There is a little bit of history in every town. New York has the famous Statue of Liberty, Philadelphia has the Liberty Bell, St. Louis has the Arch, and Paris has its famous Eiffel Tower. Here in Sandwich, IL, our little bit of history is a famous rail car that sits on the corner of Main Street and US Route 34. This charming train car traces its unique journey into yesteryear. The rail car was number 4438 built by the Pullman Palace Car Company in 1893. It was a special new design for rail dining cars and thus was featured at the Columbian Exposition in the year of its debut.
At the time it was built, the car was affectionately named Isabella. When visiting the rail car, you are taken back to a simpler time of railroad travel, when the journey was more important than the destination. This palace car with its original leaded glass windows and mahogany woodwork was one of only four cars on the "Pride of the Burlington's Flyer" train.
The flyer train was so successful that it was commissioned by the United States to serve our 26th president, Teddy Roosevelt. The Isabella escorted President Roosevelt from coast to coast from 1900 through 1913. Upon campaigning for the 1912 presidential election, Teddy Roosevelt defected from the Republican party and started the Progressive party. While on the campaign trail one day while giving a speech from the train, Teddy was the victim of an assassination attempt and was severely wounded. Despite a bullet in his chest, he stood his ground and finished his speech. When taken to the hospital he said: "I'm tough as abull moose, and I will continue this campaign." This statement is the origin of the name for the Bull Moose Bar & Grille.
As time went on, the Isabella was retired and sold to Henry Tattersol at a government auction in California in 1931 for the wee sum of $75. Henry Tattersol had a vision of opening a diner using the train car. In 1934 the Isabella was moved to its present location in Sandwich, IL and opened as a small diner with its entrance on Route 34. Many people have now hung their hats on the original brass hooks that once served the President of the United States.
In 1977 a full-service restaurant and bar were added to the diner increasing the ability to serve more guests. Over the years, the train car appearance was changed and the structure began to fall into disrepair. In 2010 a year-long major renovation was undertaken to restore the Isabella to her original glory and to modernize the bar and dining room into the incredible structure that you are able to enjoy today.
Thank you for sharing in our history! Come by to see for yourself...