09 December 2007

Pullman Car, Built For Ringling, Served As Hunting Lodge

I've just returned from dropping off some toys for the annual U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots event that provides goods for underprivileged kids. While there, I saw the coolest thing. The event took place in northwest Columbus at a business called the InfoDepot, a shared office space facility. The facility hosted a youth choir, folk singer, photos with Santa Claus, rides on a miniature train, and of course, the requisite hot chocolate, cookies and coffee on a dreary, rainy day.

What am I leading up to? The owner also collects train memorabilia. The real stuff, folks. I'm talking about engines, passenger cars, etc. Full size, baby. Just two weeks ago his latest "acquisition" came in. A Pullman car built in the 1920s for the Ringling Brothers circus family. That is, it was the private car for the family that owned the circus. A sit ting room, two bedrooms, a dining room/game room and small kitchen in the rear, and two bathrooms (one with a bathtub).

The car, a rolling palace in its time, has had a succession of owners over the years, but I learned it spent some time befure its new owner rescued it as a small cabin in the south. Specifically, the car was billed as a "hunting lodge" down in some swamps in Alabama. How the beautiful wood walls and accents throughout survived the high humidity of an Alabama bayou, I don't know. The furniture in it today is definitely something you would see in an exclusive private club, but I can envision this place sitting deep in a wooded area near a bog, a beautifully paneled respite from a day in the field. Out on the middle of bloody nowhere. "Gentlemen" unloading their shotguns, coming into the car and discussing what they saw, what they missed, and then enjoying a sumptuous heavy meal served up by some high-end cook, then playing cards into the middle of the night.

If those walls could talk . . .

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