S.P. Chair Car 2513

Southern Pacific Lines

Arched-Roof Passenger Car

Built by:

The Pullman Company – 1910


60 Feet

Donated by:

Southern Pacific Company – 1955


"Harriman" style cars lined up in Southern Pacific's yard in San Jose. Photo courtesy Ed Gibson, Wx4.org

Stand back and compare the shape of the roofs of the 3 passenger cars on this track – you will see that this Southern Pacific car does not have the “clerestory” shaped roof featured on the cars to either side.  S.P. car 2513 was one of the first all-steel passenger cars to be built with an “arched roof” rather than the traditional clerestory design. Cars of this style are known today as “Harriman cars” – named after railroad mogul Edward H. Harriman who once controlled a conglomerate of railroads including Southern Pacific, Union Pacific, Chicago & Alton, and Illinois Central.  Harriman directed the development of “Common Standard Specifications” among his associated lines.  The system allowed for common specifications of parts, and for car and locomotive design and maintenance to be shared with all the associated railroads. Parts inventories and car manufacturing orders were standardized and this lowered costs due to the sheer size of the standardized orders.

Southern Pacific car No. 2513 is one of 395 similar cars built for the Harriman-controlled lines between 1909 and 1912, under Common Standard “CS 217”.  Many of these cars remained in regular service on Southern Pacific into the 1970s.  No. 2513 originally had 68 seats and could be used for daytime travel in both commuter and long-distance trains.

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More Interesting Information:

Car 2513 may have served a sentence as a “Prison Car” at some point in its long railroad career.  Old notes in the Travel Town archive refer to two Southern Pacific cars, 2504 and 2513, that were used to carry nefarious individuals to and from various jails and penitentiaries.  Could that be our car No. 2513 in the photo below, delivering Al Capone to Alcatraz?

The notorious mobster, Al Capone, was reportedly aboard this Southern Pacific prison train, on a barge docking at the infamous Alcatraz Island, August 22, 1934. Photo courtesy SFHistory.org
Note the bars on the windows! Otto Perry took this shot of S.P. prison car No. 2504 in 1934. Travel Town Archive Photo from the Denver Public Library.
San Pedro News Pilot, Volume 7, Number 144, 20 August 1934