More WP West Coast Meat Reefer Data

Garth Groff and Sally Sanford <mallardlodge1000@...>

Good Friends,

After my response to RJ about west coast meat reefer traffic, I decided to parse WP Circular 167-E to see what else could be gleaned from that document about meat traffic. This is not like having real train consists, but does give some ideas about where the cars went and possibly how important, or unimportant, this traffic was. The circular lists all WP/SN/TS/CCT/OT/ABL customers as of 1957, as well as SP/ATSF/UP/Shortline customers in joint switching districts, or where cars would have been received or delivered to/from other roads for local delivery. As such, it doesn't tell us much about traffic on those other railroads, just the possibility of WP interchanging meat reefers there.

So on the WP itself we have 12 destinations for "PHP" (packing house products) or "meat". I wonder if the difference was that "meat" meant animal carcasses for further processing, while "PHP" was pre-packaged meat products, or possibly still unpackaged but processed products which would be wrapped for sale at the destination. In addition, there were 8 destinations for "groceries", meaning general grocery wholesalers, or distribution centers owned by large chains (like Safeway) which might have received meat products along with other food shipments. There was also 1 receiver of poultry products. All these customers had sidings with a total of 45 spots, which says something about how much traffic they received (most appear to be small re-distribution centers with just one or two spots--very model railroad-sized operations). I noted that generally the grocery wholesalers had more spots than the meat distribution centers.

On WP's subsidiary Sacramento Northern (SN) there were 2 grocery wholesalers with a total of 12 spots. The Tidewater Southern (TS) contributed 1 grocery house with 4 spots. There no customers who received only PHP or meat.

There were no PHP or grocery customers listed for WP's partial subsidiaries Oakland Terminal Railway (OT), Central California Traction Co. (CCT) or Alameda Belt Line (ABL).

In addition, some customers received their shipments at team tracks, which are not listed as specific to any road, and have no spot counts. 11 customers received PHP or meat via team tracks, with 7 more grocery wholesalers and 4 poultry wholesalers/processors. I presume by this time, the poultry was dressed, not live. I did not count the few customers who received eggs, nor did I count on-line slaughter houses, most of which were fairly small and likely would have received live animals for local consumption and probably did not ship meat anywhere else.

By contrast, the SP had 12 customers for PHP/meat traffic, 6 grocery wholesalers, and 3 poultry receivers, and had sidings totalling 80 spots. ATSF contributed 1 grocery wholesaler with just 1 spot. The UP had 1 grocery wholesaler with 2 spots. The situation isn't exactly clear in Salt Lake City, with the WP/D&RGW/UP sharing joint switching at a former arms plant converted to an industrial park that included several possible customers. I put all those under WP above. In addition, there were 10 grocery wholesalers on connecting shortlines or terminal switching operations with a total of 16 spots.

Now as to the customers themselves, I found 10 nationally known companies represented with their own distribution centers. Below, these list the railroad, products listed, and number of spots. I'm not sure what "AT" means. It pops up in several different cities in the railroad code space, but it not defined the book's abbreviations section. Likely it's short for "ATSF"; if so the book uses both abbreviations. Somebody mentioned military shipments, and I did not think to include these destinations, but  some bases would have received shipments, and the Oakland Army Base was a major supply depot for Pacific overseas installations.

Armour--Sacramento (SP-meat, 10); San Francisco (2 SP locations-PHP and meat at both, 2, 4)
Cudahy--Oakland (WP-PHP, 1); Salt Lake City (WP/D&RGW/UP-PHP, 9); San Francisco (State Belt RR-PHP, 2)
Dubuque--San Francisco (SP-PHP, 10)
Hahn--San Francisco (WP-meat, 1)
Hormel--San Francisco (WP-PHP and canned goods, 4)
Kingan--San Francisco (SP-PHP, 3)
Krey--San Francisco (not sure if this one is national; WP-PHP, 1)
Morrell--Oakland (WP-PHP, 3)
Rath--San Francisco (SP-PHP, 4)
Swift--Oakland (WP-PHP, 2); Reno (SP-PHP, 1); Sacramento (SP-meat, 2); San Francisco (SP-PHP, 4); Stockton (AT (ATSF?)-PHP, 10)

So obviously, there was west coast meat traffic. This sample mostly includes the WP, and SP's destinations in major central and northern California locations. It does not account for UP or ATSF routes to Southern California, the SP in Oregon, or any north-south through traffic, such as westbound cars received by the GN over the WP's NCE (the "Inside Gateway"). It certainly gives modelers of west coast railroads like the WP and SP justification for including meat reefers in their trains, including packer-owned/leased cars. You wouldn't have seen long trains of meat reefers (unlike PFE fruit blocks)RJ will be happy that the WP likely handled meat reefers from Cudahy, Hahn, Hormel, Krey, Morrell and Swift, though probably only one or two at a time.

One more item. Somebody mentioned livestock shipments on the UP into Southern California. This would have been the famous UP hog trains that served the Farmer John's pork plant in the South Los Angles area, probably the last regular large railroad livestock operation in the US. I don't know that Farmer John shipped finished products back out by rail; certainly not when I drove a delivery truck near the plant after college in the 1970s. Farmer John's building and parking lot walls were famous for the murals of cavorting porcine creatures in hog heaven. What you couldn't see from the streets was the the back side of the building's murals (facing the Los Angeles River) showing the pigs being unloaded and hearded to their doom. Sinister.

Hope you enjoy "chewing" on this.

Now back to scanning negatives.

Yours Aye,

Garth Groff  🦆

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