Built during the “Gothic period” of heavyweight passenger cars, the Lion Gardiner served on the New York Central’s finest trains after World War I and through the 1940s. The Pullman car is an exceptional representative of fine railroad dining during this era. The Lion Gardiner also has an important place in the railroad preservation movement: it was the dining car for “High Iron” excursion trips in the 1960s, which introduced countless rail enthusiasts to the concept of re-using historic railroad equipment for recreation.
The Lion Gardiner has suffered from extreme deterioration for the last three decades. Knowledge of the car’s existence (or significance) was not widespread, due to the lack of a national census of railroad artifacts. Unless action is taken soon, the car’s deterioration will require its scrapping. The Empire State Railway Museum, the Catskill Revitalization Corporation, and the Ulster and Delaware Railroad Historical Society are embarking on a partnership to stabilize, assess, and eventually restore the car for display or operation. To make a donation, visit www.esrm.com or mail the Empire State Railway Museum at P.O. Box 455, Phoenicia, NY, 12464-0455 (indicate “Lion Gardiner”).