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Union Pacific Wooden Passenger Cars

Index For This Page

This page was last updated on June 30, 2015.

(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

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'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.

(View a roster listing of the 1000-series wooden Baggage Cars of ca. 1911-1915)

(View a roster listing of the 1600-series wooden Baggage cars, after 1915)

More Information

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

Pullman 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.

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

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)

(Read more about OSL in ORER)

(View scanned images of the pages from ORER for UP and its subsidiaries, OSL, OWRR&N and LA&SL)

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 UP passenger cars of the Harriman era, 1898-1913)