Amtrak PV's 4-1-17: Private Varnish on the way to North Carolina

"Super Dome" (Top), "Moonlight Dome" (Bottom Left) and "Silver Solarium" (Bottom Right) were three of the privately owned passenger cars I caught over April Fool's weekend.

Over this past weekend, I spent plenty of time trackside, and was able to catch six privately owned passenger cars (referred to by railfans as PV's, short for "Private Varnish") being transported on the tail of Amtrak's "Carolinian" from Washington, D.C. Union Station to Charlotte, North Carolina. From Charlotte, a Norfolk Southern local would tote the cars the remainder of the journey to the North Carolina Transportation Museum in Spencer, where the cars will participate in the 2017 N&W 611 excursion season. Not shown are Iowa Pacific's "Summit View" and California Zephyr "Silver Lariat," both domes, which came south on days I was unable to get trackside.

An Amtrak train pauses at Alexandria Union Station in Virginia, seen from the King Street Station of the Washington Metro System.


On Saturday April 1st, I rode the Washington Metro to King Street Station, directly adjacent to Alexandria Union Station. There, I saw Milwaukee Road "Wisconsin Valley" Lounge car and the "Super Dome." I then got back on the Metro to Washington Union Station, hoping to find some of the other PV's waiting their turn to ride the Carolinian, which could only take two extra cars at a time. I didn't spot any of the Spencer-bound cars, but I did find "Berlin" and "Georgia Dearing" sitting on a far track with "Dover Harbor," the first two of which came in on Amtrak's "Cardinal" earlier in the week.

 Cars "Berlin" and "Dearing" sit on the far track at Union Station in Washington D.C. "Dover Harbor" and a couple of Amtrak cars are parked behind them."

Cars "Berlin" and "Dearing" sit on the far track at Union Station in Washington D.C. "Dover Harbor" and a couple of Amtrak cars are parked behind them."

The afternoon of April 2nd, I spent a few hours at Ashland, VA watching trains, biding my time until I would go to Hampton, VA, to watch the circus train load. Here, I saw the coach "Lake Pepin" and Baltimore & Ohio "Moonlight Dome," although I was only able to get a good picture of the dome.

Finally, on April 3rd, shortly after catching the Ringling Brothers & Barnum and Bailey "Red Unit" circus train through Petersburg, VA, I got an extra treat in the form of two California Zephyr cars on the tail of the Carolinian, which was right behind the circus train. Lounge car "Silver Rapids" and Dome/Observation "Silver Solarium" brought up the rear of the train in a very classy fashion. Video is linked below the final gallery of pictures, thank you for reading and watching!