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DCNRHS Completes Major Restoration of Historic Pullman Railcar Dover Harbor

posted Apr 28, 2015, 10:08 PM by James Lilly

Photo of Dover Harbor at Historic Railroad Station in Cumberland, MD - Photo courtesy of Western Maryland Scenic Railroad
Washington, D.C. - The Washington, D.C., Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society (DCNRHS) has completed a major restoration of the exterior of the historic Pullman passenger railcar, Dover Harbor. The $50,000 donor-funded preservation project required removing the old paint from the exterior of the 85-feet long passenger car, repairing corrosion and rust in the car’s carbon steel body constructed by the Pullman Company in 1923, and repainting the car in authentic Pullman green. Exact stencils and masks were created to reproduce the historical size and appearance of the gold lettering, including a large “Pullman” above the windows on both sides of the car.  According to DCNRHS Project Manager, Jim Lilly, a primary challenge was preserving the historic integrity of the car. “A project of this magnitude would be challenging for any non-profit,” Jim said, “but we have a special duty to ensure that we not only preserve the car for the future, but do so in a way that retains the historic accuracy of small details such as body rivets and paint color and lettering.”

Volunteers from DCNRHS led the project and contributed countless hours to the restoration, overseeing the details necessary to retain the vintage car’s classic Pullman appearance. The primary location of the work was the shops of the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad (WMSR) in Ridgeley, WV (near Cumberland, MD). WMSR, a not-for-profit tourist railroad, was the ideal partner for the project because their Ridgeley shops have the facilities, equipment, and know how to perform the heavy contract work. DCNRHS volunteers traveled frequently from the Washington area to Ridgeley as the project progressed over this past winter, assisted by WMSR volunteers as well.

DCNRHS President Scarlett Wirt remarked, “It’s an amazing accomplishment to see over a year of planning and many months’ worth of painstakingly detailed execution come together.  The car is a national treasure, and this work ensures its continued operation in mainline service for generations to come!”  Dover Harbor returned to Washington, D.C.’s historic Union Station in late April to begin a busy charter and public excursion season.  All aboard!

Photo by Jody Shaw.