Union Pacific Wooden Passenger Cars

Index For This Page

This page was last updated on March 18, 2023.

(Return to UP Passenger Car Index Page)

Roster Listings

An index listing of all wooden passenger cars, arranged in the sequence from the 1885 renumbering pattern, and including all wooden cars delivered prior to the 1915 renumbering.

Including the early wooden cars of the Harriman era, from 1898 to 1910, when the last wooden car was built.

(Does not include the narrow gauge cars, or the cars of St.J.&G.I.)

Description File
SPLA&SL / LA&SL cars (1901-1921) wooden-lasl-before-1921
LA&SL cars (after 1921) wooden-lasl-after-1921
O&RV cars wooden-orv
OSL cars (before 1889) wooden-osl-before-1889
OSL cars (1889-1897) wooden-oslun-1889-1897
OSL cars (1897-1915) wooden-osl-1897-1915
OSL cars (after 1915) wooden-osl-after-1915
ORy&N cars (1889-1896) wooden-oryn-1889-1896
ORR&N cars (1896-1911) wooden-orrn-1896-1911
OWRR&N cars (1911-1915) wooden-owrrn-1911-1915
OWRR&N cars (after 1915) wooden-owrrn-after-1915
O&WRR (1907-1910) wooden-ow-1907-1910
UP cars (before 1885) wooden-up-before-1885
UP cars (to UP 999) wooden-up-01
UP cars (from UP 1000) wooden-up-02

Wooden Company Service Cars -- Roster information for company service cars of UP and all subsidiaries (does not include cars assigned to Roadway service).

Pullman Wooden Cars -- Roster information for the wooden Pullman Palace sleeper cars, and Pullman dining cars assigned to Union Pacific and its subsidiary roads.

Wooden Car Builders -- Brief summaries of the car builders that built wooden rail passenger cars, other than Pullman.

Wooden Baggage Cars

Much of the initial work compiling a roster listing of Union Pacific's wooden cars focused on their wooden Baggage cars as part of a study of the railroad's fleet of dynamo-equipped cars for its early efforts of electric lighting. The two links below show some of that early work of compiling the above more extensive list.

(View a roster listing of UP's wooden Baggage Cars before 1915)

(View a roster listing UP's wooden Baggage cars after 1915)

Dynamos and Head End Power -- Information about Union Pacific's early use of electricity in its passenger trains.

When Steel Replaced Wood

In his book, "The American Railroad Passenger Car," John H. White wrote on page 49:

The Pennsylvania Railroad's commitment to steel cars in 1907 was the beginning of the end of wooden construction. New orders for wooden passenger equipment plummeted. In 1909 just over one-half of new orders were for wooden cars. By the next year, orders were down to 29 percent of the total. In 1912 only 276 all-wooden cars were built, and many of these were for Canadian lines. The following year the last all-wooden passenger cars were produced for domestic service. After this time the only cars with wooden bodies were built for export, and most of them had steel frames.

The abrupt suspension of production did not mean that wooden cars were taken out of service. Steel and steel-frame cars rapidly preempted name-train assignments while wooden cars were downgraded to less prestigious trains, but there was no wholesale scrapping. The conversion was in fact remarkably languid. In 1912 over 90 percent of passenger cars were wooden; three years later the figure was 77 percent, comprising some 40,000 cars that made up the backbone of the fleet. In 1920 60 percent of cars were still wooden. Age took its toll during the next ten years, when more than half of the wooden cars were retired. Cutbacks in service during the early years of the Depression resulted in a dramatic reduction, so that by 1935 less than 6 percent of the fleet was wooden. It should be noted, however, that in the preceding years many wooden cars had been steel-framed, and just over 20 percent of the passenger cars in service in 1935 were of this type.

Wooden Cars at UtahRails

(First published in the UtahRails.net blog on April 29, 2012)

A review of the pages of Union Pacific's equipment record ledger sheets reveals that many, many of UP's older wooden passenger cars ended their service lives as bunk cars (known as "Roadway Boarding") for UP's maintenance crews, serving as their home away from home. While many Boarding cars came from the fleet of retired box cars, just as many came from retired wooden and steel passenger cars. To better understand what I was looking at, I needed a list of Union Pacific's wooden passenger cars.

Although I have already completed a full roster listing of UP's metal passenger cars (steel, and aluminum and steel), I had deferred from doing a similar roster listing of the railroad's wooden passenger cars. This was at the request of Clive Carter, a fellow historian who has since gotten involved in other projects. An email correspondence with Clive resulted in his sending me a basic listing of his efforts so far.

So, starting with Clive Carter's basic list, and mixing it with a similar list of wooden cars from David Seidel, along with information from various copies of The Official Railway Equipment Register, I set about compiling a complete roster and listing of the wooden passenger cars owned and operated by Union Pacific and its three subsidiary railroads, Oregon Short Line, Los Angeles & Salt Lake, and Oregon-Washington Railroad & Navigation Company, as well as all of their various predecessor companies. Still more information has come from Alan Hegler and Eric Neubauer, covering mostly the large and varied fleet of wooden cars built by The Pullman Company.

