This one is for real!
While this is a drawing and not a photo, it is a drawing of a REAL Nickel Plate Line car. But note that it is not Nickel Plate Road; there is a difference.
Back in the late 1800s, there were many, many small railroads and they weren’t really all that good at cooperating with each other and helping out the end user… the shipper. Instead, the rail barons were more likely to try to shaft each other and the customer be damned. Besides, if they could run another railroad out of town, that was simply more business for them.
Well, a few innovative railroad types decided that there had to be a better way and they actually did start working together… on a limited basis at least, by forming various “Lines” that operated across connecting railroads. In some cases, they even went as far as pooling some rolling stock or money for cars that could be operated anywhere along these “lines” that they participated in. And that was often more than just one line per railroad.
The idea was simple… if a car was loaded at one town then moved across various railroads to its end destination, the cost of loading & unloading the car at each transfer point could lessen expenses and allow them to make more money. All good things must come to an end though and the heyday of the various lines met the same fate when the Interstate Commerce Commission and the Sherman Anti-trust Act came along. The various lines were way too friendly and that smacked of market collusion so they quickly went out of style. But when they were around, they did make for some interesting car graphics as the above drawing suggests.
You KNOW that I’m going to have to create decals for this guy, don’t you? It is just too good to pass up!