Roughly five years after the start of fundraising, Milwaukee Road “Buffeteria” dining car 126 arrived at the Illinois Railway Museum on January 31, 2024. The Chicago Milwaukee St. Paul & Pacific Railroad, or Milwaukee Road, built car 126 in its shops in Milwaukee in 1948. Originally the car was a streamlined 48-seat diner with a full kitchen. In 1964, the railroad rebuilt car 126 and two others as “Buffeteria” dining cars. Table service was replaced by a stainless steel-and-glass cafeteria-style buffet line where riders selected their food. The cars retained their full kitchens and seated 32 diners.
Car 126 was sold into private ownership in 1971 and in 2019 the owner offered to donate the car to IRM. Thanks to the generous support of individual donors, necessary repairs to car 126 were accomplished and the car moved to the museum on its own wheels. The “Buffeteria” is in complete, unrestored, and original condition. It is a unique piece of equipment and serves as a bridge between the full dining car service common during the golden age of rail travel and more recent café-style dining found on many Amtrak trains.
Further donations will help stabilize, preserve, and restore car 126 to its late-1960s condition. Click here to donate toward the preservation and restoration of the “Buffeteria.”