Official Car 30 of the New York, Ontario & Western Railway, also known as the "Warwick," is surrounded by many mysteries. Perhaps the biggest mystery of all is how this gem of the 1880's car builder's art has even survived. Not only are the origins of this car cloudy but the legend of being the vehicle used for the honeymoon of President Grover Cleveland and his bride, Frances Folsom, persists to this day with the exhibit of the car on the Arcade & Attica Railroad in western New York. We are lucky that a trip to Arcade, New York, will allow us to visit this historic car. If you can't make the trip, however, please join us for a tour of the Warwick.
The official records of the railroad indicate the car was built by the Jackson & Sharp Company of Wilmington, Delaware, in 1886 as a private business car with open platforms on each end. Indeed, a builder’s photo confirms the configuration and handsome visage of the car when new. However, an expert source on Jackson & Sharp equipment, Mr. Patrick McLaughlin, indicates that the car was Order 3012 and was shipped by Jackson & Sharp on September 3, 1889. The builder's photo also has a notation on the negative "WIL-3012 (1889)". So which is correct? The builder's records would seem to be the more accurate record, considering earlier construction numbers are also after the 1886 date and would not likely be so far out of order.
Professor William F. Helmer, author of the first book on the history of the railroad, O&W, also lists the built date as 1886. Both Helmer and McLaughlin both acknowledge that the Warwick was the second Car 30 for the road. McLaughlin indicates that 1st 30 was Pullman Lot 263 delivered on August 4, 1886. There is some conjecture that 1st 30 was sent to Jackson and Sharp either as a trade-in or for some rebuilding. It is also conjectured that the 1st 30 was sold to a railroad called the Montgomery, Tuscaloosa & Memphis Railroad. These mysteries are still under investigation.
Helmer and McLaughlin both agree the car was renumbered USRA 135 around 1917. However, the ICC Valuation Report of that year does not even reflect the Warwick on the roster.
The left side of the Warwick at Arcade, NY in the green paint scheme, 6/66.
According to the Completion Report dated June 30, 1926, which was a record of all repairs, acquisitions and dispositions of equipment, the Warwick was rebuilt in the company shops and completed on January 18, 1926 at a cost of $3,067.95. The car was originally listed as being 66’ 6" long over the sills. After having one end rebuilt with a closed vestibule, the car is listed as 72 feet in length with a steel underframe, wood body, electric lights and acetylene for emergency. The vestibule (closed end) was also reinforced.
A letter dated September 9, 1957 from the General Manager's office to Paul J. Fagan, the editor of the Hancock (NY) Herald, again states the car was built in 1886 but also states that "we have no record that shows the date purchased."
All we can be certain of is that the car was sold to Mr. Charles Diebold of Buffalo, NY in 1957 for the sum of $3,020—less than the cost of the rebuild of 31 years earlier! The letter to editor Fagan also indicated it was rumored the car was to go to a rail museum and that its last trip over the O&W was in the fall of 1956. Society records show a bulletin dated September 11, 1956 outlining the schedule of a movement of Car 30 from Middletown to Oswego and back, with instructions as to trains used and switching instructions. This undoubtedly was the last trip before it was shipped off-line. Editor Fagan noted the car passed through Hancock (on the Erie?) on its way to Buffalo on September 6, 1957. It came to the Arcade & Attica in the early 1960’s and is currently located south of the depot on Main Street in Arcade. If you’re out that way, stop by, ride the train, and take a walk through this historic piece of O&W history.
Yours truly on the platform of the Warwick while it was still painted in the gray and yellow scheme, shortly after arrival at Arcade, 1963.
The platforms were Miller and Janney and the hand rails were silver plated. Six wheel Pullman trucks rode on 42" wheels. Heat was provided by a Baker heater modified with a McElroy Car Heating Company unit.
To quote McLaughlin's text prepared for his Vanishing Vistas publication:
"The observation rooms at each end of the car were finished in oak, while the balance of the car was mahogany. These rooms both included a Mann sofa (upper and lower berths) upholstered in leather.
"The state room was furnished with a permanent double bed, most likely brass, with two drawers and a closet underneath. A corner bracket (over both doors) and two bracket hanging shelves provided additional storage space. The bath room, which had entrance from the state room, corridor, and private room, contained a Howard closet, sponge rack, coat hook, toilet shelves, a 20" X 40" mirror. and a marble topped bath tub with hot and cold water. The private room had a folding bed. which mounted against the forward bulkhead. Closets were provided above. This room also contained a bracket hanging shelf, a corner bracket (over both doors), and four coat hooks. Where the corridor transverses from side to center, another Mann sofa (upper and lower berths) was located. A shelf, four coat hooks, and a locker opposite were also in this area. In the center corridor, a toilet room contained a Howard closet, washstand with hot and cold water, mirror, sponge rack, brush box, soap box, and a roller towel. A locker was located opposite this room. An open section with high back seats upholstered in figured plush with beautiful mahogany upper berths was next with accommodations for four persons. Four large and two small hooks were provided for the hanging of garments.
Serving pieces were kept in a large cabinet with brass spindle railing on top was located on the forward wall of the dining area, while a separate desk and bookcase with the same railing were mounted on the rear builkheads. Three map rollers were also mounted in this room. An extension table and chairs finished out the room. There may also have been an extension seat mounted forward beside the buffet, as noted on an early Jackson & Sharp drawing of the car.
