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Classic Passenger Cars: Restored and On the Rails

Beckoned by a Clickety-Clack Clarion, Private Train Buffs Revel in the Ultimate Ride

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"P.V.s attract the attention of car inspectors," he observes. "They always seem to be under the impression that someone important--a rail executive or a celebrity--is aboard." The practical result, says Bartoli, is "no hard couplings."

Bartoli and his companions once enjoyed one of the country's prime scenic rail trips, the old Rio Grande "main line through the Rockies," which climbs eastward from the Salt Lake area to Soldier Summit and on through Grand Junction and Glenwood Springs before a spectacular descent into Denver. "On the tracks through the mountains, we were making 50 to 60 mph at most, so the open platform is quite comfortable," Bartoli recalls. "And since the locomotives were 17 cars ahead, it was surprisingly quiet. You could hear the rushing waters of the Colorado River in Glenwood Canyon and even hear the calls of the birds. And we traveled during October, when the aspen were starting to turn gold. Except for meals and cocktails, I spent the days outside on the rear platform--and the others on the car kept kidding me about it. But how close can you be to nature while experiencing such luxury? Certainly not when you're hiking."

Bartoli describes a thought that might occur to any passenger aboard a P.V. who's ever bought "Short Line" or "B&O" during a Monopoly game: "At night the track inspection lights are turned on, and you can enjoy the fantasy that it's your own railroad trailing out behind." *

Warren Kalbacker, a freelance writer living in New York City, has spent some 80 nights sleeping aboard railroad cars.

All Aboard
Those wishing to enter the world of private railroading should hook up with the following sources:

AAPRCO (The American Association of Private Railroad Car Owners) holds conventions, offers services to rail car owners and welcomes members who don't own cars. For membership information contact: Burt Hermey, 1146 Charleston Street, Costa Mesa, California 92626-2707; (714) 751-2032.

The organization's magazine, Private Varnish, is published six times a year. Write AARPCO, P.O. Box 50221, Pasadena, California 91115-0221 to subscribe ($22 a year). Write AAPRCO, 106 North Carolina Avenue S.E., Washington, D.C. 20003 for single copies of the charter directory, which lists cars offered for charter to the public.

The organization's Web site ( has general information about membership, subscriptions and an index with photos and specifications of rail cars.

Green Frog Productions (200 North Cobb Parkway, Suite 138, Marietta, Georgia 30062; (800) 227-1336) offers the video Steel Rails-Private Varnish ($34.95), which shows footage of the interior and exterior of many exceptional cars filmed at an AAPRCO convention.

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