Locked Early Southern & Q&C Freight Car Number Series

George Eichelberger


Here is a response sent to Dave Queener asking about early Southern freight cars. The subject needs more serious research but here is my “take” on the subject. If anyone has other comments, please post them.



Operations that became part of the SRS after 1894 continued to buy their own rolling stock until, and after, they were absorbed into the Southern. The Southern attempted to organize its freight and passenger car documentation starting about 1906. Integrating everything from the predecessor (usually bankrupt) railroads, in some cases, took until the equipment was scrapped. Researching freight cars of that period is made more difficult because cars from different builders, construction dates and even dimensions were lumped into the same car series. Car interchange rules were simpler and things such as car leases and trusts took priority as the company “books” were organized.

SRHA does have the original car numbers for most of the acquired equipment, and their new Southern numbers. In most cases, not much more is know about many cars except what we can find in the ICC Valuation files that began in 1916. Many of the entries there are only estimates by various Master Mechanics because no earlier data was available.

Research is needed but I expect that was simply because of the amount of work needed to get everything organized with the fact that wooden cars of the era either wore out quickly or became obsolete as new truck and underframe designs allowed 40 and 50 ton cars.

To anyone’s knowledge, there are NO “wood car era” freight car diagram books. The four volume version set SRHA published, and sold hundreds of copies, were drawn in the mid 70s. The oldest known version, which we have, dates to the late 50s. It does include some very early cars but not many. For whatever reason, the Southern did not create or publish “diagram book” style drawings before that. If there were any, we would have found at least individual pages or drawings after all these years of looking.

The pre-70s diagram book could be published, in addition to another passenger car book. It’s just a question of time and effort.