Canadian National Railways Sleeping Car No. 1683 St. Hyacinthe

The railroad sleeping car once offered the ultimate in long-distance travel comfort. The St. Hyacinthe is typical of all-steel Pullman type sleeping cars of the heavyweight era, the period between 1907 and the mid-1930s. Canadian National Railways Sleeping Car No. 1683 was delivered in 1929 by Canadian Car & Foundry Company of Montreal. It was one of fifteen sleepers built to a standard Pullman design with ten open sections, one drawing room, and one compartment. These cars received CN road numbers between 1674 and 1688 and were named for Canadian cities beginning with the letter "S."

The St. Hyacinthe was assigned to trains in central Canada during its early years of service. In 1936 an ice-activated air conditioning system was installed. Fortunately for the Museum, the car escaped the Canadian National's modernization of the early 1950s. During its last fifteen years of service, the sleeper was generally assigned to trains running through the cooler region between Montreal and the Atlantic Coast because of its older cooling system. Open section sleepers with aisle-curtained upper and lower berths became less popular with passengers who preferred the privacy of roomettes and bedrooms.

After retirement in 1971, the sleeping car was purchased for scrap value by the Pacific Coast Chapter of the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society, and presented to the California State Railroad Museum in 1980.

The exterior of the St. Hyacinthe has been restored by the Museum to its appearance during the late 1940s. Because it was not possible to completely replicate the interior decor of that period, the interior reflects a somewhat later era: the early 1950s. It is displayed in the Museum as a typical sleeping car traveling at night: a mechanical device built by the Museum rocks the car to simulate motion, berths are made-up, a lone passenger is sound asleep in his compartment, and lights of passing towns and grade crossings flash by the windows. A soundtrack simulates the typical night sounds of a fast-traveling heavyweight passenger train: the rhythmic clicking of the wheels, the distant whistle of the locomotive, and the descending Doppler effect of passing crossing bells.