Books: Southern Pacific Freight Cars, Vol. 1 - Gondolas and Stock Cars

Signature Press

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Signature Press Books: Southern Pacific Freight Cars, Vol. 1 - Gondolas and Stock Cars

By Anthony W. Thompson

This is the first volume in a planned series on Southern Pacific freight cars. It covers gondolas and stock cars, and the era is approximately 1900-1960, though with some coverage before and after those years. The book contains an extensive array of rosters, photos and, where possible, drawings of the major car classes, along with other material as available, such as construction photos, publicity photos, lettering drawings, and so forth. Survival of the cars over the years is presented, as are numerous photos of the cars in service.

Included are not only work (ballast) gondolas, but such signature cars of the SP as the 1920s GS gondolas from Enterprise (often called "Ulrich" cars), the 1940s GS gondolas, including a chapter on side extensions for wood chip, sugar beet, and other services, 1950s solid-bottom cars, and ore cars. Stock cars, from the CS-11 cars of the 1890s, through the standard Harriman cars, to the various late conversions of other cars to stock cars, are also given a full treatment.

Freight car history has a number of dimensions. Built dates, car numbers, car characteristics are only the bare bones. A complete history would also include reasons for construction of a particular car class and exploration of its design heritage; indications of the service to shippers to which a car class was assigned; and indications of the longevity of the class, culminating in rebuilding or scrapping. Though it is not possible to provide all this detail on every car class, this book does offer much of this type of history.

The large number of photographs, particularly in-service images showing the cars at various times in their lives, make this a truly comprehensive volume. Complete roster information, including car specialties such as trucks and hand brakes, are presented in a nod to the modeling community. A few color photos are included among the 537 total tally of photographs, to show the appearance of these car types, though SP freight cars such as gondolas and stock cars were overwhelmingly painted boxcar red throughout the period covered.

Noted rail artist John Signor has created for the book the painting shown here, depicting a Southern Pacific yard scene containing the subjects of this series of books.

The well-known SP freight car historian Anthony W. Thompson has authored magazine articles on many SP cars, as well as researching and writing the car section of the book, Pacific Fruit Express, previously published by Signature Press. Once again, a strong contribution to the history of the Southern Pacific and of the West has been furnished by Signature Press. Enthusiasts of those subjects will find this a superb book.

A few pre-publication comments on the book:

"I've always had a particular interest in the Southern Pacific, so I'm delighted to see this first volume in a significant new series about SP freight cars. This fully illustrated book provides comprehensive photographic coverage of gondolas and stock cars, including operations, in the 1900-1960 era. It's a fine reference for any SP enthusiast."

-- Richard Steinheimer

"Tony Thompson co-authored the best book ever on railroad history, freight car development and operations with his Pacific Fruit Express.This new book matches it with never-before available information on the Southern Pacific freight car fleet, including details and photos of every gondola and stock car class, written in a clear and enjoyable style."

-- Al Westerfield

"More than a decade ago, the late Terry Metcalfe published the first book devoted to a detailed account of the freight cars of a single railroad. Since Terry's pioneer book on Union Pacific freight cars appeared, similar volumes have been written on the cars of several other railroads. The Southern Pacific, however, has been largely ignored--until now. Tony Thompson's new work is the first of a series of books by Signature Press which will cover all of the SP's freight car fleet from the turn of the century until well into the diesel era, and an impressive beginning it is. Extensively illustrated and painstakingly researched, it provides a highly detailed history of the Southern Pacific's gondolas and stock cars during the 1900-1960 period, complete with roster information and other data gleaned from the railroad's surviving documents. A large number of well reproduced photos combined with authoritative text and captions render this an essential book for Southern Pacific devotees and modelers, as well as for other readers who are interested in freight car history. "

-- Richard Hendrickson

Size: 320 pages, 8.5" x 11"; 537 photos (8 in color); 30 drawings, bibliography, index

Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgements 5
1. Introduction 9
2. Freight Car Basics 15
3. Work or Ballast Gondolas 31
4. Inherited and New Cars to 1924 65
5. General Service Gondolas of the 1920s 91
6. Solid-bottom Gondolas, 1928-1940 109
7. General Service Gondolas after 1940 123
8. Gondola Side Extensions 147
9. Distinctive T&NO Gondolas 183
10. Solid-bottom Gondolas after 1950 199
11. Ore Cars 223
12. Early Stock Cars 251
13. The Standard Stock Car 263
14. Other Stock Cars 287
Bibliography 309
Index 313

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