Oregon Railroad & Navigation Co. 400 and 401
Oregon Short Line Railroad 260 and 261

(ORR&N 400, 401 Roster Listing)

(View a photo of ORR&N 401)

(OSL 260 and 261 Roster Listing)

The following comes from research by Jeff Cauthen:

1910 - 72' 6" Common Standard Observation Smoking (11 Cars)

Beginning with Lot 3734, the Associated Lines adopted Common Standard specification C.S. 219 and these 11 cars were the first observation smoking cars built to the new specification. This new specification had much in common with the previous Pullman design used for cars built to Pullman Plans 2115 and 2115A. Cars built to specification C.S. 219 were designated as Pullman Plan 2115B. Each car was constructed using cantilever trusses having 1-1/4" continuous blocking below the belt rail and 1-1/2" sectional blocking above the belt rail and at each car end. All trusses were made from poplar. Longitudinal sills and plates were spliced 3" yellow pine. The side sills were 6" x 8", intermediate sills were 4" x 6-1/2", the center sill was 5" x 6-1/2", and end sills were 8" x 8" oak. Anti-telescoping devices were provided in accordance with approved railroad drawings. The floor was double 3/4" x 3-1/4" yellow pine with the upper part laid longitudinally, the lower part laid diagonally, and finally covered with Flexolith. These cars were built with four crossties, two of steel and two of 4" x 6" oak. Four truss rods were installed to support the underframe. The roof was built to railway drawings and specifications and had ten 2" x 3/4" ash carlines. The roof was sheathed in tongue and groove yellow pine, 13/16" thick by 2-1/2" wide. The roof was first covered with felt paper and completed with No. 8 canvas. Copper used for all flashing and rain gutters. Water for use in the cars was supplied from overhead galvanized tanks. The vapor heating system was provided by the Chicago Car Heating Company.

The 11 cars delivered in Lot 3734 each seated a total of 34 in the smoking and observation rooms. All cars were delivered with Common Standard (specification C.S. 215, dated June 24, 1907, revised August 23, 1909) steel-frame 6-wheel trucks having a 10'-6" wheelbase, 36-1/2" wheels, and 5" x 9" journals. The 11 cars were all equipped with the Pintsch gas lighting system; the two OR&N cars had four gas tanks and the SP and CP cars had two gas tanks. Each car had electric lights wired to receive power from a dynamo in a baggage car, two battery boxes and batteries, but no truck-mounted generators. Each car was finished as follows: body in C.S. 219 (Dark Olive Green) paint scheme, roof in C.S. 3 black paint, trucks and platforms painted with C.S. 2 Olive enamel, and lettering was Gold Leaf (C.S. 18).

These 11 cars each weighed a total of 129,100 pounds (car body 89,300 pounds and two trucks 39,800 pounds).

The Associated Lines provided many of the specialty items used in the construction of cars ordered from Pullman. As an example, the Pullman specifications for Lot 3734 listed the following items as furnished by SP and UP to Pullman, F.O.B. Pullman Car Works:

  • Acme vestibule curtain and roller
  • Air-brake and signal equipment including slack adjusters
  • Brake shoes
  • Candle lamps
  • Cast steel bolsters with center bearings
  • Chairs
  • Charging panel equipment
  • Duner [Water] Closet
  • Edwards trap door lifting device
  • Electric light equipment, lamps and fans
  • Globe ventilators
  • Hand-brake handles
  • Janney couplers
  • Journal bearings
  • Journal box lids, bolts, and springs
  • Refrigerator
  • Sessions friction draft gear
  • Side bearings
  • Springs, truck and draft and drawbar guide
  • Standard Coupler Company's type A-3 steel platforms including buffer timber facing
  • Steam heat vapor system
  • Storage batteries
  • Truck frames, bolsters, center bearings, and side bearings
  • Vestibule diaphragms and equipment
  • Washstand
  • Wheels

More Information

History of UP's subsidiary companies (OSL, OWRR&N, LA&SL, etc.)


Research by David Seidel

Research by Clive Carter, including "Combination Baggage-Passenger Cars", The Streamliner, Volume 17, Number 4, Fall 2003, page 12

Research by Alan Hegler

Early issues of the Official Railway Equipment Register (ORER) (OSL) (ORR&N/OWRR&N)

Union Pacific's equipment record book, including OSL, OWRR&N and LA&SL equipment

"Early Pullman Freight and Passenger Car Production" by Eric A. Neubauer

Southern Pacific Passenger Cars, Volume 1 through Volume 5, published by the Southern Pacific Historical & Technical Society (these books are a tremendous resource for Union Pacific passenger cars of the Harriman era, 1898-1913)