Donald B. Valentine <riverman_vt@...>
Bill S. wrote:
"Some produce didn’t need icing-just air flow. Potatoes, and I believe onions among the produce were so shipped. Were some (uninsulated) cars used for the brief(heavy) potato runs(seed potatoes in the spring, product in the fall)? Those cars could be used for other purposes the rest of the year. ACL ‘Watermellon’ (ventilated)cars had barred doors, and regular doors for other freight. The insulation, bunkers, etc. would use up a lot of space. Does anyone know if they had ‘ventilated’ box cars? Respectfully, Bill S."
Your post is a little confusing with regard to ventilated boxcars in that it seen you might think they were insulated where I've never heard of that being the case. The whole purpose of ventiated boxcars was to provide air flow through the cars in the warmer months to prevent crops like watermelons from begining to over ripen or rot. In theory I suppose bagged potatoes could be shipped in ventilated boxcars during the early fall and late spring months when there was no chance for them to freeze or overheat though I have no knowledge of that ever being done. They are best kept in cool, dry condtions. which is why roads like the Bangor & Aroostook rostered so many insulated box cars. These cars were not refrigerated but certainly were insulated and some also had heaters for use in winter shipment. In the hottest summer months refrigerated cars had to be used to prevent spoilage enroute. Most export seed potatoes from the US normally moved in the winter to be where they were needed by spring in the northern hemisphere. The last time I was in Winterport, Maine during the winter was between Christmas and New Year in 1976, Winterport having docking faciities just up the Penobscot River from its mouth at Searsport. At that time there was a German freighter loading seed potatoes and three or four more riding at anchor in the river waiting their turn. Unfortunately the grade of seed potatoes that were sent down the BAR for them did not meet the inspectors requirements, so we were told on the return trip when questions were asked as to where all the ship went so quckly. We were told they had sailed for New Orleans to load seed potatoes from Idaho instead. This was business lost to the BAR due to issues with Aroostook County potato growers not taking proper care of their crops in harvesting and storage. Before increasing the number of its own insulated boxcars and reefers in the post WW II era the BAR used large numbers of MDT reefers in the white paint with the blue & red strripes along the bottom of their sides. Entire trains of these cars were turned over to the Maine Central which in turn handed them over to the Boston & Maine to move them along to their destinations outsie of New England. Now almost all potatoes leaving main are shipped in tractor-trailer loads. From the mid-1970's on many of the BAR's insulaed boxcars and reefers were conversed into wood chip cars at the road's shop in Derby, Maine
I can't speak about onion transport but expect some of the folks in Iowa might hace some knowledge of that.
My best, Don Valentine