lewis, Robert G. The Handbook of American Railroads. New York: Simmons-Boardman Publishing Corporation, 1951, 2nd Edition 1956. Site Map Contact webmaster HERE.