Moonlight Dome was the first of three private room-dome cabin cars originally built for the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway (C&O) and intended for service on The Chessie, the planned but never-operated Washington-Cincinnati dayliner.
These cars were called Strata-Domes. These three C&O dome cabin cars were ordered in 1946 and built by Budd.
Now without a need by C&O, the three cars were sold to the Baltimore & Ohio in December 1950. The Baltimore & Ohio gave the three cars names: MOONLIGHT DOME, STARLIGHT DOME, and SUNLIGHT DOME.
Beginning on December 20, 1950, STARLIGHT and SUNLIGHT operated in daily service on the Capitol Limited while MOONLIGHT operated in alternate directions on the Shenandoah until October 1963.
Thereafter it became the spare car for the Capitol Limited.
MOONLIGHT DOME and its sister cars were pulled from the Capitol Limited on October 1965 and leased to the Atlantic Coast Line during the winter of 1965-66. After their return by the CN MOONLIGHT DOME was leased to the Seaboard Coast Line in July of 1968 and sold to them in September of 1969. The car operated on the Florida Special.
The car changed ownership to Amtrak in 1971, and then changed hands several times between 1978 and 1987. It was purchased from Amtrak by Building Leasing Corp. in 1978, then sold to Rail Dome Corp. in 1981, then sold to Kasten Railcar (predecessor of Illinois Transit Assembly) in 1984, and then to Wynchester Mining Company in 1986. In 1987 Wynchester Mining had the car rebuilt by Northern Rail Car Company of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. MOONLIGHT DOME was acquired by FBX Aviation, LLC in September 1999. In 2004 the car was shopped again at Avalon Railcar in Milwaukee. It was then moved that same year to L&C Railcar in Lancaster S.C. for additional work and for restoration of the dome area. In 2008 the car was purchased by the Promontory Railroad Group of Salt Lake City Utah and moved there via Amtrak.
In January of 2014 it was again sold to Birch Grove LLC, owned by Brian Collins and Harry Davis.
In February of 2014 the MOONLIGHT DOME was moved via Amtrak to its current home in Cincinnati, Ohio.
In late 2015 the Moonlight Dome and Birch Grove were moved to the Chicago Amtrak yard for permanent storage. With Chicago being a hub for Amtrak, it was found to be a perfect place to begin and end our charters.