Re: Automobile Boxcars

Tim O'Connor

Tony Thompson wrote

Is this true? Long-distance trucking didn't really take off until about
1960, when enough of the Interstate system was completed to make it
efficient. The ORER sure shows a lot of cars with auto racks right through
the 1950s, until those flatcar racks showed up in the late 1950s. I don't
doubt that railroads were losing some auto shipping during the 1950s, but
the idea that they entirely "lost" it for years seems unrealistic to me.
Does anyone have data, either way?

Remember that the auto industry was de-centralized in the steam era!

Cars were built as close as possible to customers. So the rail share
of auto traffic was not nearly as high as it is nowadays -- I think
it's more than 1/2 of all cars and trucks today, which is astounding
really and means that railroads handle a larger share of new autos
than any other commodity, including coal, grain and steel. (Share as
measured in tons, and not ton-miles.)

I hope you all bought yourselves copies of "New Car Carriers 1910-1998"
(publisher: Iconografix) which contains a wealth of fabulous pictures
and insights into the steam era auto industry --

Did you know there were river barges for carrying autos?

Did you know Detroit shipped new autos to Chicago, Duluth, Cleveland,
Buffalo, Milwaukee by lake freighter? (In 1928 several hundred thousand
cars were loaded at Great Lakes ports.)

Did you know coastal ships carried new Fords from Richmond California
to Los Angeles, Portland and Seattle?

The book mentions that deregulation BEGINNING in 1958 allowed railroads
to innovate, and begin getting a larger share of new auto traffic. To be
sure they lost lots of traffic to highways from 1946 to the early 60's
before that trend was reversed. The Interstate System coincided with the
REVIVAL of railroad market share in new autos!

Tim O'Connor <timboconnor@...> -->> NOTE EMAIL CHANGE <<--
Sterling, Massachusetts

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