Re: "Tyranical" USRA in 1918

Eric Hansmann

The USRA messed with many roads. They used Western Maryland coal hoppers as rolling coal warehouses. Rather than emptying the cars quickly, they let them sit for long periods through all types of weather. The coal loads kept the steel sides and slope sheets wet, which accelerated metal failure and fatigue.  


The WM bought 5000 new hoppers from Pullman from 1916 and into 1917. Due to this, they did not receive any USRA hoppers. Many of these new hoppers, and their older fleet, suffered damage while under USRA control. After USRA control was relinquished and company officials surveyed the equipment damage, the company sued the government for compensation. The WM embarked on rebuilding all their hoppers in 1926 using the channel side stakes.


BTW, the only USRA car designs assigned to the Western Maryland were 300 single-sheathed boxcars.


I’m sure there are other USRA stories out there.



Eric Hansmann

Murfreesboro, TN




From: <> On Behalf Of Garth Groff and Sally Sanford
Sent: Tuesday, April 13, 2021 3:17 PM
Subject: Re: [RealSTMFC] "Tyranical" USRA in 1918




Interesting that the Western Pacific was not assigned any USRA freight cars. 


The USRA did mess with the WP though. The USRA forced the WP to take 5 USRA light 2-8-2s, series (1st) 321-325, in December 1918. The road had already acquired 5 heavy 2-8-2s in June (they were actually a bit beefier than the USRA's heavy design), and the WP didn't want the lighter engines. Too bad! In 1920 WP bought five USRA-owned heavies returned by the EJ&E, and the light 2-8-2s were promptly sold to the Wabash.


The USRA also interfered with the WP's operations, though this turned out to be a success. The government forced them into a paired track arrangement with the SP on roughly parallel lines across the Nevada desert. This actually turned out to be a good thing for both railroads, and the paired track arrangement was later revived.


Yours Aye,



Garth Groff  🦆



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