These ready-to-run cars are direct from Bluford Shops in Bluford, IL and feature: die cast slope sheet-hopper bay-center sill assembly; injection molded plastic sides, ends, and hopper doors; fully molded brake tank, valve and air lines; body mounted brake hose detail; coal load; lever-style hand brake; body mounted magnetically operating knuckle couplers; close coupling; and Fox Valley Models metal wheels.
The Lehigh Valley received 940 of these hoppers from Bethlehem Steel just seven months after America’s entry into the Second World War. Anthracite traffic was still relatively strong during this period and LV was pressed to feed the wartime demands for raw material by the steel mills of Northeastern Pennsylvania. Despite their diminutive size, these hoppers earned their keep and more than a dozen were still in service on the first day of Conrail, 34 years after they were first delivered.
Jersey Central Lines had 500 of these USRA hoppers. Obviously identified with the Garden State, CNJ also ran into Pennsylvania where the served the steel making and anthracite mining regions around Allentown, Wilkes-Barre and Scranton.
Delaware Lackawanna & Western had 800 of these hoppers. Later in life, they received this paint scheme, complete with “The Road Of Anthracite” square logo. Of the four railroads to have direct routes between the New York City area and Buffalo, Lackawanna was the shortest. This was thanks to some spectacular engineering including the Tunkhannock Viaduct – still the largest reinforced concrete viaduct in the world.