Re: [Non-DoD Source] Re: [RealSTMFC] Burning Box Car also burnt flat

Gatwood, Elden J SAD



I wish I still had my copy, but it never got back to me after I loaned it.  That is a FABULOUS photo.  I looked at it often.  I wish I had that one in my digital files.


There is a lot of correspondence on car fires in the files of the PRRT&HS, which shipped a surprising amount of coke in box cars, and can attest to the practice of loading coke still hot from the ovens, thinking it was cooled.  The coke burned its way thru the pile, igniting cooled coke, until it reached the car side or floor, then torching the car.


Local fire departments HATED the RRs, since the loads, or hot boxes, sometimes ignited dry vegetation next to the ROW, then attacked neighboring structures.  RRs had to create their own fire-fighting cars, but they never arrived on-scene in time.  LOTS of hate mail on that.


Train crew had to act quickly to deal with a car on fire, and break the train to get the car off the main to a suitable siding.  Sometimes this didn’t work.  Plus, a burning car load of coke out in the boonies did not have access to city water, so they sometimes just let it burn out….like that car in the photo.


The gon I mentioned was burnt out, I think, by a hot steel load, which burned one end of the car.  The practice of putting hot coil or slabs over the trucks resulted in that strange outcome.


There was also a composite gon I remember that was burnt to the framing, with literally NO remaining lettering.  The heat of the fire even burned the lettering off the frame.  It was around for years, and years later I was told no one could ID whose car it was.  They eventually broke it up for scrap.  I did a model in HO of that car, for parking on a siding, to see what the operators did with it.  It was ALWAYS ignored.


So, what do you all make of this?  This is a PRR F28 built to haul turbines out of the East Pittsburgh Westinghouse plant.  I cannot find the correspondence.  Attached….


Elden Gatwood



From: <> On Behalf Of William Hirt
Sent: Thursday, February 25, 2021 10:26 AM
Subject: [Non-DoD Source] Re: [RealSTMFC] Burning Box Car


In Morning Sun's Rock Island Color Guide to Freight and Passenger Equipment by Steve Hile, there is a picture on page 34 of a Rock Island Outside Braced Wood Sheathed boxcar set off and burning in Cotter, Iowa, in May 1956. The caption states the car was carrying a load of coke. The supposition is either something set the coke on fire, or that the coke was still hot enough when it was loaded that it started a fire on it's own. The picture shows that one pile of the coke is still red hot with small amount of flames coming out the bottom of the car near the remaining door superstructure.

Bill Hirt

On 2/25/2021 8:11 AM, Gatwood, Elden J SAD wrote:



I’m sorry if we discussed this before, but I may have missed it.


What was the story behind this burning box car?


Does anyone have any photos of burning freight cars they can share?


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