The Colorful History Of The Golden West Service Freight Cars

NS-Train-458-9-11-2015 (80)

NS-Train-458-9-11-2015 (81)

Now this is a commentary that I’ve waited years to write…. During the 90s I used to watch parades of the Golden West Service rolling stock move back and forth across the Espee’s Sunset Route in San Antonio, Texas. Those brilliant blue cars are forever etched in my memories….

The Colorful History of The Golden West Service cars

During the early 1990s, the Southern Pacific Railroad’s railcars were in need of repair and the railroad didn’t have the money needed to revitalize the fleet so a deal was struck that involved selling the cars to Greenbrier and then having Gunderson rebuild the cars to be leased back to the SP.

Due to legal reasons, Greenbrier needed to use an actual railroad’s reporting marks so they worked out deals with Galveston Railroad (GVSR), Coe Rail (CRLE), Ventura County Railway (VCY) and even Kansas City Southern (KCS). The cars lost their original SP, SSW and DRGW reporting marks in the process of receiving a bright blue coat of paint along with the yellow and red Golden West Service stacked block logo on the sides.

Over time some cars regained their original reporting marks and some still survive to this day.

At first glance the fleet appears very scattered. As a GERNERAL rule (and naturally there are exceptions) the first digit of the road number represents the TYPE of car. Some examples are “1” for 100 ton box cars, “5” for covered hoppers, “6” for open hoppers and “7” for 70 ton boxcars. The next two digits indicated the SP’s class designation for the cars. The last three digits were the numerical sequence of the cars in the series.

The Golden West Service name and blue paint could be found on several types of cars including boxcars, covered hoppers, open hoppers, gondolas, mechanical reefers, wood-chip gondolas and bulkhead flatcars. The car shown here, A St. Mary’s West patch-over is yet another survivor of a long gone era in American railroading.

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Author:Railfan AC

AC is a U.S. Air Force Veteran, a long haul trucker, a transportation enthusiast and a lifelong lover of trains. AC's mission is to travel America documenting American railroading in the 21st century while educating those who want to know about the importance the railroads play in our daily lives including, but not limited to, the movement of goods, services and more.

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