The B&O Capitol Limited

In January, 1951, the Baltimore & Ohio introduced domes to its premiere Pullman train, the Capitol Limited. Like the Columbian, the Capitol Limited connected New York, Baltimore, and Washington with Chicago, and in later years the two were combined into a single train.

One of three dome cars originally intended for the Chessie but purchased by the B&O for the Capitol Limited. Note the curved glass and the spot lights on the front of the car. Click image for a larger view.

Unlike the Columbian, the railroad didn’t completely re-equip the Capitol Limited in one order; instead, it simply replaced older cars with newer ones as they became available. When rival Chesapeake & Ohio cancelled its Washington-Cincinnati Chessie train before it even began operation, the B&O picked up some of the cars in the Chessie order, including three dome-sleeping cars.

Interior of the Capitol Limited dome showing the curved glass and the speedometer on the front panel above the speaker. Click image for a larger view.

Unlike the Columbian‘s domes, which were built by Pullman, the Chessie cars were built by Budd. Like the B&O, the C&O had clearance problems, so the cars were not as tall as dome cars in the West. But they were a bit taller than the Columbian‘s and the lower set of panes were curved, giving passengers more glass to see through. The vertical posts separating the lower panes of glass were slanted forward, giving the car a fast-moving appearance.

Diagram of the Capitol Limited dome car showing the bedroom arrangement and the forward-slanting posts separating the lower panes of windows in the dome. Click image for a larger view.

On the main level, each dome-sleeper had five roomettes (the space for a sixth roomette being taken up by the stairs to the dome), three drawing rooms, and–underneath the dome–a double bedroom. Since the drawing rooms had three beds each, that provided for 16 revenue spaces–well short of the 22 that was common on, say, a 10-roomette, 6-bedroom sleeper.

This timetable shows an artist’s conception of the spotlights in action. Click image to download a 4.3-MB PDF of this brochure about the B&O’s trains and their schedules.

Since much of the train’s route between Washington and Chicago took place at night, the railroad soon installed large spotlights at the front end of the dome so passengers in the dome could see some of the scenery they would otherwise miss. They must have been pretty annoying to people near the railroad tracks when the trains went by, and I suspect they didn’t really offer much help in seeing scenery.


The B&O Capitol Limited — 1 Comment

  1. In 1960 I rode in a Capitol Limited dome car from Chicago to Pittsburgh. The PRR was on strike so our tickets were honored by BO and we filled the dome. I do not recall floodlights.

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