Re: Ventilated Box Cars

Garth Groff <sarahsan@...>

Tim and Jim,

I'm wondering what you mean by "weren't traveling too terribly far"? A lot of produce out of the Carolinas and Georgia came north to New York and other major cities in these cars. That is a pretty fair distance. I can't cite statistics, but the proof is in photos of RF&P trains which often show large blocks of ACL ventilators. See Richard E. Prince's RICHMOND-WASHINGTON LINE for examples.

I agree about melons and the like being shipped in ventilators. Ambroid referred to their model as a "watermelon" car, which seems cute marketing but does have truthiness to it. The genius of these cars was that they could be used for almost any clean load on the return trip. I recall reading somewhere that tobacco was another frequent ventilator commodity, though most of this traffic likely didn't leave the south.

Jim, these ventilators are closely identified with "y'all" railroads, and most of the major southern lines had substantial fleets of these cars up WWII, with Seaboard and ACL continuing to use them in large numbers into the 1950s. However, as Dennis noted, they were replaced by ice reefers running as ventilators. By the 1920s the two biggest refrigerator operators, PFE and FGE, dominated the produce trade and the decline of ventilators was well underway.

On the West Coast, the Southern Pacific and its subsidiaries were major ventilators operators at the turn of the century. PFE made their ventilators redundant. Even the Western Pacific bought a modest fleet of ventilators just after WWI. When that road joined PFE, their ventilators were soon all rebuilt as plain boxcars.

Yours Aye,

Garth Groff

On 5/11/17 12:15 AM, Tim O'Connor timboconnor@... [STMFC] wrote:


Lots of melons and cantaloupes and squashes that weren't travelling
too terribly far and in "season" - but I think at other times of the
year they could be used like ordinary box cars.

Tim O'

What was shipped in "Ventilated Box Cars" - the ones with open/slotted doors and
ventilators on the ends of the cars? 

Most of the pics of them I've seen have been pre-WWII ... when did they stop
being used?  What replaced them?


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