Saturday, July 15, 2017

After the Fire

We've told this story before.  Back in 1970, CA&E car 309 was selected for restoration over the winter for operation in 1971.  The car was basically in good shape and just needed repainting both inside and out.  Since there were no barns, an oil stove was put into the car to heat the interior for repainting over the winter, and the exterior was to be done in the spring.  On March 13, 1971 the oil stove set fire to the car and the interior was heavily damaged.  The Union volunteer fire department responded and put the fire out, and Phil Hehn happened to arrive as they were leaving.  He took a number of pictures of the car at that time, and these are now being made public for the first time.

This was a few years before I joined the Museum, so they are of special interest to me.  By the time I joined the project, a lot of cleaning up had been done, but major restoration work remained.

Three views of the exterior of the car.  It was located on the old caboose track, about where the switch from the car line to the tail track is now:

The #1 end vestibule:

The #2 end:

(I might point out that the train door at this end had badly rotted and was replaced at North Chicago with one from the 310.)

What's left of the frame of the oval window in the main compartment, sitting on one of the badly burned seats.  All upholstery in the main compartment had to be replaced.

The ceiling above the stove was completely burned, along with the clerestory windows.

The bulkhead in the main compartment, with remains of the toilet compartment on the left:

Looking towards the bulkhead from farther back in the main compartment:

The clerestory over the toilet compartment door:

And a final view of the exterior.

Thanks to Phil for letting me scan in his slides.   And if anybody else has pictures from this era, especially just before the fire, I'd love to see them.

Update: Here we have a picture from the Strayhorn Library Collection scanned in for us by Ray Piesciuk.  This must be soon after the cars arrived at Union in 1964.   The paint is still in good condition, and the poles have not been planted.  Looking northwest.

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