Dome coach 2202 was one of three dome coaches built for the Missouri Pacific Railroad in June and July of 1948 for use on the Colorado Eagle. The car was built by the Edward G. Budd Company of Red Lion, Pennsylvania. The original numbers for these three coaches were 890, 891, and 892. The 2202 originally being number 892.
The Colorado Eagle was an overnight train that ran from St. Louis, Missouri to Denver, Colorado via Pueblo and Colorado Springs. This attractive train included three sleeping cars, a standard coach, a grill coach, and a diner lounge car in addition to the one dome coach. The train had three consists to cover the run. Each consist contained a dome coach. Each railroad that bought dome cars referred to their cars with a unique name, these three domes, while in service on the Missouri Pacific were called Planetarium Domes.
While in Missouri Pacific service the dome coaches were painted to match the other cars in the consist. The colors of the cars were blue and white with gold and silver striping. The vestibules were stainless steel. Of the three cars our car was the only one to read The Eagle on the letter board on the side of the car. The other two cars were lettered Colorado Eagle. The reason for that was that our car was the third in the order and was used on various Eagle trains and not just the Colorado Eagle. From February through June of 1963 a general renumbering of lightweight cars was ordered by the Missouri Pacific Railroad. Dome coaches 890, 891, and 892 were renumbered to 590, 591, and 592 respectively.
In 1964, the Colorado Eagle was downgraded due to declining patronage and the dome coaches were transferred to the Missouri River Eagle running between Omaha, Nebraska and St. Louis, Missouri. The dome coaches were also run on trains 21 and 22 running between Ft. worth, Texas and New Orleans, Louisiana.
In June of 1967 the Missouri Pacific sold the three dome coaches to the Illinois Central Railroad. The Illinois Central planned on using the dome coaches on their trains, the City of Miami (running between Chicago, Illinois and Miami, Florida), and the City of New Orleans (running between Chicago, Illinois and New Orleans, Louisiana). During their service on the Illinois Central, the dome coaches were painted chocolate and orange on the exterior. The Illinois Central renumbered dome coaches 590, 591, and 592 to 2200, 2201, and 2202 respectively.
In 1972 the Illinois Central sold dome coach 2202 to the Heart of Dixie Railroad Club of Birmingham, Alabama. When the Club received the car it eventually repainted metallic burgundy with gold stripes and lettered Heart of Dixie. The car still retains the 2202 number.
During 1988 and 1989 the interior of the car underwent a cosmetic restoration effort involving new seat covers in a tan fabric. These covers replaced a black and silver vinyl covering that the Illinois Central had applied to the seating. The interior was also repainted at this time and many windows were replaced, most noticeably the teardrop corner windows of the dome and the front and rear facing windows in the dome. When received from the Illinois Central, these windows had been plated over. The upper portions of the dome windows are still plated over. Supposedly the railroad did this because when running in and out of Chicago, children lacking direction and guidance were throwing blocks off of bridges and smashing the windows.
Written by: Jeff Murphree