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Marco Polo

Marco Polo

Until January 2019 one of the permanent residents of Union Station was Norfolk Southern's business car Marco Polo. The car, which sat in the station on track 7 for nearly 30 years, was built in 1927, in the twilight of the "Golden Age of Railroading," by the Pullman Company as a business car. Typical of business cars or "Varnish" luxury equipment often built by railroads and the wealthy of that time, the car has an observation lounge at the entry end which is used as a reception and sitting room, a large dining room with seating for eight, a kitchen (which has been modernized), and four bedroom and bath suites. The car is 74 foot long and nine feet wide.

Operated by the Pullman Company, the car carried many dignitaries, including:

  • Governor of New York Franklin Delano Roosevelt,
  • Madame Chaing Kai-Shek
  • The Soong Sisters
  • Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherland
  • President Eduard Benes of Czechoslovakia
  • President Manual Quezon of the Philipines
  • Presidents of Peru, Cuba, Bolivia, Liberia, Paraguay, Haiti
  • J. H. Studebaker
  • W. B. Woolworth
  • Harvey Firestone
  • W. L. Mellon

    President of the United States Franklin Delano Roosevelt used the car extensively between 1933 and 1940. The on set of WWII and associated security requirements necessitated the need to switch to an "armored" car for the President.

    In 1944 the car was purchased by the Central of Georgia Railroad for use by railroad officials and its name was subsequently changed to the Savannah. The Central of Georgia was subsequently purchased by the Southern Railway. After a few years the car was leased to a hotel in Chattanooga, TN. The car was purchased by the Southern Railway in 1983 and refurbished subsequently returning to Washington. In 1989 after the after the Southern's merger with the Norfolk & Western, the car was refitted once again in the new company's (Norfolk Southern's) shops in Roanoke, VA. It emerged with its original name.