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

McKeen Motor Car Company

So much has been written about the McKeen Motor Car Company and its product that it seems to us unnecessary to write more . . . at least at this moment. So here is a bibliography, together with links to other websites where you will find information available as of August 2005. If you find any of these websites missing, moved or moribund, please let us know; it’s extremely hard to keep track of them. And if you can make us aware of other McKeen resources, please share them with us. All you need to do to contact us is

Norfolk & Southern 70-foot gasoline motor car built by McKeen 1908.


For More Information

Printed Material:

“McKeen . . .” Loco 1: The Diesel.

Drawings. 70' Motor Car, p. 6. 48' Trailer, p. 7. 70' RPO-Baggage-Express Motor Car, p. 8. 55' Motor Car, p. 9.

“The McKeen Motor Car 4701,” Keystone [PRR employee magazine], Winter 1998, Issue 31-4.

“McKeen’s Magnificent Machine,” Railroad Modeler, December 1971, p. 32.

Includes scale drawings.

Barnes, Jerry. “A McKeen Car in 1:29 Scale,” Garden Railways, August 1997. p. 70

Carter, Clive. “Union Pacific Self-Propelled Cars,” Mainline Modeler, June 1998, Volume 19, Number 6. Pp. 20-27.

Caviglia, Gary. “Virginia & Truckee Ry. McKeen Motor Car No. 22,” Narrow Gauge & Short Line Gazette, July/August 1987, p. 78.

Scale drawing.

Daisy, David J. “Early Illinois Central Passenger Motor Cars,” Green Diamond [Official Publication of the Illinois Central Historical Society] No. 58, August 2001.

Grasso, Jack. Diamondbugs: The story of the rail motor car on the Erie Railroad. Flanders, NJ: RAE Publishing, 1999.

Jackman, Lawrence. “McKeen Motor Car Company 70 Foot Motor Car and Cars,” Railroad Model Craftsman, August 1966, p. 22.

Scale drawings.

Kratville, William W. “Knife-Noses and Portholes; The story of the McKeen car,” Trains, July 1960. Pp. 30-39.

Kratville, William, and Harold E. Ranks. “Meet Mr. McKeen” Motive Power of the Union Pacific. Barnhart Press, 1977. p. 123; also motor car roster located at back of book.

Patten, Francis B. “The McKeen Machines,” S Gaugian, March/April 1980, p. 16.

Build your own freelance model of a 70' McKeen Car like the author did! Scale drawing p. 18.

Porter, Russell D. “Queen of the Narrow Gauge - McKeen Car,” Railroad Model Craftsman, February 1958, p. 34.

Includes scale drawings.

Schopp, Bill. “McKeen ‘Gasolene’ Switching Locomotive,” Railroad Model Craftsman, April 1951, p. 10.

Schopp, Bill. “The McKeen Motor Car - Prototype and Model,” Railroad Model Craftsman, March 1954, p. 26.

Includes scale drawings.

Schopp, Bill. “Needlenose: A McKeen Motor Car,” Railroad Model Craftsman, August 1939, p. 35.

Includes scale drawings.

Schopp, Bill. “Union Pacific Motor Car,” Railroad Model Craftsman, June 1953, p. 23.

Includes scale drawings.

Schopp, William M. “Born Thirty Years Too Soon (McKeen Car History),” Railroad Magazine, January 1951. Pp. 14-27. (As of August 2005, this article could be found online at John’s Alaska Railroad website. Included are several photos and diagrams.)

White, John H. Jr. The American Railroad Passenger Car. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1978. Pp. 593-598.

Includes photos of McKeen power plant, and Norfolk & Southern car #90 (same as above but with different lettering); reproduction of car diagram for B&O Gasoline Motor Car No. 1001; and elevation drawing of  McKeen’s 7th car, built 1906.


Ann Arbor Railroad’s McKeen Windsplitter No. 3

Photo and brief article.

Buffalo, Rochester & Pittsburgh Railway Motor Car Number 1001

Postcard view of this car.

Dave’s RailPix

Photo captioned “Woodstock & Sycamore Traction Co. Gas Motor car 701 (built by the McKeen Motor Car Company) at Genoa [Illinois] in the 1910 era. Operation began on the line in 1911 using three McKeen gas-mechanical cars that were painted red on the 26.5 mile long single-track line that operated from Sycamore north to Marengo in north central Illinois. The huge McKeen cars proved unsuitable for the line because of frequent derailments, and they were replaced with smaller gasoline Fairbanks-Morse cars. Electrification was never installed as planned, and after a short futile history the line folded in 1918.”

Erie Railroad McKeen Gasoline Railcar

The Erie owned three McKeen cars. This website briefly tells their story and is illustrated by two postcard views.

Former San Diego, Cuyamaca & Eastern McKeen car body found in Alaska! [Our title, the page has none.]

Story with both recent and historic photos, brief history of McKeen and excellent scale diagram.

History of the McKeen Motor Car Company

Good general coverage, with emphasis on the five McKeen cars owned by Michigan’s Ann Arbor Railroad. Car diagrams of a 55' and a 70' car.

Begins with—but is not limited to—the same article by N.J. Pull that is found on several other websites, including N.J. Pull’s own, and that of the Nevada State Railroad Museum which owns and is restoring Virginia & Truckee Motor Car No. 22. (The museum also owns Chicago Great Western “locomotive” No. 1000, which is also a former McKeen car and is a donor of parts in the restoration of No. 22.)

Hocking County Traction Motor Car in Nelsonville, Ohio

Photo of McKeen car being demonstrated on said railroad.

The McKeen Motor Car: A Pictorial Review of a Unique Motor Car

Lots of information on the cars themselves, with emphasis on California railroads.

McKeen Motor Car Company, From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Article has little information, but contains photos captioned, “McKeen car Roslyn of the Northern Pacific Railroad,” “McKeen car of the Los Angeles & San Diego Beach Railway, the ‘La Jolla Line’. The cars were nicknamed ‘Red Devils’ or ‘Submarines’,” and “The engineer at the controls, and the engine behind.”

North East Rails: McKeen Motor Cars

Photos or links to photos of 20 McKeen cars (13 are Otto Perry shots in the Denver Public Library Western Collection).

Southern Pacific Motor Car, Sacramento Valley Lines, California

Postcard view of this car.

SP Motor 03... in 1946?

Title not relevant, but article is followed by a photo of Southern Pacific McKeen car No. 13.

Union Pacific Motor Cars, article by Don Strack.

McKeen was Superintendent of Motive Power for the Union Pacific when he developed his motor car and the Union Pacific and its related lines owned more of them than anyone else. U.P. motor car roster.


As of August 2005, the East Tennessee State University Archives of Appalachia had, in its Carolina, Clinchfield, and Ohio Records collection, a drawing described as “McKeen Motor Car Co., 200 HP motor car, 1913-14.”

“The McKeen Motor Car Company, Omaha, Neb., has received orders as follows: Two 55-ft. motor cars and one 200-h.p. switching locomotive for the Minneapolis & Northern; one 70-ft. 200-h.p. motor car and one 200 h.p. switching locomotive for the Lake Erie & Youngstown; five 70-ft. motor cars for the Sunset-Central Lines, for use on the Morgan's Louisiana & Texas Railroad & Steamship Company, the Galveston, Harrisburg & San Antonio, and the Houston & Texas Central.” - Railway Age Gazette, 14 Feb 1913.

11 April 2006

Home/Bldr. Index Bibliography Links Car-Bldr. Dictionary All-time Bldr. List C&S Rolling-stock