Boxcar, American Car & Foundry, February 1923
This unusual looking boxcar is actually of composite construction–it utilizes both wood and steel in its structure. The underframe, carbody ends, roof, and carbody sidewall framing are all of steel, while the side walls are of wood. The vertical positioning of the steel framing in the carbody gives the car a unique look, quite unlike the composite boxcars of the previous decade or later during WWII. #117205 was built for the Atchison Tokpeka & Santa Fe by American Car & Foundry in February of 1923. In 1954, the railroad renumbered it to #197048. At some point in time, the car was converted to work service as evidenced by the makeshift windows in the walls, the water tank hung underneath the frame, the wide steel ladders placed under the boxcar doors, and the rooftop ventilators. Perhaps this occurred at the time of the 1954 renumbering. In 1982, the car was donated to Mid-Continent and moved to North Freedom. It is presently used to store electrical supplies for the museum.
The AT&SF, more commonly known as simply the “Santa Fe,” began in 1860 as a fledgling road connecting its two Kansas namesake towns. Over the years, it expanded greatly to become one of America’s most famous railroads. In 1880, Albuquerque, New Mexico was reached. Three years later Denver was conquered, and by 1888, it stretched from the west coast to Chicago. System mileage grew to over 13,500 miles. The Santa Fe was influential in promoting the culture of the Southwest and Native Americans by romanticizing the Southwest and promoting travel to the area, via Santa Fe’s classy crack passenger trains of course. The Fred Harvey chain of hotels, restaurants, and lunch counters served the millions of travelers. In later years, the AT&SF became known for its crack passenger train “Super Chief,” running from Chicago to Los Angeles, and the “warbonnet” paint scheme (a very pleasing combination of red, yellow, and silver immortalized on model trainsets). In 1995, Santa Fe merged with Burlington Northern to become the BNSF, the second largest rail system in the U.S. with over 33,000 miles of trackage. At that time, Santa Fe was one of the oldest intact rail companies still in existence in the United States.
The American Car & Foundry Co., of Jeffersonville, Indiana had its beginnings as the Ohio Falls Car Co., being established during the Civil War. Ohio Falls endured several bankruptcies and the Panic of 1873 to become a major Midwestern car builder. Early on the firm promoted use of Southern Yellow pine for car construction due to its superior strength. By the 1890’s Ohio Falls’ volume had reached $3 million worth of cars annually. In 1899 Ohio Falls was consolidated into the industry giant American Car & Foundry Co. (AC&F). The Jeffersonville plant was closed by AC&F in 1945 although most of the buildings survive, utilized for a variety of industrial and commercial purposes.