The Goldston Depot served the community of Goldston until 1973. It was saved from demolition in the mid-70s by Jerry Gaines, who moved it a few blocks away and used it for storage. In November 2015, the train depot was gifted to New Hope Valley Railway from Jerry’s son, Todd Gaines. See photos and read more about the Goldston Depot here.
USOX 8707 – The Exhibit Car
By R.T. Crowley, curator of history
How many of you have ever taken a close look at our “Exhibit Car,” the one housing our mini-museum and gift shop? These days our society has become very conscious of our military veterans, and having been built for military use, the car is a veteran as well. The specific history of this car is somewhat sketchy, but we do know a bit about it.
USOX 8707 was originally built at the St. Louis Car Company plant in St. Louis, MO in December 1942. The original interior configuration was as a Kitchen Car for WWII troop trains, providing meals to military personnel being transported to the ships to take them to the various theaters of the war.
As one sees the car from the infield at Bonsal, the stoves inside were to the left where no windows exist, with food preparation areas on the other side of the car opposite the stove. The area to the right, now housing the gift shop area, held bunks and lockers for the cooks operating the car. Vents louvers visible on the outside of the car indicate the location of food storage areas inside. The end doors allowed railroad and military personnel to pass to and from the kitchen car as the troop train moved. The “USOX” reporting marks indicate the car was operated by the United Service Organization (USO) with the “X” identifying it as a privately owned car, one not owned by any actual railroad.
In 1946 the 8707 was retired from troop train service, and stored by the US Army. It may have been brought out of mothballs to serve during the Korean War, but we have no specific records of that. Eventually, the car was transferred to the US Army Transportation Corps at Ft. Eustis, VA, the stoves and most other interior fittings were removed, probably for scrap, to allow the conversion to a Tool Car on maintenance trains.
The car was donated to the Old North State Chapter NRHS (ONS) in the late-1970s, and moved to the Alexander Railroad for storage, pending the ONS acquisition of their own track. In approximately 1986, the ONS determined they could no longer justify continued ownership of the car, donated it to the East Carolina NRHS (predecessor of the NCRM), and the car moved to Bonsal. The car was in reasonable condition upon arrival in Bonsal, even still containing some of the original bunks from its military service. Unfortunately, these bunks were scrapped during a renovation at Bonsal.
USOX 8707 also contains a mystery we will probably never solve. Stand on our infield facing the car, and look high up on the side to the left. You will see two small and generally round holes in the side. These holes are patched over inside but quite visible from the outside. Close inspection shows these two marks as bullet holes! From the way the sheet metal protrudes to the outside, the weapon was fired from inside the car. This may have been an accidental discharge of an improperly secured weapon, or maybe…
Well, good curating should not speculate without at least some hard evidence, so we shall leave the rest to your imagination.
Information on the St. Louis Car Company cars, like ours, can be found through the National Museum of Transport and the other libraries and museums in the St Louis area. We also know at least one car similar to ours, although on only four wheels and possibly with a different original interior configuration, is preserved at a railway museum in the Netherlands, southeast of Rotterdam. The corporate records of the Pullman Company are now housed in the Pullman Library at the Illinois Railroad Museum, and their cars were produced at plants in Pullman, IL and Michigan City, MI.
71: Typical of the Diesel-Electric locomotives sold to small railroads and industries across North America. This GE 80-ton is an example of a very successful locomotive family. Never a candidate for most beautiful locomotive, nor the fastest, these GE center-cabs were popular due to their rugged construction and pure utilitarian design. Builder: General Electric. Type: 80-ton Diesel-Electric. Built: March 1945. Builder’s Number: 27994.
75: A Whitcomb design, this engine was built by the resulting merger of the Baldwin Locomotive Works and the Lima and Hamilton Crane companies. This engine operated at New York Shipbuilding in Camden, NJ possibly at the same time as our steam locomotive #17. Builder: Baldwin-Lima-Hamilton. Type: 80-ton Diesel-Electric. Built: April 1947. Builder’s Number: 60738.
335: Norfolk Southern wood-sided Caboose. Birthday parties and small gatherings.
5228: Seaboard Caboose.
188: Southern Railway Post Office & Baggage car. This heavyweight dutifully served the Southern Railway system for many years. It was donated to the East Carolina Chapter NRHS by Southern in the 70s. The car has been painstakingly restored and is open as an exhibit during operating days to the public. Builder: Bethlehem Steel. Built: 1922.
8707: Troop Transport. Built: 12/1942. Builder: St. Louis Car Company. This currently houses the North Carolina Railroad Museum gift shop.