Union Pacific 107 Overland
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How A Union Pacific Business Car Came to Western Pennsylvania
This page was last updated on July 8, 2014.
Union Pacific business car no. 107, named Overland, was built in 1926 as UP no. 102. The car was reported as being assigned to the use of E. Roland Harriman (1895-1978), who along with his brother W. Averell Harriman (1891-1986), continued in their active roles as directors of Union Pacific Railroad after their father, E. H. Harriman died in 1909.
The business car was renumbered from UP no. 102, to UP no. 107 in 1952, and was retired in 1970. In 1971 the car was donated to a small museum in Western Pennsylvania, near one of the largest harness racing tracks in the nation.
In 1987 the car was moved from its display at The Meadows Racetrack, 18 miles northwest to the site of the Meadowcroft Village, a small museum devoted to telling the story of the rural life of the settlers of region.
In 2013 the car was donated to the California State Railroad Museum at Sacramento, California, and was moved to California in November and December 2013.
The Rest Of The Story
After several online searches, looking for a connection between the Harrimans, Union Pacific, and Meadowcroft Village in Western Pennsylvania, the common thread is harness racing of horses. The Meadows Racetrack for harness racing, located near Washington, Pennsylvania, is just 18 miles southeast of Avella, the nearest village to the museum's location. The Meadows Racetrack was opened in June 1963, and was owned by Delvin Miller, known as the father of harness racing. There may have been some involvement with E. Roland Harriman, who some have described as a prime mover of the sport, having organized the U. S. Trotting Association in 1939, as well as being the founder, in 1951, of the Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame.
UP 107 Overland was assigned to E. Roland Harriman, E. H. Harriman's youngest son. Roland was born in 1895, the youngest of Harriman's five children and learned his love of harness racing from his father. Roland won his first race at fourteen and competed as an amateur driver well into his sixties. E. H. Harriman (1848-1909) bought Historic Track in Goshen, New York, in the early 1880s and was a noted amateur driver. He founded the Arden Homestead Stable, and owned and drove harness racing roadsters and trotters. Harriman's son, E. Roland Harriman, founded the United States Trotting Association in January 1939 and the Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame at Goshen, New York in 1951. Roland was known among supporters as a prime mover of harness racing in the United States, and his wife Gladys (1895-1983) became a skilled amateur harness driver, holding several records as early as 1929.
In 1947, Delvin Miller (1913-1996) and his wife Mary (1920-2009) purchased Meadow Lands Farm in Meadow Lands, Pennsylvania, converting the former dairy farm into a major breeding operation with the purchase of their stallion, Adios. Supporters of harness racing in Western Pennsylvania were successful in 1961 of getting the voters of Washington County to allow para-mutual betting, and in 1963 the Millers opened The Meadows Racetrack. Research has not yet found a direct connection between the Harrimans, the Millers, and The Meadows Racetrack, but the common thread of harness racing is the likely connection.
The newspaper item from 1974 (link below), indicates that UP 107, Overland (retired by UP in July 1970 and donated to Meadowcroft Village in May 1971), was part of the original Meadowcroft Village display at The Meadows Racetrack. The car was on the racetrack property from about 1971 until the racetrack was sold in 1986. Delvin Miller had been a successful trotting horse trainer, driver and owner, and along with his wife Mary and others, began collecting harness racing memorabilia. It was part of this collection, as noted in the newspaper item, that was put on display in 1974, inside the former Union Pacific business car, located on the racetrack property along with a former N&W caboose.
After selling The Meadows Racetrack and surrounding Meadow Lands Farm in 1986, the Millers moved their Meadowcroft Village project at Bancroft Farm near Avella, Pennsylvania, which had been owned by the Miller family since the late 1700s. Beginning in the late 1960s, the Millers began developing some portions of Meadowcroft Village, located on Bancroft Farm, as a museum of 19th century rural life. They saved local structures including the one-room school house where Mr. Miller had gone to elementary school, relocated other period buildings, and collected furnishings, horse-drawn vehicles and other artifacts of the time, providing a charming and educational destination for thousands of Western Pennsylvania school children and families. The Miller Museum on the site chronicles Mr. Miller's family history and his extraordinary eight decade career in harness racing.
The history of the former N&W caboose is not known at this time, but in 1971, Meadowcroft Village received the donation of Union Pacific business car no. 107, Overland. The sale of the racetrack in 1986 meant that the collection, including the railroad cars, had to be moved to the Miller property in Avella.
