Pullman Standard Car Manufacturing built Louisville & Nashville Post Office Cars numbered No. 1120, built on December 21, 1949, and No. 1121, which was built a week later on December 28, 1949. They were built using plan No. 7597 and were part of lot No. 6813. The overall length of each car was 82’10”.
Service on the Crescent Limited
The cars were built as full railway post office (RPO) cars as part of the L&N contribution of thru cars to the Crescent Limited consist of 1949. The cars featured flat panel stainless on the outside rather than the more common fluted stainless steel on the exterior of the cars. This was done to prevent dents and dings that most fluted Pullman built cars suffered as a result of baggage cars hitting the sides at stations. These cars ran as Post Office cars for only four years.
Collision in Woodstock, AL
On November 25, 1951, The Crescent was routed off its normal route to travel an all Southern Railway route to New Orleans. The Crescent was operating as the Second No. 47 which was following the Southerner operating as the First No. 47. The Crescent and The Southerner were both traveling southbound.
At a siding in Woodstock, AL northbound No. 48, was instructed to pull onto the siding to wait for both No. 47s to pass. Unfortunately, No. 48 waited long enough for only the First No. 47 to clear the siding before it went through the switch at the north end of the siding. It was at this point the Second No. 47 appeared, resulting in a head-on collision!
The collision left 17 dead and 67 injured. Louisville & Nashville Post Office Car No. 1120 was part of the consist and was heavily damaged. Louisville & Nashville managed to salvage the car and return it to service. For more information, the accident report No. 3437 is still available from the Interstate Commerce Commission.
New Life as Baggage Cars
In 1953, Louisville & Nashville shopped both cars for conversion. When the both cars reappeared, the side windows had been blanked out and the cars were now full baggage cars. This complete conversion to baggage cars was prompted by the U.S. Postal Service’s continued cancellation of postal contracts. It was at this time the cars were given the road numbers they carry today: No. 1550 and No. 1551.
Alabama Reunion Train
In 1989, No. 1550 was part of the 15-car Alabama Reunion train. CSX Rail Transportation and Norfolk Southern Railroad co-sponsored the Alabama Reunion train. Used as a museum car, No. 1550 highlighted railroad history in the state. This car is currently lettered for the Heart of Dixie Railroad Museum.