Train Consists

Gregg Mahlkov <mahlkov@...>


Several on here have mentioned the utter lack of train consists from times past. Having dealt with same for much of my railroad career, consider how ephemeral the data in a consist is to the railroad. It usually showed the car initial, number, load/empty status, gross weight, commodity, consignee, destination and offgoing junction and road. It does NOT show origin, shipper, or full route, only enough information for the yard or connecting carrier to properly handle the car at the destination of the particular train. It is created daily, every day the train runs. Most railroads keep the current month's consists at hand and dispose of all but the car accounting copies at the end of the month.

I used to call on a paper mill in Bogalusa, Louisiana, for the Penn Central while working in New Orleans. The Chief Clerk for the GM&O was a neighbor. At the end of each month, I would ride the express bus home and meet him on the bus, and when we got off, he would give me the train consists out of Bogalusa for the previous month. That is the New Orleans office's copy. I could therefore solicit any business routed EL, B&O, N&W, etc. on my next call on the paper mill. Sort of like "I spy", huh?

I bring the above up to indicate the low value placed by the railroad companies on train consists. And, if the industry was a receiver or a shipper located in a town with many shippers, you would have no idea who the actual shipper of any carload was. Only the waybills showed that.

What you guys interested in who shipped what and who got what need the sales reports. Now, those were more carefully guarded and generally kept for two to five years. They were never thrown out though, always destroyed. Even most short lines were generating such reports by computer by the mid-1980's, but they were virtually unheard of in the early 1960's, so none exist for the era of our list. They were then kept by hand by the salesman and only he had the detail.

Guess what I'm trying to say is that pre-1960 information of this nature has not existed since about 1963 at the latest. While working for the AN, I kept one year's worth of consists, and all 18 years of sales reports. I was partial to the sales reports because I designed them!

Gregg Mahlkov
Florida's Forgotten Coast

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