In addition to caretaking the SP&S 700, PRPA owns several other passenger cars and other pieces of rolling stock.
The following is the current (May 2001) roster:
All other cars have been sold or are in the process of being sold.
Steam engines use a phenomenal amount of water; as much as 200 gallons per mile when pulling a full train. In the days of steam, railroads had water towers located every 50 miles or so. Today, these are gone and the few steam engines that are left must rely on nearby fire hydrants.
To minimize the number of stops for water, most large steam engines are operated with auxiliary tenders. PRPA's aux tender was originally a tender for a Great Northern 4-8-4 Northern-type locomotive. The locomotive has been long scrapped, but the railroad saved the tender to provide water for fire suppression. In 1989, the Burlington Northern donated the tender to PRPA.
In gratitude, PRPA painted the tender in BN green and decorated it with the logos of the BN's five predecessor railroads (GN, NP, CB&Q, SP&S, and Frisco; of course, this was before the BN-Santa Fe merger).
The auxiliary tender has since been painted black and is awaiting roller bearing axle sets to make it railroad legal.
John G. Melonas was assistant to the general manager of the SP&S Railway. After the BN merger he became a vice-president of BN in charge of safety. After he retired, he helped PRPA restore the 700 and work with BN officials.
Sadly, John passed away in 1992. One of his last actions for the PRPA was to arrange for BN to donate the movement of nine passenger cars from the Midwest to Portland. PRPA decided to name one of these cars in his memory.
Car number 1124 was built by Pullman for the 1947 version of the Great Northern Empire Builder. It contained 48 seats for long-distance passengers between Chicago and the Pacific Northwest. The SP&S 700 almost certainly pulled this car many times.
After Amtrak took over intercity passenger service, the GN sold the car to New Jersey Transit. NJT later donated the car to a New Jersey rail historical society, which sold the 1124 and seven other former GN coaches to the PRPA.
PRPA has repainted the car in Empire Builder colors, a color scheme that John Melonas particularly liked. "SP&S RY CO" in the letterboard corners indicate the name of the owner railroad. SP&S and CB&Q each owned some of the cars on the Empire Builder; of course, this particular car was originally owned by the GN, but the SP&S memorializes John Melonas' original employer.
PRPA has also repainted the interior in colors similar to those originally used by the GN. The car is ready for operation on short trips, but since restrooms are not yet restored more work is needed before going on long trips.
The tool car was built around 1912 as a sleeper car and later converted by the railroad to a baggage car, which was its configuration when acquired by the PRPA. Originally named the Enterprise, we renamed it to honor our friend and mentor, Kenny Prager, after his passing.
To know more about Kenny Prager, the man, follow these links about his book, and some of his stories.
PRPA | All Aboard the SP&S 700