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Saving a Piece of History

For more than a decade Tacoma resident David Burns has been working to save a piece of northwest history.

Dining car #1663 is the last remaining car of the original fifteen that were ordered by the Northern Pacific Railroad back in 1909 to promote cross country travel to the Pacific Northwest. This particular dining car, No.1663, was retired from service in South Tacoma in October 1949.  It was saved from the scrap yards by two Northern Pacific carpenters who used it as a diner for nearly 35 years. The other fourteen cars from this fleet were either wrecked, scrapped or converted to passenger cars during World War II. This particular dining car ran from 1910 to 1949 as a key component of the "North Coast Limited" run from Seattle to Chicago.

Burns bought the 1910 Barney & Smith dining car in 2003 in eastern Washington, and with the help of Tacoma Historical Society and others, raised the money to bring the car back to Tacoma, where he would work to restore it.

For several years now he has leased a spot in the tideflats where he has been able to keep the 80 foot-long car warm and dry to prevent further weather damage while it is being restored.

You can follow Burns' restoration and see some pretty pictures of the old dining car on his website or Pinterest page. There's also some good history of the car in this video, shot before the move to Tacoma.

More recently, Burns got word that he would have to move the dining car to make way for construction on the site; he needs to relocate the historic car by the first week of March.

... temporary or permanent space for up to two years to complete the cars restoration. Covered space can speed the construction phases up considerably. This will be a great added feature to Tacoma and a great preservation project that I would hate to see leave Tacoma.  If I am unable to secure a site by next week, I will be putting the car up for sale as I will have no other options. It must be removed by no later than March 8th, 2014...

... The dining car is not sitting on its trucks (wheels) presently and therefore does not need to be stored on a rail line. Any type of covered space is best, but as you can see, I am willing to consider any space that can accomodate the car. It is necessary that wherever I place the car that I am able to bring power to the site. I am open to any suggestions or recommendations...

Once restored, Burns hopes to display it for the public, either downtown or in the Dome District, possibly in connection with the Prairie Line Trail or Foss Waterway Museum.

Until that happens, though, the car needs a temporary home - soon. Do you know someone with a spare space in a very large garage?

If you've got a space, email us at tips@exit133.com, and we'll put you in touch.

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Contact Kevin McCarthy at AFF Logistics and he may be able to help you get it moved once you have a site. 800.642.6664 As for a site, maybe contact the Tacoma club of transportation and see if they have any ideas or connections.

February 15, 2014 at 7:39 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Jenny Jenkins

The interior woodwork is beautiful on this, and what an amazing piece of history. I hope someone can help save it.

February 17, 2014 at 9:14 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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