Re: General Question ... Was - Re: UoK Permalinks

Bob Webber

Well pre 1929...a lot of factors. 

Car construction in the early 1900s wasn't robust enough for cars to stray and stay too far off systems.  Steel created some issues even as it helped others... Strength went up, but given early steel prod... Of both over and under building... Caused truck, bridge and rail issues.

While link and pin was on the way out and air brakes coming in, you had enough system issues that had to be worked out that cars stayed on system more.  Some rr systems weren't keen on sending cars they spent a lot on roving.

And.. One word.  Chicago.  While pigs infamously might have transitted without change of cars, many commodities still were transloaded in Chicago.  If they weren't used there.  Chicago was a huge vaccume that seemed to suck in everything.  A lot came from east and west but the concept of intercontinental transit was, though not foreign, not exactly common either.  Think about commodities.  Coal, iron, limestone, sand, gravel, wood, lumber, cotton, wool, etc. Were available on both coasts... Or at least both sides of the Chicago divide.  Given the weights involved, the western roads didn't need to Sent anything east... Yet.  Eastern finished goods did come west, but not yet vice versa.  Food was the one basic commodity that move west to east... But usually in blocks and didn't tary in yards along the way. 

While other gateways were important, none was swallowing as much from both directions.  Flour was one of the few refined products headed east... But the east had grain and got a lot through Lakers to Buffalo... Huge grain storage there to this day.   So, while some flour made it, usually broken down and transhipped.

Some lumber... Doug fir and redwood esp. Did make it east, but Chicago was growing fast... Swallowed trains of lumber.  Again, much that went further was broken down and transloaded. 

Remember... Before 1929, there were a series of financial embarrassments.   While less all encompassing than 1929, others were no less locally critical.  1893 killed many dreams and made many roads in the west vulnerable.  The titanic depression caused a ripple through railroads.  The immediate post ww1 economy was riddled with issues.  Add the pandemics and things didn't move as much as far. 

Start looking at what might be in those cars.  Just on those photos today.. Whiskey, cocoa, furniture, agriculture... None of that would go far west without transloading.  Thing return trips... Not a lot needed from the west pre 1940s.   Much of the traffic was simply 1 way... At least crossing the Chicago divide.

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On Jan 14, 2020, at 4:45 PM, Jim Betz <jimbetz@...> wrote:
Hi all,

  Bob's post with the UoK links prompts me to ask a general question about
freight car distribution.  This is not a criticism it is a request for enlightment.

  I have noticed that many of the photo links of earlier time frames - let's say
pre-WWII - that are taken at locations East of the Mississippi have 
relatively few cars in them from West Coast roads.  (I am not referring to
pics devoted to a single car/road but rather to pics of trains/yards with a
variety of cars in them.)  And then, after WW-II the West Coast roads 
start to show up in ever larger numbers as time passes.

  So my question is - was there a significant change in what products were
available, and where they were produced and where they were consumed
that caused this shift?
  If it wasn't the above ... what was the change?
  At least one answer is that most of the pics posted of East Coast trains
and yards are being posted (or linked) by members of this list who have
less interest in the West Coast.  I don't think that's true ... but it might be a
factor.  For example, the classic/oft referenced freight car distribution 
study was done using freight trains in Wyoming ... might/wouldn't that
study have changed if the location was "some where on the East Coast"?

                                                                                - Jim

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