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.
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.
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.
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.
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.