By Willy Schneider
THIS CAR was constructed by the Pullman Coach Company of Chicago, Illinois, in October of 1911, using their standard car plan #2410, Lot 3936* Heavyweight/streamlined.
Upon completion, the car was named “Blasdell” and was placed into general revenue service and leased to a number of American railroads. The car was designed for long distance passenger trains, having 12 sleeping compartments and one drawing room.
During the Second World War, Pullman refitted the interior to a 13-compartment sleeping coach for troop transport. At that time it received a simple identification number of ‘2551’. After the war (1947), it was purchased by the Pacific Great Eastern Railroad for use in British Columbia. At that time the car was returned to a 12-compartment sleeper, renamed “Williams Lake” and numbered ‘6508’.
After years of declining traffic, the car was converted by Pacific Great Eastern in 1969. The installation of a new roof and water tank housing made the car into a cookhouse/diner and sleeper, or ‘crew car’ #6508. The car was assigned to the Prince George Auxiliary and then saw service on track repair trains in the northwest and central interior of British Columbia.
The inception of British Columbia Railway (BCRail) in 1972 from the former Prince Great Eastern, saw the car in very light use and it was renamed to its final designation of ‘BCol 6508’.
In 1995, the Central BC Railway and Forestry Museum acquired ‘BCol 6508’ and several other idled maintenance cars from BCRail. This equipment was stored in the CN rail yard in Prince George and was planned to join the collection at the museum’s location north of the rail yards.
Late in the year of 1996, the Skeena Valley Model Railroad Association offered to purchase the car from the Prince George museum as a permanent location for a club model railroad layout.
The car would be positioned off of the CN right-of-way, on property owned by the Municipality of Terrace, B.C. and would anchor a public park. The transaction was completed for the sum of $1 and the car was transported to Terrace early in 1997.
From an unused storage siding, the car was lifted from its wheels which were then positioned on an isolated track section and the car repositioned on the wheels in its present location in August of 1998.
Though the car was never a part of the Canadian National Railway fleet, the club members decided to recognize the primary operator in the northwestern British Columbia, and so the car is painted in the colour scheme (livery) representative of Canadian National Railway’s coaches in use from the 1940s through the 1960s.
The model railway constructed within the car is intended to represent the rail line and stations located between Terrace and Prince Rupert with simulated extensions to Kitimat and Smithers (points east).