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American Freedom Train
Car #200
Splendid Spirit

The original American Freedom Train car!

This 1926-vintage 6-axle heavyweight Pullman observation car belonged to Ross Rowland's High Iron Company (formerly Penn Central/New York Central business car #7) and usually went by the name "Brothers Two" (#200). In 1973, to promote the idea of an "American Freedom Train", this car was painted white with a blue roof and a wide red stripe across the window area -- and was the first car ever lettered "American Freedom Train" -- just under the roof line -- and "Splendid Spirit" just below the windows. It retained its number -- 200 -- and appeared on two High Iron Co. excursions in 1973.

On a two-day Memorial Day weekend excursion from Hoboken to Binghamton behind Delaware & Hudson steam locomotive #302 (actually former Reading T-1 #2102 dressed as 302) it was simply lettered "Freedom Train", but by July 1973 it had matured into "American Freedom Train", as pointed out by Mr. Walter Curll.)

Image: Keith Muldowney

American Freedom Train Car 200 ex New York Central business car 7

 

 

 

 

 
 

By its July 22, 1973 excursion behind NKP 759 from Hoboken to Scranton, it had matured into "American Freedom Train".

Thanks go to Mr. Walter Curll and Mr. Keith Muldowney for helping piece this all together.

Note the unique AFT tail herald -- an image of the Liberty Bell with the words 'American Freedom Train' and a small image of a train passing behind the bell.

The large roof aerial antenna of the 70s has today been supplanted by a satellite dish (see below)!

Image: Keith Muldowney

American Freedom Train Car 200 ex New York Central business car 7  
 

Photographed at Lebanon, New Jersey on 22 Dec 1974.

Image: The Houser Collection, Charles Houser, Sr.

American Freedom Train Car 200 ex New York Central business car 7  
 

 

In 1975 the Splendid Spirit did, in fact, see service on the AFT in this paint scheme, but only for a few days in Ohio. It went on to serve as the observation car for the Chessie Steam Specials.

Image: William Brandon, photographer. George Elwood scan.

 

American Freedom Train Car 200 ex New York Central business car 7

 
 

By the time it served with C&O steam locomotive #614 (614T) on American Coal Enterprises steam locomotive tests in the mid 1980s it had been renamed "Independence". ACE was Ross Rowland's venture promoting the ACE3000, a "modern coal-burning steam locomotive designed to compete with diesels".

On December 7, 1985 the Independence carried then Vice President George HW Bush to the Army-Navy Football Game as a guest of ACE.

Image: Notepad "Aboard the Independence" and Napkins from the Independence, circa 1980.

John Finnin collection.

 
 

The Splendid Spirit is now with American Railcar Industries (successor to ACF) at ARI's St. Charles, MO plant, still painted Tuscan red and bearing the name "Independence". Thanks go to Keith Muldowney and John Lewis for much of this information.

Image: John Lewis. Photographed at St. Louis Union Station.

American Freedom Train Car 200 ex New York Central business car 7, ACF Independence  
  Image: John Lewis. Photographed at St. Charles, MO in 2007. American Freedom Train Car 200 ex New York Central business car 7, ARI Independence  
 

The former AFT #200 Splendid Spirit is one of two former AFT cars that now have satellite TV!

(The other is former AFT 204 up in BC, Canada.)

Image: John Lewis. Photographed at St. Charles, MO.

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American Freedom Train Car 200 ex New York Central business car 7, ACF Independence
 
       
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