I recently wrote an article which will be published by the Anthracite
Railroads Historical Society on the Lehigh Valley's well-hole cars. This is
a synopsis of it.
In 1913 the Lehigh Valley Sayre shops delivered 3 well-hole heavy duty flat
cars numbered 9951-9953. They weighed 91,900 pounds, had a platform
measuring 55'7" by 9'10" wide, and a well opening that measured 26'2" by
6'1". The platform stood 3'2" above the rails riding on six wheel trucks
with 28” diameter wheels. With a load capacity of 220,000 pounds these cars
were unique in design and capability among all US railroad equipment. They
may have been primarily designed to meet the needs of one of the Lehigh
Valley’s primary customers, the Bethlehem Steel Corporation. At least car
9952 when built carried the inscription “WHEN EMPTY RETURN TO BETHLEHEM PA".
Although the cars would remain in service for 42 years, little information
is available on how and where they were used, and they were seldom
photographed. Car 9952 was documented carrying perhaps their most unique
load. In July of 1926 the Baldwin Locomotive Works used it to deliver
engine No.50 to the Uintah Railway Company in Colorado. The truly unique
2-6-6-2T measured 49’6” over the couplers and with a working weight of
236,300 lbs. The engine was loaded virtually intact on 9952 on a section of
3’0” gauge track for the trip from Pennsylvania to the Rio Grande
interchange with the Uinitah Railway at Mack, Colorado.
Thanks to details published in BETHLEHEM STEEL in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania: a
Photographic History, we have an idea of some of the other unique type of
loads each of these cars carried. Car 9951 was photographed in 1938 at
Bethlehem Steel being loaded with a pair of elliptical “teeming ladles.”
Car 9953 was photographed at Bethlehem Steel in 1948 with feed and discharge
end spiders weighing 32,320 lbs. which were made for a dredge and were being
shipped to Bath Iron Works in Maine. Car 9952 was photographed in 1952 at
Bethlehem Steel loaded with the lower crosshead beam for a 35,000 ton
forging press to be assembled at Grafton, Massachusetts. The placard
identifies the load as part of the USAF’s Heavy Press Program manufactured
by the Loewy-Hydropress Company of Congers, NY.