Re: Watermelon traffic in Southeast




The late Gene Huddleston , photographer, writer and professor, worked summers at Russell during post-WW2 era as an assistant clerk.  Even into his eighties he said he could remember the horrible smell of decaying chunks of watermelon left in the cars coming back from Chicago getting ready to be assembled into a train heading down the Chinchfield Route back to Florida.  Reefers would have been cleaned out.


Conversely, ventilated boxes with watermelons heading north during the hot summers had to be checked out by yard crews for over-ripe produce that needed to pulled out to save the rest . . . . but those somehow were not bad enough to not be thrown out.


Al Kresse.

----- Original Message -----

From: guycwilber @ aol .com
To: STMFC @ yahoogroups .com
Sent: Saturday, July 27, 2013 1:15:28 AM
Subject: Re: [ STMFC ] Watermelon traffic in Southeast

A 1946 USDA study in which the AAR's Freight Claim Division was a  
participant stated that the majority of watermelons shipped from Florida were  
loaded into ventilated box cars, though both refrigerator and stock cars  were
also used.  Stock car shipments of watermelons were dominant from the  other
Southern states, but also were supplemented by refrigerator and  ventilator
cars along with a regular box car now and then.
In 1951, your year of modeling interest, there were 25,536  car loads of
watermelons shipped.  Just two years earlier,  a 1949 study showed that the
dominant variety of watermelons from  the Southeast was the Black Diamond.  
That study examined watermelons  delivered to 43 markets nationwide.  Of the
6,776 cars inspected  for damage; 1,274 were ventilated box cars, 3,788 were
stock cars, 1,712 were  refrigerator cars and 2 were box cars.  
Unfortunately,  the tabulation does not show the break down of the car  types from the
various regions though it does show that 1,369 of the  6,776 cars originated
from the Southeast.
Regarding your thoughts on the harvest of watermelons.  The Florida  
harvest generally ran from May 1st thru mid August with June being the most  
productive month usually totaling over 75% of Florida's annual crop.
Guy Wilber
Reno, Nevada


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