Skip Repetitive Navigational Links

Southern Pacific Lounge No.2979 "Neil M. Vodden"

Jay Jacobs 

Southern Pacific Club-Lounge No.2979 was originally built in 1912 by the Pullman Car Company as a baggage-club car. This car was one of six cars (Nos.2975-2980) converted to a 54-seat club-lounge configuration in 1940. The club-lounge cars were used on premier trains such as The Overland, The Lark, and The Cascade.

These cars were used frequently as protection cars for diners such as the triple-unit Cascade Club. Whenever the streamlined diner was out of commission, a club-lounge could be paired with a rebuilt heavyweight diner to provide comparable meal service for the train.

SP-2979 has comfortable lounge seats with tables where passengers can enjoy spirits, a light meal, or a game of cards. In the center of the car is a circular mahogany bar framed by etched glass and mirrors. The car also features customized ashtrays with heavy bases designed not to tip over during travel.

The Golden Gate Railroad Museum acquired the club-lounge car in 1989 from the Charles Krug Winery in Napa Valley, where it had been used as a wine-tasting car. During its time at the winery, the car was near a sprinkler system which caused corrosion of the vestibule end.

The GGRM has completed a full restoration of this historic car to reflect its 1954 appearance, although some updates have been made in order to make the car more comfortable and reliable for active service.  The following list highlights the work that was performed during the restoration.

  • Vestibule end rebuilt, including fabrication of stairs, floor, supports, and diaphragm.
  • Exterior painted in the classic SP two-tone gray scheme
  • Significant external body work
  • New interior and exterior window frames and glazing
  • New roof coating
  • Installation of a new diesel generator to replace the Waukesha engine
  • Steam heat replaced with electric baseboard heating
  • Air conditioning system updated
  • 50 new upholstered seats and booths
  • New carpet
  • New window blinds

The SP-2979 is now available for first-class charters during GGRM operations on the Niles Canyon Railway.  Please note that the SP-2979 is not wheelchair accessible due to the narrow aisles and doorways of this antique equipment.