WHO WE ARE
We are a 501c3 recognized nonprofit organization wholly dedicated to
Norfolk and Western Business Car 300.
The Norfolk and Western Business Car 300 Preservation Society Inc. was chartered as a nonprofit organization in the state of Michigan on May 20th, 2019.
We received our IRS 501c3 exemption on June 26th, 2019.
- Built by Pullman as Norfolk and Western #300 on June 12th, 1917.
- Modernized by the Roanoke Shops in September of 1955.
- Repainted and assigned the name “Roanoke” on October 15th, 1977.
- Renumbered NS #5 on paper, but not the car itself on December 2nd, 1985.
- Deemed surplus and sold at auction in 1987.
- Rebuilt to Amtrak standards at Eastern Rail Services in 1988.
- Placed into warehouse storage in 1991.
It all started with a phone call.
Written by: Bryan Lalevee, President
Our story begins on October 22nd, 2017. I received a phone call from the owner of N&W 300. I knew of the car and it’s whereabouts, but I wasn’t sure if it was still there. The owner informed me that the car was still stored at the same location and it has been there since 1991. I tried to contain my excitement over the fact that the car has been stored INSIDE since 1991. Having visited numerous railroad museums and seeing countless pieces of equipment dying a slow death from rust, I had a hunch this car was in far better condition. I asked the owner if he had any plans for the car to which he responded he didn’t. Then I popped the question. “Would you consider donating the car?”. A few seconds of silence felt like an eternity. He answered “With an acceptable plan, I would consider it.”. We agreed to meet at the car at a later date at the end of the conversation.
On August 29th, 2018 I boarded a flight at O’Hare International Airport closely guarding an envelope. An envelope that I didn’t let go of the entire flight. The envelope contained a 16-page proposal detailing my entire plan. I secured letters of intent from the Indiana Northeastern Railroad and the Little River Railroad. I toured both operations, including the IN’s beautiful $1.2 million dollar maintenance facility, LRR’s steam shop and tourist railroad operation. I hired a mechanical inspector to look over the car from top to bottom. The next morning, I drove to the warehouse where the car was stored. The owner of the warehouse graciously pulled the car outside for us. I walked up to the car and froze in utter amazement. The car was in pristine condition. Aside from some surface dirt, it was exactly how it looked when it was rolled into the warehouse 27 years prior. We all introduced ourselves and began the inspection of the car.
The exterior inspection boggled my mind. I couldn’t find a single speck of rust. The blue Imron paint was in such good condition that I could see my reflection in it. I thought to myself “this is a true barn find”. We climbed the observation platform steps and entered the lounge. It was like we just rode a time machine back to 1991. Everything was exactly how the owner left it 27 years ago. The decor was definitely dated, but it was in excellent condition. A stroll down the bedroom hallway led us to bedrooms A, B, and C. All spacious rooms with equally spacious all-stainless steel bathrooms/showers. Next up was the dining room. A beautiful traditional 5-legged business car dining room table sat in the middle of the room. As we entered the service hallway, I opened up the electrical cabinet. My jaw dropped. The car was completely re-wired. The cable management was incredible. Everything was neatly labeled. There wasn’t a trace of the old wiring system. Seeing this put this car light years ahead of other passenger cars awaiting restoration at railroad museums. Our next stop was the kitchen, prep area and crew quarters. The chef would prepare a dish, slide it over to the server who would serve it to the waiting passengers in the dining room. The kitchen featured a high end JennAir stove, and ample refrigerator space. Our last stop was the half vestibule which featured ample freezer space. Back in the observation lounge, I presented the owner with my proposal. The owner asked me to create a nonprofit organization and mentioned we would discuss more after that was accomplished. He exited the car leaving me by myself. I closed my eyes and envisioned all of the Presidents of the Norfolk and Western railroad sitting in the very place where I was sitting. It was surreal.
In mid-2019, I created our nonprofit organization, the Norfolk and Western Business Car 300 Preservation Society. We received our 501c3 exemption shortly thereafter. Fast forward to 2020. I received an email from the owner. His exact words were “I’m ready to get this baby out of the barn”. I had mentioned to the owner that I was willing to pay for the appraisal of the car. I followed through with my word and in June of 2020, the appraisal was completed and forwarded to the owner. After 3 years of behind the scenes negotiations, we accepted donation of N&W 300 on October 9th, 2020. We are poised to write a new chapter in 300’s storied history.
— Bryan Lalevee, President
Bryan has worked in the railroad industry for over 22 years as a Conductor, Train Dispatcher, and Locomotive Engineer. His love of private railroad cars can be traced back to the 12th AAPRCO convention held in Hoboken, New Jersey in 1992. 28 private cars attended that year. “The first car I entered was the former PRR Broadway Limited observation car “Mountain View”. It was there he met the car’s owner, David Ross. “David took me under his wings and taught me everything he knew about private cars.” In 1997, David called on Bryan to be a private car host during the C&O 614 steam trips. “Working as a car host during those trips was an unforgettable experience. David introduced me to other private car owners, one whom I am still in contact with today.” After the 614 trips, Bryan relocated to the Midwest and quickly settled in at the Indiana Transportation Museum. “ITM had just acquired Nickel Plate Business Car 1. I quickly learned about the in’s and out’s of #1, how each mechanical system worked and especially how to care for a 70+ year old Business Car.”
— Glenn Gould, Vice President
Glenn is a Theatrical Systems Engineer with over 19 years experience in the theater industry. A chance meeting with the owner of the “Navy 118” in 2004 opened the door into the world of private railroad cars. Glenn has served as mechanic and on-board chef on the former Union Pacific Business Car.
— Travis Bloom, Secretary/ Treasurer
To say that Travis has been around his trains his entire life is an understatement. His Father created the Little River Railroad in 1975. Responsible for the railroad’s day-to-day operations, you could find Travis anywhere. Working on locomotives at their steam shop, changing out brake shoes on passenger cars or even running one of their two operable steam locomotives. Travis is a jack of all trades with a vast knowledge of anything and everything railroad oriented.
All are welcome.
“The Norfolk and Western Business Car 300 Preservation Society Inc. does not and shall not discriminate
on the basis of race, color, religion (creed), gender, gender expression, age, national origin (ancestry), disability, marital
status, sexual orientation, or military status, in any of its activities or operations. These activities include, but are not
limited to, the appointment to and termination from its Board of Directors, hiring and firing of staff or contractors,
selection of volunteers, selection of vendors, and providing of services.”
We rely on the generosity of our members and supporters to help fulfill our mission of restoring, operating and preserving
Norfolk and Western Business Car 300 for generations to come.