Poultry Car picture

While browsing through the Canada Science and Technology Museum CN Images of Canada library I came across this reference to a poultry car. It’s titled:

Shipment of poultry, Prince Edward Island
[S.l.], Prince Edward Island, Canada 1929

Jump to the image itself by clicking on this link:

The photograph does not indicate a location but in the background are some large oil storage tanks which puts the photo either in Borden or Charlottetown. The platform and lights, to me, makes me think this was photographed in Borden – any ideas?

The car is really strange and I’ve never seen anything like it before. I looks like it started life as a outside-braced (single-sheathed) boxcar with all of it’s sheathing removed and replaced with a huge stack of screen wire…okay chicken wire. I can’t remember where I remember reading about a purpose-built car for carrying geese and sheep that was built in Charlottetown for the railway. Looking at the photograph it looks like it would be very difficult to model this car with all that delicate construction. I presume that there weren’t a lot of these cars on the fleet and imagine that it would have just been loaded at a team track in one town and then sent to another?

By the way, there are two really sharp CN wooden reefers in the background of this shot.



  1. Hi, Chris:

    I’d put it at Charlottetown, behind the station on the express shed track.

    It would be interesting to learn more about these cars!

    Steve Hunter

  2. Wow! I think this is the first photo I’ve ever seen of a poultry car in service – good find!

    I can’t claim to be an expert on live poultry cars, as most of my knowledge comes from a chapter in the NEB&W steam-era freight car guide. According to that publication, live poultry cars cars were introduced in 1884, and the number in service peaked in 1931, with 2,835 cars in service. As there were then 3,022,950 freight cars in the US, Canada and Mexico, you can see they were a rare type of car.

    Although the car shown looks similar to single-sheathed boxcar, it was most likely built new, and not a conversion. It has the characteristic low side sills that appear to be typical of live poultry cars. The centre of the car was enclosed to accomodate an attendant who rode with the car to tend to the chickens. Above the centre compartment was a water tank, which was accessed through a roof hatch. There were also roof hatched that could be opened for additional ventilation during warm weather. The attendant’s compartment had a stove for heating. The cars typically had a feed bin under the centre of the car.

    It’s hard to make out the number of the car, but I suspect it was one of the fleet owned by the Live Poultry Transportation Company, a US firm whose reporting marks were LPTX. Interestingly, the Canadian Pacific rostered 4 poultry cars numbered 27200-27203, still in service in 1949.

    I know of three models in HO scale, all wood “craftsman” kits. Two were by Ambroid, and the other by Main Line Models.

    I found two other good photos showing these cars:

    and an interesting article:


    All the best,


    1. Wow Mark! This is great stuff. Thanks for taking the time to expand on the post. I remember seeing a reference to several purpose built cars on the Island that were built for geese if I recall correctly and I wonder if the one pictured is from that set.

      I was surprised to see that kits had been offered. I imagine that the car would be quite tricky to model.

      Well I’m off to go check out your links now.

      Thanks again.

  3. Ambroid had two types of cars available like the ones pictured in the 1960’s. One was the standard poultry car as pictured in the photos. The other was a combination of one end used for live poultry, the other end was an ice reefer used for the transport of eggs and the like. You can still occasionally find these on Ebay and other auction sites. Check out http://www.hoosiervalley.org for some addtional photos and information on poultry cars.

    1. Hi. I don’t have permission to actually post the image directly here on the blog so I had included a link out to it. The image is part of the National Museum of Science and Technology collection: CN Images of Canada.

      I just checked the link and it loads properly. Sorry if it’s confusing I just wanted to make sure I was treading unfairly on anyone’s copyright.

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