The beautiful Overland Trail.

(© 2024 Bill Hatrick, Used by permission, All Rights Reserved.)



Pullman logo, green, black, white.

Car History

The Overland Trail is a 39 seat Club Lounge with Barbershop and Shower. It was built by the Pullman Standard Car Manufacturing Company for delivery to the Southern Pacific Railroad in December of 1949. Numbered SP 2981, the car was specifically ordered in October of '47 for the San Francisco Overland, a train jointly operated by the Southern Pacific, Union Pacific, and the Chicago & North Western railroads between Chicago, IL and Oakland, (San Francisco) CA.

One of six sisters (built to Lot 6806, Plan 7580), cars 2981, 2982, and 2983 were assigned to the San Francisco Overland, while cars 2984 and 2985 (ordered June '46) were assigned to the Golden State. Car 2986 (ordered August 47) found itself assigned to the City of San Francisco. This car order (Lot 6806, which included cars of many different configurations) was actually part of a larger order of lot numbers 6805, 6815 and 6816. Between 1946 and 1954, the Southern Pacific purchased 261 new passenger cars at a cost of $48 million dollars (the Overland Trail cost approximately $200,000 when built). In 1949 and 1950 the Southern Pacific placed more new streamlined cars into service than any other two year period in the company's history. In 1950 alone, 119 new cars were placed in service.


The Overland Trail's incredible Lounge section and Circle Mirrored Bar.

(© 2024 Bill Hatrick, Used by permission, All Rights Reserved.)



The Southern Pacific, along with many other major railroads, anticipated delivery of their cars right after the war ... they were eager to re-equip their worn out equipment after tremendous overuse during W.W.II. However, the demand for consumer goods, combined with continued post war material shortages, and rail car manufactures giving precedence to freight car orders, delayed delivery of passenger cars for several years.

Southern Pacific club-lounge 2981, the first of the six barbershop lounges, was outshopped from the Pullman plant in Chicago, Ill. in December of 1949. The lounge car was a standard 85 foot long car measuring 10 feet wide and 13'6" tall. It was delivered in an elegant two-tone gray paint scheme (with white stripes separating the grays).

The interior features a stunning Streamline Moderne 39 seat main salon with 16 seats at 4 tables with the balance of the seating made up of loose club chairs.

A most gracious quarter-circle bar adorns one end of the lounge and is surrounded by deeply etched, diamond patterned decorative mirrors and etched glass partition "wings" (with a pine bough motif), while photo murals are featured on each side of the doorway at the other end of the lounge (opposite the bar) and depict Mount Lassen to the left and El Capitan at Yosemite to the right. Murals, applied to many different cars from this order, featured scenic highlights at locations all along the Southern Pacific's vast system. The murals were part of the Southern Pacific's promotion of tourist travel through-out Southern Pacific territory.

During this period the company spent one million dollars annually on advertising, primarily on billboard ads reading "Next Time Take The Train."


Amtrak 450 leads the Overland Trail and the Silver Splendor between Los Angeles and San Luis Obispo, North of Goleta at the Arroyo Hondo creek.

(© 2024 Bill Hatrick, Used by permission, All Rights Reserved.)


Overland Route

As stated, the 2981, 2982, 2983 and 2986 were originally assigned to the "Overland Route" which was the path of the original, historic transcontinental railroad. The transcontinental railroad was a joint project by SP predecessor Central Pacific which built from Sacramento, California east, and the Union Pacific Railroad which built west from Omaha, Nebraska. This route was completed joining east and west with the historic driving of the golden spike at Promontory, Utah on May 10, 1869. The third member of the "Overland Route" was the Chicago and Northwestern filling the gap between Omaha and Chicago. This total route covered 1,780 miles from Chicago to Oakland.

To elaborate on the joint operation, the San Francisco Overland was operated by the Southern Pacific from San Francisco/Oakland to Ogden Utah.

The train was operated by the Union Pacific Railroad from Ogden to Omaha. The Chicago & Northwestern Railroad handled the final leg of service from Omaha to Chicago (the Milwaukee Road handled C&NW's portion from the mid 1950's to the Amtrak era). By September of 1950, the timetable shows train number 27, the west bound San Francisco Overland leaving Chicago at 8:00 PM daily, and arriving in San Francisco 48 hours and 55 minutes later at 6:55 PM. The final 35-minute leg of the journey from Oakland Pier to San Francisco was by the Southern Pacific Ferry. After a sixteen hour layover, the counter part, train number 28, would depart San Francisco at 11:00 AM and arrive in Chicago at 1:00 PM two days later. A section of the San Francisco Overland would continue from Ogden to Denver, Kansas City and St. Louis.


