Re: Photo: Milwaukee Road Boxcar 713369 (1939)


     I have seen like photos in my research over the years (in North and at times South Dakota) and showed a photo like this to Jerry Masters, a civil engineer employed by the NP in the time frame of this list. Jerry simply commented "ahh...dirt track railroading, nothing wrong with that."
     The reply was somewhat surprising, and I inquired for a bit more clarity. Jerry stated that as long as drainage was maintained, and weeds were kept at bay, track like in the photo I had shown him and like the photo presented here - all was OK.
     "Speeds are low, 30 mph being a pretty good clip, the heaviest load is likely an old Mikado - which is not all that heavy, and for boxcars hauling grain, this works fine". Both the NP and MILW had legions of Mikado's, with some older classes being light and if not demoted to switching yards, would be found on branches like this. This IS granger railroading after all. 

    Sisseton, ND is at the end of a Milw branch so no high speeds likely, nor through freights. Recall also the time of the photo, 1939. The country has been in the lingering depression, and until WWII restarts the economy, money is still rather scarce.        However, this applies to just North and South Dakota where the soils allow it. 

      Also, (and this is getting away from the STMFC parameters so I will keep it short) washed gravel ballast - west of the Mississippi - was more common and used later than we tend to think, even on some mainlines.                      
                                                                                                                                                                                                                         James Dick - Roseville, MN 


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