Since sprint of 2020, when CN mothballed the former Algoma Central line between Sault Ste. Marie and Hawk Junction (no freight has run south of Hawk since April 2020) loads of pulpwood in AC/WC flatcars have been a relatively common sight running through southern Ontario on Toronto to Chicago train M397. A log loading operation at Mead (former location of the old Newaygo sawmill that operated between 1974-85) is one of the only major customers on the former AC line, and with the line unused south of Hawk these loads take the long route to northern Michigan/Wisconsin via Toronto and Chicago.
It’s not uncommon to actually see AC-marked pulpwood cars mixed in with the WC ones – most of the AC 238100, 238400, and 238500 series cars are still active – but this WC car in particular happened to catch my eye out of a block of nine loaded WC cars on August 2nd’s CN M397 through my hometown of Sarnia.
The WC 237000-238000 series of converted pulpwood flatcars is a wild range of old flatcars from many previous CN-family (mostly DWC and BCOL, but also other former CN and WC cars) rebuilt and renumbered with very little organization to what prior groups the cars are pulled from, just renumbered into the series as they’re converted.
The orange colour of WC 237703, and some of the paint patchwork underneath the most recent patches for the new WC number and the log bunks suggested a North American Car Co. (NAFX) heritage – likely via AC 2476-2494 series. Some cooperation on facebook with a couple of guys with access to the UMLER (Universal Machine Language Equipment Register) – the common electronic equipment database used by North America’s railways – helped confirm that the previous identity of WC 237703 was in fact AC 2489, and its original number before being acquired by the Algoma Central (in 1994) was NAFX 53201 (from NAFX series 53200-53249).
Photographed at Sault Ste. Marie in August 2004, WC 21648 is a typical example of the modern high-capacity 50′ boxcar design built for paper service. This particular car is part of series WC 21550-21649 built by Greenbrier’s Trenton Works in 1997.
The second car coupled to the left of 21648 is WC 26010, an older ex-SOO Line car also commonly still in paper service at the time. Both of these types of cars would have been the typical sight at the St. Marys Paper mill during the 1990s and 2000s.
This posting is a bit of an add-on to last week’s Freight Car Friday.
Mixed in with the leased GATX hoppers featured last week were a number of Wisconsin Central hoppers and even a pair of ex-Ontario Northland AC 8600 series hoppers. This post highlights the various WC series seen. Multiple examples of each series depicted below were seen and photographed, but only one representative will be shown here.
This first car was quite obviously a former Burlington Northern car, built by Bethlehem Steel. From series WC 33000-33199.
This next car represents a series of cars built by Pullman-Standard for Kansas City Power & Light (KCLX). The SSAM reporting marks it now bears are for WC subsidiary Sault Ste. Marie Bridge Co. Series SSAM 33250-33374. At least one of this series was also seen and photographed in my summer 2013 visit.
This second variation of SSAM hopper appears to be a Greenville built car, of unknown origin. (Possibly also ex-KCLX?) Series SSAM 33700-33919.
All three photos August 18, 2004 in Sault Ste. Marie.
This pair of cars represents a group of what appears to have been about a 50 car series of WC flatcars that were leased from PROCOR in 1994.
These cars were originally built in 1974 by Marine Industries as part of a group of 160 cars for PROCOR in the number series UNPX 173020-173179. These cars are just over 69′ in internal length between the bulkheads.
In 2005 these cars were transferred back to PROCOR and renumbered with UNPX reporting marks again, but keeping their 38000 series numbers.