Freight Car Photos

An Archive of the Freight Car Friday Blog

Freight cars come in an endless variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. From interesting loads to distinctive weathering effects, a single freight train can contain hundreds of potential modeling projects.

One of the best ways to improve your models is to study the prototype. Find the inspiration for your next freight car project and learn a little freight car history. A new car is added every Friday.

  • 01 of 08


    Former Apalachicola Northern per-diem boxcar now working for the Abbeville-Grimes Ry. in 2010.

    Ryan C Kunkle / The Spruce

    One of the most common and versatile cars on the rails, boxcars comes in many specialized varieties.

  • 02 of 08

    Covered Hoppers

    ADMX 51009
    This covered hopper has attachments to allow pressurized air to help unload the car.

    Ryan C Kunkle / The Spruce

    Covered hoppers carry grains, sugar, cement, plastics and many other granular and powdered loads that must be kept safe from the elements.

  • 03 of 08


    Centerbeam Flatcar
    TTX 35442.

    Ryan C Kunkle / The Spruce

    Flatcars carry all sorts of interesting loads that make fun modeling projects. From steel to vehicles to lumber, many flatcars have special features to help secure a specific load. Check out the open loads gallery for even more flatcar photographs.

  • 04 of 08


    CR 589044
    Originally a Norfolk and Western car, this gondola came to successor Norfolk Southern via Conrail.

    Ryan C Kunkle / The Spruce

    Like Flatcars, gondolas carry many loads and present great opportunities to customize a model. For more ideas, see the open loads gallery.

    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • 05 of 08


    EBT 882
    Restored East Broad Top hopper No. 882 rests in the Rockhill Furnace yard in July, 2008.

    Ryan C Kunkle / The Spruce

    Coal, coke, stone, and ore are among the most common loads for these open cars. Whether alone or by the train, hoppers are a common sight on the rails.

  • 06 of 08

    Intermodal Equipment

    TCSZ 464437
    Triple Crown Roadrailer 464437 passes through Rochester, PA in September 2010.

    Ryan C Kunkle / The Spruce

    From containers and trailers loaded on flatcars, spine cars, and well cars to Roadrailers that can go from road to train with no car at all, intermodal equipment is among the most unique on the rails today. Model the hottest market in modern railroading.

  • 07 of 08


    PGTX 400371
    PGTX 400371 enters Enola yard on June 21, 2009.

    Ryan C Kunkle / The Spruce

    Chemicals to corn syrup—tank cars are customized for the liquids they carry.

  • 08 of 08


    circus animal car
    Animal cars like No. 60006 travel at the front of the Ringling Brothers circus train. Like most of the train, they are converted from former passenger and hospital cars.

    Ryan C Kunkle / The Spruce

    Some of the most interesting freight cars are in a category all their own. Maintenance equipment, circus trains and more all make fun projects.