Chicago & North Western "Pioneer Coach." The latest piece of railroad equipment to emerge from the shops of David Kloke is this replica of a Welch & Launder day coach, built in 1849 for the Galena & Chicago Union Railroad, which became part of the Chicago & North Western system in the mid-1860s. The original coach was pulled by the iconic 4-2-0 "Pioneer" locomotive on that line, establishing some of the first passenger service in the area. Although the original coach was lost to history, the locomotive served until 1874, but was preserved and exhibited in various museums over the next three quarters of a century.
Fast forward to 1948, when the Chicago & North Western was celebrating its 100th anniversary, it cosmetically restored the Pioneer and built a replica tender and coach to go with it, for display at their Rail Fair that year. The coach you see here is that replica....well, sort of. After the 1948 Rail Fair, the various pieces of the Pioneer consist went their separate ways. The Pioneer eventually ended up in the Chicago Museum of History, where it is on display today. The tender eventually deteriorated and was ultimately scrapped. The coach also deteriorated, but significant sub-assemblies survived, such as the basic frame and trucks. It is my understanding that David Kloke acquired those remains, and then rebuilt the coach for Mr. David Abel and his Stone Gables Estate in Elizabethtown, PA, where it now has a permanent home. So essentially, what you see is a 2nd generation replica of the 1849 Pioneer Coach.
This coach is very typical of a mid-1800s day coach, with platforms at either end and an arched roof. Clerestory roofs were a later development. The interior of this coach is very basic, which fold-over wooden bench-type seats that are not upholstered. There are no facilities on board, so I suspect that it was intended for fairly short trips! The replica has link & pin couplers, but is equipped with air brakes and has considerable structural steel in its construction. By comparison, the original 1849 unit was pretty much made of match-sticks.