The Skytop Lounges were a fleet of streamlined passenger cars with the parlor-lounge cars built by the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad (“the Milwaukee Road“) and sleeper-lounges built by Pullman-Standard in 1948. They were used to running the route from Chicago to the Twin Cities and remained in service until 1970. Designed by famed industrial designer Brooks Stevens and built by the Milwaukee Road in 1948 in its own Milwaukee Shops for service on the Twin Cities Hiawathas, the Cedar Rapids is one of only four Skytop observation parlor lounges ever built and the only one that can still ride the rails today.
Cedar Rapids is one of only four Skytop observation parlor lounges ever built and the only one that can still ride the rails today
The Cedar Rapids was retired in 1970 and donated to Brooks Stevens. In the mid-1980s the car was operated out of Milwaukee by a Chicago-based group and was repainted in Milwaukee Road orange and maroon colors. In 1998, Cedar Rapids was acquired by the Friends of the 261 and returned to service. Three of the Skytop lounge observations survive today, but only the Cedar Rapids is in operating condition.
Breaking with the “Beaver Tail” design, the rear of the Skytop Lounge was 90% glass, with multiple rows of windows reaching up to form the ceiling. In the four parlor-lounges this “solarium” contained 12 seats, with an additional 24 seats in the interior of the car. At the front of the car was a four-seat drawing room. The interior featured wood paneling, characteristic of Milwaukee Road designs. The Milwaukee Road contracted with Pullman-Standard for six sleeping cars based on the parlor-lounge design. The sleeping cars featured reduced seating in the solarium to make room for eight double bedrooms. Pullman-Standard did not adopt wood paneling for its interiors.