Boston & Maine Railroad
Pulpwood Rack Cars

In 1929, the B&M converted 100 of their 50 ton, 40' steel gondolas into pulpwood rack cars.  Those gondolas had been previously built by Pressed Steel Car Co. from 1913 to 1914, and were originally numbered in the 81000-81499 series.  It is this author's belief that the B&M converted these 100 cars to meet a specific traffic demand from a specific customer.

B&M Equipment Diagram

The Parker-Young Co. operated a large pulp and paper mill in Lincoln, NH.  Lincoln was developed as a major timber operation during the late 19th century by the J. Henry & Sons Lumber Company.  By the 1920's, Parker-Young may have found themselves going further and further afield to obtain the quantities of pulpwood that their mill could process; Canada and Maine had huge supplies.  Pictured in the photo below is a Norwegian freight vessel docked at the Bancroft & Martin Co's wharf in South Portland (Ligonia) in 1946.

Bancroft & Martin Discharging Plant, Livonia, South Portland, 3/26/1946, author's collection (click for 300KB .jpg)

The method by which open top pulpwood racks, albeit MEC cars in the photo, were loaded can be easily discerned.  Cars without roofs, as the MEC and B&M pulpwood racks were constructed, are of no benefit to hand loading operations; box cars are adequate for such traffic.

Included in a book of B&M wheel reports (shared with me by Al Campbell,) was an entry for Extra 2718, which moved over the NH Division main line on 7/29/1929.  The train hauled pulpwood, primarily B&M 29000 series cars, destined for Lincoln NH and returned with empty rack cars.  Leaving Lowell, MA, at 9:40 PM with 45 loaded pulpwood cars and three other loads, the train arrived in Concord later that night.  Three additional non-pulpwood loads were added to the train, to be dropped off at Lakeport.  Upon arrival in Plymouth, #2718 dropped the loaded pulpwood racks, picked up 14 empty racks, and headed back to Lowell.

Berlin mill, 3/1939, Marion Post Wolcott, Library of Congress (click for 25MB .tiff)

When this waterborne pulpwood traffic subsided is unknown to this author, but photographic evidence suggests that these cars were released into other service, including company service, by 1940.  The image above shows pulp cars at the Berlin paper mill in March 1939.  In the background, a 29000 series pulp rack can be seen, demonstrating that the cars were at least subsequently used to move product to other B&M customers in addition to Parker Young.  A 1941 Phillip Ross Hastings photo of #29033 used in tie service was published in the pictorial collection of his photography, The Boston & Maine, A Photographic Essay.  The 29000 series cars began to disappear from the B&M's freight car roster during WWII, and the series vanished from the equipment registers by the end of 1949.

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Posted 1/31/16.  Updated 2/25/22.  Maintained by Earl Tuson.