Re: Single-sheathed box cars

Schleigh Mike

While the subject of this thread has been “Single-Sheathed Boxcars" it has certainly turned into a ‘hide car’ discussion.  Perhaps some of the group attended an RPM where my talk on this subject was given some years ago.  It was based on records (ORERs, yard reports, way bills, photos, etc.) of several hundred cars used for hide service during the period roughly 1950 into the early 1970s.  Findings reported were generally as follows——

        ORER-rostered groups of cars in this service was rare before 1960.  ATSF (40180-40244 & 40450-40474), CGW (4800-4989), and UP (340000-340886) were the only examples found.  RI began doing this about 1960 (40XXX series) and IC perhaps a bit earlier (34XXX(?) series) but I could not pin down the date of their first assignments.  Later in the 1960s & 70s this became more common but not consistent among RRs.

        Instead, railroads simply pulled needed cars from their XM (and other) rosters and used them for hide service.  Probably most received stenciling pertaining to “HIDE LOADING ONLY” but this was not apparently mandatory.  Sometimes this labelling would contain ‘return when empty’ messages but certainly not consistently.

        Cars assigned to this service were by any AAR designation essentially XM ‘roamers’ but you might ask, “How did that work for a smelly hide car?”  Car inspectors and clerks never doubted when they were standing near a hide car.  Thus they would never assign one to go anywhere but back home.

        While many hide cars were SS, this was nowhere the practiced rule.  Steel and wood sheathed cars were found in the survey, both 40 & 50 feet.  And cars were not necessarily old.  One example found was a B&O M-61 loaded at Denver in 1956.  This 50’ car was less than five years old.  PRR X29s were found loaded in California; Rutland DS car 8145 was loaded in Denver in 1951.  There were reasons non-hide cars would be pressed into this ignominious use but that is another discussion.  Two Swift reefers were loaded at Denver in 1951.  No icing was required via way bill.

         While hide loads were not glamorous needing much protection en-route, they were considered valuable and timely arrival at the tanning destination was expected by shippers and receivers.  Hide quality would diminish if not gotten soon to the tannery.  Complaints would be in order.  Single sheathed cars needed not to be in great condition but their conveyance was expected with minimal delay.

        To the point of lesser protection, Mark Langraf said, "I can attest that green hides showed up in Gowanda NY for many years in open top gondolas……”  Given his description of these loads being “soup” suggests these were carloads of fleshings (aka—skivings or offal) which was feedstock for the rendering (glue) plant there in that ERIE town.  Spoiled or waste hides might have been within the load as well as the offal accounting for the soup.  See a recent post (which I cannot find) by Elden Gatwood illustrating a delightfully done model.

        Doug Harding posted some nice hide car example photos and his copy of WAG 5009, in June 1960, is an invitation to mention the 500+ B&M XM-1 cars the WAG employed from 1958 to mid-1975.  WAG 5009 shows up three years later, in a John LaRue photo, stenciled for hide service working out of Coudersport, Penna. on the C&PA (outside connections via the WAG).  This 1963 photo is the only evidence I have found that any of these former B&M cars were employed by the WAG in this service.  This fleet was formed to bring per-diem to the Company.  On-line they were loaded with finished leather, wood products, merchandise, etc. and travelled all over the country.  They were, as we say, 'XM roamers' and could be loaded anywhere and used in the most high-level service.

Please forgive this long set of comments but I do hope it provides some further insight into the interesting world of hide cars.

Regards from Mike Schleigh in Grove City, Penna.

On Tuesday, November 30, 2021, 09:18:56 AM EST, Eric Hansmann <eric@...> wrote:

There were tanneries in several eastern locations.

The Western Maryland Railway served tanneries in Parsons and Elkins. The C&O served a tannery in Frank, WV, at the very end of the Greenbrier branch, just east of Durbin. All three operations were active into the 1970s.

Eric Hansmann
Murfreesboro, TN

On 11/29/2021 3:42 PM Todd Sullivan via <sullivant41@...> wrote:

Hide processors were also in New York, specifically, the Endicott Johnson Shoe Company that stretched along the ERIE and DL&W tracks from Binghamton through Johnson City and Endicott (about 6 miles).  The WAG also served large tanneries in Elkland  and Westfield, PA just south of the NY-PA border.

Todd Sullivan

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