By Aaron Isaacs, HRA editor
Above photo: Carson & Colorado boxcar #1C
There are more freight cars than any other kind of rail vehicle, but they’re usually a lower priority for museum restorations than locomotives and passenger cars. Wood cars are the most likely to be restored because they’re older, more deteriorated and are probably viewed as more historic. Wood car restorations often involve replacing plenty of rotted wood, but at least they don’t have furnished interiors to replicate, window glass and mechanisms to replace and antique air conditioning to wrestle with.
Steel cars were often acquired to be storage units for parts and archives, not artifacts. That particularly seems to be the case for rusty steel reefers. After being neglected for decades, museums are seeing the value of patching, scraping, painting and lettering their steel freight cars. Without a huge amount of effort, eyesores are converted to attractive displays. They may not haul passengers, but everyone appreciates a decent looking photo freight.
In the past couple of years, the Illinois Railway Museum, Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum, Age of Steam Roundhouse and Cass Scenic Railroad have campaigned steel car makeovers.
As usual, I’ve probably missed some, but I count 24 active freight car restorations. More than half of them are narrow gauge wood cars.
|CA||Carson & Colorado Railroad Museum||Southern Pacific boxcar 15|
|CA||Carson & Colorado Railroad Museum||Southern Pacific boxcar 1C|
|CA||Travel Town||Southern Pacific boxcar 30036|
|CA||Niles Canyon Railway||Union Pacific gondola 61078|
|CA||Niles Canyon Railway||Pacific Fruit Express reefer 10591|
|CA||California Trolley & Railroad Corporation||Oregon Short Line boxcar|
|CA||California Trolley & Railroad Corporation||Missouri Pacific boxcar|
|CO||South Park Rail Society||Denver South Park & Pacific boxcar 608|
|CO||South Park Rail Society||Denver South Park & Pacific boxcar 8179|
|CO||South Park Rail Society||Rio Grande stock car 5743|
|CO||South Park Rail Society||Colorado & Southern gondola 4319
|CO||South Park Rail Society||Colorado & Southern boxcar 8311|
|CO, NM||Friends of the Cumbres & Toltec||Rio Grande high side gondola 1000|
|CO, NM||Friends of the Cumbres & Toltec||Rio Grande stock car 5691|
|CO, NM||Friends of the Cumbres & Toltec||Rio Grande tank car 11056|
|CO, NM||Friends of the Cumbres & Toltec||Rio Grande tank car 11050|
|CO, NM||Friends of the Cumbres & Toltec||Rio Grande drop bottom gondola 731|
|CT||Danbury Railroad Museum||Rutland flat car 2762|
|IN||Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society||Lake Erie & Western boxcar 43075|
|IN||Wabash Valley Railroad Museum||New York Central boxcar 155524|
|ME||Wiscasset Waterville & Farmington Railroad Museum||Bridgeton & Saco River boxcar 67|
|OK||Oklahoma Railway Museum||Conoco tank car|
|OR||Sumpter Valley Railroad||Sumpter Valley boxcar 1353|
|PA||East Broad Top Preservation Association||East Broad Top hopper car|