Ivan Ergish's Woodchip Car Photos

Below are some of John Henderson's collection of photos taken by Ivan Ergish in 1952. The photos were taken at Potlatch Forest Product;s mill in Lewiston, Idaho or near by at the Camas Prairie's East Lewiston yard. Click on the thumbnails to enlarge.


PFI 1486 Lewiston, Idaho May 17, 1952 Note the height difference between the PFI car and the steel box car next to it.

PFI 1484 Lewiston, Idaho April 8, 1952. 3/4 view

PFI 1484 Lewiston, Idaho May 17, 1952 Note the height difference between the PFI car and the wooden boxcar next to it.

PFI 1484, PFI unidentified, and PFI 1486 Lewiston, Idaho May 17, 1952. Note the height difference between the wooden and steel box cars next to these

PFI 1484 Lewiston, Idaho April 8, 1952 broadside.

Here is a copy of John's email that he posted to the Camas Prairie Yahoo Group on 5/10/03.

Good evening all;

I have been holding back on this topic hoping someone with more knowledge
would jump in but no such luck so here goes.

PFI had their own chip cars.

Here is what I know about the cars based largely upon five photographs by
the late Ivan Ergish of Lewiston, ID.

1.   The photos were taken April 8, 1952 and May 17, 1952 at East
Lewiston.  The photos show three cars.

2.  The cars are lettered "PFI".  One car number is unknown.  The others
were 1484 and 1486.

3.  I have never been able to find a mention of these cars in an ORIGINAL

4.  The cars are nominally 40 foot cars with steel underframes and steel
ends.  I believe the ends would be considered 4-3 "Dreadnought" ends with
an extension at the top.  The ends had what are usually called "grain
doors" but were used in loading lumber in box cars.

5.  The cars have heavy wooden trusses in the sides with side doors in
the lower half for dumping their loads.  I assume they had an inverted
"V" bottom.

6.  The cars are about a foot taller than NKP 6388 which appears to be a
pretty standard PS-1 or similar box car.

7.  The only similar cars I have ever seen photos of belonged to
Long-Bell Lumber Company subsidiary Longview Portland & Northern RR.  I
saw several photos of these cars at the Lewis County Museum, Kelso, WA
several years ago.  The photos were not dated and no one present had any
information on them.  I have not been back since then.  The LP&N cars had
a removable roof for loading purposes.  The PFI cars may have had this
feature but the roofs on the 1484 and 1486 are slightly different from
each other.  I am pretty sure the roof on the 1486 is removable but I am
not so sure about the roof of the 1484.


1.  Privately owned rail cars could be and are handled on common carrier
railroads without being listed in the ORER.  This is done by legal
agreement between the car owner and the connecting common carrier.  If
one assumes a car routing of say Potlatch to Lewiston this would seem to
be an easy legal agreement for both parties.  Comment:  Such a legal
agreement would also explain how PFI boxcars loaded with Presto-Logs got
from Lewiston to Bovill where I saw them in the late sixties.

2.  The combined wood and steel construction might imply a 1920s
construction date.  The Long-Bell mills in Longview were built in the mid
to late twenties so it is easy to assume the LP&N cars in the photos I
saw were new at that time.  They certainly were all freshly painted. 

3.  Given that the 1920s is about the same time frame that Potlatch
developed the Presto-Log so transportation of chips from Potlatch to
Lewiston might well have been a possible routing for the PFI cars and the
time the cars were constructed.

John Henderson
Western Washington Steam Donkey Historical Association
Illegitimus Non Carborundum