"Freight was different. The railroad started doubling up on the trains something fierce - 160-car trains. It would take you a week to get to the other end of them."
- Vince Farabaugh, Locomotive Engineer
Yardmaster John Conlon remembers one point in PRR history when a freight train went east every 14 minutes, 24 hours a day. As a train was being made up, cars had to be weighed, shifted to the right track, coupled, inspected, and assigned an engine, cabin car and crew. The yards were congested and dangerous.
The all-purpose boxcar was sturdy, cheap, and could haul just about anything. The X29L boxcar hauled about 50 tons. Other types carried 80 or 100 tons of freight. To haul freight, you had to know the train's tonnage, what power and braking you needed, and when to use it. Otherwise, you could "rough handle" - jar the train and break a "knuckle" or damage the freight.
· The earliest boxcars were wooden. Steel began to be used by 1890.
· In 1874, 124,000 boxcars roamed North American rails. By 1910, there were 967,000.
· The X29 class was the most numerous boxcar used by the Pennsy. About 30,000 were built by and for the PRR, most in the 1920s here in Altoona.
· This X29L was 40 feet, 6 inches in inside length. It carried special equipment that allowed it to run in high-speed passenger trains as mail-carrying or express-shipment cars.