In the March 1921 issue of Shipper & Carrier magazine, a bold headline announced "New York Central Inaugurates New 'Container Car' Express Service." The accompanying photo depicted a gondola loaded with nine identical locked steel containers. In language that could easily apply to modern intermodal containers - which would not be invented for another 35 years - the article proclaimed the car was "calculated to work revolutionary changes in freight handling.. The new system provides that the portable 'containers' shall be loaded and locked at the shippers' own store, and conveyed by motor truck and lifted by crane aboard the car. At destination the locked container is carried by motor truck direct to the consignee's door. All of the handling and checking processes between shipper and consignee are done away with at great saving of labor and time."
The key difference between that early process and today's containers is that the original target was LCL, or "less than carload lot" freight - shipments that were too small to fill a boxcar, and thus more difficult and time consuming for railroads to handle. The early process worked well enough that it was soon duplicated by the Pennsylvania and other railroads. LCL container service lasted for decades in cars such as our RailKing model, until the railroads largely got out of the LCL business and left it to truckers. During its heyday, some LCL cars were even equipped as head-end cars for use in high-speed passenger trains. For today's shippers, however, "LCL" has a slightly different meaning: "less than container load" service for shipments that don't fill a container, and must be consolidated together in order to complete a full container load.
High quality, traditionally sized RailKing Freight Cars provide detailed bodies and colorful paint schemes for the O Gauge railroader. MTH makes an enormous variety of RailKing Freight Cars, including many different car types and roadnames. No matter what era or part of the country you are modeling, RailKing is sure to have something for you.