Re: ATSF in California

Douglas Harding

When it comes to stockcars I think the key date is 1906, when the 28 hr law was updated and implemented with enforcement teeth. Prior to that many stockcars were built with various apparatuses in attempts to feed and water livestock while in transit. These included storage boxes on the roof, hatches in the roof for dropping feed and hay, and water troughs in the side walls or built inside the car. White’s Freight Car book covers some of this, and photos of stockcars built prior to 1906, esp those from 1880-1900, show these various apparatuses. The 28 hr Law of 1906 outlawed any feeding or watering while in transit, making the apparatuses useless.


Some railroads, the ATSF being one, did build stockcars with drop bottoms and/or hatches in the roof to allow hauling of other loads besides livestock, even after 1906. Railroads did not like paying for specialty cars that ran empty or sat unused, so they looked for anything that made a car useful for other loads. Anything that could stand exposure to weather could be hauled in a stockcar. But getting the commodity loaded or unloaded was often time consuming, ie cost money. Not many roads built dual purpose stockcars, esp after about 1920. And many of these cars were rebuilt, in the 20s-40s, losing their drop bottoms and roof hatches. In general by the 50s stockcars with roof hatches were quite rare if nonexistent.


Doug Harding


From: <> On Behalf Of Jim Gates via
Sent: Sunday, October 25, 2020 3:45 PM
Subject: Re: [RealSTMFC] ATSF in California


The Santa Fe Sk-H, I, K, L, N, and P classes were built with Caswell drop bottoms and roof hatches. There were several thousand of them. As Garth says, they were primarily designed to allow hauling coke, but as long as the beets were bigger than the gaps in the slats, they were perfectly suited for this service. These are not the same as the feeding roof hatches on earlier cars.

Jim Gates

On Sunday, October 25, 2020, 02:32:57 PM CDT, Garth Groff and Sally Sanford <mallardlodge1000@...> wrote:





I can't speak about 19th century cars, but in the early 20th century there were some large blocks of "convertible" cars that could do double-duty, perhaps to make some money on the back hauls. Stock cars were among these cars, sometimes being used for coal or coke, which could be loaded through roof hatches, and emptied through bottom gates. Two different ATSF classes are shown in the 1919 CBD (reprinted as Gregg Train Shed Cyclopedia #36).


Common boxcars were also sometimes built with floor gates. The GN experimented with hopper-bottom boxcars, and a kit was once offered by F&C (not in their catalog last time I looked). Even California's Northern Electric Railway (later Sacramento Northern) had some 36' wooden boxcars with roof hatches and floor gates for grain. Several such cars which survived as farm sheds finally bought the dust in the 1990s: .


Yours Aye,



Garth Groff  🦆


On Sun, Oct 25, 2020 at 3:12 PM Bill Parks via <> wrote:

Prior to reading this thread and looking at the pictures, I was unaware that stock cars had hatches on their roofs.  Other than for loading bulk commodities like shown here, what were these hatches used for?  Also, was it common for stock cars to have these later on, or were they a feature of just earlier stock cars?


Bill Parks
Cumming, GA
Modelling the Seaboard Airline in Central Florida

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