Freight Car Friday #49B – HS Woodpulp Boxcars

A bonus extra post for today’s Freight Car Friday feature.


These cars bearing HS reporting marks are also common mixed in with the CP wood pulp service boxcars. These cars are leased to CP for wood pulp service by GE Railcar Services. These cars are a wild variety of seemingly random small sub-groups of cars from various builders (the above car is an FMC, while the bottom car is built by Berwick and coupled on both ends to other HS cars built by ACF) making any sort of even basic guesses as to their heritage impossible.

Most of these cars are older (early 1970s built) “plate B” cars rebuilt to raise the roof and extend the inside height from 10’6″ to 11’0″. All feature the distinctive carbody vents marking their assignment to wood pulp service. The Berwick car below also has reinforcing panels added to the car ends, as does a CP car coupled to the left of the HS 61554 above.

The top photo of a freshly shopped HS 61554 was taken in July 2015 at Hawk Junction, while the below photo of HS 61213 is at Sault Ste. Marie in August 2004.

HS 61213

Additional leased cars bearing short line reporting marks SLGG, OAR, BR and YVRR (the former two being more common in 2004 and not so much seen now, and the latter two coming on the scene more around 2012 or so) are also commonly mixed in to the wood pulp fleet.

Freight Car Friday #48 – AOK Pulpwood Flatcars


These two cars represent a series of pulpwood cars currently in service hauling logs from the former Algoma Central to mills in Michigan or Wisconsin. A close look at the car shows that these were rebuilt from older V-deck pulpwood cars with extended bulkheads and side stakes for handling larger logs.

The top photo was taken on September 30, 2013 at Hawk Junction, while the photo below is at Sault Ste. Marie on July 12, 2015. The above cars would have been set off at Langdon siding just south of Oba, where a significant loading operation was going on.

The AOK reporting mark officially belong to the Arkansas-Oklahoma Railroad, but in this case marks these cars as being leased to the railway from Greenbrier Leasing.


Freight Car Friday #47 – MWCX Copper Concentrate Gondolas


One interesting source of current bridge traffic over the former Algoma Central is copper concentrate heading over the Ontario Northland Railway to be smelted at the large facility at Rouyn-Noranda, QC. This traffic apparently comes from the Michigan “Upper Peninsula” from the concentrator at the Humboldt Mill which was recently rebuilt and started ore production in 2014 and travels across CN up to Hearst to interchange with the ONR.¬†The three photos of MWCX cars in this post were photographed on July 16, 2015 in Cochrane, Ontario, but had just arrived from Hearst that day. Several more cars (possibly even the same ones actually) were seen from a distance in the northern section of Hawk Junction yard a few days earlier.


MWCX 200115 is an older car originally built by Greenville Steel Car for the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad, and has had a few interim owners since them, one notable operator of these former P&LE cars being the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad. Its acquisition by Midwest Railcar Leasing (MWCX) is pretty recent however.

This closeup shot shows a fair amount of load spillage around the top edges of the car; you can see the buildup of the greenish-coloured ore copper ore concentrate in the dust on the side of the car.


This car, MWCX 200475, is a good example of the modern gondola on today’s railways, having been built in early 2015. One other car in this set of five was also built in 2014, and the others were older, but clearly quite recently shopped and repainted in 2014-2015.

While this movement (and certainly in these particular cars) seems to be a fairly new one, copper mining in the upper Michigan area seems to have been a sort of on-again, off-again affair, and shipments of ores from the states to the Noranda smelter seem to have occurred at various times in the past, so I might be able to make some sort of justification for adding a bit of this sort of traffic onto my eventual layout. (In older, contemporary cars of course.) There also seems to be some westward (to or from) interchange of ore concentrates in CN cars at Oba, possibly from as far away as Trail, British Columbia.


This SOO gondola photographed on July 17, 2013 in Sudbury (cars seen here would have been routed to/from points south via the ONR, OVR and CP) also shows telltale weathering of having been in concentrate service and provides a good look at the inside of the car. Note the caked-on greenish gray concentrate material on the interior sides. Today concentrates are shipped with fiberglass covers applied to the cars to prevent any loss in transit for both economic and, significantly, environmental concerns, but in the 1970s and early 1980s the stuff was actually shipped open. Bram Bailey’s book “Ontario Northland in Color” from Morning Sun Books has a couple of photos of trains with concentrate gondolas and a large greenish dust cloud trailing behind it…

Freight Car Friday #46 – ESAX Flatcars


These two cars represent a brand new (built in February of 2015) series of bulkhead flatcars operated by Essar Steel Algoma with their own reporting marks (ESAX). The first example above, ESAX 25, was photographed in the Huron Central yard in Sault Ste. Marie on July 12, 2015. Almost an entire track appeared to be filled with these empty cars.

The second example below, ESAX 38, was photographed with a load of steel in a westbound Canadian Pacific train at White River on July 15, 2015. Presumably this car (and several other steel loads, mostly coils, next to it) were interchanged from CN at Franz.


Freight Car Friday #42 – GLMX 1023


This gondola, seen on October 1, 2013 being switched out in the Ontario Northland yard at Hearst, bears markings indicating its ownership by Legault Metal of Val D’Or, Quebec.

Legault is a local scrap and metal products dealer serving the area around Val D’Or and Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec. They apparently own their own small fleet of about 30 assorted secondhand gondolas for steel scrap. On my northern Ontario trips in 2013, I saw several of these in various places on both the Ontario Northland and former Algoma Central railways. These appear to route over the ONR from Noranda to Englehart, then via Cochrane and Hearst to interchange to CN and travel down the former Algoma Central, likely delivering local scrap metal to Essar Steel in Sault Ste. Marie for recycling.

For more information on Legault Metal, see their website.