Freight Car Friday – Freight Cars of Indianapolis

18 07 2014

This week Lionel and the LCCA are racing to Indianapolis for the LCCA’s 2014 Convention. While this city is best known for a different sort of “track” there is plenty of railroad history and contemporary action to entertain any rail fan.

Indianapolis Union Railway

X31 boxcar

Indianapolis was an important stop of the Pennsy’s route from Pittsburgh to St. Louis.

To get a good picture of the total Indianapolis railroad scene you just have to start with one company, the Indianapolis Union Railway. Indianapolis was the first city in the world to host a “Union Station” – that is a station which served more than one company equally. When opened in 1853, the new station offered the citizens of Indianapolis a single, central station from which they could catch a train on a number of different railroads which radiated out of town like the spokes of a wheel. For travelers making connections in Indianapolis, the unified facility meant catching another train was never much more difficult than walking to a different platform instead of arranging transportation across town to another rail head.

Monon

The Monon was among the smallest of roads to enter Indianapolis, but it wore its Hoosier State pride proudly.

The IU was organized in 1850 as the Union Track Railway Company with a total of about 3 miles of track built or ceded by three railroads. The name changed to Indianapolis Union in 1853. Over the coming years, more railroads would be added as the efficiency of Union Station spurred commerce in and around the city. By the early 2oth Century, the list of owners included the Pennsylvania, New York Central, Baltimore and Ohio, Nickel Plate, Illinois Central and the Monon.

Conrail PS-2

In 1976, Conrail took over most of the remaining rails in and around the city.

In the 1930s, ownership of the IU was consolidated down to just the Pennsylvania and New York Central, with the other companies paying rent and continuing to run into the station. In 1968 the IU became a wholly owned subsidiary of Penn Central then passed to Conrail and finally to CSX.  The passenger trains of course ran under only the Amtrak banner after 1971.

Today’s Operations

Norfolk Southern

Despite the perceptions of endless farm fields, southern Indiana and Illinois topography offers hills, grades and coal. Between mines and utilities, coal trains remain a common sight in the region.

Today’s freight operations include Norfolk Southern and CSX as well as the regional Indiana Railroad and shortlines Indiana Southern and Louisville and Indiana. The latter three roads all began as Conrail shed duplicate main and branchlines around the city in the 1980s and 1990s. CSX inherited most of the remaining Conrail property in the city in 1999, with Norfolk Southern operating on trackage rights.

CSX

CSX is the major player in town today. Covered hoppers are in constant supply, bound for numerous grain elevators in the region.

Avon Yard, on the west side of the city near the airport, serves as the major classification point for traffic heading east-west as well as connections north-south. While much of the traffic still passes right through the heart of the city thanks to the elevated right-of-way built for the station more than a century ago, connecting lines and branches can provide a different look in any direction as you travel around the area. Whether you’re after heavy action on a Class 1 railroad with an urban backdrop or a local freight on bucolic rural branch line, all can be had within a short drive and from safe, public vantage points.





New Product Spotlight – ALCo C-420s

6 08 2012

The ALCo C-420 had a look all its own. With its long, low short hood (many units were also delivered with high hoods), round cab roof and of course that distinctive ALCo sound, it set itself apart from the competition.

Apache

Apache Ry No. 81 (an ex-L&N unit) is part of a 5 ALCo consist waiting to head south at Holbrook, AZ.

Introduced in 1963 as part of the new “Century” line, ALCo produced a total of 131 C-420s. The 2,000 horsepower road-switcher matched up in stats nicely against the GE U25B and EMD’s GP30 – in every stat that is but sales. ALCo found 13 buyers for the C-420 all across the United States and Mexico, but most only purchased in small quantities.

The biggest C-420 fleets could be found on the Long Island (30) and the Seaboard Air Line (27). Other big users included the Monon (18), L&N (16), and Lehigh Valley (12). Many of the orders went to smaller railroads like the Piedmont and Northern, Tennessee Central and Lehigh and Hudson River. Their orders may have been small in comparison, but the C-420s would be the principle road engines on the lines.

SAL

6-34757 The classy SAL paint really looks great on this model. She’d look great mixed in a consist with our RS-11s!

Production ended in 1968. Many of the locomotives enjoyed long careers however, spanning multiple owners. Several are still in regular operation today in museums and in hard service on short lines like the Apache, Delaware Lackawanna and Arkansas and Missouri.

If you like modern ALCo diesels, the C-420 is just the right size and fit for a model railroad, no matter what part of the country you prefer!

Lionel’s Models

Monon

6-34745 The Monon’s C-420s came in Purdue University black and gold.

