The beginnings of the Orange and Blue Lionel Lines “Circle L” series began in 1983 with the introduction of the #8380 Lionel Lines SD-28 diesel, #9239 Lionel Lines N5C caboose, and #9849 Lionel Lines refrigerator car.
As time went by the series grew with #6214 Lionel Lines gondola, #6313 Lionel Lines tank car, #9492 boxcar, #5733 bunk car, #19303 Lionel Lines quad hopper, #16323 Lionel Lines flat with vans, #19420 Lionel Lines vat car, and #16933 Lionel Lines flatcar with two autos in 1995.
Sometime shortly before or after the 1995 production of this series, Lionel engineers came up with one more car for the series: a Lionel Lines “Circle L” ore car.
The above car, the only one known to exist, was acquired by a Lionel dealer in one of the auction lots from the Lionel Engineering Department and was later verified by Lionel’s Production Manager as the actual prototype hand-decaled mock-up. The engineer or designer who mocked up the car probably, and I’m guessing, used an orange undecorated Amtrak body shell, applied the “Circle L” decal and a transparent “Lionel” decal to demonstrate how it would look as part of the Lionel Lines “Circle L” series.
However, the ore car was never produced although it would have been a perfect and logical extension to the Lionel Lines “Circle L” series. It most likely fell victim to the sale of Lionel by Richard Kughn to Wellspring Associates in 1995.
For 1996, Lionel produced the uncataloged #11819 Georgia Power Train Set for Georgia Power employees. The six-car set was headed by an NW-2 switcher and included the #16765 1996 Olympics box car, a depressed center flat with transformer, a depressed center flat with cable reels, a 4-bay hopper with coal load and a square window caboose.
The train set was so popular with employees that in 2006 the Georgia Power Safety & Health Department created another Limited Edition Georgia Power Lionel train set as an incentive for an innovative safety program. Called “Target Zero”, the program offered employees one component of the train each year as target safety goals were met, i.e. a caboose in 2007, an engine and tender in 2008, a derrick car in 2009, and a box car in 2010.
The 2011 incentive car is the uncatalogued #26442 Georgia Power Ore Car shown below. It features an ore load, die-cast sprung trucks and Central of Georgia with Georgia Power graphics on one side and “Target Zero” on the other.
Looking forward, a lowboy with a transformer will be offered for 2012, a railcar with power poles load in 2013 and finally in 2014 another lowboy with a large reel of conductor cable.
Unfortunately, this car is for distribution to Georgia Power employees only and therefore, as the other cars in the set, is not for sale to the general public, except on the secondary market.
Let’s Zinc About This
And finally, in 2007 Lionel created an uncatalogued #22207 Limited Edition New Jersey Zinc Mining Car for Sterling Hills Mines. There were only 300 of these ore cars produced and what makes them very unique and unusual is that Lionel used K-Line bodies, die-cast sprung trucks and couplers. As you will see from the photos, there are neither “Built by Lionel” date markings nor a Lionel production number on the car itself, yet the Lionel box sports a product description and a Lionel production number. As far as I know, this car was produced right after the sale of K-Line to Lionel and may be the first time Lionel used K-Line components for a Lionel produced ore car.
So just when I thought I had collected every ore car ever produced by Lionel, within 6 months I suddenly discover three more. I guess that’s what makes collecting trains so enjoyable and, I have to say, always surprising.