Floorplan of the DOVER HARBOR

Our heavy weight* passenger rail car was constructed by the Pullman Company of Chicago in July, 1923 (lot 4698, Plan 2951) as a combine baggage-library car named the Maple Shade. The 81 foot car weighed 80 tons and had a four section, twelve seat lounge, a barber shop, and a twenty-eight foot baggage area. Painted in the Pennsylvania Railroad’s standard colors (tuscan red), it operated in service at the head of that railroad’s name trains, including the Broadway Limited and the Spirit of St. Louis for eleven years.

In March, 1934, the Maple Shade was recalled into the Pullman Company Shops. The car was rebuilt into six double bedrooms, a buffet, and a lounge, and was renamed the DOVER HARBOR. The DOVER HARBOR and eight other cars with this same configuration were built according to plan 4015 and were designated the Dover Series. Air conditioning, which was new to railroad cars at this time, was also installed. After rebuilding the car, which weighed 87 tons, was repainted to the standard Pullman green and gold livery that it wears today.

After the renovation of the DOVER HARBOR was completed in May, 1934, the Pullman Company assigned the car to service on the Michigan Central Railroad, a subsidiary of the New York Central Railroad. In 1939, DOVER HARBOR operated with sister cars Dover Plains and Dover Bay on the westbound Lake Shore Limited and the eastbound Commodore Vanderbilt between New York and Chicago. Later, DOVER HARBOR saw assignments to the Cleveland Limited in 1944 and the Knickerbocker in 1945 — both New York Central trains operating between New York and Cleveland.

The Pullman Company owned and operated the car until December 31, 1948, at which time Pullman transferred ownership of the cars to the railroads on which they operated and arranged a lease-back contract with the railroads by which Pullman would operate and maintain the cars. This transfer was the result of a federal government anti-trust action, which mandated that Pullman separate its car manufacturing from its car operations, and that its fleet of cars be sold.

In July, 1953, the DOVER HARBOR’s exterior was repainted into the New York Central gray livery.

On April 24, 1954, the DOVER HARBOR along with Dover Cliffs was assigned to operate between Washington, D.C. and Montreal, Canada on the Montrealer and the Washingtonian. These trains were an interline pair operated by the Pennsylvania Railroad, the New York New Haven, and Hartford, the Boston and Main, the Central Vermont, and the Canadian National. DOVER HARBOR’s lounge provided meal service on these trains between New York and Montreal, serving an average of fourteen persons for supper and eighteen persons for breakfast. In 1955, streamlined light weight cars Pine Tree State and Nutmeg State replaced the Dover Series cars on these trains; DOVER HARBOR, however, continued frequently as a backup car on these trains.

In February, 1958 the car was painted in the two-tone gray Pullman pool service color scheme.

DOVER HARBOR at San Bernardino, California October 28, 1960 in pool service. Image courtesy of David Shaw

On April 7, 1958, ownership of the Dover Series cars was transferred back to the Pullman Company. Pullman having realized the value of the design features of the cars, had negotiated with the various railroads to trade a series of Clover cars (8-section, 5-double bedroom) for the Dover Series cars. The DOVER HARBOR remained in service on the Montrealer until it was finally retired to storage on October 18, 1965 at Pullman’s Calumet Shops near Chicago. In April 1967, the Pullman Company sold the car to a private individual. After a series of four private owners, the Washington, D.C. Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society (DCNRHS) purchased the DOVER HARBOR on November 30, 1979.undefined

DCNRHS has taken care in restoring the DOVER HARBOR. Great emphasis is placed on retaining as much of the car’s 1934 appearance as possible. The exterior of the DOVER HARBOR is repainted in the 1930s Pullman green complete with authentic gold lettering. The beautiful interior of the car appears much as it did in the 1930s, complete with period carpet and furnishings. Much of the furniture, wood, and brass work is refinished. While maintaining its period appearance, DCNRHS instituted mechanical improvements which enable the car to meet current standards. Since restoration began, the car has received high-speed roller-bearing trucks and wheel sets, new controlled-slack couplers, retention-toilets, upgraded brake system with anti-lock mechanism, a new air-conditioning system, and a self-contained 60KW diesel generator. The car’s electrical system has also been replaced. The DOVER HARBOR became Amtrak certified on May 21, 1986. It is now the only heavy weight Pullman revenue car fully operational for private use on Amtrak passenger trains.

