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Southern Pacific Lounge #2979 "Neil M. Vodden"

Jay Jacobs 

Southern Pacific club-lounge car #2979 was originally built in 1912 by Pullman Car Company as a baggage-club car. This car was one of six cars (#2975-#2980) converted to a 54-seat club-lounge configuration in 1940. These 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 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 beverage bar framed by etched glass and mirrors. This car also features customized SP ashtrays with heavy bases that will not tip over during travel.

The Golden Gate Railroad Museum acquired the 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 of the car.

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 of the car has been rebuilt, including fabrication of stairs, vestibule floor and supports, and diaphragm.
  • Exterior has been 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 has been replaced with electric baseboard heating
  • Air conditioning system has been updated
  • 50 new upholstered seats and booths
  • New carpet
  • New window blinds

The exterior of the 2979 has recently been restored to the classic SP two-tone gray paint scheme.  Additional planned enhancements include the installation of restroom facilities.  The 2979 is now available for first-class charters during GGRM operations on the Niles Canyon Railway.  Please note that the 2979 is not wheelchair accessible due to the narrow aisles and doorways on our antique equipment.

Download and share our SP 2979 brochure