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  /  art-and-culture   /  C&O Historical Society Collaborates with Fiestaware to reproduce ‘Chessie’ dining car China

C&O Historical Society Collaborates with Fiestaware to reproduce ‘Chessie’ dining car China

Clifton Forge, Va. (VR) – The Chesapeake & Ohio Historical Society has announced the production of two historically-accurate pieces of railroad dining car China, created in partnership with the Fiesta Tableware Company of Newell, W.Va.

After a year-long development process, the C&O Historical Society now offers these pieces for sale in support of their non-profit organization that preserves, studies, and
publishes the history of the C&O Railway.

For the 53-year-old historical group, the project brings to life some of the glamor and history behind a nearly-lost American tradition—the railroad dining car experience.

Featuring the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway’s famous mascot, Chessie the Railroad Kitten, and used on the Chesapeake & Ohio’s prestigious dining cars from 1955 to 1971 (and several more years under contract with Amtrak), the “Chessie” China pattern was the last China pattern used in C&O passenger service.

From this collaboration with the Fiesta Tableware Company, C&OHS is currently introducing two pieces—one reproduction and one “fantasy” addition—an authentic dinner plate and a modern, functional mug based on the “dolphin”-style cup and saucer from the C&O’s original China pattern. Using over 150 years of American craftsmanship experience, the Fiesta Tableware Company’s Art Department digitally analyzed the Chessie cat art and coloring of original C&O China pieces from the collection of a long-time C&O Historical Society member to accurately reproduce the 1950s-era design.

The reproduction plate, fired using a vintage mold in FTC’s archive, best matches the shape and size of the C&O Railway’s original pattern. In addition, the China’s blue and mustard striping, originally meant to match the enchantment blue and federal yellow on the railroad’s tri-color passenger cars of the era, has
been painstakingly matched to the original.

C&O Historical Society President Mark Totten stated, “Thanks to this partnership with the Fiesta Tableware Company and the skill of their employees, we are proud to unveil the most accurate Chessie China reproduction ever created.”

Katie Bricker, director of marketing for the Fiesta Tableware Company stated, “We are proud to partner with C&OHS to preserve the history of the C&O railroad. As a 150-year-old American company, the history of our country and the industries that made it are very important to us.”

Totten continued, “I have wanted this project to happen for several years. Now this classic dinnerware pattern, once familiar to the C&O Railway’s traveling public, has been recreated with marvelously accurate detail.”

At their peak, the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway’s passenger trains ran from the Virginia shore, throughout Appalachia, and to Michigan. Even the railroad’s fleet of Lake Michigan train ferries used a China pattern that matched the “Chessie” pattern from the railroad’s dining cars. C&OHS President Mark Totten noted
some poetic appropriateness to this project,

“With C&O Railway passenger service once being so prominent throughout West Virginia, the reproduction of ‘Chessie’ China in Newell is especially fitting,” said Totten

An historically appropriate plan is already in place by C&O Historical Society member Bill Gray of Pennsylvania Pullmans, Inc.

Gray has pre-ordered this reproduction China from C&OHS for use on the sleeper/kitchen/diner/lounge-observation car 2500/1923 “Blue Ridge Club.” This is one of the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway cars where the original “Chessie” pattern dinnerware was used for its meal
service. Returning the reproduction China to service on board Blue Ridge Club will put the famous Chessie pattern back on a car for which it was intended.

For more information or to pre-order now for a November 2022 delivery, the Chesapeake & Ohio Historical Society’s business office may be contacted by telephone at 540-862-2210 or by email at cohs@cohs.org. If you are a C&OHS member, your member discount would apply to any quantity ordered.

The C&OHS archive database is available online at archives.cohs.org. Updates and additional information can be found on Facebook under @cohs.org or on Instagram @ChessiesRoad.

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