Milwaukee Road Hiawatha Cedar Rapids Skytop Observation Parlor Lounge Car parked in the Amtrak yard in Saint Paul, Minnesota. This is the view of the back end.

Milwaukee Road Hiawatha Cedar Rapids Skytop Observation Parlor Lounge Car parked in the Amtrak yard in Saint Paul, Minnesota. This is the view of the back end.

It’s an impressively long name for an equally impressive car. Built in 1948 for the Milwaukee Road, the Cedar Rapids was an observation car placed on the end of trains allowing passengers spectacular views of scenery the train was leaving behind. The Milwaukee Road operated several passenger service routes referred to as the Hiawatha, named after Longfellow’s 1855 poem The Song of Hiawatha.  The Cedar Rapids saw service on the Morning and Afternoon Hiawatha runs between Chicago and Minneapolis.

The car has been restored and is owned by the Friends of the 261, a non-profit based in Minneapolis that operates Milwaukee Road steam locomotive No. 261. Now and then you may see it at the end of the Amtrak Empire Builder or traveling along excursions managed by the Friends of the 261.

About Chad Leigh Kluck

Originally from Nebraska, I am a history and railroad enthusiast currently living near Saint Paul, Minnesota. I enjoy trains, photography, and nostalgic memories, as well as the history of transportation, agriculture, eateries, breweries, and railroad towns. More...

2 Comments

  1. Tom Putschoegl
    Posted July 29, 2013 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    This past week my wife and I saw the parlor car on the back of an Amtrak train as it passed us in downtown St. Paul. It brought back great memories of my roundtrip from Milwaukee to Seattle when I was 12 years old. That was 56 years ago. I made the trip by myself to visit a friend in Seattle. The porters and conductors took me under their wings and made it a trip I still think about. Late at night a conductor took me to the parlor car and turned the rear outside to white so I could see outside. He also dropped off old magazines to the ranchers as we passed through the Bitterroot Mountains. Lots of other memories as well. I would love to ride in the parlor car again.

    • Posted July 29, 2013 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

      What a memorable experience that must have been, and to see that car recently must have brought you right back. I appreciate your sharing!

I enjoy comments and feedback. Let me know if you have anything to share with me like stories, pictures, or other media. You can also contact me directly via the contact form. I'd love to hear from you!

Leave comments or feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.