The other newspaper item from 1987 (link below), indicates that in 1987, the car was moved from The Meadows Racetrack in Washington, Pennsylvania, to Avella to become part of the growing collection of historic items at Meadowcroft Village. The Millers moved to Florida in 1988. Following Delvin Miller's death in 1996, Mrs. Miller continued to support the museum and collection until her own death in September 2009.
Meadowcroft Village is today part of the Heinz History Center that encompasses several history sites in the Pittsburgh area and Western Pennsylvania as an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution. The timeline is unclear concerning when the railroad cars were declared surplus to the Meadowcroft Village collection, but it was likely in 2009 following Mrs. Miller's death. Other than the caboose and the passenger car and other items of importance to rural living in Western Pennsylvania, the harness racing collection (216 pieces) was moved in 2009 to the Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame in Goshen, New York.
The Harrimans were inducted into the U. S. Trotting Association's Hall of Fame, with the following entries:
EDWARD H. HARRIMAN (1848-1909) - inducted 1958
Edward Henry Harriman was born in Hempstead, NY in 1848, the son of an Episcopal minister. At the age of fourteen he went to work as a runner in a brokerage office in New York and at twenty-one he was a member of the New York Stock Exchange. He became interested in railroading and made that his life's work. He always loved the outdoors and horses, especially roadsters and trotters. In the early 1890's he gained control of Historic Track in Goshen, NY and conducted amateur races and horse shows there. He built up his own stable, with W. J. Andrews in charge. He owned and drove many good horses, including Stamboul, John R. Gentry and Elsie S. Arden Homestead Stable, which he founded, is still racing today. Harriman died in Arden, NY in 1909.
E. ROLAND HARRIMAN (1895-1978) - inducted in 1961 and 1978
The youngest of five children of E. H. Harriman, railroad magnate and trotting horse enthusiast, E. Roland Harriman was born in 1895 in New York City. He won his first race at fourteen and competed as an amateur driver well into his sixties. His Arden Homestead Stable produced such outstanding trotters as Titan Hanover, Florican, Florlis and Flirth, the 1973 Hambletonian winner. Harriman's greatest contribution was his prolonged effort to save the sport from extinction, climaxed by a meeting in January 1939, at which the USTA was established. Harriman died in 1978 at his home in Arden, NY. He was a founder and had been president and chairman of the board of The Trotting Horse Museum & The Hall of Fame of the Trotter.
GLADYS F. HARRIMAN (1895-1983) - inducted in 1985
Born in 1895 in New York City, she was the daughter of Dr. Harold Fries, a manufacturing chemist, and Catherine Cahill. Her marriage to Roland Harriman, one of the prime movers in harness racing, resulted in her becoming a skilled amateur harness driver. She set a number of world records, beginning in 1929, when she drove Highland Scott to a 1:59 1/4 mark at Good Time Park in Goshen, NY. In 1950 Mrs. Harriman reined Tassel Hanover to a 2:01.4 record at Goshen's Historic Track, which made the free-legged filly the fastest three-year-old on a half-mile track up to that time. Gladys Harriman died in 1983 at Arden Homestead, Harriman, NY.
Meadowcroft Village (now Meadowcroft Rockshelter and Historic Village), near Avella, Pennsylvania, is 37 miles southwest of Pittsburgh, and 18 miles northwest of The Meadows Racetrack, near Washington, Pennsylvania. (Google Map)
Historic Track at Goshen, New York was just 18 miles northwest of the Harriman estate at Arden, New York. (Google Map)
The distance between the Harriman's favorite racing track at Historic Track at Goshen, New York to The Meadows at Washington in Western Pennsylvania is approximately 380 miles. (Google Map)
Delvin Miller obituary; New York Times; August 21, 1996
Mary Lib Miller obituary; HarnessRacing.com; September 1, 2009; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; September 13, 2009
Post-Observer (Washington, Pa.); June 14, 1974; page B4; Google News search; ("All Aboard!; photo of UP 107 at The Meadows)
Post-Observer (Washington, Pa.); August 14, 1987; page C1; Google News search; ("Barn Raising Party To Raise Funds Of Meadowcroft")
Union Pacific Business Cars, 1870-1991, by Ralph L. Barger (Greenberg, 1992), pages 70-72