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American Orient Express

United States - Deluxe Rail Journeys On Americas Premier Train

By Carl Morrison,


Each Daily Program has the train's Coach Order at the end.

On this Antebellum South trip from Savannah to Washington, DC, we had (front to back):

Engines:  Amtrak # 145 (lead) and # 198:


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Crew sleeper, diner, supply/laundry:


Thirteen 'public' cars (car history follows on this page):


Arriving at the American Orient Express the first day of the trip.



Bar Harbor


Santa Fe


Seattle Club Car

Chicago Dining

Zurich Dining

Copper Danyon Dome Car







The Savannah car in Savannah Station, Georgia.

New York Observation car

AOE's own fact sheet of each car follows:


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.

Sleeping Carriages

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 name: Opequon.

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.

Lounge Cars

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.

Dining Cars

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 16-seat lounge.

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.

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.