Photo Report

Denver & Rio Grande Passenger Car in Japan

By Hiroshi Naito

Being informed that a passenger car from Denver & Rio Grande exists in Japan, I went to Funabashi, a satellite city of Tokyo, to check out this car on a fine Sunday earlier January 1997.

I drove east across Tokyo along an expressway running on the coast of Tokyo Bay. I got off the expressway at an exit about 5km east from the prefecture border between Tokyo and Chiba. Then, I took a local road northward. After driving a while, the landscape changed to a somewhat rural one. Some rice fields and farms started stretching along with small hills and woods scattered. It was amazing that the area remained undeveloped despite being situated near Tokyo. Typical business around there seemed to be used car selling. The car was sitting on short rails on the a lot of one of those used car yards.

It was definitely a wooden American passenger car. It was in the dark green livery with thin yellow stripes around the window frames. Unfortunately, one end of the car apparently received modification, which seemes to have led to its strange appearance, like the entrance of a cafe. On the sides of the body, letters of DENVER & RIO GRANDE were above the windows, and FREDRIC was under the windows. The car appeared to be in pretty good shape despite that it has been exposed to weather for many years.

The entire appearance of the car.The side view of the car.The other side of the car.

It was on two-axle trucks, which also looked different from one for passenger cars. The other end seemed to be almost original with a through door. The car was used for the used car shop's office.

The truck of the car.The other end of the car.The situation around the car.

I was allowed to enter the car. Inside the car were three compartment rooms, a lounge and utility rooms with an aisle on one side. The structure inside was fantastic with luxuriously looking interior decoration including carpets and curtains, all of which looked very old, almost original.

Inside the car; aislInside the car; loungeExplanetory note on the wall in the lounge

I noticed an explanatory sheet telling the history of the Frederic with an old picture of it in a frame on the wall in the lounge. It turned out that the Frederic was built in 1900 as a D&RG's observation car having an open deck at one end. It originally used three-axle trucks.

Since it was a private office, I could not stay long. I asked an employee in charge about the circumstances where the car was brought there, but he did not know anything other than it came from the U.S.

It was nice seeing a 96 year old American wooden passenger car in Japan. It was worth the two hour drive from my home.

Tobu Noda Line's EMU running nearby.A Tobu Noda Line's train running nearby the site. Tobu is a major private railway and the Noda line is one of its branch lines.

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