Lumber Loads in 1947

gary laakso

Here are flat cars and a GN gondola hauling lumber in Ogden in 1947.:
gary laakso
south of Mike Brock

Sent: Saturday, December 19, 2015 12:47 PM
Subject: Re: [STMFC] Lumber Loads in the Transition Era

Hello my friends,
  FIRST - let me thank all of you who have replied/sent photos/etc.  I
DO appreciate the help.  Many of you have sent emails to me off
list and I want to thank those who have done that as well.
  As is often the case there are some follow up questions/topics for
further discussion ... and all of it revolves around the changes in
how open lumber loads looked as time passed.
  Here are -my- conclusions/observations (for which I'm looking for

1) In the 40's and even in the early 50's almost all of the loads
      seem to all be the result of hand stacking.  By that I mean
      that the boards/beams have been put up "one stick at a time"
      rather than being stacked by any machine.  And both ends
      of the stack are "ragged" (not lined up at all).

  2) In addition to that - the earlier the picture the more likely it is
      that there was a mixture of dimensions all pretty much just
      piled up ... the 4x6s were not stacked with each other etc.
        And some of those ragged end stacks seems to be
      "intentional" in that we see some pictures that show "every
      other board" that is stacked longer/shorter and where the
      ones that are short are all lined up with each other (more or

  3) In the 50's we start to see more stacks that have just one
      end of each stack that is 'more or less' lined up.  Still obviously
      stacked one board/piece at a time ... but with some semblance
      of one end of the stack looking "square" (but only sort of).

  4) And there are frequent examples of loads in gondolas as
      well as on flat cars.  Also showing the same lack of the
      ends being 'square' earlier and going towards one end being
      more or less square - but still obviously hand stacked.
         But as time passes the use of gondolas for lumber tapers

  5) Almost all of the cars - both flats and gons have two
      vertical 4x4s (other sizes?) outside of each stack, and then
      an open space in the middle of the car with two more verticals.
      And finally and the tops of these verticals are tied together with
      cross braces of approximately the same dimension.

  6) What I also seem to be seeing is that there is a general
      increase of the likelihood that 'finished' lumber was shipped
      in open loads (as time passes).

  7) One last conclusion - it would appear that the lumber was
      also -unloaded- one piece of material at a time and by hand.
      It may have been to/from a truck or the forks of a loader
      but it was stacked onto and off of the RR car one stick at
      a time.  (Essentially similar to how box cars were loaded.)

  8) It is also of interest to me that it appears that the loads
      generated in the West were not significantly different from
      those generated in the East ... and that it didn't really matter
      a whole lot which RR the load was originated on.  The entire
      industry (nation wide) appears to have progressed along the
      same lines and more or less at the same pace.

        I'm going to go past the end date of this list to make some
      further observations - because they are important differences
      in order to distinguish what is 'right'/'wrong' for doing loads
      for cars that ARE correct for our era.
         Please ignore/skip the rest of this if you are so firmly
      locked into the STMFC era that you "don't want to hear it".  *G*
  a) In the 60's we start to see some loads that are obviously
      loaded using a fork lift.  Not only are these 'bundled' but
      both ends of the load are square and as we get to the late
      60's the loads tend to be 'all of one (or at most 2 or 3) size
      of lumber.
         In addition we see the introduction of metal banding of
      the sections of the loads.  And as time passes we see the
      use of cardboard to reduce the damage that the metal bands
      can cause at the corners.

  b) In the 70's we start to see loads being covered with tarps, etc.
      And in this same time frame we start to see 'load specific' cars
      such as the center beams introduced.

  c) In the 80's we start to see what are known as "shed packs"
      where the entire package of the individual parts of the load
      are wrapped in plastic (think "Jaeger loads").


  Do I have it "mostly right"?  Are there some errors or fine tuning
to the above that you would like to correct/add?


  It is interesting to think about the amount of -labor- involved in
loading and unloading lumber in the STMFC era!  It would appear
that the lumber mills shipped lumber in quantity that was not
sorted by side (the way it came off the line?) and that the lumber
yards would sort the boards when they received them!  That's a
small army of laborers compared to how lumber is shipped today.
It isn't horribly surprising - I said it is "interesting". 
                                                                                   - Jim B.

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