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The Columbia Star Dinner Train 7/16/2011

by Chris Guenzler

We pulled into the parking lot and were directed by a security guard where to park. Once I did that, it was time to start taking pictures.

The Columbia Star Dinner Train F7A 1951.

Colt Railroad Brief History

The Water and Light Department of Columbia, Missouri also runs a short line railroad. In the early 1980s, Norfolk Southern decided that the spur of railroad leading into Columbia was too expensive to maintain. It was determined that the loss of railroad traffic into Columbia would have a negative impact on the economy and the industries here. So, the City of Columbia stepped in and bought the railroad in October 1987. Under the Water and Light Department, the railroad has been an integral part of retaining business and attracting new industries to Columbia. Having the railroad also enables Water and Light to cost-effectively bring in the low-sulfur coal from Kentucky to burn at the City's power plant.

The Columbia Star Dinner Train Equipment

The Columbia Star Dinner Train is comprised of two locomotives and three cars. A locomotive is located on each end of the train so that the train may operate in either direction. Our F-7 locomotives were built by the Electro-Motive Division (EMD) of General Motors for the Great Northern. F7A 364A was built in October 1950 and F7A 464A being built in January 1953. The dining cars were built by the Pullman Car Company in 1938 for the Southern Pacific Railroad as coach cars. Later they were converted to dining cars for dinner train service. Originally these cars served on the famous Southern Pacific train named the "Daylight" running between Los Angeles and San Francisco. These cars are unique in that they are articulated, meaning that they share a set of trucks (wheels) between the two car bodies. Our kitchen car is a former Chicago Burlington and Quincy (CB&Q) baggage car. This car has been converted to a full kitchen in which we prepare all of our meals right onboard the train. The kitchen car is in the middle of the train so meals are served out of both ends of the car to the adjoining dining cars.

Here is a view of the whole Columbia Star Dinner Train ready to make its second run ever.

The Columbia Star Dinner Train F7A 1951.

The Columbia Star Dinner Train Table Car 300.

The Columbia Star Dinner Train Table Car 400.

The Columbia Star Dinner Train Kitchen 200.

The Columbia Star Dinner Train Table Car 100.

The Columbia Star Dinner Train Table Car 500.

The Columbia Star Dinner Train F7A 1950.

The train is ready to leave for Centralia this evening.

A face I always love to see.

They called all aboard and you waited in a line to get an envelope with a table assignment. You then board the train and find your table. Mine had a present on it. It was a can of Coca-Cola that Bob Cox had arranged with the crew last night.

My tablemates were Nathan and Gene.

Me on the Columbia Star Dinner Train.

Views of the table cars 300 and 400. The 400 had the restrooms on our end of the train.

Right on the mark of Seven PM the train started to leave the boarding area.

We left our cars under the security guard's watchful eyes.

We crossed Browns Station Road with people in the cars all waving at our train.

Future trackage for me to ride. Nathan and Gene enjoyed the shrimp in the glass on our table then they enjoyed pizza slices that came next.

A side track with no cars on it.

The Columbia Water Tower as we headed northeast on this old Wabash Line.

The railfans were out taking pictures of this second run of this new dinner train service.

The empty table across from ours would provide a clear view of the other side of the train.

The route is tree lined with breaks that allow you to see the central Missouri countryside.

The shadows play across that table across from us.

A pond with plenty of scum on top of the water.

I love trees like this one.

The train ran through Browns Station.

Views from the Columbia Star Dinner Train.

The Jethro Tull Song "Down at the end of the road" came to mind when I shot that picture.

The late afternoon light made this scene really special. Next the salads came.

Local people were out to watch the Columbia Star Dinner Train go through their areas where they live.

Rolled hay on a warm summer evening.

The train passed Bee Hives along our route this evening.

More views from the Columbia Star Dinner Train.

The train ran through Hallsville.

The Hallsville police was out watching the Columbia Star Dinner Train roll through his town.

More views on the way towards Centralia.

We would get to watch the sun set this evening aboard the Columbia Star Dinner Train.

Spring corn growing tall in the strong Missouri Sun. The rolls came next and were sure good!

The sun was slowly setting this evening.

That empty table view came in handy of this trip aboard the Columbia Star Dinner Train.

We were slowly losing the light as our main course was served with me having the Columbia Star Prime Rib.

The lonely empty road.

More early evening views from the Columbia Star Dinner Train. The Prime Rib was excellent and the crew invited us to go to the vestibule.

Looking out both sides of the Columbia Star Dinner Train as it neared Centralia.

One last field view before we came into Centralia.

The train pulled up to the Centralia Yard Limited Sign and stopped. The engine crew then switched ends.

Two more views of Centralia. The owner/engineer stopped by our table for a quick visit before he headed to the south engine to run us back to Columbia. On the way back we had a slice of a sweet Lemon Cake which was excellent. Coffee was served to those who wanted it and the train made a quick trip back to Columbia ending an excellent not only train ride but dining experience aboard the Columbia Star Dinner Train. Thanks to the entire staff of the train for the good food and fantastic time aboard the Columbia Star Dinner Train. We drove back to the Depot Inn & Suites for the night.