The Friends of the 261 operated the “Windy City Express” round trips from St. Paul to Chicago on two weekends in May 2015 behind Amtrak’s Empire Builder. Three cars were used: Milwaukee Road Skytop parlor lounge observation Cedar Rapids, Milwaukee Road Super Dome No. 53, and ex-Union Pacific baggage car No. 2450. All three cars were painted in Milwaukee Road’s original orange and maroon passenger car colors. This was a homecoming for two of the cars, since the Skytop and Super Dome were part of the consist of the Milwaukee Road’s Twin Cities Hiawathas, which operated between Chicago and Minneapolis on this route.
This was the first trip to Chicago for the Cedar Rapids since a complete restoration to its as built appearance was completed in 2014. Restoration included new wood, carpeting, reupholstered seats, and new linoleum to bring the car back to its original appearance. The car was built in 1948 by the Milwaukee Road at its Milwaukee Shops.