Re: What did REA Refrigerator carry ?

Jim Betz

The short answer is "any relatively small product that needed to
go from one end of the RR to the other without the risk of being
worked in a yard". If it was in a freight car it was at risk of
being held up ... passenger schedules weren't all that fast but they
were the "thru trains". And yes, some REA/Express reefers were
interchanged/forwarded at one end (or both) of the run. The products
carried -often- did not require refridgeration ... the 'express'
nature of the product was often more important. Similarly, it was
relatively rare for the product so shipped to be in large enough
quantities to load an entire car with a single shipment. These were
-usually- LCL loads.
One of the best examples of 'express trains' were the "silk trains"
on the GN which were run on passenger schedules and were more about
getting product (raw silk) across the country in a big hurry than
about needing "refrigeration" ... although climate control and, more
importantly, isolation from the elements and thieves, was part of
why they were shipped in reefers.
Other good examples were fresh seafood, highly perishable fruit
(such as straw berries and peaches), newspapers, liquors, etc. Even
the "lettuce trains" were/are similar (same need to get it there 'now').
Think "relatively small, high priority load you want to get somewhere
on time and be able to get it off the passenger train using hand trucks
and so not affect the passenger schedule" and you have it.

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