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The Vintage Freight Car Fleet

In addition to the extensive fleet of historic passenger cars, the New Hope Railroad has also amassed a small collection of vintage freight equipment over the years. Several members of this fleet are used on a regular basis for various non-revenue and maintenance of way purposes. In addition, on occasion, these cars are used for special photo freight charters, operated for groups of photographers attempting to recreate the classic American freight train.


Hopper Car No. 303

Constructed by the Pullman-Standard Corporation at their Butler, PA facility in 1955, this car was one of four hundred H34b class covered hoppers ordered by the Pennsylvania Railroad. Originally numbered in the series 257301-257700, the number given to this particular hopper is currently unknown. While working for the PRR, and successor Penn Central, it was used to carry dry cement, sand, and other similar materials which required protection from the elements during transport.

The car became a member of the Conrail freight roster in 1976. Not needed in its original covered configuration, the new owner removed the top, among other minor modifications made. It was then reassigned to the maintenance of way service, hauling rock ballast to various work sites in the assistance of track gangs repairing and strengthening the railroad rights of way.

Acquired by the NHRR in the early 2000s from a nearby New Jersey shortline railroad, from who it had received its current No. 303, it has since been restored to a paint scheme similar to those found on various Reading Company-covered hoppers.

No. 303 currently continues in the service of various track maintenance and ballast projects.


Side Dump Car No. 53033

A freight car not normally seen by the general public, the side dump is largely used for non-revenue track and right of way maintenance needs. Able to carry large amounts of rock ballast, earth, and other forms of fill material, it works in a similar fashion to a highway dump truck. The top portion is powered by air supplied from the attached locomotive’s air compressor through the trainline.

It is especially common to see these cars working after a big storm or flood causes a washout along the tracks. Additionally, these cars are used to cart off tree branches, garbage, and other debris that is cleaned off of railroad property.

Constructed in 1957 by Eastern Car Company Ltd. of Trenton, NS, No. 53033 was part of a one hundred thirty car order for the Canadian National Railway. Painted in a simple brown scheme, its owner’s name was spelled out in English, Canadian National, on one side of the car, and French, Canadien National, on the other.

After serving its original owner for fifty years, it was acquired by the NHRR, arriving in Bucks County during 2008.

Since its arrival, No. 53033 has continued to work well in the service that it was designed for, helping to keep the northern seventeen miles of the former Reading New Hope Branch in good shape.


Flat Car No. 480047

The Pennsylvania Railroad constructed No. 480047 at its Samuel Rea car shops in Hollidaysburg, PA, just south of the company’s main shops in Altoona. Part of a fleet of three hundred cars of the F41B class, it was built using several pieces that were recycled from older flat cars that the PRR had retired. Despite this fact, on official railroad documents, it was considered brand new. The railroad used it to carry a wide variety of items, including heavy machinery, farm equipment, giant sheets of steel, electrical transformers, and other goods too large for shipment within the confines of a boxcar.

Details about this car’s specific operational history are unknown at this time. However, it is believed that this car went on to serve Penn Central, and possibly Conrail, following its time on the Pennsy.

The NHRR acquired No. 480047 in the early part of the twenty-first century from the Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad of Hammond, IN, where it had worn No. 2017.

In 2011, a full restoration of the car took place, which included a new wooden deck, a return to its original number, and a paint scheme of its original owner.

It is interesting to note that the current paint job is not historically accurate to this particular class of car, although it is an accurate Pennsylvania Railroad look. The F41B class was constructed at a time when the railroad was using a more simplified look, with the initials “PRR” replacing the spelled out “PENNSYLVANIA” name that was commonly found on older steam era cars. The simplified look also included the car’s number and the railroad’s famed Keystone herald. The decision by NHRR to repaint the car in the steam era look was simply because of the time period portrayed by the heritage operation.

No. 480047 is currently used for moving a variety of items, including machinery and railroad ties, both old and new, between various work sites.

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