In 1917, the US government formed the United States Railway Administration to control the nations railroads during World War One. In that process, several freight car designs were approved and 100,000 cars were built and assigned to many US railroads. These five USRA freight car designs ushered in standardized freight car design for many railroads and made up about four to five percent of the overall national freight car fleet in the 1920s and 1930s.
Models of these prototypes have been available in several scales for model railroaders. The USRA freight cars have been frequently noted in the hobby press and several articles have been published over the years. Many of these articles reference a 1973 historical summary published by James E. Lane. This has been out of print for years and many of the magazine articles that referenced Lane’s work are also out of print.
As a resource for all model railroaders, I have transcribed the data from Lane’s work into tables for easy reference. This is available as the USRA Freight Car Assignments page of this blog for easy access. The information presented on that page reflects the USRA assignments which differed from the original USRA allotments. Read through the opening paragraphs to gain an understanding of these terms.
I hope readers will enjoy these details and use the USRA Freight Car Assignments page to further their prototype modeling efforts.