Re: U.S. - Canada interchange in the mid '20s

Don Valentine

Quoting Tim Gilbert <tgilbert@...>:

The D&H expanded their anthracite business into Quebec by either
building or acquiring the QM&S (? - I don't have my Shaughnessy B&M book
in front of me). The B&M owned the Connecticut & Passumpsic RR which ran
from Wells River VT to Lennoxville QU (just south of Sherbrooke). The
MEC owned a line from Quebec Jct. NH through Beechers Falls VT to Lime
Ridge QU. Then there was the Canadian counterpart to the Atlantic & St.
Lawrence - Montreal to Island Pond VT - both the A&SL and SL&A being
controlled by the Grand Trunk.

By 1930, the QM&S had been sold; the C&P north of Wells River VT had
been leased to the CP; the MEC line north of Beechers Falls had been
The line north of Beecher Falls was not all abandoned at that time.
It was sold to the Canadian Pacific in 11925 and parts of it were lifted.
In fact the line from Dudswell Jct. (on CPR subsidiary Quebec Central)
to Lime Ridge was still in place until the late 1980's or early 1990's.
My late friend Harry A. Frye, historian of the B&MRRHS for many years
until his untimely death on 9/2/00, first visited Lime Ridge on 6/24/77
and found Dominion Lime Ltd. going strong, the track in place from
Dudswell Jct. and a number of cylindrical hoppers there for loading.
DLL even had it's own industrial switcher. We were told some years later
that they had gone to truck and when through there on 8/4/02 the line was
gone. Between Dudswell Jct. and Cookshire Jct. the rail was lifted before
W.W. II but south of Cookshire Jct. the CPR ran to Malvina for some years
before cutting back to Sawyerville. The line to Sawyerville remaind in
use until problems developed with a trestle on it and it was abandoned
in 1977.

and the CN absorbed the Grand Trunk's A&SL and SL&A in 1924
from Montreal to Portland ME through Island Pond.

Furthermore, to encourage traffic from eastern New England through
Canada to the American Mid-West via Michigan, there was a differential
tariff which made the routing preferable to the parsimonious. This
differential rate was for westbound traffic only. It was originally
granted to the Grand Trunk in order to provide competition to the
Morgan-Mellen monopoly of transportation in New England around 1910.
The Grand Trunk became the CN in 1924, but the differential rate was
extended to routing via the CP on the north side of Lakes Ontario and
Erie. Another differential rate was the Rutland's via
Norwood-NYC-Suspension Bridge to Michigan via Ontario - westbound only.

The question remains as to how much benefit any road really received
from all the "encouragement" provided by the differential rates. The
historical problem with rail in New England, as Tim knows very well, has
always been one of terminating far more traffic than was originated.
Initially this was a case of high volume, low value, low tariff materials
coming in and lower volume, higher value, higher tariff goods going out.
As examples, baled wool came in boxcars from the American West and went
out as finished woolen goods; various metals came in and were used to make
many machine tool products and hides came in for tanning and conversion
into shoes and boots, all within the region. While the machine tool
products probably didn't lose a high percentage of weight in conversion
from raw metals even they lost some of their volume, while raw wool and
hides lost far more of that volume in the conversion to higher value
finished goods. The worst case examples are coal and oil. What did New
England have to return to other parts of the nation in all those empty
hoppers and tank cars???? The sole exception I can think of to this axiom
is paper. With the wood pulp harvested here in New England to create this
high volume, moderate value, moderate tariff product it clearly generated
more carloads than were required by the chemicals and fuels brought in for
use in the conversion process. This was the saving grace for the MEC and
the BAR for years but whenever a new paper mill comes on line somewhere
else in the US it seems that an older New England mill closes. I would say
this is chiefly due to the higher energy costs within the region. The
result, however, is the same. The textile industry largely left the region
for the cheaper labor in the south beginning in in the post W.W. I years,
the leather and shoe industry began doing the same in the post W.W. II era,
the machine tool industry began doing so in the 1960's and the paper
industry began doing so in the late 1980's. How many items of clothing have
any of us purchased of late for which the cloth was even made in the USA,
or how many new pairs of shoes?? As fellow listee Armand Premo so correctly
noted when we were talking about such things last year, we cannot get into
a war with Red China because we would have to fight barefooted, or words to
that effect! And this doesn't begin to consider the effect on the hobby! (-:
But a few high value, low volume goods and service industries do not provide
carloadings for railroads and therin lies the problem.

Don Valentine

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