Back When No. 49 Had a Full-Service Heritage Diner

Inside the diner of Amtrak’s westbound Lake Shore Limited as the sun rises in western Ohio.

Amtrak retired the last of its Heritage Fleet dining cars in 2016, but these cars had already vanished from the Lake Shore Limited before then.

They were called “heritage” because the cars were ordered and built for railroads that operated their own passenger trains until the coming of Amtrak in 1971.

In the late 1970s, Amtrak began rebuilding some of these cars to give them head-end power capability as well as a makeover of their interiors.

Diners were among the last survivors of the Heritage Fleet still in revenue service.

Coaches, lounges and sleeping cars has long since been retired in favor of Amfleet and Viewliner equipment, but the heritage diners continued to solider onward.

I usually favored traveling from Cleveland to Chicago aboard the Capitol Limited because of its earlier departure and arrival times, but on occasion I would ride the Lake Shore Limited.

The images in this series were made inside diner 8532 as I was having breakfast in March 2012 en route to Chicago.

This car has an unusual history. It was built as a coach by Budd in 1956 for the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy, which used it on the Denver Zephyr.

The Q named it Silver Halter and it carried roster number 4739.

Amtrak acquired it for use as a coach and gave it roster number 5016. It was rebuilt it to HEP capacity in November 1985 when it was transformed into a cafeteria car numbered 8716

It was rebuilt into a diner in November 2008 when it gained its last Amtrak roster number.

On one wall of the diner was an image of New York Central passenger trains at LaSalle Street Station in Chicago circa 1947 with some powered by steam locomotives and one pulled by a diesel.

Presumably, that rendering was a nod to the heritage of most of the route of the Lake Shore Limited.

It also is noteworthy that there were some etched glass panels at one end of the car.

All of these images were made as the train traveled along in western Ohio near Bryan shortly after sunrise.

You can still watch the sunrise while eating breakfast in western Ohio aboard No. 49, but you won’t be enjoying a meal freshly prepared by a chef in the kitchen and brought to your table by a server.

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