McCloud River Railroad Models:

Incentive Per Diem Boxcars

In 1977 a new fleet of 400 incentive per diem boxcars spread the McCloud River Railroad's name and logo to all corners of the North American continent. It thus came as no surprise that nearly every model railroad manufacturer in the late 1970s and early 1980s seemed to have offered a boxcar model painted for the McCloud River at one time or another. Without exception all of these cars were of toy-like quality, at least by today's standards, and none of them faithfully or accurately captured the look and feel of the prototype cars. While many more accurate cars have become available, the trend of "foobie" cars continues to the present, as evidenced by a recent release of a McCloud River single door boxcar by Bachmann Trains. This page will deal with double-door car models only.

Model Die Casting/Roundhouse

Around 1979 Model Die Casting/Roundhouse released models of a double door FMC-built 50-foot boxcar. The cars filled a much needed niche in the hobby at the time, as they were about the closest to the hordes of incentive per diem boxcars anyone made. MDC reportedly based the cars on plans FMC drew up for a 5.347 cubic foot boxcar that never actually got built; perhaps the most glaring errors were that the car roof design never actually existed on any real cars, and the model was a scale foot too wide. None the less, Roundhouse produced the car painted for nearly every road that had FMC double door incentive per diem boxcars, including a model of the MR #2013. Aside from the roof issues, the model also suffered from a few paint inaccuracies, specifically a white instead of silver roof and the bottom part of the carbody painted white instead of brown.

Side view of the MDC/Roundhouse model.


Around the middle to later 1980s Athearn started producing what they called their "Railbox Double Door" 50-foot boxcar kit. Like MDC before them, Athearn released the cars in a wide variety of road names in several different releases through the years, including several McCloud models. Athearn patterned their cars after a FMC 5,258 cubic foot boxcar built principally for the Southern Pacific, and as such it had numerous small details that made it incorrect for the McCloud cars. The doors on this Athearn car also opened, unlike the MDC car, but this feature came at the visual cost of vastly oversized door runners and clasps. These cars also suffered from various paint scheme deficiencies.

In 2005 Athearn acquired Roundhouse/Model Die Casting, and in the years since Athearn has improved the tooling of the old MDC molds, including fixing the incorrect roof issues and replacing the cast on grab irons with individually applied wire grab irons. The body is still the scale foot too wide, which is not especially noticeable until the model is placed next to a scale width car Athearn has released these models in their Ready to Run lines, including several McCloud road numbers.

The MR #2110 was one of the first releases of the Athearn "Blue Box" kit painted for the McCloud River. While they did get the silver roof, they also missed the brown stripe along the bottom of the carbody.

Another "Blue Box" Athearn kit of the #2199, with inexplicably white doors.

Athearn released several numbers of McCloud cars in roughly the same time as their MR caboose models, using the old and much improved MDC tooling. MR #2156 is from that release.

In a previous release of FMC boxcars based on the old MDC tooling Athearn included this model of a former McCloud car lettered for the Iowa Traction Company.

E&C Shops

Around the early 1990s E&C Shops set up operations and started making models in Roseburg, Oregon. The company produced a number of models, including woodchip hoppers and a 50-foot double door boxcar kit. The boxcar had incorrect side panels and some other issues that made it incorrect for the McCloud cars, but they offered one painted for the McCloud anyway, and despite the inaccuracies it is a nice car. E&C became LBF Company, which later re-released a McCloud boxcar in another number as a ready-to-run model. Intermountain Railway Company later acquired the tooling and molds after LBF failed but have not offered any more McCloud painted cars.

The E&C boxcar kit painted for McCloud River.


Atlas has produced by far the most accurate and detailed model of McCloud's 5,077 cubic foot boxcars. Atlas first released the car in 2013, including four McCloud road numbers. One other release of these cars arrived in 2019, and while it did not contain any more McCloud cars it did have several road numbers of Seattle & North Coast's former MR cars. These cars are outstanding models and capture the look and feel of the prototype cars better than anything else produced.

A side view of the Atlas car painted up as the MR #2000.

The end of the Atlas car. Note the couple lift bar, a detail missing from all the other cars on this page.

N Scale

For many years MDC made the only model of a McCloud River boxcar in N scale. Atlas, Fox Valley Models, and Micro-Trains have all made much better models in recent years. Several manufacturers have also made single door boxcars.

MDC's N scale McCloud River boxcar.