This is the dining car featured on our dinner trains. Decorations and arrangements change according to the featured event, but this is the general appearance of the car.
Benjamin L. Bernhart, who is the Reading Railroad Museum curator, wrote an article for the January 2010 issue of Reading Railroad Magazine. It is titled Moving Milk on the Reading and gives us another clue into why the M&H is sometimes referred to as the milk & honey railroad. Following is an excerpt from that article:
Milk operations were at their height between 1910 and 1920. The Reading Railroad was moving between 3000 and 4000 cans daily. Every day, early in the morning, a special milk train left Harrisburg for Philadephia. The train began its journey with cars of milk gathered from the Gettysburg Brand and the PH&P Branch that morning.
Additional milk was taken on at the junction of the Middletown & Hummelstown Branch, just west of Hershey.
Milk cars were added at Lebanon from the Lebanon & Tremont Branch. At Reading, milk cars were added from the Reading and Columbia Branch, Wilmington & Northern, Schuylkill & Lehigh, and the East Penn Branches. East of Reading milk was added at Douglasville, Phoenixville, and the Pickering Branch finally arriving at 3rd & Berks Streets in Philadelphia late that night for process and sale in Philly the next morning. So think of the Reading Railroad as a big river of milk stretching from Harrisburg to Philly with tributary streams like the M&H.
Built prior to 1890, this car has a wood frame, link and pin couplers and hand brakes.
George Westinghouse’s air brake invention was first used on passenger trains in 1868; freight cars came much later. On a signal from the engineer, the brakeman jumped from car to car setting the hand brakes.
To couple the cars, the brakeman had to slip a pin down through the hole in the coupler and through the link as the cars slammed together. All this was done, night and day, in all kinds of weather. Railroading in the “good old days” was an extremely hazardous occupation. Many men were seriously injured or killed.
Truss rods under the car were periodically tightened to keep the car from sagging in the middle.
The box car in the picture is owned by Middletown & Hummelstown Railroad, and has been moved to the car barn for – hopefully – a restoration. Having cast wheels, the old couplers, and no air brakes, it can never be put back onto an actual train. It will make an interesting display piece, however. We would be interested in talking to any volunteer organization or wood-working craftsmen who would like to bring the car back to it’s original appearance. Videos of the movement of the car are posted on our Facebook page.
One of the projects the winter of 2008-09 was painting an ALCO S-6 locomotive. It was bought new by Western Maryland in the 1950’s. A group of men restored the engine to it’s original colors in six weeks.
Here is a before picture:
The Middletown Hummelstown Railroad uses this locomotive to move freight.
It is available for photo charter trips.