Copyright 1997-2015 Pacific Railroad Society, Inc.
National Forum/National Embassy
In 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.
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 service.
floor plan from the
1953 Car Builders'
Pacific Railroad Society, Inc., 210 W. Bonita Ave., San Dimas, CA 91773