1955 and 1956, the Union Pacific Railroad (UP), along with City
of St. Louis partner railroad the Wabash, received some of the
last sleepers to be built before the advent of Amtrak. In addition,
these cars, named in the National series, were also the last passenger
cars built with open sections.
The National cars contained 6 sections, 4 double bedrooms, and 6
roomettes (6-4-6). Although similar in accommodations to the pre-war
American (4-6-6) series of cars built for the UP, the Nationals
had numerous improvements and modifications. The most notable changes
from the Americans design were the placement and design of the four
double bedrooms. In the Americans, the double bedrooms were over
one of the trucks and closest to the vestibule. This meant that
one of the most expensive accommodations were located in the one
of the noisiest areas of a passenger car. In the Nationals, the
bedrooms were moved to the quieter center of the car, away from
the trucks and vestibule. In addition, unlike the American bedrooms,
the toilets in the National bedrooms were enclosed.
floor plan from
1953 Car Builders' Cyclopedia
The Nationals were assigned to the City of Portland, City
of Denver, and City of St. Louis trains. Numerous changes
in the passenger traffic occurred on the UP during the late 1950's
and early 1960's. By June 30th, 1968, due to reduction in passenger
traffic on the UP and the discontinuance of the City of St. Louis
with the merger of the Wabash into the Norfolk and Western, the
Nationals service was relegated to the secondary service on the
Denver to Portland Portland Rose. By December 1969, the Portland
Rose was history and the Nationals were idle. During the 1970-71
ski seasons, the UP Los Angeles passenger office operated at least
two ski trains to Sun Valley utilizing the idle Nationals. In addition,
the UP used the Nationals in special excursion service until the
advent of Amtrak in 1971.
Between 1969 and 1971, the Pacific Railroad Society (PRS) leased
the National Forum and other National cars for excursion
service. Impressed with the cars, PRS bought two of the Nationals.
In October 1971, PRS purchased the National Forum and, in
December 1971, purchased the National Embassy.
The National Forum has been used extensively in excursion
travel. The National Forum is the only PRS car that is Amtrak
compatible. In 1993, PRS members Will Walters and Marti Ann
Draper completed the Amtrak work with assistance from Bill Farmer
and Dave Abbott.
Thin wheels and cracked discs delayed the refurbishment of the National
Embassy. It was stored and never saw operation service with
the Pacific Railroad Society. In 1977, the National Embassy
was traded to William Gawzner of Santa Barbara for a former Amtrak,
former Southern Pacific Daylight coach.
For many years, the National Embassy was on display outside the
Miramar Resort Hotel in Santa Barbara. The National Embassy was
donated in early 2000, by the new owners of the Mirimar Hotel, with
the assistance of the Pacific Railroad Society, to the Santa Clara
River Valley Railroad Historical Society of Fillmore, California.
The National Embassy was moved from Santa Barbara to Fillmore and
is currently displayed behind Fillmore City Hall.
The coach was named Shasta Springs by the society and was
part of the SP Daylight Steam excursion trains in the 1980's
and 1990's. Currently, the Shasta Springs is on lease to
the Fillmore and Western Railroad and is used in their excursion