Clark, of the NP flats. I have found via research that in later years both the NP and GN had decided the Q should concentrate on having most of the flat cars of the three Hill Lines, and the most specialized ones also. The reasoning being was that the Q was closest to the heavy manufacturing center of Chicago which generated the greatest need for these cars. This would give the appearance of the NP and GN being flat car poor and the Q flat car heavy when in reality, this was a smart market driven decision.
I am thinking (and this is just conjecture) that this decision came about because there were movements such as you list with these two empty flats rolling away from home.
One other thing, the NP had sales offices well off line in places like Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Pittsburg and so on. And if your check an Official Guide, you will find just about all other railroads had sales agents pounding the pavement out an office far from the home road.
It is possible these flats were on their way to bring a load home. If I can get copyright permission to post the monthly sales reports I'd found, I will.
And I still need to transcribe some NP car movements. Brand new box cars which made one loaded movement on the NP before not returning home – for years. This was part of my past Cocoa Beach presentation on why everybody needs NP cars. Jim Dick – St. Paul