Barrel & Gondola Cars
In North America, the first gondola freight car was developed in the 1830s. These gondolas were little more than flatcars with wooden sides added and designed to carry coal. However, because of their low side walls, railroads quickly saw the other advantages of the open topped rail car and began transporting larger, bulkier and more unique items within a gondola. Lastly, gondolas are different from a hopper car in that a gondola has a stationary bottom whereas a hopper has opening doors to empty their cargo.
In the world of Lionel, the gondola was a common item in their annual product line. In fact it is one of a few freight cars to be produced in all 25 years of Lionel's postwar era (1945 through 1969). Although the gondola is easy to find, unusual ones do exist such as the 3444 animated Cop & Hobo gondola -- where a railroad security man chases a hobo around simulated wooden crates inside the car. Lastly, the barrel car is nothing more than a modified gondola and carried six stained barrels.
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