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Sacramento Northern “Bidwell”

Northern Electric Ry. "Bidwell"at 8th & J St. Station, Sacramento, about 1915. (Sappers Collection in the BAERA Archives.) Northern Electric Ry. "Bidwell"at 8th & J St. Station, Sacramento, about 1915. (Sappers Collection in the BAERA Archives.)


Car Bidwell is a wooden interurban dining/parlor/observation trailer car with a steam coach style roof. The front of the car has the classic Niles "California five-window end", and the rear observation platform features wrap around, solid modesty wainscotting.


This car was built by the Northern Electric Railway in its Mulberry Shops in Chico, California, under the direction of master car builder Adolphus O. Meier from wreck damaged coach 202, and intended for through parlor service on the connecting OA&E to the 1914 Panama Pacific Exposition in San Francisco. The 202, in turn, had been built by Niles Car and Manufacturing Company in 1906.

Constructed as a full parlor-observation and named in honor of General John Bidwell, founder of the city of Chico, a pantry and dining compartment were installed in the early 1920s. The Bidwell was used thereafter mostly as the relief parlor-diner.

The SN discontinued parlor-diner service in 1938, and after a few fan trips, one over the Bay Bridge, the car was retired and dismantled in 1941, with the body being moved to the town of Wheatland, California, where it served as a dwelling until acquired by the Association.


1906: car 202 built by Niles for the Northern Electric Ry.

1914: 202 destroyed in a wreck.

1914: parlor car Bidwell built on the frame of the 202 by NERy for through service on the OA&E to San Francisco to the Panama-Pacific Exposition.

1921: interior modified by installation of a kitchen, pantry, and dining area.

1937: original Baldwin trucks changed for Standard C-80-P.

1938: parlor-diner service discontinued. 1938-1941: Bidwell used in several railfan charters.

1941: Bidwell retired and body sold.

1941-1978: used as a dwelling/rental unit in Wheatland, California.

1978: the owners in Wheatland arranged a trade for a mobile home because they knew of its significance to SN history and of BAERA's long-time interest in the car.

1978: moved to Rio Vista Junction.

  • Vintage Photo: Vintage Photo
  • Owners: Northern Electric “Bidwell”. Sacramento Northern “Bidwell”.
  • Technical Data: Wooden parlor, diner, observation trailer. Built by Northern Electric Railway in 1914, rebuilt from NE 202, Niles 1906. Seats, 32 passengers. Total car weight, 63,000 pounds.
  • Trucks: Baldwin, 84-25 A, which were changed in 1937 to Standard C-80-P, salvaged from car 201. Wheels, 36-inch diameter steel. Axle. Journals, 5 X 9 plain bearings.
  • Air Brake Equipment: Westinghouse Traction Brake, AMT. Automatic Brake valve, rear of car only. Triple valve. Brake cylinder.
  • Dimensions: Length, 55’ 8”. Width, 9’ 3 1/2”. Height, 12’ 0”. Weight: 63,000 lbs
  • Propulsion Equipment: Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing, HL. Control: WH HL Controller:15-A2
  • Misc Data: 3rd rail shoes: NERy overrunning type, removable Couplers: Janney R-16, MCB, radial
  • Current Condition: Unrestored and stored indoors since 1979. The body has very little rot and the interior shows very little signs of deterioration. Long range plans are to restore it to its 1937-1941 configuration, using Standard C-70-P trucks.
  • Proposed Future Treatment: This car requires a major restoration effort. It will be restored to its 1929 SN appearance.
  • Date Last Modified: Thursday, 02 May 2019

Museum Location

5848 State Highway 12
Suisun City, CA 94585

(707) 374-2978

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