Boxcar - PRR 51121

Builder: PRR Altoona Shop
Built: 1929
Original Owner: Pennsylvania Railroad
Capacity: 50 Tons
Class: AAR Class XM, PRR Class X29
Acquired: 1990’s

Since the US railroads frequently handed off freight cars between each other (the railroad term is “interchange”), it was advantageous to standardize design of cars between the numerous different railroads and companies who owned them. Standardization avoided compatibility issues such as one railroad’s cars not fitting through another one’s tunnels or couplers not matching up.

One of the trade groups driving standardization was the American Railway Association. In 1923, the ARA developed its standard 40′ steel boxcar. The design was successful, with over 300,000 copies built for use on North American railroads. (In the 1930’s, the ARA merged with other trade groups to become the Association of American Railroads, an organization which still drives harmonization of railroad technology and designs today.)

The Pennsylvania Railroad – which routinely preferred to build its own railcars and locomotives – built over 30,000 of its own ARA 40′ boxcars, and dubbed them its X29 class. Boxcar 51121 was build in the PRR’s Altoona Car Shops in 1929. These cars were used to transport all sorts of crated or boxed goods requiring protection from the elements.

After being acquired by Jerry Jacobson in the 1990’s, 51121 appeared in numerous re-created steam freight trains during its years on the Ohio Central Railroad. Now part of the Age of Steam collection, the car is awaiting some rust repairs and fresh paint job.