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Old School Santa Fe

May 22, 2014

You know the drill. In the process of searching for a particular item, you come across other things and get so sidetracked, you forget what you were looking for in the first place. That’s the story of my life!

The bright side is that I find all sorts of interesting stuff, like these 4 images of Santa Fe freight equipment from 35 to almost 60 years ago, aka “the good old days”.

The first image is a very early Santa Fe intermodal car with a spotless red & white trailer. Of course they didn’t call it intermodal back then. It would have been called a  piggyback or TOFC flat car. It appears to be a conventional flat car that was modified for TOFC service by adding side sills and a 5th wheel.

1955 vintage ATSF TOFC flat car and ATSF piggyback trailer

Early ATSF intermodal flat car 92855 at Chicago in 1955.

Within the next 18 years, TOFC service on the Santa Fe went from a novelty to a mainstay of traffic on the Chicago to California corridor. This 1973 image shows the final 2 versions of ATSF-owned 40″ trailers. Note how tare and wasted space have been reduced to a minimum.

ATSF 40' piggyback / intermodal trailers in 1973.

3 40′ trailers and a caboose bring up the rear af a Santa Fe TOFC train in Illinois in 1973

The next image is likely to be the most mundane piece of equipment out there for a railfan in 1968 – a 50′ boxcar. I can’t really tell what the original color was on this BX-66 class box car, but I’m smitten with the Super Chief slogan. Contemporary railroaders are probably shocked to see ladders that go all the way to the top of the car, the high-mounted brake wheel, and the walkway on the roof of the car, all deemed very unsafe features and prohibited since the late 1970’s.

ATSF BX-66 class 50" box car with Super Chief slogan

ATSF 16439, a 50″ single-door box car is at Manassas, VA in 1968.

Finally, TTX 852838 with a clean red Santa Fe rack. At first glance I thought it was a conventional 89′ auto rack, but then I realized it was topless!

TTX 852838, 89' flat car with ATSF auto rack at Topeka in 1979

TTX 852838, an 89′ flat car with ATSF auto rack at Topeka in 1979

I’ve always been under the impression that there were 3 basic types of 89′ auto rack: open, with side-shields, and fully enclosed. Was fully enclosed, sans roof, a common variation of auto rack?

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Jim Eager permalink
    November 23, 2014 7:28 pm

    “Was fully enclosed, sans roof, a common variation of auto rack?”

    Yes, CTTX roofless trilevels were common in the late ’70s – early ’80s on low-clearance routes, particularly in the Northeast, such as on Conrail’s water-level route. Conrail only had roofless cars until they had raised mainline clearances to handle double-stacks and roofed trilevels, and most other roads contributed at least a few to the pool, including western roads like ATSF, WP, and UP.

  2. R. J. Savely, Jr. permalink
    August 1, 2018 11:36 pm

    Open top with enclosed sides was the short lived interim step between shields and fully enclosed. It was short lived because the top vehicles still weren’t protected. Santa Fe (and probably others) had to be convinced the extra weight and cost were worth the expense. That is the info according to my late Dad.

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