Boston & Maine Railroad
Mystic Transportation Company
Freight Car Lettering

The following is an somewhat edited version of a writeup by Tim Gilbert regarding the B&M's relettering of freight cars using their MTC reporting marks posted to the BM_RR Yahoo group on 8/16/2000. Some additional information has been added and nomenclature revised by Earl Tuson:

In 1927, the Boston & Maine changed the reporting marks of a number of their freight cars from "B&M" to "MTC," the initials of B&M's Mystic Transportation Company which operated the rail-marine operations in Boston. I had believed that this change was made to promote the MTC, but an item on page 291 of the August 13th, 1927 RAILWAY AGE has proved my hunch wrong - the item has been transcripted in entirety following:


It is usually rather difficult to determine just how much it is costing a railroad to maintain any specific series of freight cars, or what proportion of the total different parts are responsible. When cars are repaired on foreign lines, the ARA billing repair cards are passed through the MCB clearing house for approval. The cards are mixed with many others coming in from all parts of the country, thus making it a rather tedious task to pick out cards covering a certain series of cars.

L. Richardson, mechanical superintendent of the B&M, has placed into effect a simple scheme for checking up the maintenance costs of eight series of cars. He selected a number of cars from each of the following series:

A) 25 Boxcars, Steel Center Sills,
B) 50 Boxcars, Steel Underframes,
C) 25 Boxcars with 40-Ton Trucks,
D) 25 Boxcars, ARA (new),
E) 25 Steel Gondolas with 40-Ton Trucks,
F) 25 Steel Gondolas with 50-Ton Trucks,
G) 25 USRA Coal Cars and
H) 25 Flatcars.

The Boston & Maine designation has been removed and the cars have been stencilled MYSTIC TRANSPORTATION COMPANY, AT HOME ON THE B&M, which provides a guide to foreign lines in billing for repairs. The cars stencilled are all in good condition. The ARA Billing Repair Bureau has the numbers of these cars and special accounts have been provided for them. Whenever a billing repair card comes in bearing the MTC initials, the billing clerk will enter the charges in the proper special account. Any repair cards originating on the home lines will also be similarly marked and accounted for. In this manner, an accurate record will be kept of the maintenance cost for these cars with no increase in personnel and with a minimum amount of extra work.

The costs will be carefully sub-divided by parts of cars. A monthly report will be submitted to the mechanical superintendent by the ARA Bureau. By making a careful analysis of these reports it is hoped to determine what parts of each series require abnormal maintenance and then steps can be taken to reduce the excessive costs either by redesigning the part or specifying new materials.

The cars were randomly chosen meaning that the car numbers were not consecutive. While there is not a complete record of which cars were chosen, some can be identified from Oficial Railway Equipment Register (ORER) listings and others documented by photographic and other records. Considerably more cars were selected to carry MTC reporting marks than the amounts indicated by the item in RAILWAY AGE in 1927.

A) "Boxcars with Steel Center Sills" were from the #46801-46981, #47000-49999 and #60000-64679 series. These 36' Boxcars with 8' Inside Height were built between 1902 and 1907, a total of 7,975 were built, with wood underframes and ends plus Fox trucks. Over the course of years, many, but not all, were upgraded with steel center sills and new ends - at first with "Mogul" ends and later with 7/7 stamped steel Murphy ends. (A "Mogul" end on the exterior was two channels placed vertically from the end sill to the roof straddling the bolster; additional supports were located internal to the car.) Per the October 1926 ORER, there were 6,023 of the original 7,975 cars still listed, but only 1,170 still listed in the November 1930 ORER. By 1935, none were listed. The 11/1930 ORER listed as MTC-owned:

One, #46879, in the #46807-46981 series with Steel Ends,
Three in the #47000-49999 series with Mogul Ends,
One, #60228, in the #60000-64679 series with the Original Wood Ends,
Twenty-Six in the #60000 series with Mogul Ends and
Ten, #60206, 60638, 61211, 61462, 62062, 62358, 62724, 62961, 62986, and 63121, in the #60000 series with the Steel Ends.

B) "Boxcars, Steel Underframes" were selected from two disparate series of 36' Boxcars with 8' Inside Height: #65688-66787, built 1908-10 to the same design as the slightly earlier #64680-65687 series (see C below); and #66788-68287, built 1913-14 to a NYNH&H design. Both series had "30-ton trucks" - the second series had exclusively Arch-Bar trucks while the first had Bettendorf and Andrews as well as Arch-Bars. All had Wood Ends as built, but many received the 7/7 Steel Stamped Ends beginning in the 1920's. 2,480 of the original 2,600 cars were still listed in the November 1930 ORER: - 1,490 of them with Wood Ends and 990 of them with Steel Ends. The last cars were retired in 1947-48. The 11/30 ORER lists the following in these series as having MTC reporting marks:

Four, #66359, 66399, 66404, and 66647, of the #65688-66787 series with Steel Ends,
Eight, #67381, 67395, 67445, 67617, 67627, 67662, 67711, and 67876, of the #66788-68287 series with Steel Ends, and
Forty-Two of the complete #65288-68287 series with Wood Ends, including #66136, below, and #65873, known from a 1936 wheel report.

