Accuracy Of The Official Railway Equipment Registers

Bob Chaparro

Accuracy Of The Official Railway Equipment Registers

How accurate are the ORERs?

I seem to recall someone mentioning that occasionally the ORERs have listings of freight cars lumped together when these cars had different characteristics.

From my experience I am aware of one probably inconsequential error that was repeated for several years.

In August 1918, the United States Railway Administration announced that the SFRD (Despatch) would be under Federal control of the USRA effective January 1, 1919. The USRA then took overall control of SFRD (Despatch) cars.

The Santa Fe immediately reorganized Despatch, which had been a separate company, as the Santa Fe Refrigerator Department, an operating department of the railroad. This allowed Santa Fe a bit more control of the refrigerator cars and operations as allowed under the USRA regulations. SFRD then stood for Santa Fe Refrigerator Department.

As late as 1924 (six years after the “D” in SFRD stood for Department) the Official Railway Equipment Registers still listed SFRD reporting marks as Santa Fe Refrigerator DESPATCH. The Registers had not caught up with the official company change.

Not really a big deal.

But again, in terms of car listings, how accurate are the ORERs?

Can we assume that accuracy increased over time?


Bob Chaparro

Hemet, CA

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