Rare Rio Grande boxcar On September 26, 2020, Denver & Rio Grande Western boxcar No. AX-60080 sits in the yard at Phippsburg, Colorado, located on Union Pacific’s former Rio Grande Craig Branch. Phippsburg is the crew change point between the railroad’s Moffat Tunnel Subdivision and the Craig Subdivision.
Seeing a 40-foot boxcar on a Class 1 railroad today is uncommon, but that is only part of what makes this car so unique. From 1954 to 1961, Rio Grande rebuilt 77 older Pressed Steel 40-foot boxcars to be used to haul baked goods from the Keebler plant near North Yard in Denver. All of cars received new plywood linings installed over wall and ceiling insulation, as well as special flooring and 12 load restraining crossbars to protect the lading. These cars were painted silver (some all white), numbered 60000 to 60076, and had special “Cookie Box” lettering on the sides. So where does No. 60080 fit in? This car was rebuilt in the same fashion as the “Cookie Box” cars, but was converted to haul potatoes and ended up being the only car so modified, making it a one-of-a-kind boxcar.
On the car today, the “AX” designation is an old Rio Grande numbering prefix that was used to indicate the car was being used in company service. Other than the more modern roller bearing trucks that now carry No. 60080, most of the car is still original, including the full length ladders and roofwalk. Quite amazing that this rare car still survives in 2020!