Re: Shipping Fish

Doug Paasch

Thanks Bob.  In reading this, I couldn’t make sense of one sentence so after some searching online, I found the same article.  Looks like a line was skipped in retyping it.  The sentence “No ice except that in the packages investigators say, to cover a load of fish with fine ice, or to place heavy ice “headers” on the barrels.”


should read:


No ice except that in the packages should be placed inside the car.  It is a great mistake, investigators say, to cover a load of fish with fine ice, or to place heavy ice “headers” on the barrels.


Doug Paasch


From: <> On Behalf Of Bob Chaparro via Groups.Io
Sent: Saturday, January 4, 2020 10:05 AM
Subject: Re: [RealSTMFC] Shipping Fish


And I did find this information.
Bob Chaparro
Hemet, CA

The text below is from Refrigerating World, Volume 54, Issue 2 (September 1919).


The speed at which fish decay is not so striking as the length of time that fish will keep under proper conditions. according to the Food Research Laboratory of the Bureau of Chemistry, United States Department of Agriculture. Investigations in the handling of fresh fish—from the catch to the consumer—which have been underway for several years, have shown that when refrigerator cars are properly iced and the fish are properly packed, they can be transported even in midsummer for distances requiring five days of travel, and they will reach the market in excellent condition for eating. In fact, fish so shipped will be much "fresher" at the markets than fish shipped without refrigeration in fast express cars for 24 hours or less.

For successful shipping of fish by freight in refrigerator cars, the investigators outline the following instructions:

Keep Fish Packages Off Floor

Select a refrigerator car that has doors and hatches so tight that not a ray of light can enter. If the car is not provided with a rack in the floor, build one, placing 2 by 4 stringers lengthwise of the floor and nailing crosswise slats —1 by 3 inches—about 11/; inches apart. No car of fresh fish should be shipped without a rack on the floor.

With the car prepared, the bunkers should be filled with ice at least 12 hours before loading. The pieces of ice should not be larger than a man’s fist. Just before the car is loaded the ice in the bunkers should be replenished, and on top of the ice should be placed coarse gray rock salt in the proportion of 5 percent of the ice. Most refrigerating cars will require from 3,500 to 5,000 pounds of ice in each bunker. If the capacity of the bunkers is not marked, it can be determined by counting the number of cakes used, in the case of artificial ice, or by rough weighing, in the case of natural ice. The amount of salt required ordinarily will vary between 170 and 250 pounds to each bunker.

Only Package Ice in Cars

Fish to be placed in the car must be in boxes or barrels, plentifully supplied with fine ice. They should be hurried into the car, that the doors may not be kept open any longer than necessary. As soon as the load is stowed, the doors should be closed and sealed, and the haul should begin as promptly as possible. No ice except that in the packages investigators say, to cover a load of fish with fine ice, or to place heavy ice “headers” on the barrels.

The same principle can be used with much success for the shipment of less-than-carload lots, provided the car is chilled when the trip is begun, and the trainmen close the doors promptly after each change in the lading.

Hauling fish in refrigerator cars under the conditions outlined does not harm the car by wetting the lining with fishy water to any greater extent than does ice-packed poultry or iced vegetables, and railroad officials will find value in knowledge of this fact, declare the investigators. They see no reason why fish so handled should not be loaded into refrigerator cars which, after unloading and airing, may go into other refrigerator service. Damage to refrigerator cars in fish traffic and much fish deterioration has been due to heavy meltage of ice in the fish packages, because the-car was not cold enough at the beginning to reduce the meltage. This difficulty can be overcome by salting the ice in the bunkers. During the haul, the bunkers in summer time must be iced and salted every 24 hours.


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