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Chesepeake and Ohio 1658 | by Mike Tewkesbury
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Chesepeake and Ohio 1658

The 52-seat passenger coach 1658 shown sitting along the tracks between 5th and 6th Street in Parkersburg West Virginia.

Passenger cars developed on the C&O much as they did on other railroads. The first cars were short wooden boxes on 4-wheel, 2-axle trucks. By the Civil War these cars had improved to have open end platforms and clerestory roofs for ventilation and light.

By the 1870s, when C&O opened its through line to the Ohio, cars were further developed with Pintsch gas lighting.

The all-wooden designs got longer and more highly decorated and the seating capacity increased largely. Pullman sleeping cars began operating on C&O trains in the early 1880s. The first C&O-operated dining cars appeared in 1889. Railway Post Office and express cars were common from the earliest period, usually the RPO portion being less than a full car until after 1900.

By about 1904 the composite cars appeared on new construction. These cars usually had a steel underframe and steel ends for strengthening. C&O ordered its last composite cars in 1907. By 1911 all-steel cars were the only kind C&O ordered, and by the mid-1920s the last of the wooden cars had been taken off mainline trains and were used on local and branch lines for many years. Wooden cars were used on the Lexington, Buckingham, and Craig Valley branches until the early 1950s.

The first heavyweight cars were standard clerestory roof designs. Later some rounded or "Harriman" roofed cars were purchased, mainly in the 1930s. Additionally, some older cars were retrofitted with air-conditioning, and 'The George Washington' of April 1930 was (along with the B&O's Capitol Limited) the first all air-conditioned long distance train.


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Uploaded on August 17, 2009