A journal following the history, design, construction and operation of Bernard Kempinski's O Scale model railroad depicting the U. S. Military Railroad (USMRR) Aquia-Falmouth line in 1863, and other model railroad projects.
©Bernard Kempinski All text and images, except as noted, on this blog are copyrighted by the author and may not be used without permission.

October 24, 2017

Mystery Freight Car

I found this image on an auction site by chance while doing a google image search. I have never seen or heard about this car before. Nor have I been able to find any additional information on it.

In the photo one can see the airbrakes hose, modern stenciling, a road name that didn't exist until 1870's, and a knuckle coupler. Thus we know that this is not a photo from the civil war. But, is the caption correct in that this was a civil war era car that had been salvaged from a river and then upgraded?

The consensus on the ACWRRHS forum is that the caption is not accurate. The car is listed on the 1890 OER, meaning that it would have been about 26 years old if it was a ACW era car. It is also unlikely to be steel, as steel was relatively rare until the 1866 time period when the Bessemer process started to be introduced into the United States.  Hooker was in Georgia with Sherman in 1864 until he was relieved. If anything the sides are sheets of iron, copper or tin.


  1. Given that the NC&StL didn’t exist until 1873, the caption is likely incorrect. Are those not air brake hoses hanging off the end of the car?

  2. I have a diagram book of NC&STL freight cars - don't know if it goes back as early as this car - which looks not unlike some of the early B&O steel boxcars.
    Of course that book is in a file cabinet, which is now sitting in a storage container in a warehouse somewhere (movers came Saturday).
    To add to the prior comment - the safety/capy lettering reflects mid 20th century ARA/AAR standards (introduced in the 1930s if memory serves me).
    Is it an old car? Yes.
    Is it a steel car? Doubtful.
    Did it belong to a predecessor road of the NC&STL? - Also doubtful, but not impossible.
    One other thought on the sheathing material - it could be canvas cladding - not unlike the material used for car roofs. The way it's attached, and lack of visible seams on the "rivet lines" on the vertical sections on the side.