Our latest release of the C-420 comes with both LEGACY and non-powered options, with three numbers per road name. Features include:

  • LEGACY Control System – able to run on LEGACY, TMCC or Conventional control layouts
  • Odyssey II Speed Control with On / Off switch
  • LEGACY RailSounds including
    Lehigh Valley

    6-34748 Lehigh Valley had both red and gray C-420s. We opted to the red scheme in this run.

    • CrewTalk and TowerCom dialog
    • 6 Official railroad speeds
    • 8 Diesel RPM levels
    • Quilling Horn
    • Bell (single hit and continuous)
    • Sequence Control
    • Current speed and fuel dialog
    • Refueling sounds
  • Dual maintenance-free motors

    NKP

    6-34760 The Nickel Plate rostered only 1 C-420.

  • Traction Control
  • Refined Conventional Control mode with lower starting speeds
  • Front and Rear ElectroCouplers
  • Fan-driven smoke with adjustable output
  • Directional lighting
  • Marker Lights
  • Lighted cab interior with crew
  • Metal frame, pilots, trucks and fuel tank
  • MSRP: $529.99

Non-Powered models feature:

Alaska

6-34754 The Alaska never owned a C-420, but their roster did hold a lot of ALCos over the years.

  • Metal frame, pilots, trucks and fuel tank
  • Front and rear magnetic couplers
  • Select separately applied details
  • MSRP: $259.99

The locomotives are available in Monon, Lehigh Valley (gray and yellow scheme), Alaska, Seaboard and Nickel Plate. All locomotives will negotiate an O-31 curve. These engines have already shipped and are at your dealers now. For a more in-depth look at the models in action, check out our Customer Service product video: Lionel C-420





Freight Car Friday – Railroad Advertising

11 05 2012

Railroads have long used their freight cars as brands for their “product.” These catchy slogans have in many ways become part of a broader popular culture and connection with these companies. Different than the billboard cars of private owners, railroad branding was about the trains themselves – often passenger trains but premier service of any type has been fair game.

See how many of these famous freight cars you recognize. Of course, it’s not an exhaustive list so chime in and tell us your favorites. Model your own “freelanced” railroad?  What’s your company slogan?

Santa Fe mapSanta Fe

The Santa Fe’s route map and named-train boxcars and reefers have to be among the most famous and effective of these advertising tools. One side of the cars featured a line drawing of the Santa Fe’s principle routes and major cities served. This was aimed at passengers and freight agents alike in search of single-line direct service across the Southwest.

On the opposite side of the car, Santa Fe used the blank space on the boxcar to advertise one of its elite passenger trains. With more than half-a-dozen trains listed, there was variety even amidst a string of “identical” cars. The huge graphics stood out in any train to catch the eye of anybody waiting for the train to pass.

SeaboardSeaboard

The Santa Fe wasn’t the only railroad to use its freight cars to advertise its passenger trains. The Seaboard’s Silver Meteor was the way to travel between the Northeast and Florida. And the hint at a fast and friendly trip to vacation land was just what the worker needed as he looked across the loading dock to the boxcar on the siding.

Monon

You didn’t have to be a huge railroad like the Santa Fe to be proud of the region you served. The Chicago, Indianapolis and Louisville, better known as the Monon, was always eager to show its Indiana Hoosier pride. Not only were boxcars emblazoned with its “Hoosier Line” slogan, its diesels were later painted in the colors of some of the six colleges and universities served by the regional line. (Red and White for Wabash College and Indiana University, Black and Gold for Depauw and Purdue.)

Western Pacific

Sometimes there was a specific part of the railroad that lent itself to promotion. The Western Pacific’s scenic route through the Feather River Canyon was a major draw on trains like the California Zephyr but the railroad found even more uses for it. From the “Feather River Route” came this creative slogan for careful service that would ensure your load arrived on time and in one piece as it “Rides Like a Feather.”

State of MaineState of Maine

Bridging the line between railroad advertising and product advertising were the famous red, white and blue boxcars and reefers shared by both the Bangor and Aroostook and New Haven railroads. The cars proudly showed that they carried products from the great state of Maine. This scheme was rekindled in more recent years by the Montreal Maine and Atlantic.

The Old ReliableLouisville and Nashville

Nothing to bold or flashy for the L&N, just a simple slogan that says it all. “The Old Reliable” – the railroad you’ve known and come to trust for generations and that you can continue to count on for all your traveling and shipping needs.

We could go on with this list for days. “Southern Serves the South” “We Can Handle It” “Mainline of Mid-America” “The Road of Anthracite” What slogans stick out in your memory? Which ones grace the rails on your layout?