Railroad motor car "Roslyn" of the Northern Pacific Railroad Co., Alberta, Canada. 1910 engineered by the McKeen Motor Car Company.
The McKeen Motor Car Company, based in Omaha, Nebraska, was established by William McKeen, the Superintendent of Motive Power and Machinery for the Union Pacific Railroad. Between 1905 and 1917, the company built 152 internal combustion-engined railroad motor cars. Initially, the cars were constructed by the Union Pacific before McKeen leased space in their Omaha Shops.
The McKeen cars were designed to enhance the efficiency of small passenger trains, but they faced challenges due to the limitations of early internal combustion engine technology. Despite their innovative designs, the cars struggled to find a reliable powerplant. Most of the cars produced were for E.H. Harriman's railway empire, but his death in 1909 led to a decline in support for the McKeen cars. Some of the cars were later re-engined with different drive mechanisms, including gasoline-mechanical, gasoline-electric, diesel-electric, and steam power.
McKeen cars were characterized by their distinctive aerodynamic front end, rounded tail, and porthole windows. Many featured a dropped central door and offered different configurations, including large mail and express areas or all-seating arrangements. The cars came in two lengths, 55 and 70 feet, with varying passenger capacities.