Re: CRWX fleet

James McDonald

Thanks to everyone for the great responses on and off list about the CRWX cars. The responses were very helpful to me.

Eric Neubauer wrote:
Can you provide a little more in formation. Do all CRWX cars predate 1914 or were some acquired after that? Do you have any built dates off of specific cars? The answers may help me focus my search a bit more. I hope to be able to provide you with some order dates and sizes.
The first record I can find of cars with CRWX reporting marks is in the 1913 ORER. The Capitol Refining Co. took over the Columbia Cotton Oil & Provisions Corp. that same year, as mentioned in the text Doug cited. The facility had been an abattoir and meat packing plant since 1894 under various owners until a shift was made in 1907 to include cotton oil refining, alongside dressed meats and lard.

In 1913 when the facility became the Capitol Refining Co. the stockyards and abattoir seem to have been deprioritized in favor of cotton oil products. The Capitol Refining Co. traded under the brand name CAPRECO. Some CAPRECO products included White Dome shortening, Shortolene shortening, Potomac Cooking Oil, and Caprecorn Cooking Oil. Based on the products CAPRECO manufactured I suspected that the CRWX fleet was largely or entirely composed of tank cars, and Ian's and Cyril's references come close to confirming this.

The ORER lists the range CRWX 201 to 300 from beginning in 1913 and the same listing (including the 1913 date) appears in each ORER through 1919. My ORER library stops at this point and picks up again in 1950, but thanks to Ian I know now that the last ORER listing for CRWX cars is in November 1926. The Capitol Refining Co. appears to have ceased operations entirely in 1933.

I am unsure whether the fact that CRWX 201 to 300 is not fully occupied in the 1919 ICC Circular 6O Tank Car Capacities document indicates that the fleet was originally all tank cars and shrunk over time, that other car types filled in the gaps, or if the range was merely anticipatory and was never fully occupied.

The originals of the photos posted on Shorpy are in the collection of the Library of Congress. Here are the links:

CRWX cars at the CAPRECO facility. Viewed from east looking west (lo rez: 90K) (hi rez: 31MB)

CAPRECO plant, viewed from southeast to northwest (after 1915) (lo rez: 100K) (hi rez: 31MB)

The date must be after 1915 because visible in the background of the second photo I've linked are a trio of radio towers that were erected in 1915. If someone knows automobile types (not my forte), perhaps the one in the courtyard of the facility could be used determine the date more exactly.

Eric Neubauer wrote:
I searched all Railway Age annual order summaries from 1901-1919 and came up with only one:

Capitol Refining 25 40-ton tank, ACF ordered 5-15 lot 7689
CRWX 284 might have been relettered. Since the large lettering looks original, it might be from a leasing company and suggests the ACF order mentioned above was for 201-225 by process of elimination.
I agree with you on CRWX 284. That looks like it was recently relettered.

In the higher resolution image one can zoom in enough to read that the car on the far left, CRWX 224, was tested "11 1913" by AC&F Milton, PA. Would it be common for a car's tank to be tested more than a year before its delivery, or could the 1915 order have been for a different range of cars, perhaps an incomplete order of 250-270?

I'm hypothesizing that the GATC-buit cars were the 81xx gal. cars 271-295 since 273 and 284 seen in the photo are both GATC products.

Many thanks again for the great responses all around.

All the best,


James McDonald
Greenbelt, MD.

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