Re: Odd Uses for Abandoned Cars

Malcolm H. Houck

I spotted this tidbit on page 133 in the October, 1937 issue of
Railroad Magazine:
. . . during the St. Patrick's day flood in 1936 the Pennsy dumped a
lot of old hopper cars over the bank near Johnstown, Pa., to keep
the river from undermining the track.
SP did this kind of thing several times along the Eel River in
northern California, especially around the heavy floods of 1961 and
1968, and many of the steel GS gons used are still there (with bent
frames, etc.). I saw some of them a few years back. But I'm not sure
this qualifies as an "odd" use.

While also not an "odd" use, the disposal of surplus or unused cars
to stem flooding is not unusual. The absolute "granddaddy" of all might
very well be the attempt to stem the flooding of the Knox Coal Company
River Slope Mine near Pittston, Pa. in January of 1959.

The mining broke through the bed of the Susquehanna River and the
Lehigh Valley dumped over 50 coal hoppers and something on the order
of 400+ mine cars into the void. . . .along with several thousand bales
of hay, carloads of ties, and many tons of mine slack and waste.

None of these efforts stopped the flooding, and finally dams were built
the river bank to both ends of Wintermoot Island to isolate the immense
hole in the river bottom. To my knowledge that all was then filled in and
created a peninsula out into the river proper. . . all still there.

By 1959 the hard coal business was essentially at an economic end, and
had been for some time. The LV twin hoppers were no more than so many
tons of scrap and dumping these into the river and the river bottom void,
depriving the line of any recovery of scrap revenue, certainly excused the
from having to store them.

Wood framed caboose cars were often used as crew rest or camp cars, either
left on trucks and parked on sidings, or simply set off on makeshift
of ties or cribbing. With stoves and bunks already in place, this was an
employed use for these cars. . . . enough so as not to qualify at all as

Mal Houck

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