In the great days of railroad transportation private railroad cars served captains of industry, executives, politicans, visiting dignitaries, and the wealthy as rolling offices and hotel rooms.
Some of these cars still exist today and are in the hands of private owners. Going by the nickname "private varnish", these cars are lovingly restored and updated so that they may be pulled by modern engines and be part of trains. Many of these cars are available for hire or charter, for an afternoon or a week. Special excursion trains are also assembled of these historic railcars, allowing passengers to travel over scenic rail routes with fellow enthusiasts in a period atmosphere.
The private varnish experience has been compared to "cruising over land", with the most luxurious cars featuring private rooms, lounges, and an onboard chef.
The American Association of Private Railroad Car Owners, AAPRCO, is a clearinghouse for information about private varnish, and organizes conventions and special trains.
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