Re: The steam era, 1960

Dave & Libby Nelson <muskoka@...>

-----Original Message-----
We have started using the term "Downtown Century", to represent
the 100 years or so from the Civil War to the early '60's when the
downtown of a city or even just a village was the center of life.
And the bottom dropped out with the shift to individual
transportion - i.e., the auto, and the decline of the downtown to
the abandoned "inner city".
And the
interstate highway system (and public support of highways in general
before) and the government's support of suburban development that
would eventually do in the railroads from their traditional role
of carrying everything to one of just efficient movement of bulk
freight items. And cars in turn shifted to reflect this
specialized role.

Nice analysis John. Many years ago I researched the horse drawn street cars
of Oakland and Alameda, CA. The major learning was such transportation
companies were usually fronts for real estate developers -- buy distant land
cheap, build transportation, sell accessible land high. IOW, land values
are inversely correlated with transportation expenses, which explains alot
about the impact on cities with the widespread introduction of public roads
into the burbs. Build a better, cheaper mousetrap....

I had not previously considered how this effect played out on freight car
design -- I like your thoughts on moving from the generic bulk carrier to
the specialized, dedicated vehicle. On the other end of the timeline, from
Whites _American Freight Car_, there is the effect on design present from 1)
declining old growth hardwoods, 2) refining steam locomotive techology and
3) the availability of cheap steel. All of which then sets logical
boundaries for the "generic, steam era, steel freight car".

As for usage, industry practice was *very* different 50 years ago too:
relatively very few national companies and those few were mostly oriented to
vertical integration, which is to say that rather than buy locally, there
was a lot of stuff shipped between the companies own plants. This of course
led to rate issues for intermediate production (wheat to flour to breakfast
cerials) and I suspect more closed routings than would otherwise have been
the case.

Dave Nelson

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