Freight Car Friday – Red White and Blue

6 07 2012

Let’s finish off this patriotic week with a look at some of the most memorable red, white and blue freight cars out there – the “State of Maine Products” boxcars. For more patriotic cars, check out this blog from Memorial Day.

State of Maine Products

State of Maine

The BAR was the biggest owner of these colorful cars, with 450 in service in the 1950s.

When I think red white and blue trains, the first thing that comes to mind are those colorful “State of Maine” insulated boxcars from the Bangor and Aroostook and New Haven. These cars were purchased to haul potatoes between Maine and New York. This seemingly short move was part of an operating pool that required four railroads, the BAR, Maine Central, Boston and Maine and New Haven. In peak season, dedicated pototato trains made the rounds between Maine and market. Out of the potato season, they could be used for other commodities with newsprint being the most preferred and could be seen all around the country. Not only were they insulated, the cars also featured ventilators and charcoal heaters. The BAR placed their first order for 300 cars with Magor in 1950. In 1953 the turned to Pacific Car and Foundry for an additional 150.

Both roads used a common paint scheme, with their own herald in the center white band and of course their own reporting marks. The New Haven cars were an add-on order for 100 cars with PCF and by using the same red, white and blue paint scheme, they saved money! It’s always nice when some of that Yankee thrift and patriotism can be combined!

Recently, shortline Montreal Maine and Atlantic brought back the colorful scheme on some much more modern exterior post boxcars. The cars first appeared in 2005 to commemorate the one year anniversary of the new railroad. While the paint scheme is very remeniscent of the original cars, right down to the MMA’s BAR-styled herald, the cars are not equipped for potatoes and can be seen hauling a variety of products, although paper and newsprint is again common.