Frisco Boxcar outside Heinz Pickle Plant, Pittsburgh, PA 1902

Discussion in 'Boxcars' started by SAFN SAAP, Apr 13, 2012.


    SAFN SAAP Member

    Found this in my quest for more pictures of HJ Heinz pickle cars. A Frisco Boxcar was on the switching lead of a group of sidings servicing one of the many buildings of the facility. Thought I would share...


    Frisco in Pittsburg 1902.jpg
  2. Jim James

    Jim James Staff Member Staff Member

    That sure is a long boxcar!

    SAFN SAAP Member

    50 footer Jim.
  4. Neat picture. I like the detailed view of the uneven, rain-soaked cobblestones, the wagon and team at the appropriately named *team* track, and the IC car with its steel fishbelly frame. Pretty modern for 1902.

    I think the Frisco boxcar looks longer than it really is because it blends into the vertically-sided wooden building to its right. We may also be seeing the end of of another boxcar coupled to it. Too bad the car number isn't visible because of the limitations of the picture resolution and the blurred "ghost" walking in front of it. That and a period ORER would definitively answer the question of its length.

    What do you suppose was being shipped via boxcar from Frisco territory to this plant in Pittsburgh? Vegetables/fruit for processing?

    Bradley A. Scott

    SAFN SAAP Member

    It is a 50 footer which the Frisco had at that time. You can see that the boxcar door is a 1 1/2 door, and the truck is visible when you blow the picture up behind the stone foundation of that building. I will go back and visit that picture again as they have the ability to blow it up without distortion. I'll post that up shortly. Be back in 5 minutes...

    SAFN SAAP Member

    The car is Frisco St. L & S.F. 125875, which according to the ORER is a 50 Ft. Furniture Car.

    Frisco 12585.jpg
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 13, 2012
  7. Thanks, Manny. The high res makes a huge difference.

    That said, I think it calls a couple of things into question. I've looked at scanned ORERs from 1900 and 1905 (via CDs purchased from Al Westerfield) and didn't see any six-digit Frisco car numbers in those years. However, the 1911 ORER lists a series of SLSF boxcars numbered 125000-125999, which are described as steel framed 40-footers. The boxcar in the pic appears to have a steel frame, since no trussrods are visible underneath. I think we're seeing a car from this series.

    If I'm right, this calls into question the date assigned to the photo. Three of the four boxcars in the picture, although wood-sided, appear to have steel frames. There is one trussrod, presumably wooden-framed boxcar in the photo, as well as several horse-drawn wagons, which suggests that it's not too far into the 20th century. Does anyone know offhand when woodframed cars were phased out?

    The suspension bridge in the background appears to be the Point Bridge, which was built in 1876-1877 and torn down in 1927.

    See lower right corner of second link for location of bridge relative to downtown Pittsburgh. If that's the right bridge, then the date is definitely sometime before 1927 (which we probably could have guessed from the woodframe boxcar and the absence of infernal-combustion machines.) It also ID's the location of the photo as either on the south bank of the Ohio river, looking east, or on the downtown Point, looking west.

    So, playing amateur History Detective, I'll put my 2 cents on a date between 1911 and 1927, probably toward the early part of that range. (Note: changed to 1906-1927 after reading Karl's post below.) Identifying the exact year the Frisco purchased the 125500-12599 boxcars would narrow it down a little more. If we could read the carnumbers on the three other boxcars, it might give another clue or two.

    Debating historic photographs is fun... just ask the folks at Shorpy!

    Bradley A. Scott
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 13, 2012
  8. Karl

    Karl 2008 Engineer of the Year Supporter


    During 1906-1907, the Frisco purchased 5000 steel-framed boxcars. They were the first "modern" boxcar on the Frisco, i.e., steel frame, 40 foot, 40 ton

    The particulars:

    120000 - 121999 built 1906-1907
    122500 - 125499 built 1907

    The dimensions were identical for both groups.

    Length over end sills: 40'-11-1/2"
    Length inside: 40'-0
    Width over side sills: 9'-1-3/4"
    Width inside: 8'-0
    Height to Running Board: 13'-1"
    Height over all: 14'-0
    Height inside: 8'-0
    Doors: 6'-0 x 7'-8"
    Volume: 2720 ft^2
    Load Cap'y: 80,000 lbs
    Lt Wt: 38700 lbs
  9. Bah, I can't believe I missed it, but those boxcars were indeed in the 1911 ORER. I could swear I checked that. I'm going to go back and edit my original post for the sake of the archives, but this post acknowledges the error and the correction.

    The beginning of the date range is, therefore, 1906.

    Bradley A. SCott

    SAFN SAAP Member

    I will again check my sources, but I still believe that to be a 50 footer. It's too stretched to be 40 feet. Unless I'm so used to looking at 36' cars that my eyes are playing tricks. The first thing that pops out is the steel underframe. Second, the car is wearing post-1911 safety appliances, unless Frisco decided to equip proper grab irons and stirrups on both ends of the cars before that. I will have a well versed friend look at that photo. I may be wrong, especially in light of what Bradley and Karl presented. I'm also checking the date on the photograph.

  11. FriscoCharlie

    FriscoCharlie Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporter

    Awesome photo. Thanks for posting.


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