Re: Plasterboard Loads

Craig Wilson

I have a couple of photos that may be useful to you but because of the way they were shared with me, I can't really post them here.  Contact me off list:  agecompanyphotog@...

For general discussion:  from my research it seems that "plasterboard" / "wallboard" increased in popularity as a building material in the 1950's and was often shipped in boxcars due to risk of damage when exposed to the elements.  Using flatcars required that the material be wrapped to protect it.  I stumbled across a promotional film from the Santa Fe shot in the 1950's and showing cars at a hump yard.  One of these cars is a bulkhead flatcar with what looks like a plasterboard load.  It looks to be wrapped with canvas tarps and I have another photo which shows what looks to be a type of heavy craft paper wrapping.

The Intermountain B&O car is lettered "Return to Shoals, Indiana" where a large gypsum deposit was discovered in the 1950's.  Both USG (brand name "sheetrock" ) and National Gypsum ("Gold Bond" building products) built large facilities there on a long spur that connected to the B&O.  The B&O bulkhead flatcars were converted at this time.  Both companies had operations scattered in other parts of the country too.  The colorful "plastic" wrappers appear to have come into use in the mid 1960's.  In my collection is a photo of one of the B&O cars at a Nat'l Gypsum plant in Portsmouth NH.  It is dated 1964 and carries a load with the "Gold Bond" wrapper. (a red-orange color).  I also have a photo dated 1966 of an ATSF bulkhead car whose load has the USG wrapper (red).

For models of the 1950's cars, I printed out a sheet of paper that is a dusty green color (think Army surplus tarps).  The 1960's cars have USG and Gold Bond wrappers that I created on my computer.  I took them to a local office supply store (Staples) and had them printed on a heavier, semi-glossy paper.  The cost was minimal.  BTW there are bits of white material where the metal straps go over the edges of the wrappers.  Those are pieces of scrap wallboard/plasterboard.

Given what I discovered about the history of the B&O cars and the gypsum industry at Shoals, IN I just had to see if I could create an authentic looking load for the car.

Craig Wilson

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