A Gallery of Vintage photos. Click to enlarge.

(All photos © 2024 Bill Hatrick, Used by permission, All Rights Reserved.)


The Barbershop.

The Lounge Area.

The Stewardess Room.

Corridor between Bar and Barbershop.

Freshly built in 1949.

The Circle Mirrored Bar.

San Francisco Overland

The "San Francisco Overland" was the last incarnation of the famed "Overland Limited", a proud name that harkened back to the "golden spike era" many decades earlier. The Overland was still a premier train on the overland route until the early stages of the streamliner era when it was eclipsed by the Union Pacific's "City of San Francisco". As the UP "CITY of (fill in the blank)" "brand" trains became more dominate, the once proud Overland continued to degrade and lose services.


Floorplan of 2981. Click to enlarge.

(© 2024 Bill Hatrick, Used by permission, All Rights Reserved.)


Reno Fun Train

The 2981 served faithfully, racking up around 5 million miles for the Southern Pacific during its railroad career. However, as the fortunes of passenger trains waned in the 1950s and 60's, so too did the glory of this stylish railcar, when in October of 1966, the beautiful lounge of 2981 was stripped and converted into a dance floor. The Southern Pacific (wanting to keep idled onboard service crews working during the winter), along with the Reno Chamber of Commerce, started the Reno Fun Train (a winter time "gamblers special") which ran between Oakland, CA and Reno, NV bringing revelers, who otherwise, would not make the drive from the Bay Area over the treacherous Donner Pass, to Reno.


The vintage Barbershop aboard the Overland Trail.

(© 2024 Bill Hatrick, Used by permission, All Rights Reserved.)



The 2981 was purchased by Amtrak in 1973, and numbered Amtrak 3500. She finished her railroad career, still assigned to the Reno Fun Train serving as a bar/dance car into the late '70s. The car transitioned to private hands after Amtrak retirement and spent a decade as a derelict on various railroad spurs under several owners. Fortunately for the 2981 (and we hope, many future generations), a new chapter has been written for this glorious car. Once again adorned in authentic railroad colors, she has been given the name Overland Trail and has undergone extensive mechanical, structural and cosmetic restoration to return her to the rails as a classic form of travel, suitable for the stylish and sophisticated, or for those simply wishing to relive a bygone era.


Sister car No. 2984, last car on the City of San Francisco at Oakland's 16th Street Station, April 1971.

(Drew Jacksich from San Jose, CA, The Republic of California, CC BY 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons)


Where are the cars from this class today?

  • 2981 is currently serving Pennsylvania on the Northern Central railway
  • 2982, involved in an early serious Amtrak wreck. Sold for scrap but the body (less trucks) may still survive as a "bait shop" in state of Kansas.
  • 2983, last known to be in storage in Burbank, California, current location unknown
  • 2984, currently in dead storage on isolated track in the Sierra Nevada mountains.
  • 2985, removed from railroad, stripped and now part of office/motel complex (serving as office space) in Santa Rosa area, CA. The 2985 became a "donor" of MANY parts to help complete her sister, the Overland Trail. We are grateful to Jon Clark who told us about the car's new owners and their plans to strip her and to the owners who graciously offered us anything that was in the dumpster.
  • 2986, resurrected from stationary conference car use in the early 80s (in time for LA Olympics in '84), last used as part of Southern Pacific's business car fleet into the early '90s. Nice but modern restoration. Remarkable, even though the car was "tubed", the original "foot print" of the lounge was restored including the magazine racks and card playing sections). On permanent loan to the Western Heritage Museum, Omaha, NE.


Owner Bill Hatrick:

Riding in one of our vintage railcars is a unique experience, harkening back to the golden age of streamliner travel . . .

Bill Hatrick has spent most of his adult life riding the rails aboard one of his beautiful private railcars. Hatrick bought his first car in 1983 and is now a veteran of private railcar operation. In fact, he has now owned his other railcar (an ex-Union Pacific coach car) LONGER than original owner UP had it.


Bill Hatrick invite's you aboard his vintage STREAMLINER - era passenger cars, now leased to the Northern Central Railway.

117 N. Front Street
PO Box 128
New Freedom, PA 17349

Phone: (717) 942-2370


Bill Hatrick and the Overland Trail.

(© 2024 Bill Hatrick, Used by permission, All Rights Reserved.)


All Aboard the Overland Trail (private rail lounge car)

On Father's Day, we rode the Overland Trail from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara.

See Also:

Private Railcar