LCL freight cars would roam the country just like any other freight car. Let’s say you are a mfg. in New Jersey. You take your stuff to the freight house. The freight house has enough stuff from various senders to ship to Los Angeles to fill two cars, so they do. Another car may head to Atlanta, another to Memphis, another to Houston. Those cars will be put in trains and interchanged until they get to the freight houses in those cities, sealed all the way. Cars for that use can be pulled from the local empties using car interchange rules.
However, they also have a package headed to Dime Box Texas and Toad Suck Arkansas. Those will be consolidated into cars headed to the Houston and Little Rock areas. Branch line trains or coordinated rail-truck freight will finally deliver those packages. If those cars are not full, they may stop in St. Louis and/or Kansas City to be further sorted and consolidated. The package which left New Jersey in a Union Pacific box car might be carried by 3 different box cars before it arrived at its destination. Most transload facilities received cars all day, swapped packages from one car to another, then were pulled around 6-7:00p to head to their next destination hopefully to arrive by 6:00a for delivery the next day. At a freight or transload house, every spot on every track had a designated destination, and everyone on the dock knew that system – it was the same every day. If a box car loaded with mixed destination freight arrived from Chicago and was spotted at the New Orleans spot, it will be unloaded and then reloaded with packages headed to New Orleans. No one cared who the home road was for that car – it was in the New Orleans spot, to New Orleans it would go. Had it come in 30 minutes later, it might be in the Chicago spot headed back to Chicago. About 5p the freight house will close to new freight shipments, all the cars will be finished up, loads braced, and then the house will be pulled pretty much at one time, the cars taken to the yard and put on trains. Crews would not normally pull one car, then come back and pull another, etc. Remember the cars were often spotted 4-5 cars wide with their doors lined up and bridges placed between the cars to facilitate movement from one car to another. You did not come and pull a car from the middle of that. The freight house tracks would sit empty most of the night as new arrivals came on the overnight trains.
Look at the photos sent yesterday of Chicago. Freight houses were everywhere in the downtown area.
J. Stephen Sandifer
Thanks for all who contributed.
I am clear on the "Express" cars traveling around about anywhere but not so clear on the LCL cars.
Am I to understand that LCL FREIGHT cars would have TYPICALLY stayed on the home roads but COULD have strayed to other roads?