The pantry contained the usual cupboard, glass and china space while the kitchen had a Dean range, Ridgeway refrigerator, sinks, two water tanks, saw, axe, and sledge, and full cutlery implements. All linens, silver, glassware, and an ice chest were provided by the railroad."
But what of the legend of the Honeymoon Car? Let’s go back in time to 1886 and the big White House wedding of Grover Cleveland and Frances Folsom; the only marriage of a president while in office. Cleveland, as a youth, spent much time in upstate New York, notably in the Oriskany Valley and the area around Fayetteville and Manlius (eastern suburbs of Syracuse). The story goes that Cleveland and his bride used the Warwick as their official car for their honeymoon. During this time, there was no presidential railroad car but rather, government officials would arrange for the use of a business car of the railroad upon which they were traveling or perhaps the car of a wealthy businessman. Using newspaper accounts of the time and the official biography of Grover Cleveland, we can divine this story.
On June 2, 1886, President Cleveland and Miss Folsom were married in what is reputed to have been a grand ceremony. The New York Times reported the happy couple arrived by carriage at the Washington, D.C. station of the Baltimore & Ohio around 9:15 pm. The train consisted of a combination baggage/passenger car, B&O president Garret’s private car "Baltimore," and the "Delaware," the private car of John W. Davis, another B&O official. The train had arrived at the station a half hour before the newlyweds arrived, to load baggage and supplies as well as a number of servants. "As soon as the bride and groom stepped aboard, the train moved out, bound for Deer Park, where they expect to stay for a week, having hired a cottage for that time." Deer Park, Maryland was the site of a resort in the Allegheny Mountains, some 200 miles from the capitol, operated by a former brakeman named Henry G. Davis.
The train left at 9:19 pm with the newlyweds, the President’s valet, Mrs. Cleveland’s maid, a porter and Mr. Davis occupying the Baltimore. The combine carried the conductor, brakemen, the trainmaster, and a half dozen railroad detectives. The Delaware carried another half dozen detectives, a porter and the telegraph superintendent. Mr. Davis shortly retired to his own car.
The train stopped in Martinsburg at 11:37 pm to change engines, arriving in Cumberland shortly before 2 am. Here the rain began and at 4 am when the train reached Deer Park, it was raining heavily. The Clevelands spent the week at the cottage, which was surrounded by the railroad detectives from the train (the Secret Service did not begin protecting the President until 1901).
Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper for June 19, 1886 included a drawing of Mrs. Cleveland accepting some flowers from the platform of the Delaware and it is reported the Clevelands rode in the Delaware on the return trip rather than the Baltimore.
Because the wedding party only traveled from Washington to western Maryland, it is doubtful that a car from a small carrier several hundred miles away would be called upon to convey the couple to their honeymoon site. Also, even if we try to attribute the honeymoon legend to 1st 30, the June wedding is a full two months before the August 4th delivery date of the alleged Pullman car.
What newspaper and biographical accounts do offer are stories of the couple's travels later in the summer. The President took a couple of trips to the Adirondacks as well as to Buffalo and further west. In August, 1886, he took a trip to Madison, NY and he may have taken a train down the Utica Branch to a stop near Madison. Then, on July 13, 1887, the village of Clinton, junction of the Rome and Utica Branches, held its centennial and the President spent the day, giving a speech and enjoying a banquet. This might have been the opportunity for an O&W car to carry the couple. But that theory was shot down by Phil Munson who sent a copy of a letter from Superintendent C. W. Lanpher to J. F. Euin, agent in Clinton. The July 7, 1887 letter noted "Our private car will arrive in Utica on train 67 at 9.25 on the morning of the 12th to be turned over by us to the RW&O who will take it to Holland Patent, when it will return with the President on the RW&O train leaving there at 8.36 on the morning of the 13th to Utica, from which place we will take it by special service to Clinton." The New York Times confirm's notes penned on the letter that the "private car" was the Coronet, a Mann Boudoir car built for opera star Adelina Patti and that this car carried the Clevelands from Utica to Forrestport on July 15th. Was the Warwick an accompanying car? The mystery continues.
Newspaper accounts speak of a change of trains in Utica for the trip south. If it were built in 1886, the Warwick would have been the finest (and only) private car on the O&W was likely the conveyance for this trip. It is more probably this event, with the recently married President and bride riding to a gala celebration, that somehow was enlarged to become the Honeymoon Car legend.
Again, the letter to Editor Fagan states that the railroad could not confirm the legend and a letter from Assistant General Manager T. B. Girard dated April 26, 1957, says Girard’s father worked for the O&W during both of Cleveland’s terms and, "being an ardent democrat, he voted for him. If President Cleveland had used Car 30 and traveled over our road, I am sure I would have been told of it." Helmer could find no information to support the claim and so far, the O&W archives has located no such information.
Debunking a popular myth is not always a pleasant task. Even though the Warwick was clearly not part of the official honeymoon train of the President and his bride, the car is non-the-less a jewel, still fairly complete in its interior and layout, and is well worth our interest and a visit.
The diagrams and photos are arranged by underbody, exterior and interior. The photos were taken in 1988 through the courtesy of Dave Copeland, Superintendent of the Arcade & Attica. Photos are number keyed to the diagrams.
If anyone has an primary documentation that can answer some of the remaining questions, please contact me. I am indebted to Patrick McLaughlin for allowing the use of his floor plan drawings and extensive research prepared for his Vanishing Vistas series. Also to William F. Helmer, Joe Bux, Ray Buhrmaster, Ruth Freitag of the Library of Congress, Art Robb and the O&W Archives and Phil Munson.