Our goal is not only to preserve the car, but to operate it so that passengers and visitors can experience railroading’s “Golden Age”, the 1930s and 1940s. Visitors to the DOVER HARBOR can see the results of the on-going efforts of the dedicated people of DCNRHS. Our goal can only be accomplished through your continued support and patronage.  

The DOVER HARBOR’s reporting marks are as follows:

 Amtrak: 800073

*heavy weight – The Maple Shade was built during the ‘Standard’ or ‘Conventional’ era of passenger car building which began in 1910 with an order by the Pennsylvania Railroad of cars of all steel construction. Prior to this time, railroad passenger cars had been built of largely wood. Today, cars from this era are commonly known as ‘heavy weights’ due to the high weight of the cars. The heavy weight era came to a close with the beginning of construction of stainless steel sided or ‘Streamlined’ or ‘light weights’ in the 1940s.

The Pullman Company – The Pullman Company, founded by George M. Pullman, built, operated, and maintained a fleet of first class passenger rail cars by contract on most railroads across the United States. George Pullman is credited with the creation of the first modern, comfortable, sleeping car for railroad travel in 1858. From a small beginning, Mr. Pullman created an empire, which during its peak in the 1930s was responsible for the construction, ownership, and operation of a fleet of over eight-thousand sleeper, parlor, club, and cafe cars. Pullman’s well deserved slogan was “Travel and Sleep in Pullman Safety and Comfort.” The Pullman Company was renowned world-wide for the excellent quality of service passengers received from the Company’s porters and stewards. At that time, a person would purchase their rail ticket for carriage over a railroad, and also purchase a separate Pullman accommodation ticket to upgrade to first class sleeping car space. The range, size, and types of sleeping car accommodations in the 1930s included the most basic — the open section (upper or lower berth enclosed by curtains), to the bedroom (as on DOVER HARBOR), the compartment, and the drawing room. Indeed, the Pullman Company was said to have operated the largest hotel in the world, with upwards of 100,000 beds occupied on a given night. The Pullman Company itself ceased operating sleeping cars on December 31, 1968. Pullman Incorporated, its successor, continued to construct freight and passenger cars until it was sold to Bombardier Corporation of Canada in the 1970s.

Keep the dream alive and rolling – Support the future of the DOVER HARBOR – Donations to the Washington, D.C. Chapter NRHS for the future of the DOVER HARBOR are greatly appreciated and are tax-deductible. 

List of Dover Series Cars

Dover NameFormer NameLocationOwner
Dover Bay **AdrianBaraboo, WICircus World Museum
Dover CastleDeltaScrapped 3/59n/a
Dover CliffsGoshenSouth Plainfield, NJJack Bennet
Dover FortLigonierNelsonville, OHHocking Valley Scenic Railway
Dover Harbor**Maple ShadeWashington, D.C.Washington, D.C. Chapter NRHS
Dover Hill**Spruce CreekScrapped 5/61n/a
Dover PatrolRipleyJamestown, CARailtown 1897 State Historic Park
Dover PlainsToms RiverWells, MIThe Escanaba and Lake Superior Railroad
Dover StraitStrykerUnion, ILIllinois Railroad Museum

** Lot 4698

History revised January, 1997 by Kevin J. Tankersley; previously revised January 1, 1992; Originally written and researched by Stanley Gimbert and William Hamlin. Dover Series cars list revised July 2006 by J. Lilly.

Ownership & History

YearName of CarOwnerConfiguration
1923-1934Maple ShadePullman Companybaggage library barbershop
1934-1948Dover HarborPullman Companysleeper lounge buffet
1948-1958Dover HarborNew York Central Railroadsleeper lounge buffet
1958-1967Dover HarborPullman Companysleeper lounge buffet
1967Dover HarborDarby Wood Products, Inc. (Ruben Darby)sleeper lounge buffet
1967-1974Dover HarborJoseph F. Belfioresleeper lounge buffet
1974-1978Dover HarborAir Couriers Internationalsleeper lounge buffet
1978-1979Dover HarborG. Scott Rutherfordsleeper lounge buffet
1979 – PresentDover HarborDCNRHSsleeper lounge buffet

Top photo by Dean Edmonds

2 Page PDF Version of DOVER HARBOR history.

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