The Lake Ainslie was built by the Pullman Company between December of 1923 and early 1924 entering service on February 9. It was constructed as a 10 section, 2 Drawing Room, 1 Compartment car. The car was built as part of Pullman Plan 3585 and Lot 4728. It was 1 of 244 cars in a series collectively known as the “Lake” series of sleeping cars. The car was originally built without air conditioning which was later installed on June 19, 1936.
The configuration, commonly called a 10-2-1, refers to the fact that the car has a layout consisting of ten open sections, two compartments, and one drawing room (a bedroom with it's own private lounge). There is a large men’s lavatory with a separate “saloon” (toilet annex) located at the end of open section. On the opposite end is a large women’s lavatory with it’s own “saloon.”
Name of an Actual Lake
In the 244 car Lake series, the Lake Ainslie was the first alphabetically. The cars names came from the names of actual lakes located within in the United States. Every letter of the alphabet, with the exception of X and Y were used at the beginning of the lake names. Most letters were used multiple times. The last alphabetical car name in the series was Lake Zurich.
The Southern Railway
As with other Pullman cars of it’s generation, the Lake Ainslie was built to be a Pullman owned and operated car. It was generally kept in pool service although it would typically be assigned to the same trains or railroads on a fairly consistent basis. Following the United States v. Pullman Co. Antitrust lawsuit (1940-1947) The Lake Ainslie, like it’s sister Pullman Company cars, was sold to the owning railroads. In the case of the Lake Ainslie, it was sold to The Southern Railway in 1948. In turn, Southern Railway leased their Pullman built cars back to the Pullman Company to operate them.
Heart of Dixie Railroad Museum
In 1966, Southern Railway elected to retire the Lake Ainslie. It was donated to the Heart of Dixie Railroad Museum around 1966. The Lake Ainslie is a valuable museum piece because it is from one of the largest series of cars that Pullman constructed. The Lake Ainslie’s floor plan is one of the most standard floor plans Pullman offered. It serves as a true example of Pullman train travel in the heyday of rail travel.
In the early days of rail travel, people were only willing to travel so far sitting in a coach seat surrounded by dozens of other, often noisy and frequently unruly passengers. Travel by Pullman allowed passengers to choose semi private or fully private accommodations to allow them to sleep comfortably while traveling great distances.