Re: Hormel Meat Reefer traffic was Tri-Sorb snubbers on reefers

Douglas Harding

Bruce I don’t dispute the PRR was a large railroad and thus moved a large number of freight car. Because of its size it did carry a high percentage of traffic of all kinds, close to 20% of the miles recorded by the Hormel cars were on the PPR. But that still does not excuse the fact that meat moving east out of Chicago was routed on the NKP, Erie, NYC and many other roads through or to areas also served by the PRR. Meat reefers were high priority loads. The IC even held passenger trains in sidings to allow meat traffic to keep moving eastward toward Chicago. Other roads simply moved the meat faster than the PRR, so they got the business from the meat packers.


As to the mileage in the document that started this, again we are dealing with Hormel reefers, coming from only two locations in 1935, Austin MN or Mitchell SD. (The Mitchell plant opened in 1931 and was also served by the MILW.) I think the MILW received the majority of the loads out of Hormel, and moved most of them to Chicago and eastern connections. The CGW got the rest of the loads, and took them south to Lyle MN to interchange with the IC or north to Hayfield MN to use their own tracks to Chicago. Again in the 30s most meat went east. The west had their own slaughter houses, so very little meat went west. Yes the MILW went west, but apparently did not serve the same destinations as the NP. I will speculated most of the MILW mileage was moving meat from Austin to Chicago.


The MILW had almost 19% of the mileage. The combined CGW/IC mileage is over 12%. Meaning 31% of the miles were mostly moves from Austin to Chicago, a distance of less than 400 miles, or Mitchel to Chicago, a distance of about 650 miles. Chicago to New York is about 800 miles. Chicago to Boston is almost 1000 miles. From Chicago eastward 35% of the miles were on PRR competitors. The PRR didn’t even get the Hormel cars until they had already traveled 400 miles or further. The cars made about 30 round trips to New York or Philly divided among the four cars over 13 months.


In 1935, Hormel had Branch Houses in Birmingham AL, San Francisco, and Seattle WA and perhaps a few other locations. They had a fleet of 225 reefers in 1937. Granted Hormel reefers could go anywhere in the country, and they did, but not always on the PRR.


Doug  Harding


From: [] On Behalf Of Bruce Smith
Sent: Tuesday, November 12, 2019 9:06 AM
Subject: [RealSTMFC] Hormel Meat Reefer traffic was Tri-Sorb snubbers on reefers




I’m not surprised at all about the PRR. There is a lot of data, real data (as opposed to anecdotes), that supports a high amount of reefer traffic on the PRR. The PRR was the third highest conveyor of produce in the nation,  behind SP and UP (beating AT&SF) and the number one conveyer of loaded produce refrigerator cars east of the Mississippi. I don’t see why, with the PRR's routing and connections, that should be any different for meat ;)  Now, before the usual characters (you know who you are) jump in, I will note that loaded versus empty mileage is not differentiated and the relatively high mileage on the Erie probably does indicate a propensity to send loads in that direction and empties home via the PRR. However loads, and lots of them, are also moving via the PRR. And yes, I know, the PRR probably had the highest damage claims of any of the railroads listed. But enough of this silliness that perishables weren’t shipped via the PRR. They were, and typically in amounts greater than any other eastern railroad. So I’ll happily model large blocks on reefers on the PRR, thank you!


I’m also curious why you state what you do about Northern Pacific, given that the Milwaukee Road, being a western bridge route, had the second most miles (to the PRR’s #1) with 17,500 while the NP had a miniscule 3,800. I would have said that the CMStP&P was Hormel’s western route…





Bruce F. Smith            

Auburn, AL

"Some days you are the bug, some days you are the windshield."



On Nov 12, 2019, at 8:30 AM, Douglas Harding <doug.harding@...> wrote:


I am surprised by the number of miles of the PPR as it was a road avoided by most meat packers until final destination. It appears the NP was Hormel’s choice for moving meat west.


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