Crew Car - "Conneaut"
|Builder:||American Car and Foundry Co.|
|Original Owner:||Wabash Railroad|
|Type:||Baggage / RPO|
The crew car (sometimes referred to as a “tool car”) is a critical component for operating steam locomotives in the 21st century. When steam ruled the rails, the specialized equipment necessary to make a quick, minor repair could be found at every division point on the railroad. Today, these options no longer exist. Instead, steam operators must carry the necessary tools and equipment with them. Typically the crew car is positioned just behind the locomotive. Car 5012, named “Conneaut,” handles this important job for the Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum.
This car was built in 1925 for the Wabash Railroad as a combination coach and baggage car. Some years later, the passenger space was converted to a Railway Post Office. Mail was picked up by this car and transferred between railway stations. During the trip, postal clerks sorted mail to ensure it went to the proper destination. The car continued in this service, transferring to the Norfolk and Western Railway after the Wabash was merged into it in 1964.
In the 1960’s after its mail-carrying career was over, the car was acquired by the High Iron Company (HICO) and converted for use as a crew car. High Iron pioneered the operation of steam locomotives on excursion trains, and modified one end of the car with racks and a workbench to carry the numerous spare parts, tools, and other equipment needed to perform repairs away from the home shop. In the central section, showers, lockers, a washer and a small vanity was installed to give crew members some of the comforts of home. Finally, a small galley, washroom and sitting area were included to give the steam crew a spot to relax between runs. As HICO had rebuilt Nickel Plate Road 2-8-4 locomotive #759 in Conneaut, Ohio, the car was named after that location.
Jerry Jacobson purchased the Conneaut in the late 1990’s, continuing to use it for support of his steam locomotives. Many Ohio Central steam excursions included the Conneaut, with steam crew members enjoying the view provided through the open baggage doors when they were not taking their turn operating the locomotive. The car was transferred into the Age of Steam fleet with Jerry’s collection of steam locomotives.
The Conneaut has supported excursions with many famous preserved steam locomotives, including:
- Nickel Plate Road 2-8-4 #759
- Chesapeake & Ohio 4-8-4 #614
- Reading 4-8-4 #2102
- Grand Trunk Western 4-8-4 #6325
- Canadian Pacific 4-6-2 #1293
- Lake Superior & Ishpeming 2-8-0 #33