Re: Photo: Watermelons In Livestock Car (Undated)

anthony wagner

I'd guess that ventilated box cars, which were well represented on various southern roads, were also commonly used for shipments of all kinds of melons and other produce not needing refrigeration. They show up in photos, usually as singles, in photos of trains in the post war period at locations far from home.  
I have no information as to how common their use was but in my 1-1-50 ORER there were 9968 such cars total with most - 9146 cars - belonging to SAL, ACL, CG, and L&N. The remaining 823 cars were owned by C&WC, C&O, D&H (!), DL&W (!), SOU and N&W. Tony Wagner
On Tuesday, May 31, 2022, 05:30:10 PM CDT, Steve SANDIFER <steve.sandifer@...> wrote:

I thought this was from the Freight Commodity Statistics from the ICC, but that does not add up.  Looking at the original documents I photographed it shows the 1956  Total carloads of livestock to be 785,994, considerably higher than I quoted. That document also does not break the statistics down my car type. There were 70815 carloads of watermelons, but the FCS does not indicate the type of car used.

I’m sorry I can’t put my fingers on where the original numbers came from.



J. Stephen Sandifer


From: <> On Behalf Of Dave Nelson
Sent: Monday, May 30, 2022 8:48 PM
Subject: Re: [RealSTMFC] Photo: Watermelons In Livestock Car (Undated)


Steve, which ICC report had that data?


Dave Nelson


From: <> On Behalf Of Steve SANDIFER
Sent: Monday, May 30, 2022 1:30 PM
Subject: Re: [RealSTMFC] Photo: Watermelons In Livestock Car (Undated)


You could always limit the use of the stock cars for watermelons to the month of May or June, then put them away until the next year.  

A lot of melons came out of Hempstead, TX and Luling, TX. Luling still has an annual celebration known as the “Watermelon Thump.”  Both of these were on the SP and the SP used stock cars for this purpose.

In researching my stock car book I found documentation about the construction of a siding and stock pen in Peters, TX, just north of Sealy, on the ATSF. The railroad later removed the stock chute when there had been no shipments of cattle for 6 years in order to reduce the taxable value but kept the siding because it was used to ship carloads of watermelons every year.

In 1955 the ICC reported that watermelons were the #4 product shipped in stock cars. But again, a very small number in comparison.


Cattle & Horses






Sheep & Goats






Brick and Tile



Sorghum grain



Ceramic sewer pipe






Railroad ties







J. Stephen Sandifer


From: <> On Behalf Of Jim Betz
Sent: Monday, May 30, 2022 10:50 AM
Subject: Re: [RealSTMFC] Photo: Watermelons In Livestock Car (Undated)






Jim Dick,

  This is good stuff!

  Having said that ... if a few stock cars were used - wait for it - every year ... was it such a
stretch that it should be called "exceptional"?

  I agree with your conclusions in general  And note that far too many of us will use what
was an every season exception to justify having a stock car being loaded with watermelons.
  My response to that is "those exceptions are OK ... but only if you have already modeled
the normal" ... and only if they are 'irregular enough on your layout'  It is easy to have too
many irregularities - they are 'neat" but may not end up with a "prototypical feel" and 
instead you risk being "that layout that is mostly the exceptional/irregular".

  ===>  Which, if that's what you are going for, is OK by me.

  I have a specific set of cars I call "the good stuff" which is full of every day/normal cars
that would be seen in my era  They are not only prototypical (meaning "normal") but
also are at least one cut above in terms of the accuracy and detail level.  And they are
all weathered - to different levels and for different parts of the country.  Since my
layout represents the PNW in the post War years ... cars common in Florida are 
much less likely to show up than cars common in the PNW.  This works - for me.

                                                                                         - Jim in the PNW 

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