Railroads and the Auto Industry: A Research Question

Shawn Beckert

Fellow Listers,

Where would one go to find information on the interaction
between railroads and the automobile industry in the 1940's
and 1950's? My interest in this actually goes a decade beyond
this time frame, but I'll keep the question within the limits
of this list's charter.

Being as how the Southern Pacific and Cotton Belt did a huge
amount of business hauling automobiles and auto parts over the
years, I've been attempting of late to discover the basic "in's
and out's" of how all this freight was moved:

* Where the on-line parts manufacturers were located.
* Where the on-line assembly plants were located.
* What freight cars were assigned where - and when - to handle
the traffic from the various plants.
* What documents exist - if any - that show automobile and auto
parts car "pool" assignments.

Walther's book "America's Driving Force" addresses this subject, but
since the book was written with the assistance of Ford Motor Co., I
suspect it's a bit biased. In addition, most of the information in
the book is related to the 1980's and later, which doesn't help my
steam-and-early-diesel era research much, if at all.

Where can I go to find publications or documents that have this kind
of detailed information? Does any such document even exist? Would there
be some kind of government publication that contains this information?

Any and all thoughts, opinions, and advice are most welcome.


Shawn Beckert

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