RailPictures.Net Photo: FWRY 3501 Fillmore & Western EMD GP35 at Piru, California by Alex Gillman
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» Fillmore & Western (more..)
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» Fillmore & Western Railway (more..)
» Piru, California, USA (more..)
» February 23, 2020
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» FWRY 3501 (more..)
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Remarks & Notes 
A Strata Dome Heads to its "Doom." Having run light to Piru all the way from Fillmore, the secret mission for the Fillmore & Western's GP35 comes into view as it heads back west with a historic dome car in tow - the Starlight Romance, a striking Strata-Dome car. Built in 1948 by Budd for the Chesapeake & Ohio (C&O) Railroad, the car was delivered as C&O No. 1851 and named Chamberlin Romance as part of an order of three cars of its kind. Each car consisted of a 24-seat slanted, glass dome, 3 drawing rooms, 5 roomettes and 1 bedroom in the lower level. The trio of cars were planned to serve on a new train called the "Chessie," a Washington, D.C.–Cincinnati, Ohio luxury streamliner that was cancelled before it even began service. With their new, planned train out the window, the cars were sold to the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad (B&O) in December of 1950 and renumbered 7600–7602, with the new names Moonlight Dome, Starlight Dome, and Sunlight Dome. The dome featured in this photo and story was renumbered as B&O No. 7601 with the name Starlight Dome. Quickly finding a use for their three new domes, the B&O placed the trio of ex-C&O domes on trains such as the "Capitol Limited" and "Shenandoah," while the railroad's two original Strata-Domes built by Pullman Standard were used on the "Columbian." Some 15 years later in 1965, the B&O began leasing the three Budd built Strata-Domes to other railroads. Under this move, the Starlight Dome found its way to the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad for use on the "Florida Special," followed by service on the Canadian National Railway's "Expo '67" and by 1968 was being used by the Seaboard Coast Line Railroad (SCL). The following year, 1969, the Starlight Dome was sold to SCL and renumbered to SCL 6801. The car's jumping ownership quickly continued when it was sold to Hamberg Industries Augusta SC in 1970 before being leased back to the SCL with Hamberg Industries retaining ownership. With the creation and ultimate take over of all major passenger train services by Amtrak in 1971, the Starlight Dome once again found itself with new reporting marks, AMTK 9201, under new ownership...but not for long! Amtrak retired the car in October of 1981. Unfortunately, a fire inside the car damaged the single bedroom in the lower level...but this Strata-Dome's luck was about to change. The Starlight Dome was sold into private ownership in 1984, with the owner moving the car to Canoga Park to be rebuilt. During its time with its first private owner, the car was rebuilt with end windows on the non-vestibule end of the car as well as wrap-around fluting. Prior to being sold to its second private owner, the car was renamed the final time as the Starlight Romance, the name which it carries to this day. Bouncing from yards in Tustin and at one point, Saugus, the car eventually landed at the Fillmore & Western Railway (FWRY) and began to deteriorate due to a lack of funds to complete its restoration. Fast forward to January 2020. Commonly known as the "movie railroad," which stems from its physical location being close to Hollywood, California, the FWRY was approached by FOX who was interested in chartering a number of railcars to be used in a staged train wreck scene for the network's popular "9-1-1" series. Upon looking through the FWRY's collection of passenger equipment, FOX chose the Starlight Romance to be the focal point of the episode. Before the car could head for the set, however, it needed some makeup work in the form of an entire restoration of the Strata-Dome itself. From custom making and installing every glass window, chair, table, etc. - the Starlight Romance received a beautiful cosmetic restoration of its dome and rear lounge. With the interior work complete, a number of runs were made with the car with actors aboard to set the stage of those riding onboard the make-believe train prior to its "wreck." Interested in how the wreck turned out? Stay tuned for more photos...
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