At 1:35 a.m. on a June night in 2009, under the cloak of darkness and after the last Caltrain of the night, a crew using a heavy-duty crane lifted and positioned a vintage railcar onto the historic siding track adjacent to the Santa Clara Caltrain Station Depot. By 6 a.m. the 1912 Pullman café parlor observation car was in place at its new home.
“Relocating the vintage passenger car onto the historical track at Santa Clara went fairly smoothly considering the logistics involved,” said Construction Manager Kevin Boles.
Twenty-one hours before, the 83-foot observation car was sitting at a railroad storage area near the Port of Redwood City, waiting to be loaded onto a heavy haul truck. Once loaded onto the truck, it was driven slowly down El Camino Real to the Santa Clara station.
The observation car was donated in 2012 by SBHRS member Ralph Domenici. Domenici began restoration of the exterior in 2002.
The café parlor observation car was built in December 1912 by the Pullman Company for the Oregon-Washington Railroad & Navigation Company. In 1922, the railroad rebuilt it as a business car to which the exterior has now been restored. In 1932, the car was sold to the Oregon Shortline Railroad. In 1936, OWR&N and the OSL were absorbed totally by the Union Pacific Railroad, which operated the car for the next 30 years. During World War II, Union Pacific donated the use of UP 157, which it was known, to the American Red Cross for the war effort.The relocation of the railcar was made possible by a grant from the Santa Clara Mission City Community Fund. The car is another artifact of the Edward Peterman Museum of Railroad History whose volunteers are working on the renovation and preservation of the historic Santa Clara Railroad Depot, the tower and two maintenance-of-way buildings.