You never know what you'll find in a box of photos!
The Buffalo Creek Graphics car shown here should not be confused with Lackawanna Dairy Line refrigerator cars. This model is a re-creation of the assigned-service cars that the Nickel Plate Road leased from the DL&W in the early part of the 20th Century. On the other hand, the cars which Atlas O produced were based on the reefers that the Lackawanna used in milk service, primarily in Upstate New York.
I did not do the original research on the prototype, but here is what I know about them based on the notes in my file:
They were leased from the DL&W. While there appears to be no documentation to verify exactly how many cars there were, it appears that there were at least six, and possibly eight, cars that were leased. It appears they were in use during the period between 1920 and 1927. They were in assigned service on the NKP main line, with return designation to Cleveland (reference the black plate applied separately on each car). Their primary service was hauling raw milk and milk products between the Fairmont Dairy facilities in Buffalo and Cleveland.
Eventually, Fairmont leased their own cars and had them painted and decorated with the well-known "Fairmont Butter" paint scheme. (Those cars have been replicated by Atlas O.)
There are no records, of which I am aware, to document what happened to these cars after they left NKP assigned service. However, at least two different cars were photographed as late as 1939 with their original "When empty, return to..." plates still intact. Since one of those cars was photographed in the Carolinas, the assumption is that they went back to the DL&W and were returned to general revenue service. That does not, however, explain the plates being retained on the car sides. Oddly enough, there was some doubt that the cars actually existed at all until photos surfaced a few years ago.
Two Buffalo Creek Graphics O scale cars are still in stock as of 06.25.2012. Order here.
The NKPHTS logo and the phrase "Nickel Plate Road" are registered trademarks of the NKPHTS, Inc.
jts - TrainResource.com Historical Research