History of Rail Cars, Freight and Trains from 1800-1900’s

Psalms 4:8 – I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety.

The history of rail car dates back to the Granite Railway
These first forms of rail transportation was built in Massachusetts in 1826. This heritage railway was used to transport granite from a quarry in Quincy to a dock on the Neponset River. Primitive railroads and tramways were also used during this time, with coal being one of the earliest commodities transported on these devices. In the early 1800s when the South Carolina Canal and Rail Road Company became the first railway in the United States. They used use steam locomotives for long distance travel. Historian Mike Del Vecchio notes that this event was a major turning point as it led to a rapid expansion of railways across America. The Cumberland wheel, made from iron rails, was used for the first time on the Granite Railway in Massachusetts.

The first railroad passenger was carried in a horse-drawn carriage in 1804
The first freight cars were developed in Stockton and Darlington, England – these simple flatcars were used to transport coal and other specific products. As railroad technology advanced, new types of railcars were developed such as tank cars, boxcars, and gondolas. Shippers requested specialization in certain areas which led to the development of section-specific railcars.

Psalms 91:1-16 – He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.   (Read More…)

The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company started as a stagecoach line between Baltimore and Ellicott’s Mills
That co-op soon evolved into a freight carrier with rudimentary flatcars and single-axle, simple passenger cars. The railroad revolutionized transportation and led to the development of basic flatcars, which had their limitations. Over time, designers came up with new ideas for loading and ladding products onto cars, resulting in the two rigid axles design that we see today. Rail cars have a great many advantages over other modes of transportation, such as efficiency and being able to transport a large amount of freight.

The earliest rail cars were constructed from wood
They lacked the structural integrity required for long-distance transportation. This led to the introduction of steel components, which provided superior strength and durability. In areas such as the Mohawk and Hudson valleys, gondola cars became popular due to their ability to carry bulk freight such as coal and ore. Over the years, rail equipment has undergone significant changes, with new elements being added to enhance their use and safety. Boxcars were among the first types of rail cars, followed by wooden cars that were popular in the late 1800s. The federal railroad administration mandated a 50-year shelf life for tank cars during this period.

Ephesians 6:11 – Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

Over the years, car freight and train designs evolved, and new categories emerged
The basic freight car was introduced in 1830, followed by tank cars in the late 1860s. With the advent of automobiles, intermodal freight gained importance. World War II saw a significant increase in coaches and passenger cars for troop transport. At that time, trains produced thick black smoke which was a major drawback for outside passengers. However, with technological advancements, rail cars evolved to become more comfortable and smoke-free. Coaches with benches were introduced and later on, top covers or umbrellas were added for protection from the sun and rain.

Proverbs 11:14 – Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.

These rectangular rail cars were designed to transport goods and were later adapted for passenger use
The first carriages were simple wooden benches with no covers or protection from the elements. The trip was uncomfortable as the wooden bench or wooden seats provided little comfort to passengers who had to endure miserable conditions for days on end. Coaches were fitted with wooden seats and offered little in terms of comfort, especially during long journeys that could last up to 48 hours. Lack of heating and rudimentary suspension systems made for an awful ride, but competition among railroads drove improved car design. As rail travel became more popular, the style of rail cars evolved to include top covers and a center aisle with tight curves, recognizable today in modern trains. They were primarily one class, with early cars lacking amenities such as bathrooms or even seats for passengers. As rail travel expanded, longer cars were developed to accommodate more people and offer a variety of classes, including second and third class. These cars allowed for longer trips and provided more comfort for travelers. Settlers headed west often used rail travel to make the long passage across the country, walking from car to car in search of a comfortable spot.

These freight and train cars were designed to transport passengers, livestock, and freight across the country
Refrigerator freight and train cars were used to keep these items fresh, while stock cars were designed to transport animals safely. Many freight cars were built with walls on both ends and a middle section that could be used for different shipments.

Psalms 28:7 – The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him.

George W. Pullman first introduced the idea of dedicated sleeping cars for long distance travel
The Pullman sleeping cars were equipped with comfortable beds and a dedicated car attendant to ensure travelers’ comfort during their journey. The demand for such luxury accommodations skyrocketed as people started traveling longer distances by train, and the name ‘Pullman’ became synonymous with comfort and luxury on the rails. These early sleepers featured wooden shelves and seat backs that could be converted into beds for passengers. However, these cars lacked proper suspension systems, making for a jolting ride. As trains began to offer more daytime service and there was little demand for sleeping accommodations, sleeper cars were mainly used on short runs.

Philippians 4:13 – I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

During this time, most stations didn’t have any food amenities, so vendors sold sandwiches to hungry passengers during stops
The midwest was a hub for these long journeys, and dining cars were introduced to offer food and convenience. However, the high cost of travel restricted access to only the wealthy. Despite this, fashion played a significant role in rail travel during the 20th century with passengers dressing up for their journey. By the 1880s, many railway companies had introduced sleeper cars offering comfortable sleeping arrangements for overnight journeys. Specialty cars were introduced to cater to specific needs, such as dedicated cars for mailbags and fly cars for perishable goods. The rail line soon became a reliable way of transporting passengers from one town to another, and passenger cars were introduced for this purpose. Mailbag catchers were stationed along the route to grab incoming mailbags without stopping the train.

James 1:12 – Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.

Clearance cars, poling cars, and dynagraph cars were also used during this era
Later on, cars that allowed inspectors to travel along with the shipment were introduced. Roadbeds and tracks were constructed with dust sprinklers to keep them clean. Supervisors made sure that there was a fair distance between the girders and enough space for the speed and condition of rails. Snow plows and weed burners were used to maintain track work.