Mystery of Chas. Schwab's railcar solved
Letter No. 311 | May 4, 2003
I did some web sleuthing on "Google" and uncovered the following revelation that clarifies the mystery about Schwab's luxury railroad cars named "Loretto." See "www.trainweb.org/horseshoecurve-nrhs/Loretto.htm."
The (original) "Loretto" was ordered just a few short months after Schwab was namedat the youthful age of 35as the first president of a newly-created corporation....Schwab took delivery of the (original) "Loretto" on March 15, 1902. He named the car after a town in Pennsylvania; though Loretto was not his birthplace, he had lived there since the age of five, and apparently considered it his home town. The car, built to Pullman 1735, Revision E, and designated lot number 2773, carried a price tag of about $40,000....In 1917, Schwab purchased a new car....Upon its arrival, the name "Loretto" was transferred to the new car; the 1902 car was renamed the "Bethlehem" to honor the headquarters town of Bethlehem Steel..." The original "Loretto" is currently at the North Carolina Transportation Museum (information via The North Carolina Transportation Museum website).
The new private railroad car, "Loretto II," was built in 1917 for steel tycoon Charles M. Schwab by the Pullman Company at an original cost of $150,000. It is 83 feet long, weighs 80 tons, is fully furnished, and includes a private dining room, sitting room, galley, and servant's area. The luxury car has marble baths, mahogany and walnut inlays, and the original fixtures. The original furniture is intact. The interior had never been painted or altered.
Charles M. Schwab used the car frequently to travel between Loretto, PA, and New York in the first half of the 20th Century. Prior to 1975, the car had been a part of the McGee Transportation Museum in Bloomsburg, PA. In 1975, Mr. Denny J. Bixler, Vice President and General Manager of Blair County Broadcasting, saw an advertisement about the car in an issue of the Wall Street Journal and began checking on the situation. Mr. Bixler felt that the railroad car had a special significance to the Altoona area because of the city's proud railroad past and the prominence of Charles M. Schwab in the area. He was interested in trying to "round up" $16,000 to buy the museum piece and to make Altoona its permanent home.
After that, Mr. Bixler and Mr. Fred L. Deichert, advertising manager of Gable's Department Store, presented the bank handling the sale a $3200 note, signed by the Railroaders Memorial Museum, Inc., backed by Miss Sherry D'george to hold the car until a public solicitation effort raised the necessary money. An additional $9500 was required to move the car to Altoona.