Note that MTC #67767 pictured here was listed in the 12/1930 ORER as having B&M reporting marks and steel ends, NOT MTC reporting marks.

Author's collection

Author's collection

C) "Boxcars with 40-Ton Trucks" (Fox) are from the 36' SUF Boxcar #64680-65687 series, 8' Inside Height, which were built in 1908-1909. 979 of the original 1,008 cars were still listed in the 11/1930 ORER - 590 with Wood Ends and the remaining 389 cars with 7/7 Stamped Steel Ends. The 11/30 ORER also showed 25 cars as having MTC reporting marks: - twenty with woods ends, including #64936 and 65508, known from 1927 wheel reports, and five, #65142, 65145, 65342, 65467, and 65686, with steel ends. The last cars from the complete #64680-65687 series disappeared from the ORER's in 1947-1948 - long after Fox Trucks had been outlawed.

D) "Boxcars (new) ARA" were USRA Double-Sheathed Boxcars built in 1919 in the #70000-70499 series. The November 1930 ORER lists 498 of the original 500 cars, twenty-five of them having MTC reporting marks. #70110 and 70357 (B&MRRHS collection) are known to have been among the 25 from photographic evidence, while #70242 is known from a 1942 wheel report. The last #70000 was retired in 1955.

City of Vancouver Archives, click HERE for original

E) "Steel Gondolas with 40-ton trucks" (Arch Bar) referred to the 40' Long, 3' 10" Inside Height eight-panelled #80000-80999 drop bottom gon series built in 1909. 957 were still listed in the July 1934 ORER, but only 4 in the July 1940 ORER. The November 1930 ORER listed twenty-five MTC #80000 gons.

F) "Steel Gons with 50-ton trucks" (Arch Bar) were the #81000-81499 40' long (inside height 4' 4") steel eight-panelled drop bottom gons built in 1913-14. In 1929, 100 of them were converted into Pulpwood Racks (series #29000-29099) which resembled an open-top stock car with twin doors crammed into a steel gon. The July 1934 listed 100 #29000's and 374 #81000's. By 1940, the #81000 gons were no longer listed, but the #29000's hung around until 1949 - nine being listed in the April 1949 ORER. The November 1930 ORER listed twenty-five #81000's with MTC reporting marks.

G) "USRA Coal Cars" were the standard USRA composite drop bottom gon in the #90000-91499 series. They were 41'6" long with inside height of 4' 8". 722 of the 1,500 cars had their original USRA six-ribbed ends replaced with four-ribbed ends. This replacement of ends may have been the fruit of the separate records of the MTC cars, but I have seen no documentation supporting this. The ORER's never distinguished between the number of six versus four-ribbed cars so only total #90000's can be ascertained. There were 1,494 #90000's listed in the 7/1934 ORER, 1,007 in 7/1940, 687 in April 1946 and four in April 1950. The last #90000 was retired in 1953. The "promised" twenty-five had MTC reporting marks in the November 1930 ORER.

H) "Flatcars" referred to the 42' 1" Steel Flats in the #33500-33799 series built by Magor in 1923. 288 were listed in the November 1930 ORER of which 25 had MTC reporting marks. Fifty of the #33500's were sold to the Barre & Chelsea (BC #700-749) in 1938. Ten were provided with 6' 6" high bulkheads for gypsum loading in 1954 and renumbered into the #5300-5309 series. The #33500's disappeared from the ORER's after 1961.

Besides the cars cited by RAILWAY AGE, there were other car series which were given MTC reporting marks both "retroactively" and those series purchased after the 1927 RAILWAY AGE item was published.

I) Fifteen 34' WUF Coal Cars were listed in the November 1930 ORER as having MTC marks: - nine with the original drop ends in the #21400-24987 series, two, #21770 and 22626, with steel ends in that same #21400 series, and four with wood ends in the #39000-39999 series. In total, the B&M acquired 4,588 of these Fox-trucked sideboard gondolas with drop ends starting with 595 in 1899 and the other 3,993 in 1907-1908. They were subject to steady attrition - 4,524 listed in 1910, 4,301 in 1915, 3,322 in 1921, 2,180 in 1925 and 492 in the November 1930 ORER. They were finally "dislisted" in 1935 although many hung around in MOW service.

