AMERICAN ORIENT EXPRESS
Rail Car History
Rail cars on the America Orient Express (AOE) are fully restored carriages ranging from
40 to 50 years old. Each one saw service in the Golden Age of Rail on some of the nation's
most memorable railroads and routes.
About the restoration
The cars were purchased in 1980 and sent to either Northern Rail Car Co. or Kasten Railcar
Services, Inc., in 1988 for mechanical reconstruction where they were outfitted with new
air-conditioning and heating systems, electrical and plumbing systems, and additional
safety features. Next, they were shipped to Panama City, Fla., for interior reconstruction.
Total cost of the restoration project was approximately $15 million.
All built by the Pullman-Standard Co. of Chicago between 1950 and 1956.
Paris (#800298) and Istanbul (#800297) were ordered in 1947 and delivered in 1950.
They were built for the Southern Pacific Railroad and used on its Cascade route.
Vienna (#800109) was ordered in 1954 and delivered in 1956 for the Union Pacific's
city service. Original name: Placid Waters.
Washington (#800258) was ordered in 1946 and delivered in 1950. It was used on the
Chesapeake & Ohio's George Washington, Sportsman, Pere Marquestra and Resorter
service. Original name: City of Staunton.
Monte Carlo (#800255) was ordered in 1946 by the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad, but later
purchased by the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad in 1950 for the Capitol Limited. Original
Charleston, Savannah, Denver and Bar Harbor were all built in 1960 by the
American Car & Foundry of St. Louis for Union Pacific RR. They were fully refurbished
by Colorado Rail Car in 2000.
New York Observation Car (#800321) was delivered in 1948 to the New York Central
Railroad for the 20th-Century Limited between New York and Chicago. It was dedicated
by Dwight D. Eisenhower and comedienne Beatrice Lillie, and features wrap-around windows,
a bar and plush seating in its observation lounge. It is the last car on the AOE.
Seattle Piano Club Car (#800310) was built as a 14-section sleeper by American Car
and Foundry and delivered to the Union Pacific Railroad in 1954. In 1965 it was rebuilt
as a 44-seat leg-rest coach. Original name: Alpine Meadows.
Rocky Mountain Piano Club Car (#800311) was built as a 14-section sleeper by the
St. Louis Car Co. and delivered in 1954. It was rebuilt as a 44-seat leg-rest coach in 1965.
Great Dome Cars
Copper Canyon and New Orleans were built by the Budd Co. of Philadelphia in
1950 and 1951 for the Great Northern Railroad. They are fluted stainless steel and are
painted in the AOE's signature blue, gold and cream. The interior reflects the style
of the 1940's and early 1950's. Seventy-six passengers can sit in each of the cars'
second level dome areas in one seating. Both cars were refurbished at AOE's own
facility in 2002.
Chicago Dining Carriage (#800308) was built by the St. Louis Car Co. for the
Union Pacific in 1959. It was originally an eight-seat café with a 24-seat diner and
Zurich Dining Carriage (#800301) was delivered by American Car and Foundry to
Union Pacific in 1949 and was originally designed for the Chicago & Northwestern
Railroad. It was built as a 24-seat diner with 29-seat lounge.