3 Things You Need To Know About Open Hoppers

Today I want to share 3 quick facts with you about one of the most standard railcars in my area. Open-top hoppers feature a large container with narrow openings on the bottom and no roof. Let's get started!


Fact #1:  Great for Weather-Immune Cargo

Firstly, these cars can be used to transport coal, coke, aggregates, sand, ores, gravel, slag, scrap, grain, and ballast. Since these products are not affected by weather, the open nature of them is ideal. I live in an area where tons of Anthracite Coal is shipped off by these cars.


Fact #2:  They are a Fancy Gondola

Open hoppers are unique to gondolas because they make use of divided compartments. Modern hoppers usually have 3 or 4 angled bays that act like chutes when it comes time to unload their cargo. Some facilities even take advantage of automatic loading and unloading.


Today, hoppers are built sturdy with steel. They come in a few different sizes that have different max capacities. A standard in my area seems to be around 100 ton per car. That's a lot of coal!

Minersville, PA: A long train full of hoppers transports coal from Reading Anthracite.

Fact #3:  They Were Around For Awhile

These railcars were around almost from the start of railroading. Back in the early 1800's, Delaware & Hudson used a very similar design to haul coal. However, their primitive car was called a Jimmie, and they were essentially the beginning of Hoppers.

I hope you enjoyed today's lesson!

Do you have something to share about Hoppers? Comment Below!

Corey Conrad Blog Author


Corey is the owner of Trains in the Valley and enjoys helping people build bigger and better model railroads. He enjoys going on railfan adventures with his wife, Victoria. When not chasing trains, Corey is designing websites, composing music, or writing fictional stories for Mytron Studios, his creative full-time business.