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Rio Grande Freight Cars

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This page was last updated on June 17, 2021.

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D&RGW Cookie Box Boxcars

D&RGW's "Cookie Box" box cars (77 total cars) were rebuilt from Pressed Steel boxcars in the period between 1954 and 1961. D&RGW added insulation and additional plywood doors to the interior of the cars. The Cookie Box cars were used for service from the Bowman Biscuit company bakery (later Keebler) in Denver throughout the west, usually as single car shipments. As a side note, an additional car was converted as an experiment to transport potatoes from the San Luis valley in south central Colorado, but it was not considered a success.

Bowman Biscuit company had been an operating division of United Biscuit company since 1927; United Biscuit changed its corporate name to Keebler in 1966, taking the name of one of its largest divisions. The Bowman Biscuit bakery was located just west of D&RGW's North Yard in Denver.

The following comes from Rio Grande Color Guide to Freight & Passenger Equipment by Jim Eager.

D&RGW 60028 XI Series 60000-60076

The Rio Grande's famous "Cookie Box" cars were used in Keebler baked goods serice out of their Denver plant to regional distribution centers throughout the West.  The cars were converted from random 67500-69899 series Pressed Steel box cars, with the 60000-60036 being rebuilt in 1954-1955, the 60037-60046 in 1959, and the 60047-60076 in 1961.  An eye-catching all-silver paint job with black lettering was applied to most cars, with the distinctive "Cooke Box" logo in red.  A few cars may have had black ends and some were painted all-white with the same lettering.

The cars converted into "Cookie Box" cars were numbered (along with four cars from the 67500-67999 series) as the 60000-60076 series.

The 77 Cookie Box boxcars were converted from cars among the 1,900 cars D&RGW 68000-series cars.

D&RGW 68000-Series Boxcars

The following comes from the Railgoat.Railfan.net web site.

D&RGW 68000-69899

D&RGW 68000-68399 9-10/1939

D&RGW 68400-68899 10/1940

D&RGW 68900-69399 3-4/1941

D&RGW 69400-69899 2/1942

These 40'-6" AAR design box cars were built by Pressed Steel Car Co. as above and featured 12-panel riveted sides, 4/5 Dreadnaught Ends, Murphy raised panel roofs, straight side sills, Duryea cushioned underframes, 10'-4" inside height and 3840 ft3 capacity. The first three series of the cars originally had Youngstown doors and the last series came with Superior doors. Some cars later received replacement 5-panel Superior doors. Cars built in 1939 came with wood running boards and the balance came with a variety of different steel running boards. Due to the extra 4" of height (as compared to the 1937 AAR box car), this resulted in a large flat area at the top of each end.

When built the cars were painted freight car brown with white stencils. A builder's photo of 68299 appears in the 1940, 1943, and 1946 Car Builders' Cyclopedias. Some of these cars were converted to insulated "Cookie Box" cars in the 1950s and painted aluminum. By around 1956, some cars received D&RGW orange and aluminum sides with black ends and black stencils, similar to the scheme applied to the AC&F-built welded 50' cars in 1956.

Mark Hemphill wrote March 9, 2019 on the D&RGW online dissussion forum at Groups.io.

Nominally the Rio Grande 40' PSC box car is a 1937 AAR. I'm not a freight car expert but more of a novice, but it seems clear to me looking at the literature that many, if not most, 1937 AARs are not exactly a "standard" car, but have substantial differences in underframes and in side sills, ends, sides, reinforcement details around the doors, and corner posts, plus broad variation in purchased components such as roofs, ends, doors, trucks, draft gear, running boards, etc. Most railroads had specific needs that the builders customized so-called standard designs to meet. Even the 40' PS-1, about as "standard" a car as they come, has a lot of variations in the basic carbody itself.

The Rio Grande PSC box car was quite different than most 1937 AARs. It had straight side sills full length, which is almost exclusive to Rio Grande (almost all others have tabbed side sills, or at most straight side sills only between bolsters), 12-panel sides instead of the common 10, and 10'4 inside height instead of the more common 10'0 or 10'6. I've looked at the PSC production records that Eric Neubauer has compiled, and the other box cars built by PSC in the same time frame as Rio Grande's, for railroads such as Rock Island, B&O, and Western Maryland, are not anything similar -- they're 10-panel and have tabbed side sills. (Most freight car historians do not even list the Rio Grande as a 1937 AAR because of these significant deviations, though conceptually it is one.)

Jim Eager wrote on March 11, 2019 on the D&RGW online dissussion forum at Groups.io.

The AAR Field Guide of Interchange Rules explicitly stated that cars with Duryea underframes built before January 1, 1950 were banned from interchange effective January 1, 1974, except for cabooses operated as the last car in a train. That covers all of the Rio Grande's PSC boxcars, plus their 46000-series and 71000-series GS gons, and 36000 and 39000-series stock cars equipped with Duryea underframes, but the 01400-series cabooses were exempt, although they were seldom if ever used in interchange service for other reasons.

The effect was that circa 1972-74 the Duryea-equipped GS gons were disposed of wholesale (a few ended up in Rock Island company service), while a good many boxcars remained on hand in either captive on-line revenue service (probably relatively few by 1974) and in company service, remaining on home rails in both cases. Those in company service were relatively common through the 1980s and into the SP era.

John Tudek wrote on March 28, 2019 on the D&RGW online dissussion forum at Groups.io.

In regard to the "Cookie" box cars, they were not modified for Keebler but rather for the Bowman Biscuit Co.

The interior height is slightly different on whether the car is based a 68000-68999 car built in 1939 (10'-4 1/8") a 67500-67999 built in 1946 (10'-4 3/16") or a 69400-69899 built 1942 (10'-4 3/16") ...but really not worth worrying about. The "Cookie Boxes" themselves however had an interior height of only 8'-0" Which of course is not visible on a model.

Something perhaps more visible on the model is the running boards:

Wood -- 60000-60036, 60061, 60063, 60066, 60071-60073, 60076

Steel, Apex -- 60038-60039, 60042, 60044, 60048-60050, 60053, 60055, 60057-60060, 60062, 60065, 60067-60070, 70074-60075

Steel, U. S. Gypsum Co. -- 60051

Steel, Blaw-Knox -- 60054

The following comes from the Trains.com, Model Railroading online discussion forum.

The post WWII versions had Improved Dreadnaught 2-piece end with eight large roller-pin shapped ribs and continuous minor ribs in-between.  The cars rode on ASF A-3 Ride Control trucks and both Youngstown and Superior doors were used.  The underframes were equipped with Duryea sliding center sills which restricted them to on-line service when those underframes were banned from interchange in the early 1970's.  The cars were used in company service in the mid-late 1970's and into the 1980's per photographs.

Although used to haul everything and anything, a few cars were stencilled for assigned service hauling lead, zinc, or copper bullion.  In 1967 forty cars were set up as articulated pairs and renumbered 67431-67450AB for hauling wood chips from South Fork on the Creede branch to a paper mill at Nekoosa, Wisconsin.

More Information

D&RGW Box Cars 1960 - 1993 -- A roster listing of D&RGW boxcars, at the Rio Grande Modeling and Historical Society web site.

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