History

Caritas has gone by a handful of names and numbers over the years. It was originally built for the St. Louis and San Francisco, a railroad more commonly known as The Frisco. They purchased an order of 14-roomette, 4-bedroom sleepers from Pullman, an order of cars named for various historical luminaries along the route these cars traveled, The Fricso’s Texas Special.

Our car, no. 1450, was named after Pierre Lacl├Ęde, and his name was worn on the side of the car. Here’s another identical car from that same order, the 1459 “Gasconade River,” for reference.

Photo: Mike Condren
A Frisco 14-4, built by Pullman (Photo: Mike Condren)

As was the case with most Class 1 railroads, the Frisco’s passenger service wound down as the 1960s progressed, and they sold a number of their 14-4s to the Canadian National. CN, fans of uniformity among their passenger fleet, removed the fluted steel and opted for a smooth-sided look. They also renumbered and renamed the car. Car no. 9025, the “Churchill Falls” ran for both CN and Via Rail, before being sold into private ownership following its deaccession from the fleet in the 1980s.

CN 9025, Churchill Falls (source: frisco.org)

In 1982, Caritas, as it was now known under private ownership, underwent extensive renovation and restoration. The car was painted in an early iteration of its current paint scheme, and its interior was reimagined as a lightweight business car. The car also received a rebuilt vestibule platform, and its windows were reconfigured to suit its upgraded floorplan. It was a staple in PV charter consists for decades, often seen bringing up the markers on AAPRCO convention trains and Amtrak specials.

The Caritas, fresh from its 1985 renovation (Roger Puta, Wikimedia Commons)

Today, the car’s future is a bright one: recently purchased from the ongoing Iowa Pacific Holdings liquidation, Caritas is now owned by Railroading Heritage of Midwest America, a nonprofit in the Twin Cities whose claims to fame are numerous and diverse. Caritas will ride the rails in 2022 and beyond thanks to this group’s continued dedication to preserving and interpreting rail history through excursions and other interactive rail experiences.

Caritas, today (Photo, 261.com)