Andrew Castle’s GBW 901 Dome Car (“Algoma Country”)

Here’s a link to a really great and well-illustrated article by Andrew Castle about how he modelled GBW 901, Wisconsin Central/Algoma Central’s dome coach “Algoma Country”.

Andrew Castle’s GBW 901 Article on

This car was transferred to the Algoma Central in 1997 (post-WC ownership) and repainted in the AC colours of the time and given the car name “Algoma Country”. At first the car was lettered with the Wisconsin Central name and logo, but in the Algoma Central bear passenger colours. Sometime after 2000, the WC name and shield were removed and the Algoma Central name applied. This dome car saw regular service on the Agawa Canyon Tour Train until the mid 2000s.

ProtoFile: Agawa Canyon Tour Train Coaches (Current)

In 2009, CN acquired the equipment of the former Ski Train out of Denver, Colorado. This purchase included 3 F40PH locomotives, and 14 passenger cars, which ironically were originally built in 1968 for CN.

The new equipment was rushed into service for the 2009 season to replace the aging former VIA/CN steel coaches which had been built in the early 1950s. During 2010-2011 the new passenger cars were extensively refurbished, entering service for the 2011 season with new windows, upgraded interiors, and internal TV display monitors that could display a live cab view from video cameras mounted in the locomotive cab as well as GPS-triggered audio narration providing information about various features and locations along the route. As the cars were refurbished they were repainted in a handsome new interpretation of the ACR’s wine red and grey passenger colours, and lettered with new Agawa Canyon Tour Train logo decals, although unfortunately while the coaches carry AC numbers (but the engines bear CN reporting marks) the Algoma Central name is not present.


Modern Agawa Canyon Tour Train logo on coach 5705 Spruce Lake, July 2013.

Except for the Tour Train logos, lettering on the cars is completely minimal, with just the car number at one end of the car in light grey lettering.

However, each car is named after a local river or lake, with the car name on a lettering panel on the lower portion of the car body.


AC 5704 Island Lake at Sault Ste Marie, July 2013


Number Name Type Lineage
AC 5700 Achigan Lake Coach ex-SKTX 2, ex-DRGW 430, ex-VIA 355, ex-VIA 376, ex-CN 376
AC 5701 Montreal River Coach ex-SKTX 3, ex-DRGW 431, ex-VIA 350, ex-VIA 363, ex-CN 363
AC 5702 Lake Superior Coach ex-SKTX 4, ex-DRGW 441, ex-VIA 362, ex-CN 362
AC 5703 Chippewa Lake Cafe-Lounge ex-SKTX 5, ex-DRGW 420, ex-VIA 341, ex-CN 341
AC 5704 Island Lake Coach ex-SKTX 6, ex-DRGW 442, ex-VIA 366, ex-CN 366
AC 5705 Spruce Lake Coach ex-SKTX 7, ex-DRGW 432, ex-VIA 351, ex-VIA 361, ex-CN 361
AC 5706 Batchewana River Coach ex-SKTX 8, ex-DRGW 443, ex-VIA 373, ex-CN 373
AC 5707 Hubert Lake Cafe-Lounge ex-SKTX 9, ex-DRGW 421, ex-VIA 342, ex-CN 342
AC 5708 Ogidaki Lake Coach ex-SKTX 10, ex-DRGW 444, ex-VIA 371, ex-CN 371
AC 5709 Mongoose Lake Coach ex-SKTX 11, ex-DRGW 433, ex-VIA 353, ex-VIA 364, ex-CN 364
AC 5710 Agawa River Presentation ex-SKTX 12, ex-DRGW 440, ex-VIA 375, ex-CN 375, ex-CN 320
AC 5711 Trout Lake Club Car ex-SKTX 13, ex-DRGW 425, ex-VIA 321, ex-CN 321
AC 5712 Goulais River Club Car ex-SKTX 14, ex-DRGW 426, ex-VIA 322, ex-CN 322
AC 5713 Rand Lake Club Car ex-SKTX 15, ex-DRGW 427, ex-VIA 323, ex-CN 323

Coach Cars


Coach 5709 Mongoose Lake at Searchmont, July 2013.


Coach 5708 Ogidaki Lake at Sault Ste Marie, July 2013.

Cafe-Lounge Cars


Cafe-lounge 5703 Chippewa River at Steelton shops, July 2013.

Opposite side of cafe-lounge 5707 Hubert Lake at Steelton yard, September 2013.

Opposite side of cafe-lounge 5707 Hubert Lake at Steelton yard, September 2013.

Club Cars


Club car 5711 Trout Lake at Steelton, September 2013.


Opposite side of club car 5713 Rand Lake at Steelton, September 2013.

Other Cars


Coach 5655 at Sault Ste. Marie, July 2013.

In addition to the 14 ex-Ski Train cars, coach 5655 was reconditioned in 2010 or 2011 for use on the Agawa Canyon Tour Train. 5655 is one of three ex-Amtrak coaches acquired by the Algoma Central in 2007 for use on the regular passenger service. These three cars were originally built in 1953 by Budd for the Santa Fe. Upgraded by Amtrak, these three coaches were equipped to use head-end power, and on the ACR local passenger service ran with an electrical generator car.

This single coach was refurbished with the same upgrades as the ex-Ski Train cars and features Agawa Canyon Tour Train logos indicating its assignment to this train. The other two former Santa Fe coaches, AC 5654 and 5656, do not have these internal upgrades or the tour train logos and are not used on the Canyon train. Otherwise, their external appearance is similar to the 5655.

However with the announcement of the termination of the regular passenger service, perhaps these two cars (5654/5656) may also end up being reconditioned for the tour train to provide more capacity during the fall peak season? With the 14 Ski Train cars and the 5655, the railway has a maximum of 15 cars (plus the diner below) that can be used on the tour train, while 30 years ago the Algoma Central could sometime run over two dozen coaches on the Canyon Tour Train, and be required to rent extra coaches from VIA and Ontario Northland in order to cover the needs of the regular passenger service.


Dining car 506 at Sault Ste Marie, July 2013.

Dining car 506 was acquired by the Algoma Central Railway in 1998 to replace a previous dining car, number 504, which had suffered damage from a kitchen fire. AC 506 was originally built in 1938 by Budd as Chicago, Burlington & Quincy 190 “Silver Pheasant” for service on the famed “California Zephyr”.

Passenger Train in a Box!

Just before I left on vacation a couple weeks ago I got a package of goodies from Union Station Products in the mail. A bunch of car side and core kits:


The core kits are made by Train Station Products, and the sides are either laser cut or CNC machined for specific prototype equipment. Since all of the AC passenger equipment is secondhand from various sources, there’s a number of side kits that are appropriate for AC equipment.


The top kit in this photo is a Central of Georgia coach (AC 440) and the bottom a DRGW Baggage/RPO (AC 300-301).

A few of the car kits acquired (and the AC cars they will represent) are:

2x #7603 – DRGW P-S RPO – AC 300-301
1x #2866 – CofG ACF Coach – AC 440
1x #9636-023 – NYC Budd Observation – AC Canyon View
2x #7423-R – SP Articulated Coach (Modernized) – AC 450-462

This should be an interesting series of projects when I get a chance to work on these!