Two views, 60 years apart: The Joseph Lister, a converted Pullman car used to transport patients to Mayo Clinic, is shown in service at left in the 1930s, and at right, with manager Ray Sauvey at the National Railroad Museum in Green Bay, Wis. A unique railroad car -- manufactured more than 60 years ago to serve hospitalized or otherwise bed-ridden patients going to Mayo Clinic -- is now being used as a carpentry shop in a nondescript area at Green Bay's National Railroad Museum.
``We'd love to put the car back in shape, and display it properly, but it would cost a lot of money,'' says Ray Sauvey, the museum's general manager. ``As far as I know, the car was the only one of its kind manufactured for civilian medical use, and it should have its proper place in railroading history,'' says Sauvey.
It is one of two identical hospital cars manufactured by the Pullman Co. especially for the Chicago and North Western Railway, which for years provided daily service from its Chicago hub to Rochester.
The CNW service was dubbed the routes of ``The Rochester 400,'' and ``The Rochester Special.'' The service was key to the expansion of Mayo's patient-service area in its early years of development.
According to Sauvey, the two hospital cars -- actually idenfified in CNW literature as customized composite Pullman sleeping cars -- could each serve a half-dozen patients and their nurses. They went into service around 1930, and were built with special doors on the sides to handle stretcher patients, had several private rooms and a ward area, and were equipped with IV stations.
The two cars both made the run as part of ``The Rochester Special,'' and one of the two were here daily, arriving in the morning after leaving Chicago the night before, recalls retired CNW station agent Cy Day.
Day remembers that the cars were given quite a workout, ``and on many days they were full with patients,.'' Retired Mayo administrator Slade Schuster recalls that the service proved to be a boon to the clinic's expanding patient load, especially from the 1930s to the 1950s.
In 1939, the train cars were included in a multi-page spread in Life Magazine which focused on the clinic's growth as an internationally acclaimed medical center, according to local railrway buff Ben Pennington.
But with better highways and the expansion of airline service, Rochester's and Mayo's dependence on the railroad lessened. Lagging passenger totals forced the CNW to discontinue all rail passenger service here in the early 1960s.
After the two cars were taken out of service, one of them was dismantled for parts while the other was converted by the CNW into a work station and carpentry shop, Sauvey said.
The museum acquired the remaining car -- which had been named The Joseph Lister by the railroad, after the famed English surgeon -- in 1988.
``We've used it as a carpentry shop since, although we would love to refurbish it to bring it back to its original condition. We've got the original plans and could restore it if we had enough money,'' said Sauvey.
He estimated the restoration cost at from $100,000 to $120,000, about double its original cost, according to Sauvey. He said he has sent out ``feelers'' for grants from organizations like the Chicago and North Western Historical Society, but so far there have been no takers. ``Maybe some individuals or groups from Rochester would help out,'' he said.
According to Sauvey, the only similar hospital cars he's heard of were constructed for the military. ``As far as I know, there have never been any maunfactured solely for civilian use,'' he said.
Green Bay's railroad museum is one of the area's prime tourist attractions, which we visited last fall.
Designated a ``national'' facility by Congress in 1958, it's considered one of the top half-dozen or so railroad museums in the U.S. Formed in 1956, it's also one of the oldest around.
On display, both indoors and outdoors, are some 70 railroad cars and locomotives, including the Union-Pacific ``Big Boy,'' -- world's largest steam locomotive; the experimental 1950s Rock Island ``Aerotrain,'' and the streamlined ``Dwight D. Eisenhower.'' This British-built locomotive is named after the former World War II general and U.S. president and is preserved as a national treasure.
The facility is located on an 80-acre site, along the west bank of the Fox River. It attracts some 40,000 visitors a year and now is open year-round. ----- Depot House Express
Still on the subject of railroading, this information was given to us by Paul Tarara, a retired former environmentalist for the County Health Department.
Tarara's daughter, Mary Sue Pook of Blair, Neb., came across another oldtime railroad car -- the Depot House Express -- which was a familiar sight to Rochester residents years ago.
This car, whose name is very faded but still legible on the side of the car, now rests on the prairie in western Nebraska and is being used as an antique store. For some years in the late 1960s and early 1970s the car was one of several which were converted into use as the Depot House Restaurant, located on North Broadway near old CNW depot.
Now it's located just off Interstate 80, near state highway 10 going south to Minden, Neb., reports Tarara. It is placed near Pioneer Village, which is a popular tourist attraction. The owner of the antique shop told Tarara's daughter that she bought the car from a man in Iowa who purchased it after the Depot House went out of business. ----- State resort values
Minnesota offers a heck of a vacation bargain, and Alan Gunsbury, owner of the Quarterdeck Resort and Restaurant on Gull Lake in northern Minnesota, uses figures to back it up. He did so recently at his at the Northwest Sports and Travel Show in Minneapolis, and created a lot of attention.
Gunsbury says, ``When people talked price I just showed them the figures (from USA Today) on lodging and restaurant costs internationally as compared to the costs of spending a vacation at a resort in Minnesota.''
``In Paris, for instance, dinner for two can cost $154; in Hong Kong, $88. And a hotel room in Tokyo can go $295 a night or higher. Even in this country it's expensive: In New York a mid-price hotel room is $210, and dinner for two is $79.
``At the Quarterdeck, we offer a homemade buffet with everything at $5.50 per-person, and lodging is as low as $20 a day per person. We've got a nice place, and there's lots of others like us around.
``We have people flying from California and staying here, and total costs are less than if they stayed in California. And look what else we have to offer in Minnesota: Great fishing, forests, lakes, sports and natural resources.'' ----- Here and there
Chickadee Cottage, a seasonal restaurant and tearoom in Lake City, added a gazebo and indoor porch this winter. Owner Donna Hawkins, whose operation opened April 28 for the season, uses the original rooms of an early 1900's home as dining rooms, and says the gazebo will offer the added choice of protected outdoor seating.
Are the skies less friendly than they used to be? That's what many air passengers say since the airlines are flying fuller planes with fewer flight attendants. According to the Air Transport Association, planes are fuller than they've been in decades. But, after years of hiring freezes and furloughs, the pool of flight attendants has shrunk.
Industry journals say the results are full cabins and reduced service. United, for example, is sometimes flyling between Chicago and the West Coast with two flight attendants for all coach passengers. ``It's not unusual for the flight attendant to put the dinner tray out and maybe, in an hour and a half, come back and pick it up,'' says Kevin Lum, president of United's Association of Flight Attendants.@etp