Medford Railroad Park
ex- Great Northern Hopper
By Tony Johnson and Jerry Hellinga
Webmaster's Note: This car has an obscure history and, as is sometimes the case with historical restoration, facts are uncovered after a project is underway. Sometimes the results of an undertaking stray from what really happened. Such is the case with this car. Below is the history of the car as presented by Tony Johnson BEFORE the new facts came to light.
Former Great Northern Two-Bay Hopper Ore Car #74735 (#74785?), was donated to the Chapter by the Medford Corporation and placed on display inside the Medford Railroad Park . The Pacific & Eastern Railway operated between Medford and Butte Falls – a distance of about 32 miles. It was owned and operated by Great Northern RR president James Hill from 1907 to 1921, when he then sold the P&E to the Brownlee-Olds Lumber Company, which eventually became the Medford Logging Railroad.
This is the only known surviving piece of Pacific and Eastern Railway equipment. It was known to have been in service between Medford and Butte Falls during 1910. At some point in history it rolled into a ditch from the siding where it was parked and only was discovered by Medco while dismantling their logging railroad in 1962! Below is a picture of the car shortly after it was placed on display at the Railroad Park and before restoration began.
Not much is known about the car. Information from Westerfield Models describes the car as follows: The Pressed Steel Car Company, formerly Shoen Pressed Steel Company, developed the first all-steel hopper cars in 1896-97. The cars looked like coal hoppers and in 1899 PSC offered its first all-steel car designed specifically for the ore trade: 22', 40 ton or 50 ton (depending on trucks) car. Like the hopper cars they had a fishbelly side sill, but unlike the paired double hoppers the sloped sheets were tapered down to two hoppers in the center of the car. Since a center sill was not possible, a box frame surrounded the hoppers, connected to the body bolsters.
All cars used New York air brakes and PCS diamond arch bar trucks were standard equipment. A feature of most of these cars was knock holes on the sides of the cars, matched by holes in the hopper. The interior holes were covered by flaps. As the name suggests, poles were shoved into the holes to knock the packed ore loose so it would flow. In winter, steam lines were inserted to thaw the ore. Generally, cars came with two holes. Later Great Northern cut an additional three more holes in its cars. The Westerfield article adds that GN purchased 50 PCS ore cars in 1899 and another 450 in 1900, numbered 742001-75199, odd numbers only. Studies of surviving cars strongly suggest that cars numbered below 75000 remained with GN and those above belonged to GN's subsidiary, Eastern Minnesota Railway. The cars were originally painted dark ( Pullman ?) green and stenciled at 100,000 lbs. In 1913, GN began a general renumbering of all freight equipment and the ore cars became 85289-85777 (including the absorbed EMRY in 1902) and painted box car red.
Subsequent to this car's restoration, Jerry Hellinga sought out more details on its history and discovered that it arrived on the logging railroad AFTER the Pacific & Eastern ceased to exist. It never wore P&E lettering as pictured above. Below are the facts which Jerry uncovered about this, the oldest piece of rolling stock at the Railroad Park.
History of the Chapter's Hopper car.