Roadtrip finds

My lovely wife and I hit the road recently to visit our kids and grand kids, and my parents. We drove from middle Tennessee to Buffalo to celebrate a second birthday with a grandson. The Heritage Discovery Center was holding an open house, so we dropped by for a visit the day after the party.

The Center houses a number of exhibits covering Buffalo’s rich industrial history. Railways, shipping, steel, and more were all under one roof. As we were about to leave the parking lot, a car body caught my eye off in a corner.

The remains of a Buffalo, Rochester & Pittsburgh Railway four-wheel caboose were sitting there. The signage indicated it was BR&P #11, built in 1895. This caboose design was the BR&P’s standard until the introduction of eight-wheel cabooses with steel center sills in 1914.

These illustrations from a BR&P freight car diagram book offer insight to dimensions and details. Note some of these short cabooses had steel center sills, although the car numbers are not noted.

BR&P #120 was captured on film in the early Teens. The eleven-foot wheelbase made for a rough ride on some sections of the railway. When the B&O acquired the BR&P in january 1932, there were 23 of these four-wheel cabooses in service. They became the I-8 class but only one ever received a B&O number. All were retired by August 1937.

I snapped a number of photos to capture details for future modeling projects. The caboose came to the Center in 2012 from a Texas collection. Notes posted at the museum site sign noted another BR&P four-wheel caboose in a private collection in Waco, Texas.

1908 Boxcar

From Buffalo, we traveled south toward Pittsburgh. At Erie, I turned onto US 19 to get off of the interstate and enjoy the rolling glacial terrain of northwestern Pennsylvania. We entered Meadville via North Main Street and passed through the Allegheny College campus, our alma mater.

I was headed back to the interstate when i realized there was an old Bessemer & Lake Erie Railroad boxcar on display in Meadville. I kept my eyes open as we rolled beside the former Erie Railroad mainline on US 19.

The 1908-built boxcar is displayed in the Meadville Railroad Park, sandwiched between US 19 and French Creek near the remains of the Erie shops. An Erie Alco switcher and an Erie-Lackawanna bay window caboose are also displayed.

I sent a photo to Pittsburgh area modeler David Wilson and he mentioned that the boxcar was originally built for the Union Railroad. He’s been digging into Union and B&LE for several years. Sure enough, the Union listed 695 of these boxcars with forty-foot interior length in the May 1911 ORER. By 1919, 665 boxcars with very similar dimensions are listed for the B&LE.

Union 10221 was caught by the City of Pittsburgh photographer in 1911 as a pier was being constructed for the Manchester Bridge on Pittsburgh’s North Shore. A B&O M-14 class ventilated boxcar is coupled to it. The boxcars are slightly cropped here as the photographer was capturing the pier work.

I grabbed a few details shots for posterity. It’s not everyday that you can see Carmer uncoupling hardware on a freight car.

Arch bar trucks with Simplex bolsters were also a surprise. How about that 6-24 weigh date stencil!!! The GV location would be Greenville, once home of the Bessemer shops for the north end of the line.

Visiting family was the best part of our journey far from middle Tennessee. Finding and photographing a couple of century-old relics was icing on the cake. Keep you eyes open out there on the road. There’s always something interesting to discover.

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5 thoughts on “Roadtrip finds”

  1. Very cool. As I am contemplating a trip to College Station in October, Waco is a very short trip north. Do you have any info on where to other caboose might be? I could grab some shots of it.

  2. Eric,
    Details in the photo that includes the Union RR boxcar are interesting: the car jack (?) standing among the pile of bridge timbers (?) on the left, what appears to be a “stiff-leg” derrick (wonder how it’s powered…electricity?) lifting those stone (?) blocks into place, the built-to-last pump (next to a workman) for clearing water collecting in the bottom of the excavation, the small-diameter piping coming from a connection parallel to the RR track and directed into the pit….gas line for some early type of welding apparatus?

  3. Eric,
    I love the photos of both the BR&P bobber caboose and the box car. We were just up in Buffalo about the same time as you. It was a short visit with family and had to hurry back to Richmond KY for other family events. I knew about the Heritage Center but never visited there. Next time for sure.
    I’m sure you are familiar with the Western NY Railway Historical Society and the BR&P/B&S Special Interest Group ( don’t know if that still exists). I have some information from the Nov 1991 and Sep 1992 issues of Railway Life published by the BR&P/B&S SIG regarding BR&P colors for stations, passenger cars, hoppers and cabooses. According to Charles Butler, a former BR&P employee, passenger cars were painted standard pullman green; cabooses were a lighter and brighter red than the Pennsy coach colors. As for the hoppers, they were all painted black. Some came from the manufacture painted box car red that were soon repainted black. Station colors seem to be a mixed bag. The B&O president sent an inspector along the BR&P to report on it’s condition prior to acquiring the line. They found the frame stations were painted yellow with a reddish brown strip tow or three feet wide near the foundation. Information I received from another historian says the station colors were mustard yellow walls with deep red wainscot and green trim. If you are interested in some of the other information I have please contact me. I would love to talk to another BR&P fan.

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