Freight Equipment

Tank Car – UTLX 88208

Builder: N/A
Built: 1961
Original Owner: Hercules Powder Company
Capacity: 11,000 Gallons
Class: AAR Class TM
Acquired: 1990’s

Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum’s 11,000 gallon tank car was originally owned by Hercules Powder Company. Hercules was a well-known manufacturer of gunpowder. The company – began as a division of DuPont – employed a fleet of tank cars (supplemented by many others leased from Union Tank Lines and General American Tank) to transport raw materials to their factories. Tank cars in service for Hercules generally carried resin or glycerin.

Tank car 88208 was meticulously cleaned and restored to its original appearance in late 2020. The car now features the distinctive Hercules Powder Company logo, a depiction of the Roman mythological figure.

Boxcar – PRR 51121

Builder: PRR Altoona Shop
Built: 1929
Original Owner: Pennsylvania Railroad
Capacity: 50 Tons
Class: AAR Class XM, PRR Class X29
Acquired: 1990’s

Since the US railroads frequently handed off freight cars between each other (the railroad term is “interchange”), it was advantageous to standardize design of cars between the numerous different railroads and companies who owned them. Standardization avoided compatibility issues such as one railroad’s cars not fitting through another one’s tunnels or couplers not matching up.

One of the trade groups driving standardization was the American Railway Association. In 1923, the ARA developed its standard 40′ steel boxcar. The design was successful, with over 300,000 copies built for use on North American railroads. In the 1930’s, the ARA merged with other trade groups to become the Association of American Railroads, an organization which still drives harmonization of railroad technology and designs today.

The Pennsylvania Railroad – which routinely preferred to build its own railcars and locomotives – built over 30,000 of its own ARA 40′ boxcars, and dubbed them its X29 class. Boxcar 51121 was built in the PRR’s Altoona Car Shops in 1929. These cars were used to transport all sorts of crated or boxed goods requiring protection from the elements. At some point – likely during World War II – 51121 was modified for express (i.e. time-sensitive freight) service and renumbered 4996.

After being acquired by Jerry Jacobson in the 1990’s, 51121 received new PRR paint and a quick lettering job to appear in re-created steam freight trains on the Ohio Central Railroad. In 2021 the boxcar was rolled into the Age of Steam Roundhouse Backshop for a more in-depth restoration. Freight Car Restoration Specialist Bill Hanslik led the charge to bring 51121 back to it’s early 1940’s freight look, just before its express modifications. During rust removal the PRR’s Keystone logo was uncovered, likely being applied in the 1950’s.

Rotting metal was removed and new patches were welded in. Wood was replaced on the roof walkway. The car was then primed and painted, with the paint color carefully matched to a paint swatch loaned from the Pennsylvania Railroad Technical and Historical Society. PRR lettering diagrams were painstakingly followed to confirm the car’s final lettering was spot-on. When boxcar 51121 rolled out of the Backshop in the Summer of 2022, it looked as good as new!

Our thanks to Bruce Smith of the PRRTHS and John Frantz of Mt. Vernon Shops for their contributions of artwork, diagrams and paint swatches to ensure the accuracy of this project.

Insulated Boxcar – URTX 26571

Builder: General American Transportation Corp.
Built: 1931
Original Owner: United Reefer Transit
Capacity: 40 Tons
Class: AAR Class RS (special service refrigerated car)
Acquired: 2014

Built in 1931 for United Reefer Transit, this insulated boxcar was leased to Libby, McNeill & Libby. It carried canned fruits, vegetables, and meats to market from Libby’s manufacturing facilities.

United Reefer Transit was one of numerous railcar leasing firms at that time, a business that continues to this day. Companies – such as Libby’s – found it more economical to lease cars to carry their products instead of owning their own fleets or using railroad-owned cars. Leased railcars were frequently painted with the lessee’s logo or corporate colors.

By the 1930’s most boxcars were built from steel. However, this car’s design used double layers of wood sheathing to take advantage of wood’s better insulating qualities. Not to be confused with a refrigerator car, which carries onboard refrigeration equipment, this insulated boxcar could not provide cooling for its contents. Instead, it was used to keep its cargo cool in hot weather or prevent its contents from freezing during winter months.

After acquiring URTX 26571 from another museum, Age of Steam Roundhouse crews extensively renewed the external wood sheathing. The repainted car provides a splash of color on a tour of the Roundhouse.

Gondola Car – B&O 451091

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

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

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.