Railroad Passenger and Baggage Cars
New York Central 'Dover Strait'
|6Brm Buffet Lounge
New York Central “Dover Strait” is an all-steel heavyweight sleeping/buffet/lounge car. It has a large lounge area, a buffet and kitchen for serving light refreshments, and six double bedrooms, which were private rooms for two people that included a bathroom. When new, it bore the name “Stryker” and was a combination baggage-buffet-lounge-barbershop car. Pullman rebuilt the car in 1934 to generally the condition it is in today and renamed it “Dover Strait” at that time. Both before and after rebuilding, the car usually served the Chicago to New York route north of Lake Erie via Buffalo and Detroit.
In 1948, Pullman sold “Dover Strait” to the New York Central, which then painted it into two-tone grey in the early 1950s. Later, in 1958, Pullman purchased the car back from the NYC. Pullman sold the car in 1960 to the Elgin Joliet & Eastern Railroad, which put it into work service as their car 8766. The EJ&E finally retired the car in 1984.
FUN FACT: The color scheme that the “Dover Strait” wears was made famous by the New York Central’s premier train between New York and Chicago, the 20th Century Limited. When this luxurious train was inaugurated in 1902, a red carpet was laid down on the platform for boarding passengers – and the phrase “red-carpet treatment” to denote premium service was born. Read more about famous passenger trains below.
New York Central “Dover Strait” Details
Year Built: 1924
Length: 81ft 7in
Width: 10ft 5in
Height: 14ft 8in
Weight: ??? lbs
Trucks: 242A 6 Wheel
Description: 6 Bedroom Buffet Lounge Dover Strait
Condition: Complete / restored / operational
New York Central “Dover Strait” Ownership History
1924-1934 – Pullman “Stryker”
1934-1948 – Pullman “Dover Strait”
1948-1958 – New York Central “Dover Strait”
1958-1960 – Pullman “Dover Strait”
1960-1984 – Elgin Joliet & Eastern #8766
1984-present – Illinois Railway Museum, Union, Illinois
Famous Passenger Trains
One of hundreds of Pullman-owned sleeping cars that roamed the rails of the United States in the early 20th century, the “Dover Strait” spent most of its career running over the New York Central, or NYC. On the NYC, the car was part of the railroad’s so-called “great steel fleet” of passenger cars. It was likely a regular on one of the most famous trains in railroad history: the 20th Century Limited.
By the mid-1900s, it was considered essential for a long-distance passenger train service to have a name. These names generally bore an association with the railroad’s history or traditions, the cities or regions it went through, or some characteristic of the service itself. The Broadway Limited on the Pennsylvania Railroad honored the “broad way” of the railroad’s four-track main line. The Hiawatha on the Milwaukee Road was named after the poem by Longfellow, which was set in Minnesota. The fabled City of New Orleans on the Illinois Central ran to that city from the railroad’s hometown of Chicago. The Ann Rutledge on the Chicago & Alton was an unusual one, named for Abraham Lincoln’s first love.
The railroads were very proud of the service provided on their named trains. Each train had its own traditions and claim to fame. The 20th Century Limited, on which the “Dover Strait” ran, saw the first use of a red carpet for VIPs. The California Zephyr on the Burlington was known for its glass-ceiling dome cars. The North Coast Limited on the Northern Pacific was famous for, of all things, the giant baked potatoes served in the diner.
When Amtrak took over most remaining passenger service in the U.S. in 1971 some of the names, like Hiawatha and Empire Builder, remained in use. But pride remained in these diminished yet still evocative names. The Santa Fe Railroad stopped Amtrak from using the name of its famous Super Chief; it didn’t consider Amtrak’s service worthy of the name and the reputation.