KCS Coach-Lounge Cars 200-201

Copyright 2020 by Bill Pollard

In 1951, Kansas City Southern purchased two 10-section restaurant-lounge cars from the Chicago Great Western, where they are believed to have operated between Minneapolis and Kansas City, Pullman line 93, in the CGW's Mill Cities Limited. These two cars began their career as Malatha and Key West, both 10-section lounge observation cars of plan 2521. The original service date for Malatha was December 28, 1911, while the original service date for Key West was Novmeber 19, 1913. As originally configured, these cars had 10 sections on the vestibule end of the car, a small bar serving 14 lounge seats and an open platform.

Pullman configuration Plan 2521

Both cars were rebuilt to plan 2521-F in October-November 1930. Thanks to extra details provided by Tom Madden from Newberry Library car construction records, we know that the work was performed at Pullman's Calumet shops. The shoppings were class "GR" - general rebuild - and required about two months for each car. Among the changes, the open platform observation was closed in, providing almost six feet of additional interior space. End windows and a large window in the end door allowed an "observation car" effect when the car was operated at the end of a train. The "scribed" lower sheet siding (designed to replicate the appearance of wood sided cars) was replaced with standard steel plates. The sleeping accommodations were not significantly changed, but the lounge end of the car received a total rebuild, made possible by the additional interior space.. The men's dressing area was expanded slightly to accommodate a bench seat running the width of the room, and a compact but quite complete galley was installed in part of the former lounge area. Seating for four was adjacent to the food preparation area, and lounge chairs filled the remaining space. The galley included a broiler, refrigeration areas, soda fountain, ice cream freezer as well as sinks and storage areas for cleaning and storage of china and silver. The two cars were to be assigned to Boston-Montreal service via Boston & Maine, Central Vermont and Canadian National, and thus the Malatha was renamed Mount Royal and was released October 31, 1930, while Key West was renamed Mount Mansfield and was released on November 5, 1930. Mount Royal is a mountain west of downtown Montreal, from which the city takes its name, while Mount Mansfield is the highest mountain in Vermont.

In March 1932, both cars received other modifications and were reclassified as plan 2521-I. These modifications were apparently minor, requiring only a short period of time in the shop. A comparison of 2521-F and 2521-I floorplans show an adjustment of lounge seating to allow more table space for meal service. During this time, Pullman was heavily promoting the option of Pullman provided food service as an alternative or supplement to railroad dining car service. As of January 1, 1933, Pullman was operating 64 dining cars, 171 buffet cars and 137 cars which were sleeper or parlor with lounge or buffet space, according to Railway Age (February 4, 1933.) Current documentation does not provide an exact date, but circa late 1932-early 1933, Mount Royal and Mount Mansfield were reassigned to the Chicago Great Western, operating in Pullman car lines 88 and 93 between Minneapolis and Kansas City.

After receiving air conditioning in 1937 both cars continued in Chicago Great Western service and were sold to Chicago Great Western on December 31, 1948 as part of the Pullman divestiture agreement. They were immediately leased back to Pullman while remaining in their prior assignment, classified as 10-section restaurant lounge cars between Minneapolis and Kansas City. After being briefly used in Pullman line 94 between Minneapolis and Omaha, this line was discontinued February 23, 1949. Pullman line 93 (Minneapolis-Kansas City) survived into mid-1950 but by this time utilized 8 section-1 compartment restaurant lounge cars also owned by CGW. Of the six sleeper-restaurant cars owned by CGW, the two oldest cars were withdrawn from Pullman lease first, Mount Royal on May 23, 1950 and Mount Mansfield on June 1, 1950. CGW reported these cars sold in December 1951, and indeed both cars were purchased by Kansas City Southern, first appearing in the Official Register of Passenger Train Equipment in January 1952. In this listing, both cars are identified as coach-lounges with 16 seats in the lounge section and 32 seats in the coach section. The acquisition of CGW cars by the KCS was more than a random event; W.N. Deramus Jr. was president of the KCS at this time, while W.N. Deramus III had been elevated to president of CGW in May 1949. The extensive Pullman research of Robert Wayner indicates that Mount Mansfield became KCS 200 while Mount Royal became KCS 201. Interior configuration changes under KCS ownership are uncertain in the absence of official KCS diagrams. One source (KCS in the Deramus Era p 105) says that car 200 retained its section configuration, while car 201 had the sleeping section replaced with 36 coach seats. [The same source indicates that these cars were purchased from the New Haven; that appears to be incorrect based on Pullman Company documents.]

