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Back to the photos of which I have few that are of my 1952-53 period.
The thought has come to mind that I am over worrying this chalk mark thing a bit. Comes naturally, I guess. My Dad was somewhat close to being the ultimate worrier.
Unless you have a rich stash of photos of period photos from your branch or the classification yard that served it, Bob's comment about "plausible" and random applies as the majority of the marks would have been from someplace else and random hieroglyphics are in order. OTH, if you are so fortunate to have that stash, or the recollections of a yard crew that built the train for your branch, you may be able to decipher that ONE mark that directed the car to your line, be it the schedule number (not necessarily the ETT train #), an alpha code, or distinct pattern.
Even if you can't discern that pattern, it is reasonable to make a guess that if the 53 train serves your branch and the 52 train serves the branch in the other TT direction that you could plausibly mark all of the cars you operate on your branch with a fresh 53 in a consistent spot along with an assortment of older, more faded random marks.
ATSF North Bay Lines
Golden Gates & Fast Freights
PO Box 44736
Washington, DC 20026-4736
I have begun to study chalk marks. Well ... actually just look more closely at them. The truth is that with few exceptions I have no idea what the chalk marks are trying to convey.
Some might appear to be train numbers applied by a yard clerk to aid classifying a car to a specific train. Or perhaps they are track numbers? Or perhaps the marks denote something entirely else. Those that say to "hold" a car are understandable as are marks that explain or denote a bad order car. But the majority of marks are more or less a foreign language to me.
Also, did the use of chalk marks change over time? That is, would the use or need for chalk marks change from the 1920s to the depression era, to the WWII era, to the post WWII era, etc?
With my past modeling, I have added chalk marks to my weathered models based simply on "looks". Now that I am modeling a specific stretch portion of a specific branch line, I am beginning to wonder about this random approach.
Any knowledge you can provide to this old dog modeler would be appreciated.