History of Great Northern 1146

For starters, allow me to present a history page I wrote for the Minnesota Transportation Museum's web site: Click Here.


The arrangement of 1146's dining room, while unusual, is not unique to ACF or the Great Northern. Here is a 1947 Pullman advertisement which is almost prophetic.

Pullman Dining Car Ad

Why 1146 is 1146 (and has No Name)

The Great Northern always gave names to its dining, lounge and cafe cars - so why didn't 1145 and 1146 get names?


The ACF Industries Archival Collection of the John W. Barriger III National Railroad Library apparently contains a box (S6 #5,6) of correspondence and other material concerning the Great Northern's "Internationals" and "Red River" of 1950 and another box (S6 #7,8) concerning the 1951 "Empire Builder". See ACF Collection 1-14.pdf. I will have to visit some day.

According to the dates on the blueprints, engineering for the five types of cars in the "International" took about 13 months - from September 1948 to October 1949.

Here are two blueprints with ACF title blocks. These measure about 11" x 48". (Construction drawings are much larger.)

ACF floor plan ACF floor plan for the coach-diner. The revision block is probably the most interesting detail, as it gives some insight into the design process.
ACF floor plan Here is the manufacturer's painting diagram. I'm intrigued that the revision block says they moved the striping. We can also compare it with an EB painting diagram from Pullman.

New York Air Brake HSC ad New York Air Brake Company supplied the HSC air brakes used on these trains. Virtually unknown today, they were an electric-over-straight-air overlay on conventional D-22 passenger car air brakes, combined with an anti-lock feature. This advertisement explains their appeal. In theory, shorter braking distances allow faster schedules. In practice reliability was an issue and the HSC feature was soon torched off.
Westinghouse HSC ad A tip of the hat to SP 4449, representing another buyer of HSC Electro-Pneumatic air brakes.

The Red River

The coach-diners were not assigned to the Red River until the 1960's. However, in 1950 the GN publicity department needed a shot of the Red River. Apparently the Red River's coaches 1135-1137 were not ready, so they substituted a coach and both coach-diners from the International!

The International

The Great Northern's marketing department made sure everyone knew about the new streamlined "International" trains - and nearly every vendor who supplied parts trumpeted their role as well.

1145 and 1146 spent their first decade serving the route they were built for.

Lines East Pool

After being removed from the "International", 1145 and 1146 moved to St Paul, Minnesota. Through the 1960's they served on local trains terminating in St Paul.

Burlington Northern Years

For approximately one year, 1146 was a Burlington Northern coach-diner.

A Decade in Amtrak Service

Renumbered 8401 and painted in Platinum Mist, 1146 spent the 1970's in Amtrak service.

Museums and Private Ownership

It appears that 8401 was sold at Amtrak Auction, circa 1979 to 1981, to a Mr. Al Knippert. How it spent its time in his ownership is unknown to me. He may have eventually donated it to a museum in New Orleans.

A fellow RPCA member and car owner bought two cars from the Louisiana Railway Heritage Trust in 1994. He reports that 8401 was at their location in New Orleans at the time, inside a fenced area. It had already been sandblasted and painted in yellow primer.

Bob Moen purchased 8401 in 1998, and changed its car number back to 1146. He moved it to Hooper, Nebraska and had wheel and window work done. (I understand it traded for two better wheelsets from CNWX 301036, a CNW '400' coach turned MOW car.) Later he moved it to Randolph, Minnesota.

I purchased 1146 from Bob in February 2001.

Including 1146, of the 1950 "International" rolling stock, five of ten cars are known to survive today:

One last look at twin sister 1145: Jeff Lubchansky found her in Newark, NJ in January 2000, and posted pics on his site. Left side. Right side. Her dining room had burned, and she'd been stripped of parts. In a very interesting twist, I flew to Newark in 2004 to inspect four ex-GN coaches which the URHS had for sale. (1215, 1223, 1224 and 1229.) MTM took 1215 and 1224, because their 32vdc electrical systems were intact. On arrival in St Paul, I was stunned to discover 1224 had 1145's dining room end door! While inspecting, I'd noticed the burned door which didn't fit the car, but the opposite side - lettered "8400" - had been inaccessible.

The GN "International" Route Today

Passenger trains still ply the GN's "International" route. Today it is the Amtrak Cascades route, a service supported by Washington State and using Italian "Talgo" passenger cars and EMD F59PHI locomotives. The new trains are pretty neat, incorporating coach, business class, a bistro and a cafe. With a locomotive at each end, there's no observation car, but the side windows are still large to accomodate the wonderful scenery. That Talgo equipment is used on the International's route is interesting, since ACF's photos of the coach-diners under construction show a Talgo train in the background. ACF had licensed the technology and tried, unsuccessfully, to market it in the US.

Bill Sornsin wrote that one can search for "Station Street, Vancouver, BC" in Google Maps. The resulting map shows the existing Vancouver Pacific Central station (ex-CN) on the south side of National Ave. The GN station was north of the CN's, and to me the streets north of National Ave. describe a perfect station complex, extending from Station Street to the wye at the east.