This is only a history of our flagship car the Virginia City. Though the Virginia City is only one of the railcars we offer, it is our namesake and therefore we find it fitting that we should provide a detailed account of its history. To learn about the other railcars available through Virginia City Corporation please click on the “Tour the Cars” link.


    The Pullman Years 1928 - 1954

    The Virginia City was originally built by Pullman Standard Company in 1928, and was first christened as the Crystal Peak. Originally, the car was designed as an open platform, observation-lounge car with sleeping accommodations for ten, complete with a ladies, lounge and shower. It was first assigned to the Overland Limited which ran between Oakland and Chicago. In 1936 the car was removed from service and air conditioning was added and the interior was updated. In 1938 the car was renamed the Golden Peak. From that time until the beginning of World War II, she served passengers on the Golden State Limited. During World War II, the car was removed from service. After the war, she returned again and ran on the Empire Builder for a brief time. In 1950, the Golden Peak was still listed as a Pullman-owned pool service car, and was available for charter and later, for purchase.

    The Bebee Years 1954 - 1984

    In 1954, Lucius Beebe and his partner Charles Clegg, purchased the Golden Peak directly from Pullman Company's Calumet Shops for $5,000. From this point, the car was moved to the shops of the Western Pacific in Sacramento, CA, where she was reconfigured and mechanically overhauled. As part of the reconfiguration process, two of the sleeping compartments were removed to make room for the dining room; the ladies, lounge and shower then became the car's kitchen and crew's quarters.

              Charles Clegg hired his long time friend Robert Hanley, a Hollywood set designer (known for designing the sets of, "Auntie Mame") to redecorate the car's interior into the style now referred to as "Venetian Renaissance Baroque." Hanley purchased approximately $375,000 in antique furnishings. When completed, the Virginia City became the most lavish and expensively outfitted car in the United States. The parlor of the car is an unbelievable site, it has been richly decorated in furnishings imported from Venice, Italy, and other European cities. Two Murano glass chandeliers light the parlor, and between them is a painted reproduction from the Sistine Chapel. Heavy gold silk draperies hang over brass framed windows with mahogany sashes and sills. Richly upholstered furnishings, including a curved brocaded velvet sofa, offer a comfortable place to sit for weary travelers, and all but hide the beautiful wood parquet paneling that was original to the car as the Crystal Peak. A solid marble gas log fireplace cannot escape your gaze, and conjures up visions of evenings spent in the company of the rich and famous. Atop the fireplace are two cornices which were originally from a 14th Century altar in Spain, and above that hangs a mirror which dates back to the late 18th century. To the right of the fireplace is a fully stocked wet bar. The four distinctly different lamps represent the four corners of the earth: Asia,Greece,Africa, and the Pacific South Seas.The writing desk has been recently restored, and probably provided a comfortable place for Mr. Beebe from which he penned many a newspaper column for the San Francisco Chronicle, New Yorker Magazine, and occasionally a review for Gourmet Magazine. The bookshelves feature several of Mr. Beebe's and Mr. Clegg's writings -- both collaboratively and separately. It is through these books and their extensive writings that most people have learned of Beebe and Clegg.

             It is also noted that Hanley was responsible for the creation of the interior of Bebee's and Clegg's first private rail car, the "Gold Coast", which is now on permanent display at the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento, California.

              Between 1955 and the time of Beebe's death in 1966, the Virginia City routinely made cross country trips to various destinations including Miami, New York City, Chicago, New Orleans, and Denver. After Beebe's death, his partner Charles Clegg inherited the bulk of his estate including the Virginia City. In 1976, Clegg reluctantly put the car up for sale. For many years the car sat idle in San Francisco facing an uncertain fate. In 1979, Charles Clegg passed away, and his sister, Ann-Clegg Holloway became Executrix of his estate.You can learn more about Lucius Beebe at the Wakefield Public Library.

    The Birth of Virginia City Rail Corp 1984

              The Virginia City was purchased from the Charles Clegg estate by Wade Pellizzer on August 21st, 1984. He has since made every effort possible to restore the car to its original 1955 condition; it is because of Wade Pellizzer that our passengers are able to enjoy Lucius Beebe and Charles Clegg’s Virginia City, and not a more modernized version of the car. Many of today’s Private rail cars have been re-modeled to reflect their current owner’s visions detracting from the historical and nostalgic appeal of the cars. Virginia City Rail Corporation is committed to preserving this icon of “Private Varnish”, as a testament to the Golden Era of railroading.

              While the Virginia Cities interior has been preserved to the standards of its creators, its mechanical components have been completely upgraded. These upgrades do not detract from the historic value of the car but does give it the ability to safely couple and travel with Amtrak passenger trains. This ability makes it possible for our customers to travel along Amtrak passenger routes, giving us the freedom to explore the countries coastlines and interior wildernesses. Making the Virginia City “sea worthy”, so to speak, was one of the primary reasons the car was acquired and restored. We realize that private rail charters can be an expensive undertaking therefore Virginia City Rail Corporation offers many fun and exciting alternative packages to its customers. 

              Today the Virginia City Rail Corporation makes it possible to experience the Virginia City in a variety of ways. We strive to make private railcar experiences as accessible and exciting as possible. Whether you’re touring the rails in grand style, or hosting a private event at our waterfront stationary facility, gaining access to historic landmarks like the Virginia City has never been easier. Though the Virginia City will always be the flagship of our fleet, we are proud to provide our customers with the opportunity to explore many other private railcars. Please click on the “Tour the Cars” link to see a comprehensive listing of the railcars we offer. Also be sure to look at the different services we offer, they can be found under the “Charter” link. Thank you for taking the time to learn about the Virginia City, we hope this information has cultivated a deeper interest and appreciation of this monument of Private Varnish.
    More Links About Lucious Beebe
  • The Beebe Family
  • Beebe Home in Virginia City
  • Beebe Territorial Enterprise
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