How the Railway Historical Society is Keeping History Alive

How the Railway Historical Society is Keeping History Alive

If you’ve ever wondered what it would feel like to ride a luxury railcar from the 1930s, wonder no more.

We recently sat down with Hank Anderson, editor, board member, and railcar steward at the DC Chapter National Railway Historical Society (DCNRHS), to learn about the Dover Harbor, the Society’s original Pullman railcar.

Experience the Golden Age of Railroading

There are plenty of private cars tagging along on Amtrak routes across the country, but only a few that hail from the heyday of railroading.

“We have a very historic car,” Mr. Anderson explained, “which is very representative of the ways things used to be during the golden age of railroading.”

And while many historical cars have been brought back to life, the Dover Harbor is one of the few cars that has been restored to its original 1930s appearance, down to the fixtures. “If you look at old pictures of cars in the 1930s, ours looks pretty much exactly like that,” Mr. Anderson added.

This railcar’s historical feel doesn’t stop there. The crew on the car, made up entirely of volunteers from the DCNRHS, dress up in historically accurate clothing and provide first-class service based on the traditions of the era.

Travel to Williamsburg in Style

As a fully certified private car, the Dover Harbor can go anywhere Amtrak goes, but one of the most popular (and most frequent) trips is the journey between Washington, DC and Williamsburg, VA.

Leaving from Washington, DC’s Union Station at 7:30 am, passengers receive a classic first-class breakfast as they enjoy the beautiful views from the dining car. The car arrives in downtown Williamsburg around noon, with the town’s historic center just a few minutes’ walk away.

Passengers are able to experience all that Williamsburg has to offer, including the Yorktown Battlefield, the site of the last major battle in the Revolutionary War, and the famed historical Colonial Williamsburg.

After a day of eating and sightseeing, travelers hop back onto the railcar around 5 pm and enjoy dinner service on the way back to Washington, DC.

How to Grab Your Seat On The Next Trip

The next season of trips will be starting soon, so make sure you’re among the first to know when they do by signing up for DCNRHS’s trip news mailing list.

In addition to Williamsburg, the DCNRHS also offers several short and long distance trips to places like Savannah, GA and Montreal, Canada, and hosts an elegant annual dinner party at Washington, DC’s Union Station.

For those looking to celebrate a special occasion, you can charter the Dover Harbor as part of your own private trip or event. And of course, if you join the DCNRHS as a member and volunteer, you’ll be able to ride and work on the Dover Harbor as many times as you’d like.

“People are always pretty surprised to find out [the stewards] are volunteers,” said Mr. Anderson. “They can see we work really hard on everything and that we really enjoy doing it.”