Train Car with Local History Donated to Western Pacific Railroad Museum in Portola from Seneca Healthcare district
Seneca Healthcare District Gives Western Pacific Train Car to Western Pacific Railroad Musuem
Those who have been to Seneca Healthcare District hopefully just to know we have a hospital vs. being a patient, you may have noticed the old train car that has been sitting in the back parking lot that was used for storage. With it no longer being needed and recognizing it had “a history,” Seneca donated it to Western Pacific Railroad Museum
in Portola who was thrilled to receive it. Some history for train buffs . . .
The car was built by Pacific Car and Foundry and delivered to Western Pacific in December 1957 as part of the 56001-57000 series. The car was a reddish-brown with Western Pacific in yellow with a stylized orange 16’ foot feather painted on the right side of the car door. Under the feather was the WP slogan, “Rides like a Feather,” used to advertise the riding qualities of the car.
In the fall of 1972, it was sent back to PC&F for re-manufacture because it was 15 years old and well used. At this time, the need for cars with bigger doors were in demand since fork lifts were becoming the common method of loading. It came back with new 10-foot 6-inch plug doors vs. the origan opening of 8’2”. Along with larger doors, the car had new white lettering, no slogan or feather and was painted in a darker brown paint since WP was cutting costs — less paint and less labor cost.
The car’s first road number was WP 56059. After the rebuild in 1972, it was renumbered as WP 61180. Though not known for sure, it is thought that the car derailed in Chester, CA at Collins Pines on its first revenue run and WP probably refused to take it back after it was on the ground. Collins Pines had no use for the boxcar, so only after two months of use after rebuild, it was donated to the hospital in Chester to be used for storage for almost 50 years. On June 23, 2022, it was loaded on a lowboy trailer by Bragg Crane and moved to the museum. Once at the museum, it was set on a set of trucks and rolled to its new spot on one rail. It will be used for archive storage after some repairs are made.
This car is different from others in our collection due to the class of car. WP reused many freight cars in company work service after their useful life serving customers came to an end. These cars were seldom passed into maintenance of way service so not many were around when UP took over the WP. Cars such as these with their rebuild changes would have an additional 10 years or more to earn money. Once UP took over, these cars were getting worn and UP probably retired and scrapped the majority of them. Many of our cars were in MofW (maintenance of way) and had sliding doors and were not insulated. This car is insulated and had doors that fit flush and are insulated also. 1957 built cars of this type were not around to acquire when UP took over.
Originally it was to serve the canneries in California, hauling canned goods that needed some protection from temperature extremes that could ruin the loads. Safety rules changed also so it was a quick and easy way to modernize the fleet of cars and stay current with the FRA safety recommendations.
The plan now is to use it as an additional archive storage facility, equipping it with climate control and fire suppression.