Long before the "tagging" of rail cars became commonplace and considered an art form, railroad workers were leaving their marks on cars that they had worked on. The workers marked the cars with their personal "moniker", usually in the same location and sometimes on both sides of the car. Originally, the monikers were made with chalk which could easily be wiped away. Eventually, chalk was replaced by permanent paint stick with the false perception that the marks would last forever. A few of the more famous monikers are "Colossus of Roads", "Bozo Texino" and "Herby".
MRPS is currently home to another well known moniker. Scot Phillips, Operations Officer of the Massillon Museum, recently attended one of our open house events and while touring the grounds was surprised to see a "SOO Line Star" displayed on the side of our AC&Y boxcar. Scot, who is also a researcher and historian of the moniker mark-making culture has tracked the "SOO Line Star" through photographs and slides but has only seen one other example in person. The mark which almost always shows up on SOO Line boxcars, is above the second rung of the ladder on the left side of the car on both sides.
Along with a couple of friends, Scot produced an exhibition at the Massillon Museum titled "Moniker: Identity Lost and Found". The exhibit ran for four months and was attended by over 6,000 people including some from Germany, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands as well as 32 states and Canada. The draw was incredible considering that the exhibition was the first of its' kind about the moniker art form that was presented in a museum setting.
Moniker marks were from a bygone era and most will be lost or have been lost over time. Some were painted over, others have rusted away or been scrapped on decommissioned stock. Scot believes that the possibility exists to preserve and document them and has made a presentation to the Board of Directors of Midwest that would allow him to have the "SOO Line Stars" removed from the AC&Y boxcar. The stars would be cut out in 16" square panels with a plasma cutter, and then the car would be repaired with new steel squares and eventually repainted with a facsimile of the original "SOO Line Star". As the photos show, the AC&Y boxcar is deteriorating with large areas of rust in the vicinity of the stars. MRPS currently does not have the funds available to restore the boxcar so allowing the stars to be removed would ensure that its' place in moniker history would be preserved.