Re: tractor loading

Richard Hendrickson

Now that Charlie Vlk has provided the ICC report on the accident in
question, and we know that the tractor that caused the wreck was a
crawler and was loaded lengthwise and not crosswise, let's go back to
Doug Harding's original post which started this whole discussion.

On Dec 27, 2011, at 6:54 AM, Douglas Harding wrote:

The discussion of tractor loading led a friend to ask me: Is there
to the story that in 1947 a wreck in the Chicago area changed the
from across the flat car to in line loading of tractors? He says a
insists that a wreck in a west suburb (can't remember the name) on the
Burlington was the reason the government changed the loading style.

I responded "that doesnít make sense. The railroads handled high &
loads all the time. The only situation I think of that being the
reason, was
if the load had an overhang that exceeded clearances. More likely a
new rule
was instated by the railroad, where the wreck occurred, restricting
high &
wide loads on that particular section of track. The AAR (not
government) had
rules for securing loads, but I donít believe the government was ever
involved with dictating loading restrictions, except perhaps for the

Does anyone know for sure?
Well, yes, as it turns out. In addition to the ICC accident report,
we have photos of tractor loads, as well as the AAR loading rules
books, showing that the loading rules were not changed, at least
during the period covered by this list, either by the ICC or the
AAR. So the "friend who insists..." is simply wrong. And this is
how false information gets established as truth (or at least what
some political figures have recently described as "truthiness").
What doubtless started as sheer speculation unsupported by fact
circulated through several hands until it became someone's honest-to-
God truth, and that process is especially likely to occur if one of
those in the chain of falsehood is a current or former railroad
employee and therefore "must know the straight story."

This incident should serve as a warning to all of us to differentiate
facts from opinions from speculations and rumors. Doug's skepticism
turned out to be right on, demonstrating that you don't have to be a
professional researcher to have a discriminating BS detector. If it
sounds implausible, it's probably wrong. Even if it sounds
plausible, it's often wrong. And these days it's gets easier all the
time to check assertions like this one against the facts.

Richard Hendrickson

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