REBIRTH OF A RAILWAY ICON: THE SPECTACULAR REFURBISHMENT OF THE GRAND TRUNK WESTERN DINING CAR ‘SILVER LAKE’ AT SOULE SHOPS
Another big refurbish completed in Soule Shops: Grand Trunk Western dining car number 899 “Silver Lake”. In these photos you will see new: custom 3 compartment sink, 3 bay steam tray, 2 new stoves and gas piping, new refrigeration units, more counter space, dish racks, storage for supplies, high capacity dish machine, 2 new food warmers, and new stainless flooring with wooden slats. The Silver Lake rolled into service, at TVRM, on Thursday, July 20. Dining Car 899 was built by Pullman-Standard in 1954 as a Parlour-Buffet Car for the Grand Trunk Western Railroad, and named the ‘SILVER LAKE’ as Canadian National (parent of GTW) chose to name dining, lounge, dome, observation, and sleeping cars. It was assigned the number 899 in the series of ‘LAKE’ cars, which ran from the 890s to 900s. Canadian National eventually reconfigured it as a Buffet-Club Car (some sources say Diner-Club) in 1971. The car passed to VIA Rail in 1978, and was redecorated into their scheme, featuring a blue and yellow exterior. The car was later reconfigured once again as a Diner-Bar-Lounge Car, before being acquired by the Bluewater, Michigan Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society (BMC, NRHS) who rebuilt the car with 4-person tables from GTW Buffet Car No. 4885 (which was turned into the Bluewater Commissary Car), whilst the buffet/bar end was left intact with small booth tables. Bluewater also acquired former GTW/CN No. 903, the ‘MOOSE LAKE’. In the mid-1990s the car was repainted from VIA Rail blue and yellow into Canadian National/GTW Green and Black with gold details and a silver roof. The interior scheme was left unaltered from its 1971 rebuilding, with egg-crate ceiling and blush-pink walls. After several decades of excursions (including on the original Norfolk Southern Steam Program, initially still in VIA Rail Blue), the car was leased to the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum in 2011, and eventually donated to TVRM in 2019 upon the dissolution of the Bluewater NRHS Fleet.