Portland & Seattle Railway No. 50
Storage Car (former RPO) built 1915
No. 50 as it appeared at the museum for years.
During 2009, the car was
into its full SP&S colors, as shown below..
Spokane, Portland & Seattle
(SP&S) No. 50 was built for the railroad in June 1915 by Barney
Smith Car Co. of Dayton, Ohio. When built, the car was configured
as a railway post office-baggage car carrying No. 41. In November
1952, the RPO section was removed and the car reassigned to mail
duties. The outlines of the RPO section’s windows are still
next to the car’s smaller door - this was the door to the RPO section,
where a mail hook similar to the one on AT&SF No. 3401 is installed.
Utilizing a portion of a grant from Houston Endowment, No. 50 was
cosmetically restored into a late SP&S paint scheme by
Cherokee Mobile Services of Grove, Okla. The work was completed in early 2009. Cherokee Mobile Services also painted HB&T No. 14, MKT No. 6 and SP No. 4696.
Above, No. 50 (as RPO No. 41, just behind the locomotive)
or an identical
car was caught in service by famed photographer Otto Perry on July 28,
1940. This is SP&S train No. 4 at Wishram, Washington.
Photo used with permission of Denver Public Library, Western History
Otto Perry Collection, reference OP-16184.
According to information provided by
Railway Historical Society and the Astoria
Railroad Preservation Association (ARPA) of Astoria, Oregon, No. 50
(as No. 41) was one of a group of 21 cars of various types built to
passengers between Portland, Oregon, and the port of Flavel for
with two 524-foot steamships operated by a subsidiary of the railroad,
the Great Northern Pacific Steamship Co. These steamships
between Oregon and San Francisco in competition with rail
This was during the time that James J. Hill, the “Empire Builder,”
the SP&S and connecting lines Great Northern and Northern
The vintage postcard below shows the steamship Great Northern
the Great Northern Pacific Steamship Co.
The Steamer Expresses were
discontinued in 1917
when the ships were sold to the U.S. government for war time troop
The cars were then assigned to general service.
The ARPA owns and is restoring
273, a luxury coach built for the same Steamer Express
In addition, the Northwest Railway Museum at Snoqualmie, Washington,
276, also built in 1915.
In July 2003, James L. Abney of Oregon sent this
missive to the
Gulf Coast Railroad Museum about SP&S No. 50:
"I pulled the SP&S 50 thousands of miles in
passenger service before
Amtrak. I am pleased to learn that it still exists and is being
for. I hope to be able to visit your museum sometime to see
"I represent the third generation in my family to
hire out on the SP&S
and have been on a BN (now BNSF) leave of absence since 1987 to run
for Amtrak, where I'm currently running the Spanish Talgo trains on the
Amtrak Cascades service. I too am involved in railroad historical
activities and just celebrated my 45th anniversary of volunteering on
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