Dining On a Train Coming to DuBois

January 05, 2016 at 9:46 PM


DuBois Area Historical Society guests with Dr. Jeffrey Rice in the diner car. From left:  Carol Laughlin, Beecher Klingensmith, Tom Rubritz, Ruth Gregori, Dr. Rice, Carolyn Fridley, Todd Thompson and Susan Thompson.

        “I like trains, I had one when I was a kid,” joked Dr. Jeffrey Rice as he guided a group from the DuBois Area Historical Society on an early preview of his newest venture The Depot at Doolittles at the Dr. Doolittles site just north of DuBois.

            Today, Rice’s trains are full-size and he intends to use them to attract more tourism to the community while raising money for the Rice Foundation, which provides surgery for children with cleft palate in Honduras. His plans include a historically correct railroad station and several restored railroad cars to be used as a restaurant.

            “DuBois is so rich in railroad history it is unbelievable,” said Rice. “DuBois was one of the hubs in the United States for the railroad.”


The interior of the train station.

            The tour started in the railroad station, built using original B & O Railroad station blueprints. Just as it would have been at the turn of the 19th Century, yellow pine board was used for the flooring and a firm in Canada manufactured the tin ceiling. All of the benches are restored originals dating from the 1800s to the 1920s; and all of the lights are time period original, refitted to handle electricity. The station will house a free railroad museum of items collected from Pennsylvania, Ohio, and New York, and the walls will be decorated with local railroad photos.


The meeting room.

            Like all of the railroad stations of the time period this one also includes a meeting room, which will be available for use by the public. The room features a reproduced ¾ inlaid floor lit by 1880 chandeliers and fireplace.

            Attached to the new train station are two original train cars, sitting on metal tracks made of Carnegie steel. Customers planning to eat in the cars will be issued a train ticket and escorted to a seat by a conductor who will show them to their table.



Top, the interior of the 1944 Pullman car (50's Diner); bottom, the car seen from outside.

          In a restored 1944 Pullman car, customers will pass a statue of Elvis Presley and a 1944 jukebox to reach the red and white-checkered floor of the 50's Diner. Rice purchased the car and it was brought to DuBois by rail. Rescar restored and painted the car once it arrived.



Top, the Milwaukee Roads car (Parlor Car) inside; bottom, the car seen from the outside.

            For a more high-class dining experience Parlor Car dining is available in a restored Milwaukee Roads car. Once pulled by an engine that set a cross-country speed record in 1913 the car was designed for luxury and lists Thomas Edison among its distinguished passengers. Paneled in Cuban mahogany the car originally housed the porter’s quarters, and men’s and women’s lounges in addition to a high end dining room.


The Tom Mix room.

            Rice purchased the car from the Kansas City Rail Museum, which couldn’t afford to have it restored. It took nine months to be delivered and 18 months to be restored. It will have a room dedicated to DuBois silent movie star Tom Mix, along with a dining area.

            Both of the dining cars will have food provided by what Rice said was, “The most modern kitchen in Clearfield County.” The innovative kitchen includes computer-operated ovens. All proceeds from dining customers, once the employees are paid, will go to the work of the Rice Foundation.

            “Sandy Township and Clearfield County Tourism have been a jewel to work with,” said Rice about the cooperation he has received in working on this project. “This will be a great way to bring in tourists.  I also think this will be a good way to get kids interested in history.”

            Rice does not intend to let it end with just the train cars he has on the property. More are coming including a car used by the President of the Juliette Railroad in which President Theodore Roosevelt once spent an overnight. Also to be added are several cabooses that will be used as the room facilities for a bed and breakfast.

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