Product Details

Billboard Refrigerator Cars
Richard Hendrickson and Edward Kaminski
Signature Press
ISBN or Item #
Date Listed:
2008-08-05 14:48:04
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Billboard Refrigerator Cars

by Richard H. Hendrickson and Edward S. Kaminski.

Cloth with dust jacket, 222 pages, 8.5x11, 443 photos, some color information, appendices, bibliography, index.

see also: Pacific Fruit Express

see also: Refrigerator Car Color Guide

"The practice of painting advertisements on the freight cars of shippers and car owners dates well back into the 19th century. But in the 1920s, leasing companies realized they could contract with shippers to pass back usage payments beyond some agreed minimum. This led to an explosion of car leasing and, as this book amply demonstrates, a corresponding explosion of billboard decoration of refrigerator cars. Railroad objections, especially to the usage payment rebates, led to hearings before the Interstate Commerce Commission, which, taking effect in 1937, banned most of the leasing practices which had generated the car leasing bonanza. After World War II, a restrained billboard style made a modest comeback.

"Car - side advertising was only a detail of that ICC decision. But because it was the basis for a remarkable diversity of refrigerator car paint schemes in the era, the photographs of these cars have long held an interest for historians, railfans, and model railroaders.

"Thoroughly documented here are hundreds of these paint schemes, together with details of the leasing companies and car builders associated with the individual cars. More than 440 photographs, most previously unpublished, enrich this book. Even a modest amount of color information was available and is included.

"The authors, both recognized authorities on railroad freight car history, have done a superb job of collecting and organizing the information presented here. The book is sure to appeal to modelers and to many who are interested in railroad history.


Table of Contents

Chapter 1Historical Background9
Chapter 2Early Billboard Refrigerator Cars19
Chapter 3Billboard Reefers of the 1920s and '30s: Meat Packers35
Chapter 4North American Despatch47
Chapter 5North Western Refrigerator and Western Refrigerator Lines73
Chapter 6Merchants Despatch Transportation Company and Northern Refrigerator Car Company93
Chapter 7General American Refrigerator Express123
Chapter 8Union Refrigerator Transit Lines135
Chapter 9Quaker City Refrigerator Express157
Chapter 10Other Owners and Leasing Companies167
Chapter 11End of an Era181
Chapter 12Postwar Renaissance187
    Postwar Color Gallery200
Appendix 1Historical Color Renditions207
Appendix 2Summary of ICC Ruling209