The Pacific Fruit Express Company (PFE) was incorporated in 1906 and began operations the following year. A joint project of the Edward H. Harriman-controlled Southern Pacific and Union Pacific railroads, the PFE handled shipments of vegetables, fruit and other perishables primarily from western growing areas to markets in the northern and eastern states. At its height, the company had a total of almost 41,000 ice refrigerator cars. To service these, the PFE operated a number of ice plants and docks, as well as car and repair shops throughout the west. After World War II, the number of cars owned by the company declined, although their size increased. Mechanical refrigerators began supplanting the older ice bunker cars. By 1972 the ice cars had been totally replaced. Joint ownership between Southern Pacific and Union Pacific ended in 1978, with the two railroads dividing the rolling stock and SP keeping the Pacific Fruit Express name.

Reefers in the fleet carried a class nomenclature following the format R-30-1, which stands for Rrefrigerator, 30 ton nominal capacity, 1st design.


Pacific Fruit Express by Signature Press

by Anthony W. Thompson, Robert J. Church, Bruce H. Jones

A complete history of the refrigerator car company owned by Southern Pacific and Union Pacific.

ISBN 1-930013-03-5

Painting & Lettering

From an early period until 1946, the paint scheme had an SP herald on one side of the car and a UP herald on the other side. In 1946 the scheme switched to have both heralds on both sides of the car, with the SP herald near the door and the UP herald at the end of the car. The UP herald was in color.

Martin McGuirk indicates that "PFE switched from the red, white, and blue UP shield to the black & white double herald in June 1950. In June 1951 PFE began painting side sills and steps orange (same as the car sides) and moved the SP medallion back to the traditional location at the B end of the car. These changes were introduced on the R-40-26 but would have been applied to the R-40-23's as the cars were shopped and painted. The typography changed to the Gothic type in April 1960."

HO Scale Models

R-30-18 Wood Reefer

Rebuilds from earlier R-30 classes.

InterMountain #47401 - Single Herald

47401 side 2 wl

47401 side 1 wl

InterMountain #47402 - Single Herald w/Stripes *

47402 side 2 wl

47402 side 1 wl

InterMountain #47403 - Double Color Herald


InterMountain #47404 - Double Herald


* This scheme was applied to only five cars of class R-30-16 in 1941 and only for a few months.

R-40-10 Steel Reefer

Built 1936-37.

InterMountain #46701P - Overland Herald

46701P side 2 wl

46701P side 1 wl

InterMountain #46702P - Double Color Herald


InterMountain #46703P - Double Herald


InterMountain #46709P - 1942 Single Herald

46709P side 2awl

46709P side 1awl

R-40-19 Wood Reefer

1944 rebuild program.

InterMountain #47410 - Single Herald

47410 side 2 wl

47410 side 1 wl

R-40-21 Wood Reefer

1945-47 rebuild program.

InterMountain #47415 - Single Herald

47415 side 2 wl

47415 side 1 wl

InterMountain #47416 - Double Color Herald


R-40-23 Steel Reefer

Built 1946.

InterMountain #45501 - Double Color Herald


InterMountain #45509 - Overland Herald



InterMountain #45532 - Double Herald


R-40-25 Steel Reefer

Built in 1949, with Preco fans.

InterMountain #47420 - Double Color Herald


InterMountain #47421 - Double Herald


R-40-26 Plug-Door Ice Reefer

Built 1951-52.

Sunshine Models #72.7 - Double Herald

R-70-20 Mechanical Reefer

Built 1969-70.

InterMountain #48801 - Early Roof & Keystone Cushion Underframe

InterMountain #48802 - Early Roof & Hydra-Cushion Underframe

InterMountain #48803 - Late Roof & Keystone Cushion Underframe

InterMountain #48804 - Late Roof & Hydra-Cushion Underframe

InterMountain #48805 - UPFE - Union Pacific Fruit Express

InterMountain #48807 - SPFE - Southern Pacific Fruit Express

InterMountain #48812 - UPFE - R-70-25

InterMountain #48813 - SPFE - Perishable

InterMountain #48818 - SPFE - White/Orange

InterMountain #48825 - SPFE - Restenciled