L&N Presidential Car #353
Railroad historians are in agreement that this car is the oldest surviving passenger car manufactured by the Louisville and Nashville Railroad. The car was built at the South Louisville Shops in 1911. It is made of wood and in 1942 was rebuilt by adding steel exterior sheeting and an ACF ice-activated air conditioning system.
Business cars were assigned to the President and other high ranking officials of the company. At the time this car was constructed, Milton Hannibal Smith was president of the L & N. It is most likely business car #353 which was assigned to President Smith until his death. The car was then assigned to a lesser official such as a division superintendent.
Observation car #353 is 76 feet 7 inches long with a 12 foot 6 inch observation platform. The car has two state room sleeping compartments with a shared bath room. The beautiful dining room measures 13 feet long and includes a wooden secretary, dining table and breakfront. All of the furnishings remain in the car in remarkable condition. Also, two Murphy-style folding beds in the dining room can be lowered where for additional accommodations in place of the dining table. Steward quarters and a full kitchen are in the rear of the car. The kitchen is stainless steel, and a modern stove was added at some time. The car was the best appointed car on the L & N roster until 1922.
Incidentally, local rumor has it that President Smith became embroiled in controversy with the citizens of Bowling Green when he came to Bowling Green to discuss unspecified issues, and was arrested and jailed. In addition to relocating the railroad maintenance shops from Bowling Green to Paris, Tennessee, he declared that nothing new would be built by the L & N in Bowling Green as long as he was President. The city had been lobbying for a much needed new passenger terminal building since 1901, even resorting to litigation to force the issue. President Smith died in 1921 and Bowling Green finally got its new passenger depot in 1925.
This car is a must see for railroad aficionados.