Re: Western Union


There is distressingly little hard information on the ex- Western Union cars that were used by the Nickel Plate, and most of it comes from the Spring 1975 NKPT&HS magazine, which was entirely on the company service equipment of the NKP, authored by Eric Hirsimaki. He noted that 11 passenger-type cars were purchased from Western Union in 1942. Then he added that 22 more cars were acquired in 1948, "included tank cars, passenger cars, and a few other odd pieces of equipment".

In a section about car numbering, he notes that cars X5215 - X52156 were Western Union, and further on, he states that the tank cars in series X150 - X170 were "presumably Western Union cars".

Lastly in the photo section, he identifies two passenger-type camp cars as ex- Western Union, X50713 (acquired in 1942) and X50708. Both cars have the look of old Western Union camp cars, which were mostly converted from wooden Pullmans. The arched transoms over the windows were covered over, and doors at one end were closed off.

My negative collection includes seven views of NKP cars that might qualify, though one of the tank cars, X155, looks a bit small to be an ex-Western Union water car. The other one, X161, looks much more like a Western Union car. There is a view of X52156, unmistakeably a typical tool & material car. There are two views of X50708, one of each side. There is a car coupled to it, X53007, which is similar. It should be noted that WU camp cars were usually in pairs: one was the foreman & bunk car, the second was the kitchen, dining and cook car. And finally, there is one of X50706, almost certainly another ex- Western Union car.

John C. La Rue, Jr.
Bonita springs, FL

-----Original Message-----
From: Glen Mills <mills.glen@...>
To: nkp@yahoogroups <nkp@...>; STMFC <STMFC@...>
Sent: Sat, Oct 22, 2011 7:35 pm
Subject: [STMFC] Western Union


Below is text I have copied from the Steam Era Freight Cars Discussion

The second last paragraph refers to the NKP (and others) as acquiring some
of their cars.

Any details would be appreciated, please.


Glen Mills


Western Union Tidbit

Posted by: "Steve" stvvallee@... stvvallee

Thu Oct 20, 2011 7:30 am (PDT)

Dear Group...

Over a year ago, there were some members asking about Western Union cars.
This might not help, but I found this tidbit on page 34 of the August, 1959
issue of Railroad Magazine under their "Information Booth" section:

Q)...Does Western Union own and operate railroad cars?

A)...Yes, they have 33 on the Southern Pacific, Missouri Pacific, Seaboard
Air Line, Atlantic Coast Line, New Haven, Jersey Central, Long Island,
Canadian National and other roads where and when required.

They are used by WU's Plant and engineering Department for maintenance and
repair of telegraph lines by crews dispatched in a completely
self-sustaining unit comprising sleeping-car, dining-car and tool and
material boxcars. At one time the company operated about 200 railroad cars.

Steve Vallee


Re: Western Union Tidbit

Posted by: "John C. La Rue, Jr." MOFWCABOOSE@... mofwcaboose

Thu Oct 20, 2011 8:12 am (PDT)

By 1959 the last camp cars in the US had been sold for scrap, sold to
railroads for further use as camp cars, or relegated to storage service at
Western Union's shop at Chattanooga, where they were later burned for their
metal. One three-car outfit was still operational in the maritimes in Canada
until 1963 when it was returned to the US and also scrapped. After that the
only cars left were the tool and material cars in the 7000 series, which
gradually disappeared or were sold to railroads.

The Georgia Railroad, the Chicago & North Western, the Soo, the St.
Louis-San Francisco, and the Nickel Plate are all definitely known to have
had ex-Western Union camp cars, mostly acquired in the late 1940s.

Probably the easiest way to model them in HO would be to start with the La
Belle wooden Pullmans (since that was what the camp cars originally were).
The distinctive tool & material cars were once made by Ambroid as part of
its 'One of 5000" series, and later re-issued by Northeastern.

John C. La Rue, Jr.

Bonita Springs, FL


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