Re: Presence of Canadian Cars

Chuck Soule

This spurred some interesting discussion on the NP Telltale list when I inquired there.  Basically, in Western Washington, the Northern Pacific ran a daily train from Auburn (main yard between Seattle and Tacoma) to Sumas, on the BC border, a ways inland from Vancouver BC.

Kent Sullivan says that surviving dispatcher sheets from 1955 indicate about 17 loaded cars (5 to CPR, 12 to BCER) and 19 empty (10 to CPR, 9 to  BCER) were delivered to the Canadian roads daily. About 38 loaded (23 from CPR, 15 from BCER) and 12 empty (4 from CPR, 8 from BCER) were received there daily.  The BCER cars were mostly interchanged by BCER in Canada with the CN, which did not serve Sumas directly.

I think this is a total car tally, so I would assume that the loads sent to Canada daily were mostly US cars unless a return load was found to fill a Canadian car in the US.  The empties delivered to Canada would be Canadian cars.  Similarly, the loads received from Canada daily would mostly be Canadian cars, and the empties would be US cars.

This does not account for traffic that the Great Northern handled between Seattle and Vancouver BC.  Without having inquired directly on the GN list, I would assume the level of traffic would be roughly comparable, maybe even higher because the GN served directly into Vancouver.  On the other hand, the Sumas border crossing was a more likely destination for cars originating or being sent to locations in Central BC or farther east.

At any rate, there was a substantial level of Canadian traffic through western Washington into Oregon and California.

Chuck Soule

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