K C F S & M Boxcars at Brownwood, MO

Discussion in 'Boxcars' started by Jim James, Dec 12, 2012.

  1. Jim James

    Jim James Staff Member Staff Member

    Ran across this photo in my Zalma Branch file. Any clues about what year this photo was taken? I can't quite make out what it says towards the bottom of the cars.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 13, 2012

    SAFN SAAP Member

    34' Boxcar, outside frame mechanical brakes...I would say it is about 1883-1887.
  3. SABRR, you may be correct about the original build date of the cars, but I think the photograph is from a couple of decades later than that.

    The picture has to be from some time after April 1888, since that's when the former K-C F-S & Gulf changed its name to the K-C F-S & Memphis. Furthermore, the fact that these KCFS&M work cars are on Frisco track, a significant distance from KCFS&M rails, suggests to me that it is after the 1901 merger when equipment was pooled.

    The window cut into the side of the boxcar on the left suggests that it's a bunk car for trackworkers. The car number on the second boxcar, 98022, is intriguing. I checked Official Railway Equipment Registers for 1885, 1892, and 1897, and did not find any KCFS&M cars in that number range. Neither the post-merger 1903 SLSF equipment roster nor the 1905 ORER list any such car numbers. Of course, the ORERs do not necessarily list cars which were not used in interchange service.

    However, the 1911 ORER entry for the SL&SF does show car numbers above 95000, all assigned to maintenance or company service. Cars from 97000-99999 were assigned to "SL&SF special service" with no details provided. This number range and designation continues to appear in subsequent ORERS up through at least 1935, the last one to which I have convenient access. There are indications that cars in that range, though reported as "SL&SF special service" in 1911, might have still had KCFS&M lettering. On p. 273 of Don Banwart's Rails, Rivalry & Romance, there is a photo, dated 1912, with a couple of bunk cars lettered for the KCFS&M. The numbers are hard to read but appear to be in the 98000s. I have also seen an undated photograph showing similar KCFS&M bunk cars at Dunnegan, Mo, bearing numbers in the 98000s. It appears that there was a "fleet" of such bunk cars, apparently built from obsolete boxcars, numbered in the 98000s and lettered KCFS&M. I suspect that these are the same cars that the 1911 and later ORERs list in that number range as "SL&SF special service". If anyone can shed more light on the matter, please do!

    On this basis I would place this picture sometime after 1905, but still probably in the early 20th century. As mentioned above, SABRR may be correct about the original build date of the cars. Old boxcars were commonly rebuilt into work cars.

    The photo appears to have been copied or scanned from a book, judging by the caption in the lower left corner. Does the source book contain any other information? And do you know anything about Kelso Ashcraft, the fellow named in the caption? If there's any indication when he might have been in Brownwood it could narrow things down further.
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 13, 2012
  4. Last edited by a moderator: Dec 13, 2012
  5. Jim James

    Jim James Staff Member Staff Member

    Thanks, Manny and Bradley. Great info and many other questions raised. Of course you know I'm going to have to scratchbuild these two cars as best I can for my Brownwood module. The book was at the Marble Hill, MO library years ago. I'll investigate further. Railroad modeling is fun!
  6. kenmc

    kenmc KenMc Frisco.org Supporter


    The inscriptions on the sides of the cars say, "TRACK GANG NO. 1"

    Ken McElreath
  7. Jim James

    Jim James Staff Member Staff Member

    Wow, that's great eye sight. Looks like a m.o.w train is in my future. Thanks.
  8. Jim James

    Jim James Staff Member Staff Member

    Looking through the open box car door it looks as if you can just see the edge of the water tank in the distance. That would place these cars behind the depot on the siding that connects the main line with the Zalma branch. The depot would be to the left just out of sight and the roof visible to the right could be the section house. Maybe.
    It's fun trying to get info from an old photo.

    SAFN SAAP Member

    The car definitely can't be post 1911 because of the safety appliance laws that applied to all cars. Mechanical outside brakes were outlawed late 1880's, early 1890's. Intriguing information concerning the KCFS&G / KCFS&M timeline. Why couldn't those be pre-Frisco purchase cars? Is it possible that the cars were borrrowed from the Frisco? Is the picture verified Zalma Branch, no offense to Jim?

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