KCS Coach-Lounge 200, Shreveport, Louisiana. November 1957 - Harold K. Vollrath photograph

KCS Coach-Lounge 201, Houston, Texas circa 1970, after having been sold to an oil field construction company.
Purchased by individual in 1971, donated to the Railroad Museum of New England in 1991.

One source indicates that these cars were initially purchased to provide first class (i.e.-parlor car) service on Shreveport-Port Arthur day trains. No timetable or Official Guide evidence has been found to verify parlor car usage, and it is more likely that they were used by the railroad as coach-lounge cars. It is believed that these cars were assigned to Hope-Shreveport trains 3 and 4 and Shreveport-Port Arthur trains 101 and 102 for most of their career on the KCS-L&A. The November 1951 Official Guide lists KCS trains 101-102 as carrying a diner-lounge-observation between Shreveport and Port Arthur, while trains 3-4 had no food service. The January 20, 1952 KCS timetable indicated that trains 3-4 and 101-102 now carried a cafe-coach lounge between Hope, Shreveport and Port Arthur. Cars 200-201 presumably were assigned to this service, although the extent of car modification to provide "cafe" service is unknown. In September 1954 (per Official Guide listings), meal service on trains 101-102 was replaced with a meal stop at Lewisville. Trains 101-102 were subsequently discontinued between Shreveport and Port Arthur on February 14, 1955. A cafe-coach-lounge continued to operate on trains 3-4 between Hope and Shreveport through March 1956 (Official Guide). The April 1956 public timetable indicates that the cafe food service on trains 3-4 had been replaced with vending machines. This arrangement continued until October 1956, when vending machine service was discontinued. The few consists available for these trains suggest that car 201 continued to operate in Hope-Shreveport service at least into the late 1950s, well after vending machine service ended. Other published photographs of this train (Kansas City Southern Lines pages 21, 30, 31 and 32) show it with an "American Flyer" coach from the 230-233 series.

During 1959 and until November 15, 1960, L&A train 3 operated as a mixed train in order to provide expedited service for merchandise cars from St. Louis. The merchandise cars were handled in MP train 69 from St. Louis to Hope where they were interchanged to the L&A. The mixed train operation resulted in many complaints due to lack of proper heating of the passenger cars during the winter of 1959. The boxcars did not have steam lines, and the "substitute devices" (presumably pass-through steam lines but not detailed in Finance Docket 21733) did not prove satisfactory in getting sufficient steam to the passenger cars. To avoid this problem in the winter of 1960, L&A freight schedules were rearranged so that the merchandise cars could move in freight service. Sample consists from dispatcher sheets are shown below. In both cases, train 3 was being operated as a passenger extra, perhaps because of the mixed train operation. Eagle Bridge and Eagle Country were the two Pullman cars normally assigned to the St. Louis - Shreveport Pullman line during this time.

March 20, 1959
KCS 23 - E Unit
B&O 385546 merchandise boxcar
MKT 97485 merchandise boxcar
MP 706 express (Memphis-Shreveport)
L&A 3 baggage-mail-express
KCS 201 coach-lounge
Eagle Bridge (14rmt-1DR-2BR) Pullman, St. Louis to Shreveport, line 3705

March 28, 1959
KCS 23 - E Unit
MKT 96434 merchandise boxcar
MP 35053 merchandise boxcar
MP 704 express (Memphis-Shreveport)
L&A 3 baggage-mail-express
KCS 201 coach-lounge
Eagle Bridge (14rmt-1DR-2BR) Pullman, St. Louis to Shreveport, line 3705

KCS cars 200-201 were last listed in the March 1962 Official Register of Passenger Train Equipment, but may have been removed from the active KCS roster a year or two earlier. Subsequent disposition of car 200 is unknown but presumed scrapped. L&A trains 3 and 4 didn't last much longer than these cars. The St. Louis-Shreveport Pullman made its last trip February 28, 1961. L&A applied to discontinue trains 3-4 in August 1961, and after the usual 4-month delay imposed by the Interstate Commerce Commission, the discontinuance was approved in late January 1962. At this time, the passenger car being used was a 76-seat coach, probably one of the above mentioned "American Flyer" cars.

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