Re: The History of Shipping Bulk Cement


I have a couple of related things that folks may find interesting, although neither is about cement...

First, from the New Haven Speical Car Order 2-102, February 20, 1950
These are the assignments of the NH owned covered hoppers at the time. I find the second assignment interesting, since the cars originate and terminate on railroads other than the NH. Most of the other assignments also originate off New Haven property. It's an interesting mix of loads other than cement.

New Haven owned covered hoppers temporarily assigned as follows:
Sand loading Marion, Mass. to local destinations.

Salt cake loading Jersey City, N.J,, on CNJ to LaTuque, Que., or Berlin N.H.

Manganese ore loading Port Richmond, PA., to New Haven via RDG-CNJ-NH

Hadite loading Jewettville, N.Y., to Framingham via B&O-LV-O&W-NH.


Second - 

In response to the question about distance. The closest suitable product will not always be cheapest (although in the case of cement it probably was). There's an interesting section in "American Commodity Flow" by Edward L. Ullman (1957) in the data from the 1% study of waybills regarding Washington State. 

"In a splendid recent analysis, Roy Sampson shows how Washington and Douglas fir region lumber is able to compete with southern pine in spite of being almost three times as far from market. Production costs of Douglas fir lumber average 15 to 20 percent below southern pine from 1939 to 1952, with the absolute cost spread widening after the war. (This presumably reflects, among other factors, the larger size of the Northwest trees and mills, compared to the diminishing supply of  larger stands of the cutover South.) In addition, rates per ton mile are less for the long haul, as is normally the case; but even more significant, southern pine weighs up to 15 percent more per board foot than Douglas fir, and transport rates are quoted on a weight basis, whereas lumber is sold on a board-foot basis.

There's a corresponding map that shows that it cost the same to deliver lumber from the Northwest to all states north of southern VA and Kentucky and west of the Mississipi except for eastern TX. The only exception to this line is northern Missouri and Iowa where it's still cheaper to get lumber from the south.

So distance isn't the only factor at play for determining cost.

Randy Hammill
Modeling the New Haven Railroad 1946-1954  |

---In STMFC@..., <mark_landgraf@...> wrote :

Prior to the bulk loading of cement, it was shipped in bags in box cars. Many of this countries transcontinental highways, built in the 1920s were built this way. 

In the 1935-1937 is when dedicated fleet of covered hoppers and cement bulk containers started showing up. NE Pennsylvania was the starting area. These dedicated cars had steep slope sheet - about 80 degrees - that provided easier self unloading of the dense cement. A retrofitted coal hopper - with 120 degree slope sheets - did not self unload very well. Much cement needed to be either vibrated out or manually assisted out of the cars.  This why the retro cars did not catch on. The RRs bought the dedicated covered hoppers. 

Distance shipped - every ton mile costs money. The closest suitable product will be the cheapest. You would only buy a premium product if you needed a premium product, but even then the closest will likely be the cheapest. 

Mark Landgraf
Albany NY

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