Re: Reefers for frozen fish.

Denny Anspach <danspachmd@...>

Interesting topic, with a lot of arms and legs!

In 1912 the Milwaukee built in its shops a number of NEW wood low-slung end-bunker ice express reefers for its new Pacific Extension, and they were specifically marked “For Fish Service Only”, and they were assigned to the Chicago, Milwaukee & Puget Sound. Some had bunkers only at one end.

These may well have been the very first (or nearly-so) express reefers of the classic type with passenger trucks, steam lines, etc. That the fish did not contaminate them too much is demonstrated in the Asahel Curtis photos showing the new electrics not too many years hence pulling a long string of them full of silk! They lasted into the ‘30s and some into the ‘40s (or so) in milk and other express service. Notably, one was a regular on the mixed train between Sioux City, IA, Mitchell, and Aberdeen, SD for which some photos exist. Photos are otherwise *rare*. The relatively high pitch of the roof and the high level hatch stands are obvious when -unintentionaly- they were included in builders photos of the Milwaukee’s 1934 HIAWATHA coaches. I have noted one -just one- photo of one of cars out on the main line toward the end of steam, trailing a F6a 4-6-4 pulling the all-stops Twin Cities-Chicago day train.

Plans are relatively easy to obtain inasmuch as AC Kalmbach must have fallen in love with them. He made certain car plans were included in almost all of his wonderful (then and ….now) Car and Locomotive Cyclopedias of the ‘40s.

Quite a few photos of the much later Milwaukee’s Olympian and Olympian Hiawatha show a wood NP express reefer at the very head end -always NP, and never Milwaukee.- presumably fish. This must have been a regular shipment, and I speculate that it may well have originated in Hoquiam. The Milwaukee used to also go to Hoquiam, but if memory serves, it was at least on trackage rights, perhaps the NP?

The Milwaukee also shipped to Chicago, New York, Boston and Philadelphia tanked LIVE fish (harvested carp for Kosher use) in baggage cars with attendants from Lansing, Iowa, and Madison, WI in both its own cars, and others (notably B&O and NYC). It also shipped live carp (iced down as REA shipments to a very low metabolic state) on racks from Lansing to Denver, CO. I have heard similar live shipments originated on the CNW.

The comment about CN’s experiments with their 8 hatch cars for fresh fish shipment brings up the possibility, or at least a thread of one, that they might have been thinking of shipping the products of the prolific Manitoba lakes Walleye fishery to the US midwest cities where these fish were then and still now a delicacy.

It would seem that none of this would have involved frozen fish in any manner.


Denny S. Anspach, MD
Sacramento, CA 95864

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