The Coors reefer is one of our more colorful exhibits. Following Prohibition, brewers once again began to market their products, and one way they did this was through the use of “Billboard Reefers.” In 1933 and 1934, Coors leased a total of thirty of the reefers from the Burlington Refrigerator Express Company, a subsidiary of the CB&Q Railroad. The cars were used to transport Coors products to distributors in Colorado and the contiguous states.
Use of such billboard reefers was short-lived because in 1934 the ICC prohibited cars from being lettered for any company other than the owner. By the mid-thirties, the reefers were returned to their old BREX numbers and the billboard reefers became a part of railroad history. None of the original cars exist today.
Our “Coors reefer” is… a fake. In 1971, The Burlington Northern donated Western Fruit Express WFEX 67685, which had run on the Great Northern Railway, to the museum. It was built in 1929 at the Alexandria, Virginia shops of the Western Fruit Express, and is similar to the cars used by Coors. The museum is in the process of painting the car in the old Coors livery, and this is being done with assistance from the Coors Brewing Company.