J) Five of the #33000-33499 36' Flat cars were listed as having MTC marks in November 1930. These 500 cars with Fox trucks were built for the New Haven in 1902-1903 and acquired by the B&M in 1911. 40 of the cars were converted into Stock Cars in 1923, and numbered in the #27200-27239 series. The stock cars were finally retired in 1944, but the flat cars disappeared after 1934 although the principal attrition took place in the late 1920's (from 443 flats listed in the 11/25 ORER to only 22 in 11/1930).

There were four car series acquired after 1927 which included MTC marks. Unlike the prior cars, the MTC car numbers were consecutive.

K) MTC #8000-8024 were quad hoppers built in 1929-30 and were part of the 1,000 hopper #8000-8999 series. Of the 25 MTC hoppers, one was destroyed before 1948, three were leased to the B&O for five years in 1949, and eight were sold to the DL&W in 1951-52. Only #8013 survived past 1958.

L) There were Twenty-one MTC #71975-71995 1923 ARA Single-Sheathed boxcars with ARA Flat Ends and three panel Pullman doors originally among the total 975 1923 ARA SS cars (B&M #71000-71954, MTC #71975-71995) in 1929-1930. In 1930, another 1,000 1923 ARA SS cars were purchased (B&M #72000-72999), but these came with Youngstown doors. In 1945, fifteen of the #72000's were converted into the #27500-27514 Stock Car series. Over time, many of the #71000's had their original Pullman doors replaced with Youngstown's, but they retained their original ARA door hardware which was different from the Camel hardware on the #72000's - the principal spotting difference is seven bottom door guides on the #71000's versus only four on the #72000's. Perhaps, the 1927 decision to have MTC reporting marks provided the B&M Car Shops with fodder to make the change in doors. Of the 21 MTC cars, one was destroyed before 1948, six were subject to a sale-leaseback with Hyman Michaels - three of which were renumbered into the #69700-69999 series in 1955, and the other three into the #70500-70987 series in 1956, three more were renumbered into the #70000-70500 series in 1955 after a sale-leaseback deal with the International Railway Car Co., four were sold to the WA&G in 1958, six were destroyed in Billerica Shops in 1956, and one, #71995, survived "unrenumbered" the wheeling-dealing into the 1960's.

M) MTC #71996-71999 were all-steel 1923 ARA box cars acquired in 1929-30 with three panel Pullman doors, "ARA" door hardware, and Duryea cushion underframes. The MTC cars were four of the twenty-five such cars the B&M bought in 1929-30, The others were numbered into the B&M #71954-91974 series. MTC #71997 and #71998 were renumbered into #70997 and #70996 respectively as a result of the 1956 deal with Hyman Michaels. #71996 and #71999 were off the roster by 1965. I have never seen a photo of a B&M ARA steel car with a Youngstown door although it is quite likely that the ten renumbered #70988-70999 series got them while being refurbished for the Hyman Michaels deal.

N) The last twenty-five cars in the #92000-92749 41' 6", 4' 8" Inside Height, drop bottom nine-panelled steel gons were numbered MTC #92725-92749 when acquired in 1936-37. In 1942, another 500 gons of the same design were acquired from Bethlehem, and numbered into the B&M #92750-93249 series. Of the 25 MTC cars, one was destroyed on the DSS&A in 1951, another on the B&O in 1955, twelve were sold for scrap in 1958, one was destroyed at B&M's Billerica Shops in 1956, nine were subject to a sale-leaseback deal with the International Railway Car Co. in 1954 and numbered within the #9212-9561 series with their bottom doors sealed, and one, MTC #92734 survived the dealing with its original number.

O) The first 25 PS-1 40' 6" boxcars in the $74000-74499 series had MTC marks when acquired in 1947. The entire 500 car series was accepted at Pullman's Michigan City IN plant and dispatched to shippers in Chicagoland for their maiden loaded voyages - thus, it was extremely rare for them to be seen on B&M rails. It was not abnormal for a modern B&M boxcar to be away from home for four-to-five years at a time in the 1945-1955 decade. In 1958, 40 of the 500 #74000's were provided with roof hatches for grain loading, none of these grain cars were from the MTC series. In 1961, when there were about 450 #74000's remaining, all were sold to US Leasing and only 175 were leased back as B&M #1000-1174. Whether any of the MTC #74000-74024 series returned within the B&M #1000-1125 series is unknown.

As far as I can determine, this was the extent of cars provided with MTC marks. According to the ORER's, however, "MTC" was an official reporting mark up until the 1980's although it seems unlikely that it was applied on any acquisition after 1947.

Written by Tim Gilbert, 8/16/00. Edited and revised by Earl Tuson. Posted 2/26/18. Updated 11/24/19.