Continued from Homecoming…
Of the cars in the westbound train that were not in the eastbound train, former Milwaukee Road Skytop Observation Lounge #186 Cedar Rapids was the most noticeable as it was the last car on the westbound train.
The Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific railroad, or Milwaukee Road, had a total of 10 "Skytop" lounge cars built in 1948, all with styling by famous industrial designer Brooks Stevens that included a rounded glass-paned solarium end.
Cedar Rapids was the first of four cars numbered 186 through 189 the Milwaukee Road built in its own shops. These four Rapids-series cars, Cedar Rapids, Coon Rapids, Dell Rapids and Priest Rapids, featured 24 swiveling parlor seats, a single drawing room and lounge seating under the glass in the end of the car. These cars were used on the Hiawatha service between Minneapolis and Chicago until 1970.
By the end of 1948, the additional 6 Skytops, numbered 12 and 14 through 18, were delivered by Pullman-Standard. These six Creek-series cars, Alder Creek, Arrow Creek, Coffee Creek, Gold Creek, Marble Creek and Spanish Creek, has eight bedrooms plus a lounge under a slightly longer glass section, and were used on the Olympian Hiawatha between Chicago and Seattle until 1961 and were sold to the Canadian National in 1964 and used on the Montreal-Vancouver Super Continental until 1977.
Cedar Rapids was stored by the Milwaukee Road in Milwaukee from its retirement in 1970 until 1985, when it was purchased by Brooks Stevens' son David. The car was restored and operated in excursion service out of Chicago until 1990 when it was sold and soon put into storage.
The Friends of the 261 purchased the car in 1998 and it began operating again in 1999. In 2004, it was upgraded to meet the requirements to be pulled behind Amtrak trains.
Of the original ten Skytops, there are three Rapids-series and one Creek-series (plus parts of two others) surviving today, in various states of preservation. Cedar Rapids is the only one in operation.
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