Newly Restored Dome Car Gives Unique View on North Shore Scenic Railroad

Northland Uncovered: Silver Club Dome Car

DULUTH, Minn. – It’s a common occurance to see the North Shore Scenic Railroad trains chugging along the tracks in Summer months.

This year, a new dome car was added to that train.

“247 of these cars were eventually built with the dome on the top for seating and they became exceedingly popular,” said Ken Buehler, Executive Director for the North Shore Scenic Railroad.

Dome cars gave first class passengers a view worth the extra bucks.

“You’re traveling along the lakewalk, you’re looking out over lake superior, and you get this beautiful dome car experience,” said Buehler.

First taking off in the 1940s after an idea from Cyrus Osborne of General Motors, the dome car provided services to compete with air travel.

It was an experience many had never had before.

“With the windows overhead and on the side and pretty much flying as if you were at tree top level,” said Buehler.

The car at the Lake Superior Railroad Museum is a California Zephyr Dome Car, “The Silver Club,” which was built in 1948.

It was given to the North Shore Scenic Railroad by a donor who had replaced the glass and wheels.

“The rest of it, though, was pretty much a basket case,” laughed Buehler.

Now, nearly a quarter of a million dollars have been invested to fix it up.

“It was just nothing but bare walls and floor, there were walls that had to be removed, there were areas that you just didn’t even want to go in, there was asbestos to be removed, and we did all that work,” said Buehler.

There is still some work that needs to be completed.

They’ll be working on two cabins and the restrooms.

They are taking donations to complete those projects.

The rides fill up fast, so railroad museum officials recommend purchasing the first-class dome car tickets in advance.

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