Trains, Trolleys, and Diners: The real story

California Zephyr as food court at Disney's California Adventure Park

I stumbled on this little tangent recently and thought it was worth sharing because of the nice photographs and details that the article provides.  The parent website covers the history of Disney park features that are no longer. Here's a summary of the relevant train and food bits; click the links for the photos and full story.

From 2001 to 2011, the California Adventure Park in Anaheim, CA had a non-operational EMD FP7 cab to which they added a rear section and Disney-manufactured streamliner cars that served food. The observation car at the end sold toys.   The FP7 cab was built in 1952 for the Canadian National Railway as #9104. They rebuilt it in 1973 as #9165, and retired it in 1989. Disney picked it up in Illinois in 1990.

The article says that the park numbered the cab "804-A" in Western Pacific livery after the last Chicago to Oakland run in 1970.  But, the article says that this wasn't the actual engine because that engine was wrecked in 1972. (Various Wikipedia mentions about "804-A" seem to dispute that.  I'll leave the investigation to others.)  The Disney Company donated the cab to the Western Pacific Railroad Museum, Portola, CA, for their "Zephyr Project".  There's a photo of the cab's removal as part of the story:  The full "Yesterland" story and photos

Here's the food part:
1. Bur-r-r Bank Ice Cream accessed via the side of the engine.  More info and photos
2. Baker's Field Bakery accessed via the "Silver Platter" dining car.  This section had a train mural and actual framed Zephyr memorabilia.  More info and photos

(The bad food puns could have come straight from the Tomlinson Run Railroad, but thank goodness, they didn't!)

Tomlinson Run Railroad

TomlinsonRunRR posted:


From 2001 to 2011, the California Adventure Park in Anaheim, CA had a non-operational EMD FP7 cab to which they added a rear section and Disney-manufactured streamliner cars that served food. The observation car at the end sold toys.   The FP7 cab was built in 1952 for the Canadian National Railway as #9104. They rebuilt it in 1973 as #9165, and retired it in 1989. Disney picked it up in Illinois in 1990.


I was familiar with the existence of this, but not the details. Thanks for posting that. I only wish I could have seen that when it was still there, as I've yet to get to Disneyland.

A recent post on the Random Photos of Trolley Cars topic caught my eye:

It is of Toronto Transit Commission work car W-1. According to the TTC website, this car was in use from 1911-1967; it was built by the Toronto Railway Company.  What got my attention was the "barrel" shaped roof, which is outlined by bare light bulbs.  This design reminded me of some barrel-roofed diners that also outlined their roof curve in bare light bulbs.  There seemed to be a visual and esthetic connection between these trolley and diner uses.  It's hard to say how functional the lighting would be. (In the background you can see a straight roof line with bulbs, too.)

I set off to find more trolley cars with round roof lines and light bulbs.  There were other historic TTC work cars with rounded roofs, but I only found one other with light bulbs:

C-1, a crane car, is now at the Halton County Railway Museum. Here is the parent link with more photos and information; look in the "Works Cars Image Archive":

(The website says that the C-2 went to the Ohio Railway Museum, but their roster says that it was only the body and it was scrapped.)  In two Google Images searches, no other streetcar companies turned up with rounded roofs that looked like diner roofs. Only TTC so far.

Zooming in on these two photos shows that, while the light bulbs follow the contour of the roof line, they are actually set in the cab wall, not the roof line itself.  Regardless, the three-part ends of the cars, their curved roofs, and the light bulbs remind me of the following diner examples.  All the photographs are mine:

1930s Arthur's Paradise Diner, Lowell, Mass., Worcester Lunch Car Co. You can't see the side divided into three sections like the work cars from this close-up, but it's there. Taken last year:

ca 1933 Kenwood Diner, Spencer, Mass. (taken circa 1978):

The following links have better and more recent photos that show light bulbs actually in the sockets. Unfortunately, Google Maps says that the Kenwood Diner is "Permanently closed".

1947 Roberto's Cafe, an all-steel diner built on site, Providence, RI (taken 2000). This view shows the sockets for six light bulbs.  Here you can see how the end is divided into three sections:

This lighting feature on diner barrel roofs has always reminded me of something that you might see on a circus wagon or caravan.  Now, it will remind me of two historic TTC cars.

Tomlinson Run Railroad


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Mentioned above is the restored V & T McKeen car at the Nevada RR Museum, as "one of a few surviving".  A poster on here apparently hauled the carcass of one back to Calif. from Alaska.  That makes two.  Where are others?

??Another one of THOSE!!??  What you want to sell is not what I want to buy!

