Builders of Wooden Railway Cars ... and some of other stuff

Haskell & Barker

Haskell & Barker had its beginnings in 1855 when grain dealer John Barker bought into the wagon and freight car firm of Sherman, Haskell, Aldridge & Company at Michigan City, Indiana. That firm had been started in 1852. In 1858, the firm became Haskell & Barker, {243}


Haskell & Barker began in 1852 as Sherman, Haskell & Company. In 1855 the name was changed to Haskell, Barker & Aldridge. It was incorporated in 1871 as the Haskell & Barker Car Company. {244}

The company had produced 15,000 cars when it was incorporated. The company flourished under John H. Barker, Jr. At his death in 1910, co. employed 3,500 men and production was 10,000 cars a year.  {245}

In the early days, the company produced reapers, threshing machines and corn shellers, in addition to freight and passenger cars.  {244}

A few passenger cars were built early on, but none were produced after the late 1850s until the time of the 2nd World War. {244}

In 1920, plant occupied 116 acres with34 buildings. Pullman expanded its presence in the freight car field in 1922 by acquiring H&B. It remained a major car builder until closed in 1971, when plant was considered obsolete and permanently closed. {245}

By 1860, the firm was producing two cars a day, {243}

By 1879, output was 1,000 cars a year, {243}

Four years later, Barkerís son John H. Barker became president of the firm, {243}

Spokane International 8-wheeled caboose built by Haskell & Barker 1910.

In 1916, the company was sold to an eastern financial group headed by Edward F. Cary (1867-1929). {243}

In 1920, Pullman had consolidated sleeping car biz and wanted to get into freight car building. H&B was "nation's largest." Pullman's President wanted to retire, and they thought Cary would be a good replacement. Deal finally made in 1922 "that has been called a Haskell and Barker take-over of Pullman." Pullman bought H&B car works for $15 Million, Cary became Pres. of Pullman and brought in many associates. (White/Passenger-263)

In 1922 the company was absorbed by the Pullman company, {243}

In 1934 the Michigan City plant became the Haskell & Barker Shops of Pullman-Standard.

During the 2nd World War, the Haskell works built 2,401 troop sleepers for the United States military. These were the first passenger cars built by H&B since the late 1850s. {244}

In 1947, the first PS-1 box car came off the line. {244}

From 1852 to 1952, 403,457 cars were built by the Michigan City plant. {244}

In 1957 the 109 acre Michigan City plant was claimed to be the largest freight car building plant in the world, capable of producing a freight car every ten minutes. {244}

The Michigan City plant produced no streetcars or interurban cars, but it did produce freight, service and express cars that were used by interurban lines. {244}



Kaminski, Edward S. Pullman Standard Freight Cars, 1900-1960. Berkeley, CA: Signature Press, 2007.

A rich treasure trove of some 400 photographs from Pullman and Pullman-Standard, as well as predecessors Haskell & Barker, Standard Steel Car Co., and Tennessee Coal, Iron & Railroad Company.


12 May 2007

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