Active restorations–freight cars

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.

State/Province Museum Freight car
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

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