Pullman - "White Castle"

Specifications
Builder: Pullman Company
Built: 1920
Original Owner: Pullman Company
Type: Heavyweight Sleeping Car
Capacity: Sleeping accommodations for 27 adults
Acquired: 1990’s

Our Pullman heavyweight sleeping car – named “White Castle” – boasts an impressive resume. Read on for more information on the many jobs this car has held over the years.

The Pullman Company manufactured and operated railroad sleeping cars during the first half of the 20th Century. Pullman developed a unique business arrangement with the railroads; Pullman built, owned, and operated the sleeping car service attached to overnight trains. In the process, the Pullman name became synonymous with comfort on the rails. Pullman typically employed African American men as porters. After unionizing in 1925, The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters became a powerful political organization which made significant contributions to the American Civil Rights Movement.

This was originally named “Auckland” and included a drawing room, men’s and women’s washrooms, and twelve open sections, each section comprising an upper and lower sleeping berth. During the day, porters would convert the lower berth to passenger seating while the upper berth was tilted up and into the wall to provide more space. After an extensive renovation in 1936 which removed the drawing room and added two double bedrooms, the car was renamed “White Castle” and assigned to first-class sleeping car service on the Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad.

Pullman eventually came under increased scrutiny by the US Government for monopolizing the sleeping car industry, and in 1944 was forced to divest its operations arm. As a result, the Pullman cars – including the White Castle – were sold off to the railroads on which they operated. This car continued in sleeper service with the P&LE until 1958, when it was transferred to wrecking train duty. Again the car was heavily modified, with six of the sleeping sections, both double bedrooms and one of the washrooms removed. In this empty space, a large kitchen dining area was installed to feed the wreck train crew. With six open sections remaining the car could still sleep twelve crew members.

When the declining P&LE sold off large amounts of equipment in the early 1990’s, Jerry Jacobson bought the entire McKee’s Rocks wreck train for his Ohio Central railroad. Spotted outside the Morgan Run Locomotive Shop, the White Castle provided accommodations for volunteers working to rebuild and operate Jerry’s growing fleet of steam locomotives. After being transferred to the Age of Steam Roundhouse, the car was repurposed yet again as the field office at the Roundhouse construction site.

Over the Winter of 2018-2019, the White Castle was cleaned up and repainted in a proper coat of Pullman green. New windows were installed, including recreations of the etched “P&LE” glass windows at the ends of the car.