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Tank Cars
Wooden Tank Cars
The Densmore–Roudebush Team
The Game
Metal Tank Cars
Early Failed Attempts
Evolution of the RR Tank Car
Special Cars
Builders and Car Shops
Counting Cars
Tank Cars - Bibliography

Builders and Car Shops

The Appalachian oil region had a good share of early tank car builders and repair shops, especially in the industrial cities in NW Pennsylvania, New York and Ohio. Titusville, Franklin, Warren and Sharon were some of the NW Pennsylvania centers for car making with Titusville’s shops dating to the 1870’s, the earliest days of the metal tank car. With the help of David Weber (written and verbal communication) some of the builders in the aforementioned cities are described below:

Titusville Iron Co., Titusville, PA, 1875-1910. Became part of Struthers Wells Corp., 1928-1963. Built iron boiler tank cars for Star Tank Line and the Empire Line in the 1870’s and later. This was a famous early tank car builder. In 1956 the Titusville Iron Co. built aluminum tank cars to carry acid for Union Tank Car Co.

Titusville Forge Co., Titusville, PA. Became part of Struthers Wells Corp., 1928-1963. Noted for building welded steel high pressure tanks to contain propane and butane (LPG) for Union Tank Car Co., 1948-1957.

Struthers Wells Corp., Warren, PA. Built riveted and welded tank cars, 1880-1910. Continued in manufacturing until 1963, but tank cars were discontinued at Warren plant except for aluminum cars for Union Tank Car Co. in 1956-57.

Union Tank Car Co., Oil City, PA, ca. 1920’s – 40’s. Repaired tank cars at this site.

Conley Tank Line, Franklin, PA, ca. 1930’s - 40’s. Repaired tank cars. This plant may have been started by Union Tank Car Co.

Hammond Iron Works, Warren, PA, 1900. Became Pittsburgh-Des Moines (PDM) after 1950’s. Made car tanks, storage tanks and other plate work. According to D. Weber (written communication) this company fabricated the St. Louis Gateway Arch at their Warren shop.

Allegheny Foundry Co. (Allegheny Steel Tank Car Co.), Warren, PA. Later became Warren Car Co. Built cars for United Refining Co., Crew Levick (subsidiary of Cities Service), Valvoline etc. Said to have also built circus flat cars.

This advertisement appeared in the Jan. 8, 1919, issue of the National Petroleum News. United Refining Co., located on the bank of the Allegheny River at Warren, Pennsylvania, was one of the largest customers of the Allegheny Steel Tank Car Company. United Refining markets gasoline under the trade name Kwik Fill. Most of their stations today have convenience stores.
Crew Levick was a subsidiary of Cities Service with refineries in Warren and East Titusville, Pennsylvania. Advertisement by Allegheny Steel Tank Car Company, Warren, PA, in the Feb. 19, 1919, issue of National Petroleum News.

Valvoline Oil Co., Wilburine Oil Works, Warren, PA, ca. 1900-1930. Repaired tank cars for Valvoline which handled refined products from Warren and East Butler refineries. This plant worked with Allegheny Foundry in designing and building the Allegheny automobile (1905), a pioneer roadster. It failed because it was difficult to cool the engine (Stepping Stones, 1975).

Warren Car Company, Warren, PA, 1920-present. Repairer of United Refining Co. tank cars (Warren) and those of other firms. Successor to the Allegheny Foundry and Allegheny Steel Car Co.

Pennsylvania Tank Car Co., Sharon, PA (until 1927). Made cars for Emlenton Refining Co., Titusville Oil Works, Seneca Oil Works, Texaco, Gulf, Galena Oil Co., Foco Oil Co., Claredon Refining Co. and others. A leasing subsidiary, the Pennsylvania Tank Line, advertised in 1919 that they had over 3000 tank cars in the line.

Petroleum Iron Works Co., Sharon, PA, and Masury, Ohio. Founded by Joseph Cullinan (later Pres. Of Texaco). This company purchased Pennsylvania Tank Car Co., Jan. 1, 1927, which later became part of GATX.

Other tank car plants in the region were General American Tank Car Co., Warren, Ohio (Masury, Ohio, after 1930’s) which built and repaired GATX cars and others, Oil Well Supply Co. tank car works in Oswego, N.Y., (1900-25) where they also made boilers, and a Union Tank Car Co. plant in Dubois, PA, 1970’s-present, which now repairs American Refining Group tank cars, etc. The Union Tank Car Co. also had a long history in Olean, N.Y.

The above is merely a sampling of a large sector of the bulk transportation industry dealing with tank car makers and repairers.

North American (NATX) is a well known tank car builder in Illinois. Advertisement from Jan. 15, 1919, issue of National Petroleum News.
North American Car Company (NATX) tank car no. 78295 in the Conrail yards in south Oil City. The capacity is 23,812 gallons (567 barrels).

© 2004, Samuel T. Pees
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