About the Santa Fe Historical Society

Livestock Operations on Model Railroads

with an emphasis on the ATSF

January 30, 2013

Livestock Cars

Stan Hall Collection

The first live list of ATSF cars produced in 1883 lists 801 stock cars. This increased to 7000 by 1908, peaked at 9331 in 1931, but remained a respectable 7880 in 1954. 7% of Santa Fe's freight car fleet were stock cars, the highest percentage of any railroad. Stock movements by rail ceased on the Santa Fe in 1974.

Around WWII, the need for stock cars had grown and the supply of materials was limited. Santa Fe, like many railroads, chose to rebuild wood sheathed box and auto box cars as stock cars. Even the wood sheathing was recycled. The Santa Fe did this from 1941-52, and other roads did the same into the mid 50s.

The AAR 1953 codes listed:
  • BH - Horse or Horse and Carriage Express, for passenger trains.
  • SA - stock cars
  • SC - convertible single or double deck
  • SD - has drop bottom doors
  • SF - fixed double deck
  • SH - horse car in freight service
  • SM - was a single deck
  • SP - poultry, with shelves for crates of poultry, with feed and watering facilities
  • ST -a triple deck car.

For Santa Fe, all new cars built afte 1906 (SK-H) were 40' cars. In 1950 they had 5804 40' single deck cars, 1656 40' convertible double deck cars, and only 1 36' car which it inherited from the KCM&O. Convertible cars were made so the upper level could be raised or lowered as needed for various livestock. Some roads, including the UP, had a stationary second floor, but with uneven spacing so that the lower floor could accommodate both cows and smaller stock. Livestock could be segregated from each other through the use of partitions or double decking. Bulls at times were tied to side slats.

Most modelers weather their cars based on color photos taken from the 1960s when stock movements had greatly declined and the cars were nearing the end of their lives. The fewer color photos form the 40s and 50s show the cars much better maintained.

Santa Fe Live List

Live List by Percentage of Fleet

Locate preserved stock cars.

Stock Car loads

Compiled by J. Stephen Sandifer

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