Rose Bowl

Chicago & North Western Railway

Lightweight Sleeping Car

Built by:

Pullman-Standard Car Mfg. Co. – 1937

Lot No. 6636  •  Plan No. 4068A


18 Roomettes

Length & Weight:

84′-6″ Long  •  63 Tons

Donated by:

Railroads of Hawaii – 1992


Pullman car Rose Bowl in service circa 1950

Our sleeping car, Rose Bowl, is an early example of a lightweight streamlined railroad car and has quite a storied past.  It entered service in 1937 as part of a new 17-car train called the Streamliner City of San Francisco.  The entire train was a full quarter-mile-long and was jointly operated by the Union Pacific, Southern Pacific, and Chicago & North Western railroads – carrying passengers between Chicago and San Francisco (Oakland) in just under 40 hours.  The cars in the new train were all named after noted San Francisco landmarks – our car was originally named Telegraph Hill.

The car’s 18 Roomettes are designed to accommodate an individual passenger, such as a businessman traveling alone.  Each room has its own toilet and wash basin, along with a plush seat for daytime travel.   For sleeping, a comfortable full-length bed folds down from the wall.  Like all Pullman sleepers, the car would have been staffed night and day by a “Pullman Porter” who cared for the passengers’ every need.

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The Streamliner City of San Francisco - 1938

1939 wreck in Nevada

On August 12, 1939, after just over a year and a half of service, the Streamliner was wrecked in a horrific derailment near the remote Nevada desert town of Palasade.  The fast-moving streamliner hit a bent section of rail and the engines and cars toppled about, one on top of another!  Sadly, two dozen passengers and crew members lost their lives and many more were injured.  A lengthy investigation pointed to sabotage, but the case remains unsolved.

Despite the tangle of wrecked cars, the Telegraph Hill was fortunate to be at the rear of the train and miraculously remained on the rails without serious damage.  So her story continued…

After the Big Wreck

Following the 1939 wreck of the Streamliner City of San Francisco, the 3 railroads and the Pullman Company worked quickly to assemble a replacement train set, using cars from other Streamliners and “pool” service equipment.  The car Telegraph Hill car swapped assignments with another Pullman sleeping car named Rose Bowl in the consist of the sister train, Streamliner City of Los Angeles.  The reassignment was deemed permanent, so the two cars switched names: the former Telegraph Hill  became the new Rose Bowl – a name more appropriate to its new role in the Chicago to Los Angeles train.

Like her Travel Town companion, Hunters Point, our Rose Bowl was originally owned by the Pullman Company and later became property of the Chicago & North Western Railway.  The Rose Bowl remained in service until retired and sold for scrap in 1960.  However, both cars had the fortune of being later sold to Mr. Verl Thomson for his Sioux Chief Trainel project in South Dekota and were eventually donated to Travel Town for preservation!

Postcard from the Sioux Chief Traintel