Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum

Gondola Car – B&O 451091

Specifications
Builder:Bethlehem Steel Company
Built:1959
Original Owner:Baltimore & Ohio Railroad
Capacity:70 Tons
Class:AAR Class GS (special service gondola car), B&O Class 0-67a
Acquired:2016

While the Baltimore & Ohio railroad owned many similar gondola cars, this car was one of a class of only 100 cars fitted with special brackets to attach metal covers which sat on top of the side walls. These covers protected the car’s primary cargo, coiled rolls of sheet steel.

Outliving its owner, 451091’s ownership was transferred to B&O’s corporate successors Chessie System and CSX Transportation. After use in maintenance-of-way service, CSX retired the car and sold it to a private owner in Orrville, Ohio.

Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum added car 451091 to its collection in 2016. After arrival at the Roundhouse, the car was sandblasted, repainted and lettered to its as-built look.

Covered Hopper Car – P&LE 1447

Specifications
Builder:P&LE McKees Rocks Car Shop
Built:1957
Original Owner:Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad
Capacity:70 Tons
Class:AAR Class LO, P&LE Class 873-H
Acquired:1990’s

Based in Pittsburgh and serving western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio, the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad’s primary source of revenue was the steel industry. At its peak, the P&LE moved one percent of all US rail freight (by ton) despite only operating one tenth of one percent of the nation’s railway miles. This fact led to the P&LE’s nickname, “The Little Giant.” The railroad declined with the steel industry in Pittsburgh, ultimately being annexed by CSX Transportation in 1992.

In the late 1950’s, P&LE’s own freight car repair shops built a fleet of covered hopper cars to carry bulk goods which required protection from the elements, for example grain, sand, and cement. When the P&LE shut down, Jerry Jacobson purchase a number of ex-P&LE locomotives, cars and other equipment for his growing Ohio Central Rail System. Among them were six covered hoppers, which served the OC painted red and placed into service hauling sand. Renumbered OHCR 101-106, all six cars were transferred to the Age of Steam collection.

P&LE 1447 (formerly OHCR 105) was restored to its original look in 2018. 1447’s sister cars will receive similar restorations in the future.

50′ Flat Car – USAX 39502

Specifications
Builder:Magor Car Corporation
Built:1953
Original Owner:US Army Transportation Corp.
Capacity:80 Tons
Class:AAR Class FM (general service flatcar)
Acquired by Age of Steam Roundhouse:2011

US Army Transportation Corp flatcar 39502 and many similar cars moved military equipment around the country during the Cold War. Trains of these flatcars carrying tanks, trucks, Jeeps, and other vehicles were common sights on the nation’s railroads.

When 39502 and its sister cars were retired, the US Government donated many of them to tourist railroads and museums around the country. In 2011, Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum acquired 39502 and a larger Army flatcar from another museum. Both cars have been restored in their original 1953 US Army Appearance.

39502 was unveiled to the public with a cargo of historic military vehicles as part of Age of Steam’s first “Steam to Victory” event in July of 2019. The car has also proven useful for storing steam locomotive boiler tubes and flues until they’re needed for boiler repairs.

Modern military equipment – on more modern railroad flatcars – is still frequently shipped around the US by railroads.

Experimental Flat Car – RI 95650

Specifications
Builder:American Car & Foundry
Built:1956
Original Owner:Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad
Capacity:35 Tons
Class:Experimental
Acquired:2017

The 15 years following World War II brought sweeping innovation to the American railroad industry. Steam locomotives were replaced by diesel-electric power, dramatically changing railroad operations and maintenance practices. Railroads made major investments in passenger trains, trying one last time to win business away from automobiles and the developing airline industry. Knowing that most of their revenue came from freight trains, management searched far and wide for opportunities to increase efficiency of freight operations and reduce costs.

American Car & Foundry, a large manufacturer of railroad freight and passenger cars, developed a novel idea for an adaptable, low-cost freight car. Dubbed the “Adapto” system, ACF marketed a simple, two axle flatcar that could be easily converted into boxcars, tank cars, gondolas, or trailer carriers by adding or removing modular containers. The low initial cost of the cars, coupled with the idea that easy conversion could reduce car count and empty trips, seemed an appealing idea.

The Rock Island Railroad purchased 50 Adapto cars to sample the idea. Despite the exciting claims, the cars never gained much popularity, and no further orders appear to have been placed. Within ten years, the Rock Island retired the cars from freight work, placing many into maintenance service. Car 95690 was modified to securely hold railcar wheel sets, presumably to transport them between repair shops.

After arriving at the Age of Steam Roundhouse, the car was restored to its appearance as a maintenance car and is now displayed with a load of wheel sets.

Hopper Car – Montour 847

Specifications
Builder:Pullman Standard Car Company
Built:1960
Original Owner:Pennsylvania Railroad
Capacity:70 Tons
Class:AAR Class HT, PRR Class H39
Acquired by Age of Steam Roundhouse:mid-1990’s

While this 1960-built coal hopper car served the might Pennsylvania Railroad, it represents a lesser-known coal hauling railroad in the Age of Steam collection.

The Montour Railroad (MRR) carried coal from the numerous mines of Southwestern Pennsylvania to interchanges with the major railroads in the area. At its peak, the Montour transported other freight and even ran scheduled passenger trains. The railroad’s bread and butter was always coal. When the mines began to close in the mid-1950’s, the Montour began to slowly decline, finally ending operations in 1984. Chief Mechanical Officer Tim Sposato spent the early part of his railroad career as a Montour employee.

This particular hopper car – formerly PRR 667991 – was restored under Tim’s direction to represent MRR 847. The real MRR 847 was the last of 100 three-bay hoppers of this type to be pulled from service on the Montour in the 1950’s. First acquired by the Ohio Central Railroad in the 1990’s, it was a frequent site on railfan steam freight photo trains. In 2018, it received a new coat of paint and new lettering by Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum’s Bill Hanslik Sr. and Bill Hanslik Jr.

54′ Flat Car – USAX 38358

Specifications
Builder:Magor Car Corporation
Built:1953
Original Owner:US Army Transportation Corp.
Capacity:100 Tons
Class:AAR Class FM (general service flat car)
Acquired:2011

As the Cold War escalated in the 1950’s, the numerous branches of the United States Armed Forces invested in new railroad freight cars to move supplies and equipment across the country. The US Navy bought new boxcars to better protect ammunition, while the Army purchased flatcars better suited for transporting new M48 Patton tanks. Flatcar 38358 and over 600 identical cars were built with six axels and twelve wheels to carry the load of two tanks.

When 38358 and its sister cars were retired, the US Government donated many of them to tourist railroads and museums around the country. In 2011, Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum acquired 38358 and smaller, four axle flatcar 39502 from another museum. Both cars have been restored in their original 1953 US Army Appearance.

Carrying a cargo of historic military vehicles as part of Age of Steam’s first “Steam to Victory” event, 38358 was unveiled publicly in July of 2019. The car has also been put to use around the shop occasionally; both the Roundhouse’s sand tower and locomotive wheel lathe have taken rides on the car as part of their installation at the facility.