Historic Pullman heavyweight sleeper-buffet-lounge-solarium car “Palm Lane” arrived at the Illinois Railway Museum’s railroad interchange track on its own wheels on September 15, 2023. This rare example of a “sunroom” solarium observation car was built by Pullman in 1929 and placed into service in January of that year. Its initial assignment was the Seminole Limited, a passenger train which ran between Chicago and Jacksonville, Florida, over the Illinois Central, Central of Georgia, and Atlantic Coast Line railroads.
In addition to its solarium compartment, which boasts a 270-degree view out of extra-large windows at the rear of the car, “Palm Lane” has a lounge section, three compartments, and a drawing room. It seated 23 people and offered beds for eight. In 1934, Pullman equipped the car with air conditioning, but otherwise it remained largely original until the end of its passenger service career.
The car remained under Pullman ownership until 1956, when it was sold to James E. Strates Shows, a traveling carnival. There, renumbered JES 2 and named “Syracuse,” it was used in largely unaltered condition until damaged by flooding in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, in 1972 due to Hurricane Agnes. JES donated the car to the Central New York Chapter, National Railway Historical Society, which exhibited it at the New York State Fairgrounds for approximately 40 years. Iowa Pacific Holdings moved the car to Colorado in 2013 for a planned rebuilding that did not happen. In 2021, IRM member Roger W. Kramer purchased “Palm Lane” and donated the car to the museum. It joins one of the country’s largest and most diverse collections of preserved railroad passenger cars.
IRM plans to restore “Palm Lane” to its condition while in service with Pullman. The car is mostly complete and unaltered since its later days in service with Pullman, making it an excellent example of the “sunroom” solarium heavyweight design. Donations are needed to cover the cost of transporting the car from Colorado to Illinois, to pay for the car’s storage at the museum, and to fund future restoration work. To donate to the Passenger Car Department and support the restoration of “Palm Lane,” click here.