by Anthony W. Thompson
"This is the third volume in a series on Southern Pacific freight cars. It covers two car types, automobile cars and flat cars. The era is from about 1870 until the late 1960s. The book contains an extensive array of rosters, photos and, where possible, drawings of the major car classes, along with other material as available, such as construction photos, publicity photos, lettering drawings, and so forth. Survival of the cars over the years is presented, as are numerous photos of the cars in service. The first section of the book contains an introductory section of background information, then covers the early furniture and auto cars, the cars of the 1920s, and the steel auto cars built both before and after World War II, until the end of SP auto car construction in 1955. Also included are the "hog fuel" (wood chip) cars converted from auto cars by removing the roofs. The coverage then turns to flat cars, first the 19th century cars, then the Harriman and post-Harriman designs, and then the general-service cars after 1940. Separate chapters describe the logging and pulpwood cars, piggyback flat cars, heavy-duty cars, and a variety of modified and specially equipped flat cars. These two car types make up an essential part of the history of any railroad. The book's 701 photos (27 in color), most from company and museum archives and never before published, together with 59 drawings, extensive rosters, and bibliography, make it unusually complete and authoritative. This book provides a coverage that every railroad enthusiast, and of course SP fans in particular, will enjoy. "Noted rail artist John Signor has created for the book cover painting, depicting a Southern Pacific yard scene containing the subjects of this series of books. "SP freight car historian Anthony W. Thompson has authored magazine articles on many SP cars, as well as researching and writing the car section of the book, 'Pacific Fruit Express' & Volume 1 and Volume 2 in this series."
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