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Over Christmas I saw my grandson's Polar Express train and I noticed that the Observation Car had a rounded end with an open platform. I did a search through some photo archives and I found plenty of cars with a round end but no platform. Any cars I found that had platforms were squared off. I'm just curious if this was strictly a movie animation or did such cars actually exist.
 

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The Polar Express car looks to have a squared off tail with a round platform on back. I did a Google image search for “observation car with round platform”. There were a few images of real cars with round platforms, but even with those search parameters, most of them had a squared off platform.
 

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Round ended observation cars

Over Christmas I saw my grandson's Polar Express train and I noticed that the Observation Car had a rounded end with an open platform. I did a search through some photo archives and I found plenty of cars with a round end but no platform. Any cars I found that had platforms were squared off. I'm just curious if this was strictly a movie animation or did such cars actually exist.
Gramps;

While there was a lot of variation in designs for observation cars, I doubt your grandson's both rounded off, AND open platform, "Polar Express" model observation car is likely to have been based on any real car.

Older, heavyweight, steam era, observation cars had squared off rear platforms that were open to the elements. The only thing between a passenger riding on that platform and the track speeding away from him, was a simple metal railing.
If you remember the original classic film version of "Double Indemnity" starring Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, and Edward G. Robinson, such open platforms could be dangerous, maybe.

Later, and safer, observation cars were fully-enclosed, with large windows providing the view, and with the passengers safely inside the walls of the car. These fully-enclosed cars came in several different styles, round end. square end, and domed end, were all used.
My favorite railroad, the Milwaukee Road had two of the more unusual observation car designs. Milwaukee's "Skytop" observation cars had half-dome, rounded rear ends with multiple windows in both the walls, and the ceiling. Their "Beavertail" cars had a semi-squared off rear end that sloped downward and a fin on the outside center of the car. The "Beavertail" was also one of the very few observation car designs with a seat that actually faced outward, toward the big windows in the rear, so that passengers could sit, and look directly out the window.
Oddly enough, most observation cars had only inward-facing seats. (I guess you were supposed to "observe" the passengers across the aisle! :laugh: ) As far as I know, all the many round tail observation cars had their seats facing inward. The famous "California Zephyr" train run jointly by the Burlington, the Rio Grande, and the Western Pacific, railroads, had an observation car with a dome on top. It was one of five domes on that train.

Traction Fan :smilie_daumenpos:
 

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Shdwdrgn, never mind the "Observation Car" its the bridge that's is unique! A suspension bridge with the "towers" run perpendicular to the bridge! Have to think about how to incorporate that in my new layout. I've already decided I want a gauntlet bridge.
 

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I've been looking at that structure ever since I first saw the picture. I'm not really sure it is a bridge? Judging by the cables hanging from the center, it makes me think it's some kind of hoist rig set up to assist with the stone wall being built there. I'm not familiar with that area so I don't know if those beams are still in place today.

Gauntlet tracks are cool. When I first found out about them I also considered if there was a way for me to incorporate that in my planned layout. It's still a possibility, but I haven't settled on anything just yet.
 

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Its definitely a bridge with one side tacked to the rock wall and the other cantilevered over the water and held up by the overhead beams and cables. Its such a tight place that trying to fill the creek would have dammed it up. It could have been temporary until they could blast more rock on the right, but my guess is that the narrow area means any rock waste falling in the rapids would act as a dam and make everything worse! Even the overhead beams had truss rods. This bridge has everything! Unlikely it exists now as the heavy rains would have washed it away eventually.
 

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OH! Now I get it! The beams aren't a bridge themselves, they are supporting a bridge that the tracks go over. Sheesh. I've been looking at those pictures trying to figure out how you guys got a bridge out of that... A bridge for what? People? Where would they go, since the beams go into a solid rock face on either side?

Yeah, I was really confused.
 
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