I stumbled across a photo I took a year ago of the O'Mahony Diner at the Illinois Railway Museum. It has been integrated into the restaurant building, although you cannot yet sit at the counter. Most of the interior furnishings appear to be there.IRM y14 [2) Restoration continues.






The Past is a foreign country that, once departed, cannot be reentered (but I keep knockin' on the door)!



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I have been reading my book on cable cars. Very interesting read on how fast they designed, built and ran the systems. Each system, about 60, were custom built but the industry, as a whole, didn't last long.  A bunch made money while they lasted. Construction of the track & cars was relatively light weight. Most cars were too light to convert to trolleys. The advantages were they didn't discharge about 10 lbs of manure and gallons of manure on to the city streets each day and using the cable for power they could go up steep hills that  trolleys and trains couldn't.  The 7 or 8 years of their existence were full of patent law suits.

John/Jay Jay,

Thanks for the O'Mahony diner photo and the IRM restoration update.  Let's hope they'll have counter service soon! 

Recently, I was thinking about the Diner Grill. That's the Chicago diner that was built out of two Evanston Railways streetcars, and which you'd alerted us had a fire last Christmas eve 2016. 

Apparently, some work started in June and somebody on Reddit (or was it Yelp?) wrote as recently as 9 September that it looked like some work was being done again.  I found this Facebook page that includes two interior photos (see the first one posted on June 20th and the last one posted on January 18).  Both photos show the curved roof line and the narrow streetcar width that are hidden inside the boxy exterior:

Facebook photos showing streetcar roof line

Jim, interesting reading about cable cars and the contrast with horse-drawn and trolley transportation.

Tomlinson Run Railroad

Also, this cable car book is loaded with photos of the major cities in the 1880-90s.  A cable car system was engineered and built(private $$) and operating in a year or two, not years like today.  They had accidents but no details on those.  It sure beat walking: Pgh had three relatively short lines from the downtown area to Oakland and East Liberty areas. It took 1 hr:45 mins to walk it and  30 mins to ride in a cable car about the same today.  The waste from the horses-solid and liquid made the streets too slippery for horses to pull except unpaved surfaces or cobble stone !!  A lot they never told us. TRRR-if you want to look and read this book I could send it to you when I am finished. Let me know.

Jim, thanks for the offer.  I appreciate it.  But at present, I'm running behind with school work and I'm afraid reading it would be a distraction.  I've had several distractions today, in fact, and got no writing done! 

So, having lost the day, your post just inspired me to do a quick Google Image search for cable car restaurant photos.  

Unsurprisingly perhaps, San Francisco has a few , and there were hints of repurposed cable cars elsewhere in the country.

Who would have thought?

Thanks again.


My annual school review went well (yeah!), so I have a minute or two to post some of those cable car restaurants ... Unlike diners and rail car and trolleys-turned-diners, I have nothing to say about the "architecture" or any shared RR or popular design elements in these restaurant reuse examples.  These cable car examples are pretty much "as is" and utilitarian.  There's a rail car and lunch wagon example thrown in, too.  This collection represents San Fransisco and San Fransisco as others in the world interpret it.


Tomlinson Run Railroad

Cable Car Coffee, San Francisco Municipal Railway (1912-present)
900 Market Street, San Francisco, CA


Grubstake 1927 to present (a Berkeley, SF, and Oakland rail car and a lunch wagon built to be a diner -- I wonder where they got that? Surviving lunch wagons are rare.)
1525 Pine Street, San Francisco, CA

This place and its rail car's fate were up in the air when I first discovered it.  The rail car's end just sticks out of the front of the building. It's incongruous, but there you have it. I'm glad to read that the restaurant is doing OK via this 2017 Post.


Home edition

1632 Great Highway, Carville-by-the-sea (SF), CA.  A house made from a cable car and a horse car; the second story is made from two cable cars. (OK, it's not a restaurant but it's got a kitchen -- that counts for something, right?)  Gorgeous interior photo.


Japanese Coffee Edition

Another SF Cable Car Municipal Railway example, car no. 8, some where in Japan (?) circa 2010, per this blog post.


Apparently San Francisco and its imagery is a big hit in Bangalore, India.  Some of these look like gondola cars to me but perhaps its just how they cut the cars to create individual dining spaces?  There's the ubiquitous San Francisco Municipal Railway in maroon (?) and one in the railway's Powell & Hyde Sts. livery (see website for that one).  It's kinda like those two U.S. spaghetti chains with their token trolley, only this hotel restaurant is more upscale and they serve only vegetarian Italian and Indian food:

Check out the hotel's website:




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