Tank Car 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17

Mike Peltier made a summary of the former Nevada Country Narrow Gauge and ET&WNC tank cars who went to the White Pass during WWII as USA-WP&YR Tank Cars #12-#17.

12 ex. NCNG #301 destroyed in Wreck at MP 9, 29/02/44
13 ex. NCNG #1004 destroyed in Wreck at MP27, 28/08/43
14 ex. ET&WNC #603 to BYN for fuel storage 5-52
15 ex. ET&WNC #601 destroyed in Wreck at MP 9, 29/02/44
16 ex. NCNG #181,[from Herman Darr]:Flatcar scrapped 01/05/43, Tank placed on USA flatcar 333441 6/43, became tank car USA 16, renumbered WP&YR 19 after WWII, lost in Lake Bennett, 1/54, MP 52
17 ex. NCNG #183 as WP&YR 17 (on NCNG flat) to BYN for storage 5/52


WP&YR tank of tank car 17

The remain of tank car #17 a former NCNG #183 tank car. Image by Mike Peltier.

A railcar tank was located in the Yukon Territorial Government yard in Whitehorse, in January 2003. The cast iron dome of the tank identifies the manufacturer as "Wm GRAVER TANK WORKS CHICAGO". As early as 1858 William Graver was manufacturing oil storage tanks in Pennsylvania, and later in Lima Ohio. In 1888 the William Graver Tank Works was established in East Chicago, Indiana, as the town's first industry, to manufacture tanks for the Standard Oil Company refinery in nearby Whiting.

The turn of the century oil boom in Southern California created a large demand for rail tank cars to move crude oil by rail from the wells to the refineries near Los Angeles. Many small tank manufacturing companies like William Graver Tank Works supplied tanks to meet that demand. In most cases the oil companies owned the tanks and the railroads provided the flatcars to carry them. As more fields were developed the need for tank cars increased. In
1902 when oil was discovered inland from San Luis Obispo between Los Angeles and San Francisco, Union Oil Company of California was a major player.

The narrow gauge Pacific Coast Railway from San Luis Obispo to Olivos ran through the oil fields. To meet the need for tank cars the PCRy and Union Oil reached a quick solution. The tanks from early standard gauge tank cars were loaded on steamships and sent up the coast to the railhead of the PCRy where they were mounted on narrow gauge flat cars. For a time the PCRy was very busy hauling oil, however by 1930 pipelines were established, and the economic hard times forced Union Oil and then PCRy to reduce operations drastically.

The Nevada County Narrow Gauge Railroad was constructed in 1875 to link the rich mining districts of western Nevada County California, located between Sacramento and Reno Nevada, with the Central Pacific's trans-continental railroad at Colfax California. The persistence and excellent service of the NCNGRR, combined with the prosperity of the mines, meant that Nevada County never experienced the Great Depression of the 1930's.

In 1934 this Wm Graver tank and three other Union Oil tanks were transferred to the NCNGRR and mounted on flatcars 181, 183, 185 and 187.
This Wm Graver tank was mounted on flat car 183, and with tank car 181 hauled gasoline from Colfax to to the bulk distribution plant at Grass Valley, throughout the 1930s. The outbreak of World War II led to the closure of the gold mines and, with its major customers gone, the railroad was abandoned in 1942.

In 1942 the White Pass and Yukon Route was called upon by the US Army to move massive amounts of freight, supplies and manpower to build the central section of the Alcan Highway, and major airports at Whitehorse, Watson Lake, and Snag Yukon. Once again rail tank cars were in high demand and the Army searched the lower 48 for suitable narrow gauge tank cars. On July 25, 1942, the last revenue train of the NCNGRR hauled four tank cars to Colfax so they could be shipped to their new owners the US Army and the WP&YR.

According to WP&YR records the four 6500 gal NCNG tank cars that came north

NCNG #301,destroyed in Wreck at MP 9, 29/02/44

NCNG #1004,destroyed in Wreck at MP27, 28/08/43

NCNG #181, flatcar scrapped 01/05/43, Tank placed on USA flatcar 333441 6/43, became tank car USA #16, renumbered WP&YR #19 after WWII, lost in Lake Bennett, 29/12/53, at MP 52, recovered 09/92, and scrapped.

NCNG #183, operated as WP&YR #17 on it's NCNG flat until 5/52 when it was transferred to British Yukon Navigation Company after it became unfit for mainline service.

WP&YR Tank #17 was last known to be in Whitehorse, and was likely used to store "Stove oil" fuel until 1955 when the river steamboats stopped running.
Sometime after that it was acquired by the Yukon Territorial Government.
Little is known of its service with the Territorial government Highways Department.

In January 2003, this railcar tank was located at the Yukon Territorial Government yard in Whitehorse. The tank dimensions and comparison with photos of NCNG #183 confirm this tank as WP&YR #17. Following negotiations with the YTG, in October 2007 the tank was donated to the Yukon & Alaska Historical Railway Association, and moved by the Yukon Government to the WP&YR Utah Yard near MacRae.

This is the only remaining railcar tank which the US Army brought north to serve on the WP&YR during the Alcan construction. It might be suitable to restore it as WP&YR tankcar #17 mounted on a wood deck flatcar of that era, and incorporate it with a planned exhibit of historic WP&YR rolling stock at Carcross.

Mike Peltier
Whitehorse, Yukon
October 2007

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