This summer and fall, join the United Railroad Historical Society of NJ and get a ride on a vintage New York Central Railroad 20th Century Limited train through the society’s Hudson River Rail Excursions. Tickets go on sale on this morning at 10 AM and there are twelve dates in June and nine dates this fall. The train will take you from New York City’s Penn Station to Albany and back with snazzy food and drink options included.
The original 1948 20th Century Limited car — a Henry Dreyfuss-designed Pullman observation-sleeper-lounge car called “Hickory Creek” — was once an express passenger train on the New York Central Railroad. Advertised as “The Most Famous Train in the World,” it operated from 1902 to 1967, traveling between Grand Central Terminal and LaSalle Street Station in Chicago, Illinois. This 958-mile trip, 16-hour trip was known as the “Water Level Route” and was a sophisticated experience, starting from the red carpet for boarding and its stylish interior. General Dwight D. Eisenhower, hero of World War II and later the U.S. President, christened a new set of cars for the railroad. In 1991, the United Railroad Historical Society of NJ acquired the car and restored it. The car is certified by Amtrak and also available through private charter.
Today, the Hickory Creek is the last remaining restored passenger car from the 20th Century Limited in existence, making its reintroduction into service a special one. While the train ran for a one day in 2017 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of its last run, this short series of excursions is the beginning of what the United Railroad Historical Society of NJ hopes to be a regular service.
“We are so lucky to not only own a railroad car as historic as the Hickory Creek, but to be able to run it on its
home rails. Those home rails just happen to be some of the most scenic in the eastern United States,” said United Railroad Historical Society of NJ President Kevin Phalon.
In addition, the New York Central Tavern-Lounge No. 43 will also run with the Hickory Creek in October. The No. 43 car was built as one of 13 tavern-lounge by the Budd Company in 1947, and originally used by the New York Central on daytime long-distance passenger. After the merger of the railroad lines to become Penn Central, the car, renumbered 4443, ran usually between New York and Washington D.C. No. 43 was inherited later by Conrail in 1976, which later became NJ Transit where it ran on the North Jersey Coast Line. After the car was retired in 1991, the train car was donated to the United Railroad Historical Society of NJ which restored it to its original historic appearance. It too is certified to run on Amtrak and available through private charter.
The excursions will feature two different classes of service. Passengers in the Hickory Creek will be treated to a full-service meal, cooked by the chef in the car’s onboard kitchen. Beer and wine is included, and drinks and hor d’oeuvres will be served to passengers at their seats throughout the trip. Passengers in the No. 43 will be treated to catered sandwiches and sides in the tavern end of the car. This car will serve drinks but also can be BYOB. Tickets to ride in the Hickory Creek are $349 and tickets to ride in the Tavern-Lounge No. 43 and $149.
Once in Albany, guests will have a little over two hours to explore the city, which has a gorgeous Capitol Building, a Modernist plaza, a quaint downtown, and numerous museums.