The Silver Maple

The Silver Maple in Salt Lake City UT, June 1967
The Silver Maple in Salt Lake City, June 1967, as part of the California Zephyr
Photo Credit: David England Photo, UtahRails Collection

The Silver Maple was ordered by the Chicago Burlington & Quincy Railroad in February of 1947 as one of a series of six cars. These cars were built by the Budd Company of Red Lion, Pennsylvania. Though built by the Budd Company, they were built to Pullman plan number 9507. There were six cars in lot number 9639-019. Two cars were built for the Burlington, two were built for the Denver Rio Grande & Western, and two were built for the Western Pacific. This lot of cars was originally built as 16 section sleeping cars for use on the California Zephyr.

The California Zephyr

SilverMaple SignboardThe Silver Maple was assigned the car number of 400 as well as its name when it was built. This was somewhat unusual in that current practice at the time was that a car either had a name or a number but rarely both. This car ran mostly on the California Zephyr as a sleeping car but was rebuilt into a 48 seat coach by the CB&Q in 1963. At this time the CB&Q also assigned the car the new number of 4742 and dropped the Silver Maple name.

Amtrak Service

The 4742 was transferred to Amtrak in 1971 as Amtrak prepared to take over passenger service operations for two dozen railroads. This is the same process that saw the museum’s Chair Car 2931 and Kayenta entering Amtrak service. The car was again renumbered as Amtrak #4805. Amtrak chose to base the car out of the former Burlington Northern 14th Street Coach Yard in Chicago. The car saw service on many trains during its service on The Abraham Lincoln, The Prairie State, The Empire Builder, and The San Francisco Zephyr.

Interior of the Silver Maple
The Silver Maple today as part of the Heart of Dixie Railroad Museum.

Renamed and Renumbered

During the mid 1980s Amtrak began converting its heritage cars from conventional battery and DC voltage electrical systems to h.e.p. (head end power) systems. It was at this time that the 4805 was again renumbered to 4741 and the name Silver Maple reapplied to the car.

Post Amtrak Service

The St. Louis Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society purchased two of these coaches, The Silver Larch and The Silver Maple. Constant years of service with Amtrak had taken its toll on both cars. The Chapter put considerable work into restoring them to service. Unfortunately, during it’s time with Amtrak, the cars original skirting was removed to provide more convenient access under the car.

Interior of the Silver Maple
The Interior of the Silver Maple.

Museum Excursion Service

Eventually, the Museum acquired The Silver Maple. The Silver Maple provides first class accommodations on several of the museums late season excursions.