Dave is correct, lots of lumber and panel products moved into California
via barge from as far away as Vancouver Island, BC to Santa Cruz, CA and all
points in between and still does for that matter.
Water traffic for the most part is slightly cheaper than rail and the end
users wanted to keep it that way so much so that they often kept their own
berths in the L. A. Harbor districts as well as San Diego.
But moving such huge amounts of lumber via barge could be a blessing as
well as a curse. There was always the "Blue Moon" barges that would come
back to bite your position in the hind quarters. Just as with rail you had
union contracts to contend with and having a barge full of several million
board feet of lumber products and no means to unload it in the middle of
your busy shipping season was a huge issue compared to several carloads of
lumber on cars that couldn't get switched in. The end user berths were
all most always rail served as well. Many companies would have cars
diverted to the berths to consolidate inventories or in some cases if
the end user was SP served they would take UP/GN/NP/MILW wood
into the berths as many times this wood was cheaper FOB LA than wood from the
mid Willamette Valley or Northern California. One more way to keep
the saw mills in check.
SP ruled the lumber markets in California and Arizona for many
years, often the lumber rolled right on through the LA Basin to points like
Phoenix. The UP for some many years was the minority player in
the lumber baron southern California market with less receivers
than even the Santa Fe who actually did have a strong second place in
the grand scheme. Even as I was growing up in the lumber business in
the 1970's I got tired of all the SP flats and boxes and enjoyed seeing a
Great Northern 40-foot double door boxcar spotted at the team track at
the Fullerton, CA station with a load of Inland Red Cedar hand
loaded on spot, I can still smell the aroma to this day...
Jeff, remember that wood coming south out of Seattle/Tacoma area headed
south and turned left at Vancouver, WA headed to the more numerous eastern
markets. This included SPF from the coastal areas of BC. Chicago was and still
is the biggest lumber gateway.
Yes, Mike I am back feeling much better and stronger everyday but sore as
Eventually all things merge into
one and a river runs through it.