Western Railway Preservaton Society

- Tank #5 History -

Tank car #5

During 75 years of logging railroad history, The West Side Lumber Company had quite a unique set of home-built water and tank cars. One of the more unusual of these is oil tank car #5, nicknamed the "coffin" tankcar, because of the outline of its 3100 gallon tank.

Originally from one of the first 12 or 13 Nevada-California-Oregon Railroad (N-C-O) narrow gauge tank cars, the riveted iron coffin-shaped tank was purchased used by the West Side around 1926, and placed on a shop-built 28'6" flat car. The new tank car #5 was used for hauling fuel oil into the woods, and apparently ended its days as the Camp 45 fire car before the West Side shut down its narrow gauge railroad in the early 1960's.

Tank car #5 was purchased, along with several other West Side cars and Heisler #3, for use on the Roaring Camp and Big Trees tourist railroad located in Felton, CA. Several decades of the damp San Francisco Bay area weather did not do tank car #5 any good, and deterioration set in.

In 2001, a trade occurred between the Roaring Camp and the Sumpter Valley Railroad Restoration group, with a Climax boiler going south, and tank #5, a pair of SPNG flat cars, and some extra parts north to McEwen, Oregon. Tank car #5 was in a fragile state, with the rotting flat car literally falling apart while being unloaded from a flat bed trailer. The West Side oil tank car #5, less its trucks, sat in a sad state of decay for several years.

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